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Blake's 7: The Way Back

So, the European leg of the E Street World Tour is over, (four hours and six minutes in Helsinki Tuesday night!), and the band are now making their way home for a rest before part three. This means I have fourteen whole days during which I cannot stalk them obsessively on YouTube. Woe is me. So I've decided that it's high time I stirred myself and did something useful; or, failing that, found another way to waste my time. Consequently I have elected to watch Blake's 7. Or Blakes 7, to use the technically, if not grammatically, accurate title. There's no particular reason for choosing it; it's just there, on the shelf. All fifty-two agelessly awesome, catastrophically under-funded episodes. Beginning with this one. It's called "The Way Back".

In Blake(')s 7, humanity is spread across the stars, and ruled over by an evil empire. Roj Blake is a rebel, dedicated to destroying the empire at any cost. This basically means that he's as evil as the empire, but for different reasons, and with a good deal more swashbuckling. Not much of that in the first episode though, which is all scene-setting. Necessary, and by no means badly done - just horribly dull when compared with what's to follow. If you can call brainwashing, political intrigue and massacres dull.

A celebrated rebel, Blake is a thorn in the side of the empire, and so, rather than kill him and risk creating a martyr, his memory is wiped. For two years he lives in a blissful, drugged-out stupor, before old friends contact him in the hope of reviving their revolution. Having been betrayed by one of their number, the whole revolting lot are wiped out by the authorities - save Blake. He may be an increasingly irritating pain in the neck, but the evil empire's evil rulers still don't want a martyr, so the decision is made to discredit him. (Why they didn't just do that to begin with, and save us a pointless thirty minutes worth of scene-setting, I have no idea. Possibly because they're evil?) Rather spectacularly for an early evening family show, this latest plan involves planting memories of abuse in children. Packed off to a penal colony on a distant planet, Blake bands together with a nicely self-serving and untrustworthy collection of fellow castaways, and sets out to destroy the empire. The banding together and the setting out to be swashbuckly and ruthless all begins with episode two, though. In episode one, Blake spends much of his time trying to remember whether or not his memory has been wiped, which mostly involves an endless succession of flashbacks to him screaming (why do people always see themselves in flashbacks? It's illogical). There's also lots of scurrying about from his lawyer, trying to prove him innocent. The lawyer keeps finding more and more layers of corruption, in increasingly high places, but cheerfully assumes that he's in no danger of being murdered at any time. He then gets murdered. This is presumably bad for him, but serves to get Blake blasted off into space with no chance of appeal, so it's a definite bonus for the audience. In space there is swashbuckling and adventure. In space there is much to cheer. Sadly in space there's also no money, as they blew the entire budget on episode one. That's okay though, because the rest of the series has something much better than money. It has Avon. He's far greater than any special effect.

On reflection I should probably have started with episode two. Everything gets better from there.

Pictures:


The opening credits. Oh the glories of seventies titles sequences. Really is terrific music, though.

Exhibit B. Awesome theme music:




Roj Blake, aka Your Hero. Or at least he is until five minutes into episode two, when he gets his show stolen away from under him by Kerr Avon.


The evil empire's evil security guards.


An evil minister plots to reprogram children's minds, so they'll think they've been abused by Blake. Lest we not quite have caught on to the fact that the empire is evil.


Blake tries to remember whether he's forgotten anything or not. Or he tries to forget that he's forgotten it. Or he tries to remember whether he remembers anything that he might have been made to forget. At any rate, he's not happy.


Some sort of filing clerk person. I love how the show's designers were able to predict a sort of portable mp3/mp4 player, but brilliantly overestimated its size. Great glasses, though. Shame they don't appear to be cordless.


Jenna. Jenna is a smuggler, destined to be one of Blake's Seven. In episode one she's cool under pressure, smart, exciting and tough. In episode one she appears to be almost everything you could want from a space heroine. Everything, in fact, that science fiction had been completely failing to give the world since pretty much ever. Hooray for Jenna! Sadly, from episode two onwards it all goes downhill, and she ends up being a pointless waste of space. A very pretty pointless waste of space, but nonetheless something of a disappointment. Even more impressively, it's a track record that the show manages to repeat with every single one of its female characters (that aren't psychopaths). This possibly entitles it to some kind of award.


Vila. The only male member of the cast to use his first name, which is probably indicative of something. Vila is destined to be another of the Seven. He's also destined to be a fan favourite, something you'd never guess from the first few episodes. More of that in episode two though, as all he does in episode one is nick Blake's watch very clumsily.


A lawyer. Soon to be a very dead lawyer. When investigating multi-level corruption, and gradually realising how big a conspiracy you've stumbled upon, it's as well not to go running about the place with a giant target painted on your back. That's my public service announcement for the day. Valuable lessons for all.


The convict transport ship that is to take Blake, and various of his Seven, to their new life on Cygnus Alpha. Marvel at it, as it's probably where the budget for the entire series went.


And whoosh, away it goes.


A dead lawyer, and a dead lawyer's equally dead wife. When investigating multi-level corruption, and gradually realising how big a conspiracy you've stumbled upon, it's as well to a: not go running about the place with a giant target painted on your back, and b: not to take your bloody wife along with you. That's just mean.


Space. Where adventures lie. Hurrah!

Next up, "Spacefall". Beware, little spaceship, there's a giant ham approaching.

Comments

( 17 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
jekesta
Aug. 2nd, 2012 09:07 pm (UTC)
I love that you're watching blakes 7, I love episode 1, I love The London, and Blake's lawyer, and the file clerk who is cross and bored and evil. I love the colours and Blake in a cell, and how cross he is when they first break him out and the water's horrible and nothing's very good and he just wants to live in a dome and be drugged. I love everything.

Jenna's actually pretty amazing for the whole first season, or at least the first half of it. It's season 2 that lets her down more.

swordznsorcery
Aug. 3rd, 2012 02:45 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's a fair point. She doesn't become as immediately useless as poor Dayna and Soolin. It's rather depressing how little use they manage to find for any of the female main cast, though - despite painting Jenna as this fabulous pilot every five minutes.

And yes, it is a good first episode. It has no Avon, however. This is wrong in all the ways.
eandh99
Aug. 3rd, 2012 12:19 am (UTC)
Not even a pic of Jenna? I liked the bits of Blake's 7 I've seen over the years but it's never come out in region 1
eandh99
Aug. 3rd, 2012 11:30 am (UTC)
Now there's a pic of her - was it always in the post?
swordznsorcery
Aug. 3rd, 2012 02:47 pm (UTC)
Yes, she was there all along! PhotoBucket must have hiccupped.

B7 is worth hunting out. Very, very good series, as long as you're not discouraged by the lousy budget. It's never had much of an overseas audience though, so it hasn't been released anywhere much. Although "Sapphire & Steel" managed an R1 release, so it might turn up one day.
i_bookwyrme
Aug. 15th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
Sapphire and Steel is in R1? When Blake's 7 still isn't? That's JUST NOT FAIR.

I mean, Sapphire & Steel is ok & all, but I WANT my R1 Blake's 7.
swordznsorcery
Aug. 15th, 2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
I was surprised too. I love S&S, but I can't believe that it's any better known in America than B7. Strange what gets picked up and what doesn't.
i_bookwyrme
Aug. 16th, 2012 02:39 pm (UTC)
IIRC, everyone was in mild shock when they finally muddled their way through making the R2 DVDs, so I suppose it isn't really a surprise that they never quite managed the promised R1 DVDs.
elenopa
Aug. 3rd, 2012 04:37 am (UTC)
Good old 'Blakes 7'. I remember watching it when it fiirst came out.

Have you checked out Wobblevision? It is a recreation of 'Blakes 7' is still photos. I have taken part in a number and played Avon three times now. We have done all the televised episodes and so have moved on to the radio ones.

http://www.blakes-7.co.uk/wobblevision/
swordznsorcery
Aug. 3rd, 2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
I haven't heard of that before. What a fun idea!
elenopa
Aug. 3rd, 2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
It's a crazy idea. Check out some of the episodes and you will see why. I had great fun playing Orac in one.
seal_girl
Aug. 3rd, 2012 10:18 am (UTC)
*Blakes 7*

:D

Fun times...
swordznsorcery
Aug. 3rd, 2012 02:49 pm (UTC)
It's a great show. And I love your avatar. :)
ladygretchen
Aug. 11th, 2012 10:52 pm (UTC)
I spent my summer so far being so terribly busy watching Original Dallas reruns almost every night and I'm still only halfway through 13 seasons. I'm at season 6, the one where nearly Everyone but the lovely Clayton Farlowe and Miss Ellie, is a big jerk. And that goes for my beloved Bobby.

But I kept getting email updates about this unusual Blake(')s 7 and my curiosity can't take it. The future budget looks almost as bad as the American/Canadian seventies show with a similar theme, The Starlost! But you are right, the theme music to this is awesome. So I will now proceed to get even busier reading these hilarious blogs. :D
swordznsorcery
Aug. 12th, 2012 08:55 am (UTC)
Is season six when Bobby was fighting JR over Ewing Oil? I remember Pam getting upset with him about that, but it's too long ago to remember when it was.
ladygretchen
Aug. 12th, 2012 12:55 pm (UTC)
Yes! That's the one. Pam has been annoying me since season 4 and now i'm just tired of her nonsense. Sue Ellen too. lol Long live the current Ann Ewing, I really like her.
swordznsorcery
Aug. 12th, 2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
Ann is awesome. I loved the way she dealt with her ex-husband in the final episode!
( 17 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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