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This has to be one of the best--perhaps THE best science fiction serials
ever produced. It is a true serial in that the story goes, stage by
through a complete, novelistic sequence. Even though the fourth season
not planned when they finished up the 3rd (originally designed as the
finale), the ideas, themes, and characterizations continued as a logical
sometimes twisted) culmination of the history that had preceded it.
7 inspired what is undoubtedly the finest American sci fi series
ever--Babylon 5, which in some ways surpassed B7, certainly in terms of
quality effects and production values. If you look carefully, I believe
can spot a ship closely resembling the Scorpio in some of the battle
formations in Season 4 of B5.
My personal favorite performer on Blake's 7 was the extraordinary Jacqueline Pearce--surely one of the most gifted actresses of our day. In one way it is a shame that she will always be remembered for his work on this series, but, from another perspective, her creation of Servalan has a truly legendary quality, larger than life and yet intensely human. Jackie imbued Servalan with a wit, grace, and elegance that made her absolute evil all the more intriguing. Paul Darrow as Avon provided the perfect complement to Servalan's infamy. Coldly self-aggrandizing and exquisitely poised in his own right, Darrow's performance is often tinged with streaks of frighteningly believable psychosis, especially during the memorable final season.
If this series had had a wider airing in the US, it would have attracted a massive cult following over here. Grab this on tape if you can find it!
I discovered "Blakes 7" (though it ought to be "Blake's 6," methinks)
when I was five years old - and I dismissed it. I thought it looked
boring and corny, and when I got hooked on "Doctor Who" shortly
thereafter, I forgot all about it.
Well, like a wayward son, I have returned to "Blakes 7" all these years later. I've just finished the season one DVDs, and I enjoyed myself immensely. In some respects it's a very familiar show that borrows terminology and ideas from much older genre entertainment, like "Star Trek." But it's quite revolutionary in terms of structure - the arc plot is ahead of its time - and characterization. "Blakes 7" also features a surprisingly cynical world view; the Federation in this series isn't a league of whitewashed good guys, it's a corrupt organization that controls its subjects through military force and "1984"-like brainwashing.
The best character of the season is Avon, who is played in a wonderful sneering fashion by Paul Darrow. Blake is my second favorite; he's an idealist, but he's tough and he's not preachy (thank goodness). The other crew members, truth be told, are a little bland. I'm not sure why people seem to like the cowardly thief character Villa so much, since his role mainly consists of whining and cracking flat jokes. Jenna the smuggler is a pretty foxy lady, but she doesn't do much but get tied up and possessed - both staple pastimes for women in these semi-sexist old shows.
Certain plot elements are recycled in a tiresome fashion; in several episodes, half of Blake's crew is stranded on a planet while the other half contends with a problem in space. And of course, there's always a moment when the ground team is in mortal peril and needs to be "beamed up," but nobody's at the controls to do it. I complain too much, though - there are several genuinely surprising plot twists in the first season. And, even when the stories are a little clichéd, a great cast of British character actors is on hand to pick up the slack. Cool guest stars like Brian Blessed and Julian Glover reliably provide rock-solid support for the regulars.
The show is still easy to dismiss due to its low budget. But does it really matter that Blake's laser gun looks like a hair-curler? Not a bit. Flawed production values do very little to detract from "Blakes 7," which in the final analysis is clearly one of the more thoughtful and exciting sci-fi series I've had the pleasure to watch. The very first episode, which concerns Blake being framed for child molestation, is particularly gripping. It's highly recommended stuff.
Blakes 7 was launched in 1978 by the BBC, and in the aftermath of 'Star
Wars'. I remember eagerly awaiting Thursday evenings when the adventures of
Blake and his crew would enthrall me.
The premise of the series was simple; Blake and his band, prisoners of the evil federation, manage to gain control of a powerful alien spaceship, and become freedom fighters.
The series was very low budget, reflected in the poor quality of the sets (spot the egg boxes sprayed silver!!), but the characters were real (despite the occasional wooden acting), and the storylines were first class.
What helped to make the series a success was the perfect chemistry between the cast. There was the fiery passion of Blake, the cold logical Avon, the laid back Villa to name a few. Their Arch enemy, Servalan, was ruthlessly ambitious, and assisted by the focussed and determined Travis.
I would give this series 9/10.
In 1978, America had "Battlestar Galactica" and Dirk Benedict. England had
"Blake's 7" and Paul Darrow. England had the better deal.
Sure, "Blake's 7" had a shoddy budget and clunkier sets than "Doctor Who", but the show had more interesting characters. You could not find a more diverse bunch of criminals, freedom fighters, and guns-for-hire - and these were the heroes (or anti-heroes)of the show. Almost every week they fought Servalan, Travis, and the evil Galactic Federation (boo,hiss!) while sometimes barely getting along with each other. The show flagged a bit in the last season, but it had the best series finale of all time in my opinion.
For those of us weaned on Doctor Who, shows like Blake's 7 are instantly
appealing. But for today's audiences, try this trick:
Listen closely to the dialogue and notice how the acting--unlike the SFX--is quite good. Then imagine that George Lucas, Jerry Bruckheimer and any actor you admire collaborated on a faithful remake, line for line, with top-level effects. Can you see it? (May require more than one viewing.)
Good. Prior to Battlestar Galactica on TV and Star Wars on the big screen, this is about all we had in terms of production values. (We were lucky if the boom mics were not showing at the top of the screen.) We had to make do with fascinating story ideas and characters we could inhabit each week. If the monsters were made of rubber, the spaceships made of cardboard, well, we lived with it.
Note to Spielberg, Bruckheimer, Lucas, et al: Keep the script stet and consider giving these back to the world.
I was 8 years old when Blake's 7 first aired on BBC 1 and I loved it.
I was a fan of DR.Who so I liked Blake's 7 also. I have been watching it recently on UK Gold and it has brought back fond memories. Admittedly the Special Effects were very low budget just like DR.Who-You could always spot the shaky badly handpainted sets! The acting was a mix of good and bad, Avon (Paul Darrow) was excellent as was Servalan (Jaqueline Pearce) and Villa (Michael Keating) was very good also. Some episodes were really good and the script was great with some great dialogue by Avon. If you can overlook the very poor effects and men in rubber suits dressed as monsters then this was overall a great show.The last episode was a great cliffhanger although it upset me when I first saw it. I would love to see the series remade with Paul Darrow and the others-we never did know whether or not Avon and company died or not, so it could be remade. This was a classic series!
"Blake's 7", whilst being somewhat of a misnomer, is a great series. The
first few episodes (maybe even the entire first season) are rather shoddy
and have a *very* low budget look, but it only gets better from then on
The most memorable bits of the series are the cynical, sarcastic, clever, and down-right rude comments from Avon, delivered in a beautifully scathing voice, and the equally sarcastic remarks from Orac, the talking fish tank.
Definitely a must-see if you like Dr. Who and can get the entire series (26 two-episode videos) at your local video rental library.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As a teenager I watched Blakes 7 and thought it was an ok show with bad low
budget effects, especially the first season yet every time its aired I find
myself drawn to watch it. Now many years after seeing it for the first time
and seeing it with more mature eyes I find that it simply gets better and
better every time I see it.
While the first season was not the best it did establish the Characters and set up the history of the Blakes 7 universe and plots to carry the show on into the future. From season 2 onwards the show seemed to get better every week only occasionally stumbling along the way with a few dull stories but what show has not done that from time to time. The show really hit its stride with the 3rd season.
The Finale at the end of season 4 has to be one of the best endings ever made for any show in any genre in Television History, and with out showing the death of Avon or confirming the deaths of any of the rest of the crew there is still a spark of a chance that the show could return if any of the rumors are true of Paul Darrow trying to revive the series set 20 years later. It would be nice to see it return because can you imagine what Blakes 7 would be like with a budget??? But if you have only seen the show once go back and watch it over you will not be sorry.
This is quite simply the coolest sci-fi series of all time. It is easy to laugh at the sets and effects in these days of CGI, but it was good entertaining fun when it came out. Gareth Thomas played the Blake of the title, who whizzed round the universe with his crew of outlaws, trying to avoid the Federation. The leader of the Federation, Servalan, was a strong, scary woman who thought nothing of stabbing her allies in the back. In contrast to series such as Doctor Who, the female cast members werent just "screamers" - they all had their own specific and useful skills, such as Cally (Jan Chappell) who had psychic powers and Jenna (Sally Knyvette), an expert pilot. Watching it now brings back many memories, but it does stand up even now. Inspired!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I love this series. It comes a close 2nd to Doctor Who for me. The characters are excellent and the writing was always superb, so in many ways it is easy to ignore the cheap sets and effects. Paul Darrow as Avon was definitely the best character and Jacqueline Pearce played villain Servalan amazingly. Vila is also a great character, his cowardice always provided a good joke and arguably is the character that adds the most humour to the series. I have great admiration for all the seasons but I have to say I probably admire Season's 3 and 4 the most, probably because I admire the character of Avon so much and Del Tarrant as played by Steven Pacey is very good indeed. Cally, Soolin and Dayna are also strong characters and Gan in Season 1 and Season 2 was a useful presence. David Jackson always played the part wonderfully, even if the character was underused. Hats should also go off to Gareth Thomas and Sally Knyvette as Blake and Jenna and both Stephen Grief and Brian Croucher who were excellent as Space Commander Travis. The ultimate classic is probably the Season 3 episode 'City at the Edge of the World' with Sixth Doctor Colin Baker giving a wonderful performance as 'Bayban the Butcher'. 'Terminal' an episode at the end of Season 3 had a wonderful climax, and the climax of Season 4 where all the main characters are killed off on screen (apart from Avon) is just phenomenal. No programme has ever come close to having such a good ending.The location work throughout the series was very good indeed, as many of them had an unworldly feel which is what the producer's needed to achieve for the programme. Considering the budget it is amazing that the locations look as atmospheric and convincing as they do in the series, so respect should be given to the designers who did a wonderful job on such a small budget. The scenes shot at TV Film Studios, Ealing, were always superb as well, and much more spacious than the BBC TV Centre material. In fairness, the special effects in the series are not too bad either, considering the effects budget was actually £50 an episode!! Mat Irvine in particular did a wonderful job on the series. David Maloney the producer of the first 3 seasons, also made the excellent decision of allowing major Doctor Who contributor Dudley Simpson do the music for the series. The work Simpson did for the series is just excellent, most notably his score for 'Mission to Destiny' and 'Weapon' and the memorable themes he wrote for the show, such as the main title theme and the theme which represents the Federation and all their evil doings. Despite the cheap sets and effects, the writing for the series which was almost always top notch, has to be mentioned. Like Doctor Who the story lines are involving, thought provoking and well constructed, something which many other big science fiction series lack. An incredible series, arguably one of the finest science fiction series ever made.
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