21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2006
The third series of Blakes 7 reaches to an area where many SCI FI enthusiasts won't reach. We are now dealing with a product that many people won't see being content with the classic series 1 and 2. In series 3 the fast pace of the early series is only present in some episodes. Things take a different turn here. The major characters of Blake and Jenna are no longer here and that has quite an effect on the feel of the new series. Avon is now in command of the Liberator and I expected him to dictate a strategy of wealth creation rather than Blake's moral crusade. This is not what happens and if anything the new character of Tarrant appears a more forceful leader. The new characters are worthy replacements and fit in well. Rather than attacking the Federation they defend the Liberator from Servalan trying to capture it. Curiosity drives them quite regularly into the trouble that is a hallmark of Blakes 7. The early episodes are in the same style as the second series. The episodes I liked were: Aftermath, Powerplay, Dawn of Gods, City at the edge of the world, Rumours of death, Sarcophagus, Moloch, Deathwatch and Terminus. Volcano, Children of Auron, Ultraworld were also reasonable. The only episode I disliked was Harvest of Kairos. Although I liked most of this episode its ending still jars. If you watch this you will be asked in the last 15 minutes to believe the most incredible series of events. The writer unfortunately gets a little carried away and this seems like something from `The A Team' rather than Blakes 7. The episode I most liked was Sarcophagus and I can't decide whether this or City at the edge of the world is the jewel in the crown of the third series. Sarcophagus is of completely different form to the usual assault on a centre. It is actually a little sinister but also beautifully written with imaginative singing and music. It really is an unforgettable episode and adds much to the series despite being very unusual. There is still the large source of imaginative ideas from cloning starships, space plagues, superbly advanced races, black holes etc. that we have come to expect from Blakes 7. I think more could have been made of criminal activity under Avon's lead and perhaps more made of the space war although this would be expensive. This series contrasts with the first two which have a strong direction, here things are much more loose but I don't dislike this. It is quite plausible that events could unfold in this manner. I noticed this for the first time in the episode Volcano which is early on in the series, it seems a bit aimless and you wonder why Tarrant and Dayna are there. The acting and characterisation are as usual first class. The comical Vila is there with a goldfish bowl on his head trying to avoid the space plague in Children of Auron and losing the teleport co-ordinates at a critical moment in Rumours of death, he remains a star character in Blakes 7. Tarrant evolves as a hard man who clashes regularly with Avon. The darkness is still there in the chilling Powerplay and Sarcophagus as well as the inevitable corruption and violence. All in all this third series does not quite manage the seamless quality of series 1 and series 2. It is still good however and for the enthusiast of Blakes 7 it is an essential item.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2008
The third season of Blake's 7 sees Paul Darrow's Avon take over as the main focus of the show, Gareth Thomas' Blake having left at the end of the previous season. Personally, I think this is the best of the show's four seasons, as the show had been a little narrow minded in it's scope. With Blake gone, there is less of a sense of purpose in the crew, and therefore a much greater variety in the types of stories with several very imaginative sci-fi stories, the most unusual being the rather weird Sarcophagus. Avon really comes into his own here, and Paul Darrow steals the show with his memorable performance. New characters Dayna and Tarrant are also very welcome and are played by some very capable actors, Jacqueline Pearce has a whale of a time in this season featuring more prominantly than ever and giving a highly entertainingly villainous performance, there's a fresh feel to the stories and the variety of styles, from the humourous City at the Edge of the World to the gritty and downbeat Rumours of Death, the surreal Sarcophagus and the sinister and catastrophic Terminal, mean this series never feels repetetive. The only poor episodes are Dawn of the Gods which feels like a rejected Star Trek script and the horrendously sexist Moloch, which feature the silliest looking alien ever seen. Overall, Season 3 of Blake's 7 is a terrific piece of space opera with a wonderful array of episodes and ends on a fantastic cliffhanger. Highly recommended.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
After the first two series of "Blakes seven" being about blakes attempts to destroy the Federation, this series took a slightly different direction. Gareth Thomas, who played Blake, had left the series. The production team made a brave decision to continue with Avon, a far less idealistic character (played to perfection by Paul Darrow), in charge of The Liberator. After the excellent interweaving plots of Series two, Series three is made up of individual stories with little or no link to each other. In fact, almost all the stories revolve around Servalan trying to capture The Liberator.
There are some great episodes, the best perhaps being "City at the edge of the world", which features then future "Doctor Who" Colin Baker as the baddie and a rare lead role for Vila, "Blakes seven"`s great unsung character, portayed by the wonderful Michael Keating. Other contenders for best episode are "Volcano", "Harvest of Kairos" "Death watch" and "Terminal" (which features the series only appearance of Blake and the unforgetable moment when Servalan finally gets her chance to command The Liberator). There are one or two which aren`t quite as good ("Dawn of the gods", where the "god" is a bald dwarf, "Ultraworld", with it`s Sci-Fi B-movie giant brain and "Children of Auron" which has a space plague that gives the afflicted lots of horrible facial scabs) but nothing really bad. New crewmembers Tarrant and Dayna are worthy replacements for Blake and Jenna although a baddie in the calibre of Series one and two`s Travis is lacking.
The special features are again missing the "Making of "Blakes seven"" documentary, which is disappointing as the BBC`s "Doctor Who" DVDs are always packed with that kind of thing. Hopefully the Easter Eggs won`t be as hard to find as the Series two DVD either. However, the bad karma surrounding the releases doesn`t stretch to the programmes themselves as the sound and picture quality are fantastic and is presented as good as it will ever be.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2008
You'd have thought the absence of the main title character was going to spoil the show. But no the series continues with the excellent acting and scripts as before. Dayna is beautiful and Tarrant is a good foil to Avon. Vila is as funny as ever, Peter Tuddenham gives excellent voices and characterisation to Orac and Zen. Servalan is as glam and bitchy as ever, one of the first television actresses I remember having a thing for....sigh. The only minus is the absence of lovely Sally Knyvette as Jenna. But a small quibble. One of the best space/sci fi series ever made consistently good. Well overdue a comeback!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 2014
That is what Paul Darrow jokingly said he'd have liked the series renamed after Gareth Thomas left, he wasn't being serious (was he?). While that would not have worked, it is a different although still recognisable series to the 1st 2 years.
The new title sequence makes this clear. In similar vein to the previous one (although not as well done) the liberator is chased by federation pursuit ships. Avon's face does not replace Blake's, because he isn't going to lead a crusade against them. There are still some episodes which feature battles of one kind or another with the Federation but the emphasis is very changed.
The 1st 2 episodes deal with the aftermath of the battle with the Andromedans (where we left series 2). Federation control Star One is destroyed and the crew leave the Liberator while life support systems repair. "Aftermath" focuses on Avon's plight. Landing on a planet with Orac, he meets new character Dayna and gets an offer from Servalan to share the Federation with her.
In "Power Play" he must battle to re-take the Liberator against the Federation troops who have taken it. Meanwhile Cally & Vila have problems of their own. Creator Terry Nation wrote these & it's a good thing that we don't get all the crew back by the end of episode 1.
It works better because of these 1st 2 eps, that Blake is missing, as is Jenna ( on 1st broadcast I was unaware that that about wrapped it up for Blake and thought he would return soon-ah those pre-internet days!) but along with Dayna, new character Tarrant joins them.
"Volcano" by Alan Prior completes a sort of arc establishing the new set up. Tarrant & Dayna visit a planet believing Blake could be there but before this turns into "Blake's 7 iii: The Search for Blake", Avon remarks that rumours of his appearance are so common they could waste a lot of time chasing each one. The attempt to get the support of the planet is the only real time they are obviously carrying on Blake's work in this series.
Servalan who spread false Blake rumours states that the Liberator under Avon is not an urgent problem and in most of their meetings this series, she attempts to grab the liberator as in this episode. She also is now prepared to leave them to rot on planets after she has their ship.
So for this run if an opportunity arises Servalan goes after the Liberator and/or the crew try to foil her plans e.g. her attempt to create an advantageous war in "Deathwatch". Many stories have no Federation-Liberator crew conflict making this series more like "Tales from the Liberator". There is less structure to the series but a greater variety of stories.
Mostly they are very self-contained. Some deal with the liberator crew's family in one way or another. "In Chris Boucher's excellent "Rumours of Death" , Avon seeks revenge against those who caused his lover's death (Anna Grant as mentioned in series 2's "Countdown") and uncovers uncomfortable truths.
In Roger Parkes' best B7 script "Children of Auron" Cally and the crew go on a mission of mercy to her home planet encountering her twin Zelda.
"Deathwatch" (another strong Boucher script) features Tarrant's lookalike brother Deeta-a gun for hire. Watch for Boucher the film buff here as he creates something out of a Western e.g. Shane, with a shootout. It's in a disused trading estate which has featured in so many SDF, action and cop shows it's like seeing an old friend!
Although not connected to family, Vila plays the hero in Boucher's "City at the Edge of the World" (watch for a deliciously OTT Colin Baker). Boucher credibly creates a story where a thief, the only man who can open the door to a hidden treasure, is the main character.
There are 4 attempts by aliens to take over the Liberator and/or crew by aliens. In "Dawn of the Gods" by James Follett (of Earthsearch fame) an attempt to escape a black hole Orac wanted a look at, lands them in a world ruled by a godlike creature from Cally's childhood. It starts well but gets pretty bizarre as it goes on.
By contrast "Sarcophagus" by famous author Tanith Lee, is a wonderfully magical and spooky tale where an alien bonds with cally and throws magic at the crew. The crew begin to turn on each other as well. It's so well done even video effect limitations cannot spoil the atmosphere
"Ultraworld" by Trevor Hoyle sees the crew trapped in a world ruled by a giant organic computer and is for me notable for guest starring my old drama teacher's ex-husband ( of rather less interest if you didn't got to my school) and being written by the man who wrote 3 B7 novelisations based on episodes of the show. It has a truly surreal moment as Vila recites limericks to save the day! Odd fun.
"Moloch" by Ben Steed involves the crew chasing Servalan to the edge of known space, then finding out there's something nasty that wants their ship.
Like all Steed's scripts it mixes good ideas with a sexist desire to see a future with women back in the kitchen, here they are literally treated as meat as one charcter remarks it would be good to see one woman "with an apple between her teeth and a bit of dressing". To be fair though this is the unsubtlely named Gross who is meant to be horrible.
it's a similar story with "The Harvest of Kairos" where he gives us a potentially great character in Jarvik who believes too much technology has taken us away from being real people. Now while it's reasonable it would take a strong man to turn Servalan's head, the idea she would take being picked up, thrown onto a couch & told to be quiet is diluting her character. It also has some coincidences. Jarvik assumes because he once briefed him for that command that Tarrant will attempt to take the Kairos shuttle when he could just as easily not bothered and gone after something else and the gang find an ancient spaceship ready to go when they're stuck!
In Terry Nation's stunning finale "Terminal" Avon makes one last ditch attempt to find Blake, risking his crew and ship in the effort.
A big strength of series 3 is the writing and characterisation. The only crew member who doesn't get effectively their own story is Dayna but then Aftermath was as much her episode as Avon's. Even when they are not the featured player, characters often still make an impact e.g. Cally's moral condemnation of Avon's revenge killing in "Rumous of Death", Tarrant's disdain for Avon's attempt to save himself in "Dawn of the Gods", Vila's assurance Avon has their backing in "Terminal" & Dayna revenge-taunting Servalan in "Deathwatch."
Even computers Orac and Zen get a moment or 2!
Naturally the acting is good , it always was.
There's a lot of good direction in this series 2 e.g. the odd angles conveying how Avon imagines Anna's last hours in "Rumours."
Modelwork is on a parr with series 1 & 2. Effects well in the main they have dated but there's a good chance you'll be enjoying the episodes too much to be distracted.
There are a couple of ropey aliens ( a big hello to the giant bug on kairos) but this was made a long time ago.
Watch out for Blake's cameo appearance in Terminal.
Special features, well there's a vintage location report, a lengthy and enjoyable interview with makeup whiz Sheila Wells, some more of those odd compilations of clips ( sorry but if you are "Introducing Dayna" then stick it on disc 1 not 5!), some bloops (like the star trek ones not hilarious) , a good little feature on stunts with Stuart Fell and of course the commentaries.
Paul Darrow & Jan Chappell are good value in these and despite his brief appearance in it Gareth Thomas comments on Terminal.
Unexpected gem is Steven Pacey's screen test for the role of Tarrant. Not only showing why he got the role but including some brief snatches of dialogue later cut or changed. it's presented with the finished scenes in the programmes.
I an only recommend this my favourite series of the show. As usual a point off for the extras not being quite enough.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A five disc dvd box set containing all thirteen episodes of the third season of the classic BBC science fiction show Blake's seven.
The five discs are in a fold out carboard and plastic container, which fits into a cardboard slipcase.
All episodes run for fifty minutes [approx.]. There's three to each of the first four discs. The fifth has one episode, and various extras.
It's a season you can't review without very mild spoilers. But people probably know them all anyway...
In the wake of the season ending cliffhanger from the last episode of season two, the first two episodes detail what happened next. Then end with a new status quo. Blake and Jenna are gone, the actors having wanted to move on. In come Dayna [Josette Simon] young weapons designer with a real grudge against Servalan. And Tarrant [Stephen Pacey] a somewhat rogueish ex Federation man.
Avon takes command. Gone are the great anti federation quests of Blake's time. Now the crew are out to survive. And steer clear of Servalan.
Both new characters are very well acted, although Tarrant doesn't have as much to him as Dayna does.
As with season two, you get writers who were clearly veteran bbc scripters with little knowledge of science fiction, and you get writers who were clearly very good at the latter. Which means there's a run of slightly average episodes after the opening two parter. A point at which the ratings dropped, and which led to the bbc deciding to end it after three years. But then comes Vila's finest hour in 'city at the edge of the world.' An episode with an excellent guest turn from Colin Baker. From then on, the ratings went up and the season gets strong. Most notably the excellent and very well directed 'Rumours of Death' which sheds light on Avon's past, and the superb bit of genuine science fiction 'Sarcophagus'.
The season finale 'Terminal' was meant to end the show. And ends in a way that did just that. But it wasn't the end. The BBC had a change of heart...
It's a looser structured season than before. It does have weaker episodes. But it does have great ones. So it's still worth five stars.
Extras are again slightly patchy but not without merit:
Commentaries on three episodes from various cast and crew members.
Sheelagh's make up memories.
Two excellent twelve minute long interviews, with the stunt coordinator and a make up lady.
Blake's Bloops. A moderately amusing two minute long outtake reel.
Nationwide: look north. A four minute long location feature on the second episode of season two. Filmed and presented in a rather dry 1970's manner.
Three minutes worth of clips for each of the new characters.
Casting Tarrant. Twelve minutes worth of Stephen Pacey's auditions for the part, plus the scenes he read as they were then shot for actual episodes, and a short anecdote about his casting. All of which make for an interesting extra.
There's also a trailer for season four. Which gives away the ending to that. So be careful if you don't already know what that is.
on 26 April 2013
I recently re-visited this series after having not seen it for around 20 years. I had previously thought of the last 2 series as the best. Now, I am re-assessing that idea. The third season careens around from one extreme to the other. Some episodes are wonderful, others are very disappointing. The opening episode "Aftermath" is relatively exciting, looks good with some fine filming work, and intrigues with the introduction of Dayna. The dialogue and seductive interplay between Servalan and Avon is witty, clever, and somehow very fanciful and real at the same time. After this episode, the series drops in quality with each episode until reaching the perplexing "Harvest of Kairos", which surely is a love-it-or-hate-it episode. Either you'll howl with laughter when a hunky dock worker/former space captain proclaims "woman, you are beautiful" to Servalan before sweeping her up into his arms and planting a passionate smooch on her, or you'll wonder what happened to the gritty space opera you were used to. Did it get replaced with unintentional comedy? I think I grimaced when I saw it 20 years ago and howled with laughter this time around. This time I was less attached to it. After that, the season is quite variable, but there are positive blips that struggle to reach above mediocrity, such as the Vila-driven story "City at the Edge of the World" or the melodramatic "Rumours of Death". Even the much anticipated series finale "Terminal" seems a little bland. However, when Servalan reaches the Liberator and proclaims "Maximum Power!", one wonders if she is proclaiming her new status or directing the spacecraft forward or both. The fact that the ship explodes thereafter is equally re-defining for the formerly gritty space opera. It's a moment of high camp that has nevertheless stood out in my memory since first viewing it around 1987. The destruction of the Liberator changes things dramatically for the series regulars who have to start all over in their efforts to battle the Federation. Series four seems to return the series to its roots however and ends with one of the best series finales in television history.
on 24 April 2013
Season 3, a definite change in pace but personally one that I was quite happy with.... yes the show lost some of the drive and direction it had had when it focussed on Blake's political agenda BUT it also lost the "Blake goes down to the planet and takes Vila and/or Avon while Jenna and Cally stay on the Liberator.
Instead of everything being about Blake it became more of an ensemble show with each character getting a chance to shine, Avon in 'rumours of death' Cally in 'dawn of the gods' Vila in 'city at the edge of the world' etc.
the Blake/Avon conflict has been replaced with Avon/Tarrant and to a certain extent some mistrust between Tarrant & Dayna/Cally. The gap left by Travis in the show as recurrent villain is ably filled by Servalan who now has a much more direct, face to face relationship with Avon and his crew. I do see what people mean though about a few too many episodes being based around Servalan's attempts to take control of the Liberator
My one gripe... with all the of the B7 boxsets so far is the fact that the Beeb have clearly not put the same money into them as with say the Doctor Who DVDs where you'll see a newly shot retrospective documentary for each story; something like that would be great for Blake's 7, either a look back episode-by-episode or a whole season's review.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2008
Re-watched most of this series recently and came across very few surprises. It's weaker than series 1 or 2 and a country mile better than series four. Some great bits remain.
The transition away from Blake is handled as well as it could be given the circumstances. Avon is a great supporting character (see below) and his interaction with Dayna in episode 1 largely works very well.
The exceptional high standard of dialogue is almost maintained and the barbs between Avon and Tarrant only serve to make their relationship in series 4 look ridiculous. Add to that some great stories - Powerplay worked really well for me, I love the fact that Michael Keating was able to shake off the "clown" image in "City..........." and Sarcophagus remains in my top 5 B7 episodes. The "brooding menace" of Terminal is a perfect conclusion to the series and in fact - should have been a perfect conclusion to the show full stop. But hey most programme stay beyond their welcome. So why only 3 stars?
There is a (intentionally?) rudderless feeling to the series - what's it all for? Having built Avon up as a character who is only against the Federation because it's after him, it's a bit rich for him to be the lead character - if the ethos of the programme remains "against the Federation". Additionally the subtlety of the character begins its descent into an almost satirical cartoonesque caricature. There's always a healthy debate about whether Paul Darrow overacts or not. All views should be respected but often the defence comes across as "attack Paul Darrow and you're not a fan". Rubbish of course - no true sci-fi fan should follow blindly of course. I know they do - hence we get reviews on Amazon saying "disappointing episode but still fabulous 9/10". (???) But compare Avon of series 1 to Avon of series 3. Nothing to do with development - any semblance of restraint in his delivery disappears - on occasions in series 3, consistently in series 4.
It's worse with Servalan. The complexity surrounding the original positioning of the Federation ended with "Trial" in series 2. A power that had evolved to a point where it was a dictatorship was "confused" with a degree of debate as to why that should be the case ("it's about order") and the extent to which the end justified the means. From series three onwards it was largely "Federation bad" and with that a layer of complexity went. That applies to Servalan herself. Her more restrained costumes - hey even her longer hair, as well as her "desk bound" context in series one added to her appeal. The exaggeration from especially series three onwards is all very well from a "look out it's the big bad wolf" perspective, but character realism went.
on 16 May 2012
Blake's 7 - a guy named Blake leads 7 people (counting two machines) against a wicked Orwellian space government. Series 3, guy named Blake quits, some characters killed off, wicked space government destroyed by little green men. Given that the BBC had made a habit of assigning the scripts in series 2 to sub-standard writers series 3 did not bode well! However, there was a marked improvement to the writing here, though it is let down a little by the suspension of disbelief you feel when our heroes travel across the galaxy only to have a chance meeting with their arch-nemesis Servelan yet again, talk about a small universe! Thankfully someone decided to write pretty but wooden Jenna out of the series, though replacing her and Blake with Dayna and Tarrant makes it look like somewhere in the BBC casting department the Blakes 7 and Blue Peter files got switched.