Thursday, May 29, 2008

Blake's 7!

Update 24 Aug 2013: SyFy rejected the Blake's 7 idea. That may be a good thing, though, as it apparently was taken by Microsoft, to be made as an XBox series.

Update: The previous attempts to revive Blake's 7 have failed, but a new venture to do so was announced on July 23 2012: Martin Campbell And Georgeville TV Shop Reboot Of Cult U.K. Sci-Fi Series ‘Blake’s 7′. I just hope they don't screw it up.

When I was a very young boy, during the Romanian communist era, the only entertainment available was the Bulgarian television (also a communist country, but with a more relaxed regime) who's signal would reach Bucharest to the delight of many. I have always remembered vaguely a British series called Blake's 7, a sci-fi show that I've enjoyed tremendously at the time. Recently I was reminded of it and I was lucky enough to find the torrent for all four seasons. Having watched it now, I have mixed feelings and a new understanding of my child mind.

A short description of the show first. Imagine a team of space wanderers a little in the style of Farscape's crew (civilians, each one with their own ideas and motivations), stuck in a universe that resembles the Star Wars universe (an oppressive Federation ruling the galaxy with an iron fist) and has similar effects and inspiration as Star Trek TOS. All this with a budget that was probably several levels of magnitude smaller than that of ST TOS and also with effects and script a whole lot cheesier (and by that I mean that if I work out the percentages, more than half of the show was just cheese). The actors themselves were British and Welsh TV theater actors and they behaved as such the whole series. Not that it wasn't a refreshing perspective, even now. It was actually original enough and if it weren't for the production values, it might have been a world class classic.

Of course, I didn't watch it now because of the cinematographic value, but because it meant so much to me when I was a child. And I was stunned to see that the things that I remembered fascinated me were quite different in the show. Some weren't even there. For example I remembered that the show was called Blake's 7 but that one of them died in the second episode, which I attributed to British humour. But no, that happened at the beginning of season two. The introduction and music I remembered to be dark, impressive and scary. They were really funny now. There were scenes I remembered in a completely different way, with more emotion and action and the things that happened in the show had another sense altogether.

The structure of the series is funny to follow. The crew of seven was always only of six people. The computer counted as the 7th man. In the second season Gant dies so they are temporarily left with only 6. In the third season Blake leaves the show as well as others of the crew, only to be replaced by other actors and another computer. So they are 5 people and 2 computers and no Blake in Blake's 7. The only constant things are the ship, which is destroyed at the end of the third season, Avon and Vila. Oh, and sexy Servalan, the evil female villain. With a ship that can go anywhere in the galaxy, they always stumble in the same people! The ending was hilarious also, but you have to click here to see what I mean, I would hate to spoil it for you:
Click here for ending spoiler

Here is a sample of the show:

And here is a video from an interview with the actors interpreting Blake and Servalan, old now and talking fondly of the series:

But there are also good news, Blake's 7 could be revived! I found an April 2008 link that says Sky One has commissioned two hour-long pilots for a new Blake's 7 series! Here is also a BBC News entry.

Update: Blake's 7 will be back! I doubt it will pack the same punch, unless done right. BBC should have remade it, but it seems that it will be a SyFy show, which may not be a good idea. The news confirming the comeback can be found here: Blake's 7: Classic BBC sci-fi to return on Syfy channel


Donkeypapuas said...

Lâam urmărit şi eu. Tot la bulgari. Unde a fost difuzat doar primul sezon. Dublat în bulgăreşte, dacă mai ţin bine minte.
Problema lipsei divertismentului a ţinut totuşi de anii '80, de când Ceauşescu a vrut să plătească datoriile dintr-odată.
Despre serialul în chestiune, tocmai îl (re)văd şi eu. De data asta, toate sezoanele şi toate episoadele. Păcat că nu sunt la o calitate mai bună dar... asta e!

Donkeypapuas said...

Rectific, după ce l-am revăzut în totalitate: serialul a fost integral difuzat de bulgari doar că o bună parte s-a întâmplat în perioada post-revoluţionară de la noi, când nu ne prea mai ardea să stăm cu antena spre televiziunea din Sofia.

Siderite said...

I don't know why you would stop watching Blake's 7 once you've seen the first season. :) I watched it all when it was broadcast on the Bulgarian state television.

Amazing how a few dedicated people can create something so memorable with almost no budget. That is a lesson for the big media companies that abort high value series when they don't bring enough money. I can hardly wait for those companies to implode under their own weight when free to watch YouTube series and the like will be available.