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69 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the jackbooted future
Blake's 7 is a puzzle. It shouldn't work. It's cheap, frequently tacky, occasionally camp, and sometimes just plain embarrassing. It was in many ways a major miscalculation on the part of the BBC (who gave it the same budget as the cheap police series it was designed to replace). And yet...

It is also brilliantly cast, expertly scripted, performed with utter...
Published on 9 Feb 2004

versus
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blakes 7 Series One - The sublime and the ridiculous
Whether or not you like this cheap 1970's space opera pretty much depends on whether or not the characters and scripts appeal to you. If you are after high budget production values and dazzling special effects then go elsewhere.
If however, you're looking for something a bit different, a bit less straightforward than what you might expect from a telefantasy show...
Published on 2 Mar 2004


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69 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the jackbooted future, 9 Feb 2004
By A Customer
Blake's 7 is a puzzle. It shouldn't work. It's cheap, frequently tacky, occasionally camp, and sometimes just plain embarrassing. It was in many ways a major miscalculation on the part of the BBC (who gave it the same budget as the cheap police series it was designed to replace). And yet...

It is also brilliantly cast, expertly scripted, performed with utter conviction and is possibly the darkest SF series Britain has ever produced (The Prisoner notwithstanding). Set in a rubble-strewn galaxy of strip-mined planets, radioactive wastes and grimy power complexes, Blake's 7 offers little in the way of comfort and definitely no hope for the future. In Star Trek, the coming centuries belong to the humanists - in Blake's 7 they belong to the fascists. The Federation is a merciless, nightmarish bureaucracy that only exists because of its uneasy alliance with Space Command, headed by the seductive, selfish and utterly lethal Supreme Commander Servalan. All dissent is ruthlessly supressed and even the inhabitants of the Federation's homeworld, Earth, are dosed with drugs to keep them subserviant. Blake's cause was hopeless from the start, and that is what makes it so heroic. His crew are not the willing freedom-fighting commrades of a futuristic Robin Hood, but hunted, damaged individuals simply trying to stay alive. This is what made Blake's 7 so addictive - the interaction between the main characters (Blake and Avon especially). Season One sets the scene perfectly with its opening four episodes, then almost immediately begins to show us the futility of Blake's cause. Blake and his crew are only ever able to inflict mere pinpricks on the totalitarian regime that threatens them, but we share their longing, their hopes and fears. We cheer at every minor victory and feel despair with every major defeat.

The first season contained some of the best individual episodes and high-lights definitely include "Seek, Locate, Destroy", "Project Avalon", "Duel", "Redemption" and "Orac". Treat yourself to this box-set and teasure Blake's 7, for all its faults. We will never see its like again.
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72 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than an exercise in nostalgia, 22 Dec 2003
The Blake's 7 production budget may have been modest by today's standards and its special effects memorable rather than impressive, but Terry Nation's second most famous brainchild had it where it counted. Almost 30 years on, the series' characters, dialogue, storyline and sheer inventiveness still impress.
Very much an ensemble piece rather than a vehicle for one or two actors, Blake's 7 gripped its contemporary audiences and continues to enthrall today. Rather more than a simple struggle between the forces of good and evil, the series -- for example --sees a refreshingly self-aware Roj Blake question whether his actions are that of the terrorist or the revolutionary, and is on occasion harrassed as much as he is assisted by his crew; characters die or disappear with daring regularity, and it is a testament to the verve of the show and the vigour of its underlying themes that it outlasted the departure of its eponymous protagonist for a further two seasons whilst its fandom continues to thrive, with hundreds of fanzines having been consigned to print, and regular conventions still drawing healthy numbers of delegates. Fans of Babylon 5 will also find much to enjoy in the series (as, apparently, did its creator, J. Michael Straczynski)
Blake's 7 explodes on to the screen with a brace of gripping opening episodes which stand up as a wonderful piece of self-contained drama in their own right, and continued to develop with a pleasing consistency, due in no small part to the fact that Nation penned all thirteen episodes of the first season himself.
There are, of course, a few gripes: the series' female characters are not as strong as they could have been, with Cally diminishing from diamond-hard freedom fighter in Series 1 ('may you die alone and silent') to administering first-aid and matronly advice to the crew.
That said, there are so many things to take pleasure from in Blake's 7, that no brief account of its many facets could possibly do it justice. Instead, why not just sit back and enjoy the strong storyline, fascinating characters (the archly camp Servalan, sardonic Avon, single-minded Travis, and wonderfully irascible Orac), sparkling dialogue and thoughtful design: the beautiful design of the Liberator (inside and out), the chunky teleport bracelet and 'curling tong' handgun, the memorable design of the Federation Troopers' uniforms, all complemented by the rousing opening credits and rich incidental music of Dudley Simpson. Wonderful entertainment, and a set of DVDs you will return to more often than you might expect.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time for revaluation, 23 Jan 2005
By 
Martin Turner "Martin Turner" (Marlcliff, Warwickshire, England) - See all my reviews
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It's a cliché of TV's endlessly recycled "I remember 1978" and similar anti-nostalgia shows that Blake's 7 was a typically British cheap production that doesn't stand the test of time.
But a generation after the original release, it's time for a revaluation. Far from being an embarrassment, Blake's 7 is a jewel, embodying the very best of British production values from the golden age of the BBC's output.
I'm watching episode 6: "Seek-Locate-Destroy" as I write this review.
What springs out?
First, conflict. Conflict among the crew of the Liberator, conflict between Servalan and her Federation bosses, and with Travis, and with her own men.
Second, taut dialogue. Irony, biting sarcasm, political intrigue, diplomacy, tact, anger, disdain.
Third, characterisation. Even quite minor characters are fully realised, and the new major characters Servalan and Travis establish their own identities memorably and immediately.
Fourth, plot. "Seek-Locate-Destroy" is really a minor, in-between episode, sandwiched between the speculative SF "The Web" and the whodunnit "Mission to Destiny". But its own story is powerfully drawn, tense and engaging.
Fifth, modelling. The models of the space station and the Liberator are highly detailed and entirely convincing.
Finally, politics. Sinister, manipulative and fully realised.
What about the famous shortcomings - the special effects and use of quarries and powerstations to represent alien landscapes? In retrospect, these are nowhere near as bad as they seemed to be seen through the eyes of the 80s and 90s. To be fair, the opening credits are very weak by modern standards. In other episodes some of the space voyages use the same graphic technology, which is disappointing. On the other hand, the more usual 'white spacecraft against a black background' is very powerful indeed. The powerstations and quarries - unless you are watching for them - are a strength rather than a weakness, conjuring up the grimly totalitarian society of the Federation.
The rather sneering attitude to Blake's 7 - including Amazon's own review, which describes the series as 'dated' - says more about shifts in fashion than about the quality of the production. Blake's 7 was a late 70's, early 80's show. In the 90's, it was customary to look on that entire period as being a low point (except for punk). But we now look back on the 90's in rather the same way.
Taking everything together, of all the SF series that I have seen, including American greats Babylon 5 and Star Trek (original, TNG, Voyager, Enterprise and DS9), it is Blake's 7 which best stands the best of time for me, and which seems as fresh and original as it did when I first saw it back in 1978.
* * *
As a DVD to own and cherish, Blake's 7 series I is really something rather special. Every episode is different - an Orwellian nightmare of show trials, a prison break (failed), a sinister religion on a barren world, an 'enemy within' story, a psionics story, espionage-counter-espionage, a murder mystery, a medical emergency, and a desperate race to obtain a super-computer. The final series cliff-hanger is absolutely perfect, and will leave you rushing to get series 2 (unless you already know what happens, and even then...).
It also offers the delightful Blue Peter 'make a teleport bracelet' guide, as well as other goodies.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Technical Fault Rectified, 11 Mar 2005
By 
R. SINGLETON "robmsingleton" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Thought a few people may be interested to hear this. There was a technical fault on the first batch of these released by the BBC. The copy I bought from Amazon last week (March 2005) does NOT have the fault. (BBC are offering to replace discs for anyone that bought one of the earlier copies.)
The fault was on the layer transition which meant that on some players it appeared as though around 10 mins of the second episode on each disc had been edited out. This also explains why some of the earlier reviews of these have complaints of missing or edited material, which is not actually true.
Oh - and Blakes 7 is classic BBC sci-fi by the way.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Sci-fi, 17 Aug 2005
Blake's 7 has to be one of the best science fiction TV series produced in any country. It was created to be the anti-Star Trek, with Trek's idyllic Federation mutated into an oppressive dictatorship. Even the famous delta logo has been inverted in this dark version of the future.
Series 1 has an odd start, as we are introduced to ex-resistance fighter Roj Blake (the unusual names are a delight in this series), who has had his mind wiped and turned into the model citizen. Having been pulled back into the resistance, and caught again, the series begins to change tone as Blake meets Jenna Stanis (a smuggler), Olag Gan (a murderer), Vila Restel (a thief), and Kerr Avon (who tried to de-fraud the banking system).
Finding themselves in control of a powerful alien spacecraft (I won't go into how - see for yourselves!) called the Liberator, the new crew set off to strike back at the Federation. With the additions of Cally, and computer Orac in later episodes, the crew is complete - Blake's 7.
What sets this series apart is not so much the storylines (which aren't the most inspired ever), but some wonderful scripting (particularly for cynical Avon and cowardly Vila), interplay between the main characters, and a willingness to remain true to its dark character. The heroes don't always win, and in the end, we realise they can't ever defeat the evil Federation.
The only trouble is, when you've got this, you'll need to set course for Series 2, standard by ten...
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blakes 7 Series One - The sublime and the ridiculous, 2 Mar 2004
By A Customer
Whether or not you like this cheap 1970's space opera pretty much depends on whether or not the characters and scripts appeal to you. If you are after high budget production values and dazzling special effects then go elsewhere.
If however, you're looking for something a bit different, a bit less straightforward than what you might expect from a telefantasy show then this might be for you. It is blessed with flawed, interesting characters struggling in a fictional future dominated by a repressive fascist regime. It also seems at times fairly near the knuckle since the heroes (whilst ostensibly fighting for "freedom") attack the evil galactic super power with the kind of approach favoured by the kind of people we might call terrorists.
Created by Terry Nation (best known for being the man behind the Daleks in DR WHO) this show is resolutely downbeat, refusing the path of easy solutions to the problems posed in this Orwellian scenario.
The titular "7" are a group of criminals who are brought together by Roj Blake - a political dissident leader who dreams of overthrowing the corrupt Federation. They find an abandoned alen space craft (the Liberator) and use it to wreak havoc and destruction on the Federation's power bases.
In a sense BLAKES 7 is an inversion of Gene Rodenberry's optimistic vision of the future in STAR TREK. Interestingly, the logo used by TREK's United Federation of Planets is almost identical to that used by the Federation in BLAKES 7 - except that the arrow here is pointing right, instead of up.
Unlike the cordial atmosphere of inter racial and inter species co-operation on board the U.S.S.Enterprise, the crew of the Liberator are often verbally (occasionally physically) at each other's throats. The vituperative put-down line is a stock in trade of this series. The lion's share of the tension between the 7 in series 1, is provided by the contrast between the idealistic rebel leader Blake, and the cynical computer expert Avon whose stated philosophy is: "wealth is the only reality, and the only way to obtain wealth is to take it away from somebody else".
The characters are memorable because they are not only skillfully written, but beautifully acted. All the regulars shine, and the well-judged performances often transcend the poor sets and somewhat risible effects that were the result of severe under-budgeting by the BBC, as well as shocking time restrictions when it came to production. It's no use pretending the effects work doesn't matter, because it does. Having said that, some of the model work is pretty good (if poorly lit) and on occasion impressive. But ultimately one doesn't tend to come away from the show singing praises to the visuals!
But there is an intelligence and wit about the writing which pays handsome dividends to the receptive viewer. There is also a certain atmosphere to proceedings, which is admirably enhanced by Dudley Simpson's incidental music and stirring theme tune.
The villains are great too - the seductive Servalan (played with camp relish by Jacqueline Pearce) is head of the Federation's security services, and aided in her quest to rid the galaxy of Blake by the vengeful Travis (Stephen Grief, clad in tight black leather whilst managing to maintain an icy stature).
I've been a fan of this series since the first episode was transmitted in 1978, so I was delighted that it was to be brought out on DVD. The picture quality is mostly excellent, only marred when poor lighting of a scene or grainy film prints are unavoidably visible.
The episodes of series 1 are a mixed bunch, but on the whole quite entertaining (the best was yet to come in the 2nd,3rd and 4th series). The opening segment THE WAY BACK is totally unrepresentative of what the series was to become; but is an interesting (if dated) look at a corrupt,repressive future society. Recommended are SPACEFALL, CYGNUS ALPHA, SEEK-LOCATE-DESTROY, DUEL, PROJECT AVALON and DELIVERANCE. I also have a fondness for MISSION TO DESTINY, (again unrepresentative of the direction the series would eventually take) as it's a rather nice little Christie-style murder mystery.
The extras are variable, including a lovely clip from a contemporary edition of BLUE PETER with Lesley Judd showing you how to make a Liberator teleport bracelet - sure to get the nostalgic juices flowing. Also some out-takes, a deleted scene or two, and 3 episodes with audio commentaries from cast members are available. The commentaries are a little disappointing, but producer David Maloney's intelligent contribution leads me to hope that when Series 2 is released we'll have more from him. Too much time on PROJECT AVALON's commentary, for example, is wasted with Stephen Grief arguing with Sally Knyvette and Jacqueline Pearce over whether a mutoid is played by Glynis Barber or not.
Some kind of documentary style featurette would have made all the difference here, and the lack of interviews with Gareth Thomas and Paul Darrow is sad.
Nevertheless, this is essential if you are a committed Blake-o-phile, and worth checking out if you like thoughtful space opera, as well as the kind of intelligent, inventive TV of this period, and can accept the paucity of the budgets. (The monsters in BLAKES 7 aren't a patch on their peers in '70s episodes of DR WHO!)
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Regret , is part of being alive , just keep it a small part, 23 April 2006
By 
Miss T. L. Hamer "Tanya Hamer" (Leeds, West Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Blake`s 7 was an awesome British sci-fi series, which was first shown in the UK the same night Star Wars premiered in London ( 2nd Jan 1978 ). Created by Terry Nation , father of the Daleks from Dr Who , it follows a band of outlaws who continually try to thwart the plans of a futuristic totalitarian government , the Federation.

The real magic of the show , which resulted in a cult following and a viewing figure of about 10 million for the final episode ( a lot back then ) , is its diverse , yet beautifully and wittingly scripted characters. The sniping relationships mixed with subtle humour , the way out and over the top costumes and wobbly , yet lovingly crafted and original sets and spaceship models made the show unmissable. Both good and bad guys alike are flawed. And no-one is really safe , neutron blaster in hand or not. The show was forever being replaced with new blood. This sugar and spice approach gives it a wonderfully rich flavour , which keeps you coming back for more. And like a fine wine it just gets better with age , tasting just as good today as it did back then. This is a real sci-fi delicacy that any fan of the genre should try at least once.

The DVDs in this boxset , unfold to reveal a lovingly crafted set of images with a nice background. This luscious creativity continues , as you play the first disc. The CGI opening scene , and the style of menu on each one , really get you in the mood for the viewing pleasure that lies ahead.

Both the sound and image quality on each disc are superb. The commentaries are nice and long and very enjoyable. For anyone who remembers the show with fondness , this boxset will surely take pride of place in thier DVD collection.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - some more extras would've been good though, 19 Mar 2004
By 
Corey (Brisbane, Australia) - See all my reviews
I have very fond memories of Blake's 7 - I watched each and every episode when it was originally aired here in Australia, and I was very saddened when it ended. Hopefully the new series (or more precisely, new mini-series) will fill the void.
The DVD boxset is certainly an excellent update of this much loved series (even though it was delayed for 12 months). The visuals are crystal clear, the layer changes were not noticeable on my equipment, and while I was hoping for a little more out of the audio (at least a stereo up-mix would've been good), a lot can be forgiven (even those cardboard sets, and the wobbly controls on the Liberator bridge).
The user above mentioned that "approximately 10 minutes has been deleted from each episode", which appears to be incorrect. Each episode is ~52 minutes long, which is the same as it ever was. I even compared this to my VHS copies, and there was no time difference noticeable.
Overall a great replacement for my aging videos - one which I'm sure will be revisited time and again.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MISERABLE BRILLIANCE FROM THE 70s, 11 Nov 2003
By A Customer
Although it doesn't match the brilliance of the second season, this is where 'Blake's 7' kicked off. The produiction values may be cheap but they are also very imaginative (especially the costumes)but it's in the characterisations of the regular crew where the real brilliance of the series lies. Has there ever been a relationship as complex and fascinating as the one between Blake and Avon? Of the thirteen episodes included on this DVD, 'The Way Back', 'Seek-Locate-Destroy' and 'Project Avalon' are the real highlights. Forget 'Star Trek' and its sequels and invest in some miserable and edgy British space opera at its best.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anxiously waiting, 11 Nov 2003
By A Customer
There's no doubt that anyone who grew up in the late 70's, early 80's would have seen this series. Although I was the Sci-fi enthusiast in the family, the whole family would make a point of sitting round the TV when Blake's 7 came on.
Somehow it appeals to people on all kinds of levels mainly due to the focus on the characters rather than the special effects. Despite only airing for 3 or 4 years it remains very memerable and to this day, if I mention Blake's 7 to my mother, she imediately remembers Avon.
This first series saw the formation of Blake's crew and the interaction between Blake and Avon is first class. A few episodes in and we meet Servelan who at times outshines even Avon. The sets were low budget but there were some nice ideas in there: teleport bracelets, alien looking weapons, a unique bridge layout not to mention Zen. By the time we get to the end of the series they get orac and the crew is finally complete.
After seeing the original release date to DVD I was eager to get the series, especially with the extra footage listed, not to mention some episode commentaries from the original cast. This will be fantastic after all these years.
Also, after watching a recent interview with Paul Darrow about Blake's 7 returning soon I thought I must buy the old series first in order to keep up with anything new that appears.
My only complaint is the release date which has been held back by the BBC. From the descriptions and pictures the product seems finished, I've even seen info on the next series. Maybe they wanted to concentrate on DR WHO this year (40 year anniversary)
but in the mean time we're all left hanging.
Come on BBC !!
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