Blake’s 7: Horizon

May 31, 2015 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Another new face for Blake’s 7 in the form of writer Allan Prior. He’s someone I personally wasn’t familiar with until I watched this although fans of the classic police drama Z-Cars will probably recognise him given that he wrote a total of one-hundred-and-thirty-six episodes for the show and it’s spin-off Softly, Softly. In fact, in a somewhat cruel twist of fate (I’m being slightly over-dramatic) Blake’s 7 was originally made to fill the gap left by the cancellation of Softly, Softly. Blake’s 7 even kept the same budget, a budget which worked fine for a police drama but it wasn’t the best for a space opera. Now let’s talk about the person who had to deal with that budget, Jonathan Wright Miller. He had previously directed the second episode of the second series so it’s a quick return for him but it’s also his only return as he directed no more episodes of Blake’s 7 following this. Admittedly I’m not going to miss him too much as he was a rather standard director who didn’t exactly bring anything to the series but at least didn’t really take anything away either. One other production note is that there’s a familiar face on the cast list in the form of Brian Miller who would go on to appear in the recently reviewed Doctor Who story Snakedance. He was also the husband of the late Elisabeth Sladen who had played the popular character Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who. Now with the production details out of the way let’s move on to the episode’s synopsis.

A mysterious Federation freighter is heading towards the edge of the known galaxy and the episode begins with a curious Blake deciding to follow it. It leads them to a strange planet designated Horizon and Blake and Jenna decide to teleport down to investigate. After loosing contact with them Gan and Vila go down to find out what’s happened and contact is lost again. Cally finally goes down and the pattern repeats itself once more, leaving Avon alone up on the Liberator. On the planet below it turns out that most of the local population are living as slaves under the rule of the Federation. Blake and the others were captured and are now being forced to work in the mines alongside the inhabitants of Horizon. After realising that he can’t go on forever without the others, Avon goes down and rescues them. Blake then manages to convince the planet’s leader, Ro, that the Federation are just using him and then together they fight back against the invaders. Ro promises Blake that he will continue the fight against the Federation and the crew of the Liberator then leave with the knowledge that they now have one planet with them in their crusade.

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Now I will admit that this was a rather standard and predictable episode although not necessarily a bad one. The plot is probably something everyone’s seen many times before with the mislead leader realising he’s been manipulated and turning against his former tutor in order to free his people. Nothing particularly original there but nothing particularly bad there either. It’s at least something Blake’s 7 hasn’t done before so at least we get to see it with these different characters although the only one who truly takes part in this plotline is Blake himself. Then theirs Ro who takes on the role of the mislead ruler and while he’s initially quite interesting he ultimately ends up being rather dull when his tutor, Kommissar, turns up. Kommissar is an enjoyable villain but he was no Carnell and I ultimately wasn’t disappointed to see him bite the dust at the end of the episode. Come to think of it even his death was predictable which pretty much says it all.

Thanks to this rather forgettable plot the most interesting part of this episode is the in depth look at the character of Avon who spends most of the episode up on the ship contemplating whether he can survive without the others. They may seem like padding to some but to me they are the most interesting part of the episode simply because Paul Darrow’s such a marvellous actor and these scenes really do show off his acting ability. He hasn’t really got anyone to act against accept the voices of Orac and Zen and there aren’t that many lines either which means a great deal of what’s going on has to come from his facial expressions and he does this wonderfully. And the laugh at the end when he realises he needs the others really does sum him up perfectly.

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To sum up, this is probably the most neutral I’ve ever felt about an episode of Blake’s 7 and the only part I can say I properly enjoyed was the scenes with Avon in. Because of this I’m going to go straight down the middle with a rating of five-out-of-ten although I’m not too sure if it really deserves that. Anyway, big changes are on their way next week when Blake heads to Earth to strike right at the heart of the Federation in Pressure Point but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.