Friday, 2 December 2011

Blake's 7 Series One

My poor wife has a lot to put up with, after a chance remark made by BBC Radio 5 Live's Mark Kermode saying how much he liked Howard The Duck, I felt the need to rent it and make her sit through it (it wasn't as bad as I had expected) and more recently I have been working my way through the series one boxset of Blake's 7. She sees it as a way of getting on with some reading.

My memories of the programme stem from watching it as a kid in the 1970s and seeing the occasional repeat on UKGold when I still lived with my parents, my recollection was that the first series was rather good and that the subsequent series saw the quality slide a little.

The first series seems quite bleak and dystopian compared to the colourful campery that was to follow in later series.

Gareth Thomas as the eponymous Blake and Paul Darrow as Kerr Avon have a sparky on screen relationship, which adds a good deal of tension to the proceedings. Michael Keating brings a bit of needed humour in his portrayal of cowardly thief Vila Restal.

Sally Knyvette and Jan Chappel provide the glamour and essential skills to the team as pilot Jenna and guerrilla fighter Cally respectively. The final pair who complete the group of seven are David Jackson as Olag Gan, who must have been a bit miffed when he realised that his role would be restricted, as his character, a convicted murderer, was fitted with a 'limiter' in order to stop him being violent, which results in him being sidelined while the others get into all sorts of exciting shenanigans, and Peter Tuddenham as Zen the ship's computer onboard the Liberator.

The theme music provided by Doctor Who stalwart Dudley Simpson, is one of the more memorable ones to grace our TV screens from that era.

If you are well versed with Doctor Who from the 1960s and 1970s you might find it fun spotting guest actors in the series who have also featured in that show.

Memorable episodes include The Web (despite some low budget effects), Seek-Locate-Destroy with a slightly pedestrian security robot, and Duel directed by Douglas Camfield and featuring some revealing costume decisions (!).

Jacqueline Pearce is great as the icy Servalan and Stephen Greif who plays the hapless psychopath Travis is fun to watch.

DVD extras include; commentaries by the cast and crew on selected episodes, out-takes, a trailer for series 2 and a segment from Blue Peter with Lesley Judd showing viewers how to make a Liberator transporter bracelet, which I have vivid memories of watching when I was a child.

So, if you can see past the budget limitations (not too much of a stretch for fans of Doctor Who from this era) and you want something to watch during the break between the Doctor Who christmas special and series 7 due in the autumn of 2012, you might consider giving this a look.

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