Half way through my first watch of Blake’s 7 (sadly, in terms of the blog, but hey-ho, I can always re-watch the first two series in a …few years) and I reached the half of the overall series where the titular Blake is no longer around, and the format gets a bit of a re-jig. Is it a bad shake up? Not entirely!
Liberator is damaged severely during the battle with the Andromedans, forcing the crew to abandon ship. The Federation defeats the alien invaders but has sustained heavy casualties and its influence in the galaxy is considerably reduced. Blake and Jenna go missing and Avon takes control of Liberator. Two new additions, weapons expert Dayna Mellanby and mercenary Del Tarrant, join the remaining crew. Avon is less inclined than Blake to attack the Federation but Servalan realises that if she captures Liberator, the Federation would quickly restore its former power…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
They actually look really good on my TV, these PC screen captures are fuzzy and stuff. Ah well, sorry!
Kerr Avon (Paul Darrow) – Electronics and computer expert that has a distrust of most people, with a hard logic-based outlook and self-serving mind. That being said, with Blake missing, Avon slowly becomes the leader of the group… for the most part.
Vila Restal (Michael Keating) – Cowardly thief who will still come through for the group if forced into it. Sarcastic and moans a lot, he gets on the nerves of the rest of the crew, but you just can’t dislike him…
Cally (Jan Chappell) – Telepath from the planet Auron who acts more as the conscience of the group now Blake has been replaced by an arrogant knob.
Dayna Mellanby (Josette Simon) – Weapons expert (with both old and new weapons) who gladly follows Avon and co. when her father was killed by Servalan.
Del Tarrant (Steven Pacey) – Arrogant, stuck up ex-Federation member who everyone puts up with due to his piloting skills and experience. Plus he has curly hair, so he might be like Blake. Maybe.
Orac (Peter Tuddenham) – Portable Super-Computer that has a bit of an attitude. Still, handy for calculations and such!
Zen (Peter Tuddenham) – The A.I. in control of the Liberator. Handy for… controlling the Liberator.
Servalan (Jacqueline Pearce) – Despite the collapse of the Federation after the war, she is still the acting Supreme Commander, and controls the left-overs and watches as the empire rebuilds itself. Her arrogance is matched only by her grudge against the Liberator.
“Yes, you are most certainly from the 70s…”
The opening two-parter does a good job of introducing the two new members of the crew and shows Avon as a capable leader. Servalan is also great, particularly in the first episode where she and Avon share some great, tense scenes as they try to out-smart (and out arrogantly-smirk) each other. It also does feel like the aftermath of a big war, with the crew, sans two, slowly reuniting and talk of the Federation collapsing.
Episode 4, “Dawn of the Gods”, has one of those plots that is a bit “out there” but is fun to follow. An extremely powerful telepath is hiding in a black hole / planet and draws Cally and the Liberator crew to him in order to have the fellow telepath by his side while he conquers the universe. It feels very Doctor Who-like, and I wouldn’t want all my Blake’s 7 to be like it, but it was an interesting change. Plus nice to see Cally get some more attention, rather than be an extra like she is in a lot of stories.
While she hasn’t lived up to what was a great introduction, I will say that Dayna is a good addition to the crew in that at least she’s different, even if he quick temper is a bit of a cliché character type, at least she has already tackled and nearly defeated a “manly man” in combat (look down below for more on that), so it was a good first few episodes for her.
I liked a lot of Episode 5, “The Harvest of Kairos” (most Doctor Who-y title goes too…), especially the attempts to outwit each other in a space battle between Del and Jarvik (both of whom, as you’ll see down below, I otherwise hated…), plus Avon being more interested in a potentially sentient rock and generally treating Del like crap was much appreciated.
“Behold, my manly chest of manliness!”
Yikes, I can’t stand Del Tarrant, he’s like a more arrogant and stuck up version of Blake, but without the charm and feeling of brave leadership. He just comes across as a knob and in his second full-time episode he’s already in the centre of the group ordering everyone around. After two Series of Avon saying how he’ll take the ship from Blake I expected him to … do it. Not, for the most part, let some vaguely-has-the-same-hair Blake wannabe take over and treat people like crap. This is especially true in Episode 3, where he treats the peaceful people of Obsidian like they’re idiots for thinking pacifism could work. Heroic! Or something…
While I liked the battle of wits in Episode 5, the main antagonist was pretty awful. Jarvik constantly banging on about being a man and forcing himself on Servalan and pretty much tossing her away because the “stupid woman” doesn’t get it, I mean, appreciate he was humiliated a bit by being beaten by Dayna later in the episode, but I wasn’t sad to see his death at the end, that’s for sure…
Three out of the five episodes feature Federation troops on board the Liberator. Three out of five! The Federation is in dire straights yet have had more luck getting on the Liberator than they did when they were at full strength! Having such similar scenes so close makes me think the script editor should have spaced them out a bit… unless it continues to happen frequently throughout the series, in which case that’s even worse!
“Peace? Oooo! Girly pacifist!”
A strong start to the Series, literally as the first two episodes were great! The remaining three’s quality varied, and I’m already getting annoying at new regular Del Tarrant, but I can’t deny I really enjoyed Episode 4 and parts of 5, with 3 being average and not particularly memorable, rather than bad. Looking forward to more!
Episodes 1 and 2 “Aftermath” and “Powerplay” Episode 3 “Volcano”
Episode 4 “Dawn of the Gods” Episode 5 “The Harvest of Kairos”