Blake’s 7

blakes7_castIt took me two years to get through all 52 episodes of this anti Star Trek, Dirty Dozen/Magnificent Seven in space series.

Created by Terry Nation, the man behind the DALEKS! It follows Federation dissident, Roj Blake, A freedom fighter who has his mind wiped and is sent to a Penal Colony to serve out his life sentence. While en route the prisoners aboard his transport rebel after their ship encounters a highly advanced Spacecraft. Blake, still not knowing who he is takes command of the newly found vessel Liberator and forges his group of seven to fight the Federation.

Blake’s 7 is a mixed bag. While there is an interesting concept within the series it is at times painful to watch due to the special effects, story and hammy acting. I think series 1 and 2 are fairly strong in comparison to 3 and 4. As they neared the end of each of the early seasons things start to pick up momentum with a slight story arc weaved between episodes.

Some problems I had with ‘Blake’s 7’ are that this great rebellion against the federation isn’t really seen. Blake’s memory loss isn’t addressed much either. He suddenly just remembers things and it never becomes an issue again. It could have been played with more. Was he really brainwashed? is he who he thinks he is? etc. The advanced space ship they fly in, ‘The Liberator’ has a super computer called ‘Zen’ on board, yet in the first season they acquire another super computer called ‘Orac’ which makes Zen rather pointless and less interesting from there on.

Since the show isn’t really able to depict a conflict with the Federation on a larger scale it’s the characters that take on most of the focus as things progress. I love the conflict of Blake and fellow recruit Kerr Avon, a man who gladly tells Blake that he will kill him one day and take his ship. Very much a mustache twirling stab in the back kind of character that is so fun to watch.

In Series 3 things change with two of the main cast leaving the show, one being Blake himself who disappears and is possibly dead. Avon quickly takes over as he has always dreamed, but a new character called Tarrant (a Blake wannabe with a granny haircut) stands in his way. Tarrant is basically Blake again for the first few episodes. But the character that shines here again in series 3 is Ker Avon who from then on is the leader of this team. Unfortunately the series sort of loses direction with series 3 and 4. Series 4 especially since producers had expected that a series 4 wouldn’t happen and they decided to give us some closure at the end of series 3 by destroying he Liberator, seemingly killing off the main villainess Servalan and telling us that Blake is actually dead. By series 4 they acquire a new, far less interesting and cheaper looking ship along with more new main characters to replaces ones who have left leaving Avon and Vila as the only remaining original characters. Unfortunately with series 4 their is no clear direction for the new ship ‘Scorpio’ and it’s crew. Their are some great episodes near the end of series 4 but it’s clear that not only do the crew have a crappier ship but a crappier budget too.

Why I wanted to watch this show is not only because it’s a dark SF drama by Terry Nation but because the ending of the series itself is one of the most talked about moments in UK science fiction. It’s a doozy way to end the show and something of a face palm the way they did it. The shock ending might not have been as it seemed though if a 5th series had gone ahead. I’m sure they would have retooled the series into something cheaper again but what I would have wanted was what was genuinely great about the show. The conflict between Avon and Blake.

Do I recommend ‘Blake’s 7’? Not really. It’s not a show that has aged well. At best you should pick some good episodes and watch those only because there are some dire ones that can really put you off it. If you were a fan of old Doctor Who episodes though Blake 7 might appeal to you. There was once even talk of the Dalek’s crossing over with this series.

Who might like this show? Fans of Andromeda. The two series have a lot of similarities not just in story but in production values too.

Blake’s 7 is a show ripe for a hard reboot, the concept is a fairly nice one. In 2006 an audio series of Blake 7 rebooted was released featuring Idris Elba as Blake. I rather liked it and how they recreated the series. For tasters I recommend you checking out it’s prequel ‘Blake’s 7: The early Years’ which even features Benedict Cumberbatch!

Favorite Quote:Trust is only dangerous when you have to rely on it.”  – Avon

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