With “Series 3” (a.k.a. a single box set called “The Spoils of War”) coming out soon, I finish playing catch up with Big Finish’s Blake’s 7 Full Cast audio dramas by dashing through Series 2, which for the record, is set during the TV series’ 3rd Series… Got it? Good. The plot revolves around Dayna being missing due to Josette Simon not wanting to return to playing the character. Oh, also, Del Grant from the 2nd Series TV episode “Countdown” is currently part of the crew, which is something that happened in the audio book range “The Liberator Chronicles” that I haven’t listened to, so I was rather baffled during the first episode… Anyway! Let’s have a look at the first half!
The crew of the Liberator awaken to find one of their own missing. Where is Dayna? Has their friend been taken or has she deserted them?
The search for Dayna leads them to a deserted ship in the middle of a dangerous asteroid field.
But what is the secret of the Scimitar and can Avon get every member of his crew out of the asteroid field alive?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
Given what he contributes to the story, you have to wonder why Tarrant is on the cover of Fortuitas… (read below for more!)
Kerr Avon (Paul Darrow) – Cold and calculating, Avon would easily be mistaken for someone who doesn’t care about his crew, but the lengths he goes to here to find Dayna and bring her back shows that, for one reason or another, he does indeed have a heart… just about.
Vila Restal (Michael Keating) – Cowardly and sarcastic is normally an unpleasant combination, but Vila manages to pull it off with charm… when the master thief isn’t hiding somewhere…
Cally (Jan Chappell) – Often very serious member of the Auron race who is happy to be aboard the Liberator, and not just because the vast majority of her race has otherwise been wiped out…
Del Tarrant (Steven Pacey) – Former Federation pilot who has a touch of arrogant knob about him, but thankfully isn’t as bad as he was during his first few weeks on the Liberator.
Orac (Peter Tuddenham) – Super intelligent A.I. who is happy to serve the crew of the Liberator… if their tasks are up to his high standard.
Zen (Peter Tuddenham) – The A.I. of the Liberator itself, doesn’t do much apart from confirm things.
Del Grant (Tom Chadbon) – Formally a mercenary-for-hire who was the brother of Avon’s love interest. He joined the Liberator crew recently, which is handy as now Dayna has gone missing there is still seven members of the crew! (Though none are called Blake…)
A striking cover for a … good story. “Striking story” doesn’t really sound right…
The standout in this set of three stories is the third episode, “Mindset”, which sees the crew wake to find Vila missing now, though they soon find out it’s because he believes he has found the fabled “water of life” that grants immortality and has gone off to claim it. Tarrant and Grant (a.k.a. “The Two Dels”) go down to the same planet to find him but soon fall into the same trap he apparently did: a waterfall that takes you under the water and keeps you alive mentally forever, but leave your body alone long enough… Anyway, Cally keeps hearing voices and it turns out the waterfall once absorbed a fellow Auronar who, unlike the rest of the poor souls drawn to the planet, has been suffering with the mental thoughts of all the other people trapped in the waterfall for all eternity and unsurprisingly wants a way out. This leads to some fun twists and turns in the last few minutes, and is generally a good story that while certainly “out there” as a concept, still fits right in to Blake’s 7.
The second story, “Fortuitas”, is also a fun story, though not as interesting as the one that follows it. It sees Avon and Tarrant arrive on a dilapidated old resort planet that now houses a dangerous rebellious faction on its surface. Tarrant gets taken away leaving only a weird waxy substance behind, so soon Avon and Grant, along with Orac and a local who called the crew here in the first place (using false information about Dayna to do it) have to deal with not only with finding Dayna and now Tarrant, but also confronting the Fortuitas group (and boy, will you fed up of hearing that word said out loud…) including a showdown in a creepy old fairground. It’s good fun, and has some good performances from the guest cast.
Where as this is quite a dull cover for quite a dull story!
The first story, Scimitar, sees the crew pick up on Dayna’s trail and end up at a famous lost ship called, as you may have guessed, the Scimitar. Avon, Cally and Grant arrive on board but the ship is quickly breaking apart, which leads to predictable close calls and traps (and at one point Grant falls down a hole and has the least dramatic “wooooaaahhh” sound ever…) It has some good moments, but generally I was a bit lost due to not having followed the Liberator Chronicles and how both Dels actually sound a bit alike… There are some good moments with the salvage crew, but in general, it’s just “okay”. Much like the first story of the previous audio series.
I have to say I was a little ticked off that this series relied on listening to a story from the other range, and with no warning either! I mean, I understand Blake’s 7 is a pretty tight community and so were likely to have listened to everything, after all I’ve only been a fan for less than a year, but still… a little warning would have been nice…
While I started off a bit baffled (and in fairness the first story was quite weak anyway) the two stories that followed the opener got better as it went along, though none have reached the height of the end of the previous audio series yet. We’ll see where this hunt for Dayna goes (though knowing it can’t actually end with her saying anything, it kind feels pointless…)
Episode 1 “Scimitar”:
Episode 2 “Fortuitas” and Episode 3 “Mindset”: