Blake’s 7 : Duel

January 3, 2015 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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As the title would suggest, this episode focuses on a duel to the death between Blake and Travis. The latter has only appeared in one episode prior to this one and it’s amazing how well defined a character he is already. However, this isn’t a complete success for writer Terry Nation as at the moment Travis feels a bit too much like a pantomime villain to me, I can’t really see him ever catching Blake and this episode only helped to enforce that. Blake’s final line pretty much sums it up with him saying he’d prefer to have someone chasing him who he knows he can beat. This doesn’t establish Travis as a threat, it makes him seem like more of a nuisance and an incompetent fool. Thankfully, Stephen Greif’s performance helps save the character and makes him seem quite threatening at times but the writing itself often ends up not really supporting this. Now maybe this is the way that Terry Nation envisaged the character or maybe Travis will improve over time but either way I feel that something’s misfired somewhere along the line. Blake is suffering from a similar problem in that he’s almost too good to be interesting. Gareth Thomas makes up for this by really sinking his teeth into just about every line he’s given but it goes back to the issue that the merry men are always more interesting than Robin Hood himself. I think that just about every crew member of the Liberator (with the possible exception of Gan) is more interesting than Blake himself which is sad but true. Anyway, the episode itself is directed by Douglas Camfield who is a veteran director who had previously done loads of work on Doctor Who and is a really good at action, making him the obvious choice for an episode titled Duel. He directed some great Doctor Who stories such as The Invasion and Terror of the Zygons, all of which have a great sense of atmosphere thanks in no small part to Douglas Camfield’s directorial decisions so I went into this expecting great things.

By the start of this episode, Travis has managed to drive Blake into orbit around an uncharted planet and is preparing to go in for the kill. Meanwhile, the Liberator’s continual escapes from the Federation have drained the Liberator’s power and so Blake, Jenna and Gan take a trip to the planets surface while they wait for the power to recharge and from there they spot Travis’ ships going in for the kill. They teleport back up and prepare for battle. Seeing no other option, Blake decides to ram Travis’ command ship but just as he is about to do so both he and Travis are teleported to the planets surface where they meet Sinofar and Giroc who decide that the two must fight to the death to settle the dispute. Blake is joined by Jenna who helps him in his fight while Travis’ mutoid pilot is sent to help him. Meanwhile, the two ships sit stationary in space and can do nothing but watch the battle take place on the planet below. Travis and the mutoid set a trap for Blake but it fails and so Blake and Travis face off in single combat. Blake gets into a position to kill Travis but instead shows him mercy. He and Jenna are then teleported back to Sinofar and Giroc who congratulate him on his victory and also question his act of mercy. He then replies by saying that he’d rather have Travis chasing him as he knows he can beat him. The Liberator is then freed and allowed to escape. Once the Liberator is safely away Travis is also released and warned never to return to this planet.

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In the review of the previous episode I did mention that Jenna and Gan were in need of more focus and development. So imagine the pleasant shock I get when Blake goes down to the surface of an unidentified planet accompanied by none other than Jenna and Gan. Unfortunately they all return to the ship not long after this and Gan returns to the background again. Thankfully though Jenna does stick with Blake which gives her a much needed chance to shine after quite a few episodes stuck up on the Liberator. There’s also one very interesting scene up on the Liberator between Avon, Cally and Vila which is both moving and funny. Avon basically admits (in his own special way) that he does care for his fellow crew members which is quite an interesting turn of events for the character and while it was obviously coming sooner or later (as you need to soften these types of characters up at some point) it’s still a great moment in an episode not really about Avon at all. Some great stuff, shame about Gan being left out again though.

We also get an interesting look at how the Federation runs it’s operations with the inclusion of the mutoid pilot who is sent down to help Travis. The idea that she exists only for service is an interesting one and the vampire side of things is also quite dark. The relationship between her and Travis is an interesting one also it’s almost as if Travis feels morbid curiosity towards her. It shows a different side to Travis and his threat to court marshal her at the end was also quite a dark moment. However, two characters I weren’t too keen on were Sinofar and Giroc who’s motivations are confusing and they ultimately feel like a poor plot device simply to get Blake and Travis in a duel scenario. The way they’re written feels clunky and disjointed and they ultimately drag the whole thing down for me. However, one we get beyond their main part in the story and move on to the duel in the forest itself I was able to forget about them and enjoy that fight for what it was. The fight itself was standard stuff but everything that was leading up to it was very strong and quite tense at times. Not knowing where the characters were in relation to each other helped to build up this tension immensely and when Jenna was captured by Travis the tension was at its peak. Finally there was the space battle at the start which was a nice way to kick the episode off and was also quite tense. Things feel quite helpless on Blake’s side of the battle and the attempted ramming of Travis ship made it even more suspenseful.

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To sum up, we have yet another great episode here although there are some story telling elements which left me feeling rather cold. Nevertheless, it was probably the most suspenseful of all the episodes so far so Duel is getting an eight-out-of-ten from me because of that. Coming up next is Project Avalon and we’ll be taking a look at that very soon but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Blake’s 7 : Mission to Destiny

January 3, 2015 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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After the introduction of Space Commander Travis and Federation Supreme Commander Servalan last episode, you’d be forgiven for seeing this episode as merely a filler due to it’s much smaller scale and lack of development in the overall story arc. But if you were to skip this one because of that then you’d be missing out on a real gem with Mission to Destiny. Writer Terry Nation has given us a murder mystery this time around, and a very good one at that. As ideas for fillers (and I hate having to call this that but in all honesty that’s basically what it is) go, this is a very unique one. Avon and Cally (and to a lesser extent Blake) step into the roles of the investigators while the crew of the ship serve as the suspects. So that’s what’s going on in front of the camera but what about behind it? Well, Pennant Roberts returns to direct his third episode for the series after previously being at the helm of Space Fall and Time Squad and also (since I actually paid attention to the credits for once) Chris Boucher serves as script editor for not just this story but the entire four year run. For those unaware, Boucher had previously written three Doctor Who stories, one of which, The Face of Evil, was directed by Pennant Roberts and another, The Robots of Death, was a murder mystery. Amazing what you can find out while watching the credits.

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Blake’s 7 : Seek-Locate-Destroy

December 27, 2014 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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The sixth episode of Blake’s 7, titled Seek-Locate-Destroy, is once again written by series creator Terry Nation and it introduces us to two new semi-recurring cast members. But these are not playing more heroes who are joining Blake in his crusade, quite the opposite in fact. Jacqueline Pearce and Stephen Greif play our first two recurring villains, Federation Supreme Commander Servalan and Space Commander Travis. Cygnus Alpha director Vere Lorrimer returns to directing duties here and the episode also features Peter Miles who is most well remember amongst cult fans as Nyder in the classic Doctor Who story Genesis of the Daleks. Here he plays the small role of Rontane but both he and his character will be back in the series two episode Trail, but that’s a fair way off so let’s get back to focusing on the present and the present is Seek-Locate-Destroy.

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Blake’s 7 : The Web

December 21, 2014 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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In this latest edition of our weekly(ish) Blake’s 7 blog we take a look at the fifth episode of the series, The Web. Michael E Briant, the director of the first episode of the series, returns to direct this story written by Terry Nation and it’s also the first story of the series not to introduce any new recurring cast members. With that said I though it would be a good idea to recap what we’ve seen so far before we take a look at this episode. So then, our story began when we met Blake who was quickly revealed to have lost his memory but when he is reminded of it and sees the Federation for what they truly are he is imprisoned and sent to the penal planet Cygnus Alpha.

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Blake’s 7 : Time Squad

December 6, 2014 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Another episode, another new regular cast member. Jan Chappell joins the Liberator as Cally in the fourth episode of Blake’s 7 which is titled Time Squad. Series creator Terry Nation is once again on writing duty for this story and Pennant Roberts, director of the second episode Space Fall, returns to direct this time around. Of the first three that episode was my favourite (followed by the first episode The Way Back and finally the third episode Cygnus Alpha) and part of the reason for that was the strong directorial decisions of the episode so hopefully we see that carried over to here. So then, high expectations for this episode and I hope it lives up to them so without further adieu let’s get into the synopsis.

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Blake’s 7: Cygnus Alpha

November 29, 2014 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Over the past two episodes we’ve heard a fair bit about Cygnus Alpha and now we finally get to find out what it’s really like in an episode appropriately named after it. Written by Terry Nation and directed by Vere Lorrimer, Cygnus Alpha doesn’t introduce us to any new characters as such but we do have the first appearance (if you’d even call it that) of Zen who is voiced by Peter Tuddenham. Zen is the control computer of the ship commandeered last episode which had now been named the Liberator after Zen read Jenna’s mind and took the word from her thoughts. An interesting thing to note is that the crew of the transport ship in this episode state that it had been an eight month journey. So presumably the events of the previous episode were spread out over those eight months, but this just does fit in my mind. The breakout must’ve taken place not too long before the start of this episode as Blake, Jenna and Avon haven’t even started exploring the ship yet. Am I missing something or is there a continuity error at work here?

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Blake’s 7 : Space Fall

November 22, 2014 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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As we continue our voyage through the sci-fi classic Blake’s 7 we move on to the second episode which is given the intriguing title of Space Fall. Once again written by Terry Nation, Space Fall introduces us to new recurring characters, Kerr Avon and Olag Gan played by Paul Darrow and David Jackson respectively. Something I forgot to mention last week was the director of the episode, who was Michael E Briant. He, like many other people in front of and behind the camera on Blake’s 7, had strong ties to Doctor Who and directed what may very well be my favourite Doctor Who story, The Robots of Death. This time around we have Pennant Roberts directing who also directed a couple of Doctor Who stories and there’s a connection here to one of his stories but that’s a topic for later. Now that we’ve successfully covered the general trivia for Space Fall let’s move onto the synopsis.

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Blake’s 7: The Way Back

November 15, 2014 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Blake’s 7! A dystopian space opera created by Terry Nation and starring Gareth Thomas as the titular Roj Blake. Not including the creation of the Daleks, Blake’s 7 is the most fondly remembered of Terry Nation’s contributions to cult television. Set at least seven-hundred years in the future, Blake’s 7 is sort of like Star Trek only flipped on it’s head. Here the Federation are the villains and heroes are a group of rebels who make up the crew of the Liberator. Running from 1978 to 1981, the series proved popular from the first broadcast and despite not having the budget to sustain the tropes of most space operas, it succeeded because of the strong characterisation and dystopian themes.

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