79 of 79 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
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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Blake's 7 season one DVD picture clarity is amazing.,
I received my season one Blake's 7 DVDs today and spent seven hours playing them. The picture quality is amazing. It is far superior to my NTSC video tapes.
For Americans reading this, you need a DVD player that plays region 2.
There are 13 episodes on this and some extras. I love these DVDs for the picture quality and don't give a hoot about the extras which is a good thing because they are not all that impressive, in my opinion.
Some people have had trouble with Space Fall stopping in the middle of the show. Luckily, I had no problem with that. It all depends on your DVD player. But I did have trouble getting the subtitles and commentaries on the three episodes that had commentaries. I never did manage to make one subtitle work but the commentary worked so that was all that was important.
I listed to the three commentaries and also listened to all the extras on disc five which might be about one hour long. I will probably never ever listen to the commentaries again nor look at the extras either.
I was disappointed that in the extras only one B7 star was both seen and heard and that was Stephen Greif/Travis 1 who only appears in season one. None of the other stars were seen--except in clips from the shows-- athough several were heard.
Most of the Blake's 7 stars are very fan friendly and very happy about their association with Blake's 7. Surely in the future seasons more of the stars will be interviewed for the extras. I certainly hope so.
This B7 season one five disc set is definitely worth getting. I highly recommend it. I love mine. And I can hardly wait for the remaining three seasons.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic SiFi that stands the test of time,
So many things that you revisit from your youth are a disappointment...this isn't one! Proving Once more that a we'll written story driven plot, with believable acting can make up for rubber monsters and terrible special effects...enjoy true classic brit stuff
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for all fans,
Blake's 7 doesn't get any better than this. Well worth the wait. A must have for all fans. Forget talk of a new movie and relive the original Blake's 7 instead. Can't wait for the next series instalments.
My partner said I was mad buying it and after watching some she said it was just a cheap version of Dr Who. I explained to her that if you can get past the dodgy props and low-budget sets then you could enjoy some of the best space adventure ever written for television. The themes, characters and evolving plot all combine to create a truly engrossing series.
The DVD's have been put together very nicely and provide all that I was hoping for.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still my favourite all time show.,
I love Blake's 7 - the show that has never dated - as it was behind the times when it was first made!
Yep, whilst the Yanks were getting into Star Wars - with all its fancy effects and exploitative marketing - we had Blake's 7 - a show whose best effect was outed on a Blue Peter show; a plastic hairdryer made into a three dimensional intergalactic space craft, all via the magic of the BBC special effects department.
But so what? What is wrong with living within your means, a concept we are belatedly beginning to grasp. If you can't afford the latest high-tech electronic wizardry why be ridiculed for making do with whatever mother left behind in the kitchen, or bedroom? Whatever happened to genuine British ingenuity and invention? Granted, some of the space craft may have looked a bit blue tack and stringy, but they did the trick for teenage boys, their own minds filling in the gaps that economics neglected. And yet the legacy of Blake's 7s special effects remains, to the detriment of the programme as a whole. For years I have had to suffer abuse for my liking Blake's 7 - the main motivation for my writing this appreciation of the show. "How can you like that programme, it is so naff," is a line I have heard many a time, by cultural crustaceans, whose idea of entertainment is a night in with German industrial goth rockers Rammstein or a holiday in Cambodia, with or without the Dead Kennedys as company. Oh how I used to laugh, as the abuse continued, happy and content in the knowledge that I was indulging in sci-fi snobbery - the Yanks can keep their flash Star Wars, what with their fetishist Fed trooper body armour, for we had the real gothic horror of Servalan's outfits.
Before continuing with my defence of Blake's 7, the pride of Britain, I should briefly explain what it was, just in case younger readers are unsure of its rightful place in UK TV history.
The show is set in the "third century of the third calendar" and was based around Roj Blake's (Gareth Thomas) fight for freedom and justice, given his false conviction for child molestation - the case against him being set up by the evil minds who controlled the Earth's Federation; the totalitarian regime that ruled earth and its surrounding areas. Condemned to live on the prison planet Cygnus Alpha - think Australia without the Foster's, Kylie Minogue or the cricket - our hero determines to fight back against the evil regime and escapes from the spacecraft taking him to Cygnus, but not before meeting fellow internees: Kerr Avon, played by the sexy Paul Darrow, and the mischievous Vila Restal, expertly portrayed by Michael Keating. Of course, one should not forget the eye candy of Jenna Stannis (Sally Knyvette) and the muscle bound Gan (David Jackson) - characters that would make up the `seven', later to include the urban terrorist Cally (Jan Chappell) and uber-computer Zen (Peter Tuddenham).
Perhaps the star of the show, however, was the spacecraft they just happened across in outer space - the Liberator. Okay, it may have only been a model, but the ship looked fantastic - all imposing lines and classical shapes. The BBC, not renowned for its marketing, until the recent explosion of Dr Who merchandising, even marketed a plastic model of the spacecraft, a welcome change from the more normal Tiger tanks and Spitfires that this writer was assembling.
Anyway, back to the show. Now that they were armed with a plasma bolt firing spacecraft, and personal side-arms that looked like torches with knobs on, our heroes could strike back. Empowered and emboldened, they took the fight to the Federation in a succession of episodes, disrupting their hold on Earth via attacks on their communication and weapon systems. Perturbed by their growing reputation, the Federation assigned the discredited counter terrorist officer, the eye patched Travis, clad in sexy black leather, to hunt them down, controlled as he was by the female dominatrix, Servalan. Ah, Servalan, a momentary pause here as I remember some of her revealing outfits, a major help to me as I passed through adolescence. What a hot babe, to use the language my 12-year-old son would use.
So the scene was set, the `terrorist' Blake, and his merry band of desperadoes, chased across the universe by Travis, Servalan and hordes of black suited troopers, looking for all the world like some escapees from a sex fetishist club get together, although their helmets were real cool looking - imagine a bikers helmet with a green ring around it and you would be spot on.
By way of contrast, the clothes of our lovable `terrorists' were fancy dan; think Elton John '70s cast-offs, with jump-suits, colourful trousers and exotic textures being de rigueur. By series four a subtle change had occurred, as Avon, in particular, was made to look like a cross between a member of Iron Maiden and an extra in a glam rock band - albeit without the spandex or the codpiece, much to the disappointment of his legion of female fans.
And that, pretty much, was what sustained the series over 52 episodes, spread between 1978-1981. What I have not described, however, was the main reason for the shows success, the genuine and believable characterisation that grew between the interaction of the stars, especially that of anti-hero, Avon, Vila and the moralistic Blake. Although the enemy was the vicious and officious Federation, at times it felt like the crew of the Liberator were tearing themselves apart, with disputes amongst them frequent and damaging. In short, classic, engaging, sci-fi.
I should add that Blake left the show after series two, although he did make a return in the final episode, being shot in the stomach by his arch enemy - Avon, not Servalan, who thought he had betrayed him. Cue blood sprays from his belly and intense staring at the camera as Avon, his crew members being shot down in slow motion, realises the game is up. Smiling, gun in hand, he turns to face the viewer in close up and laughs, as the screen goes black. All the viewer is left with is sounds of gunshots as Federation troopers discharge their guns into his falling body.
At least, that is what we are supposed to think...
Given the ambiguity of the ending, fan fiction has endlessly debated the possibility of Avon being alive after all, that the entire crew were `stunned' and not dead. Indeed, I have read countless news stories about an impending new big budget film to be made, with Avon in the lead role.
Even in his autobiography, the funny and illuminating You're Him, Aren't You?: An Autobiography (Blakes Seven Big Finish) Paul Darrow keeps our hopes alive, by confirming he would love to play Avon in a Hollywood style movie. If nothing else I guess it would help with his pension fund.
Sadly, however, I feel that this will never be made, the passage of time meaning many people today are unaware of the celluloid brilliance of Blake's 7.
They are missing out.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blakes 7 Series 1 - A fine start to a wonderful series,
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Blakes 7 is the classic SCI-FI series. In series 1 there are thirteen episodes chartering the life and times of a band of renegades against the mighty Terran Federation. In a similar way to `A Clockwork Orange' Blake's 7 finds spectacle not in law abiding honour but the honour of criminals. The future according to this series is depressing: of technology racing ahead but mixed with conflict and corruption. This type of thing tells you something about the kind of series you are watching - no compromise SCI-FI. The series starts off quite slowly and it might be possible for the less discerning viewer to reject Blake's 7 early on. However it's not long before the major strengths of this series become apparent. These are as follows:
1. Superbly original and imaginative storytelling
2. Intricate and realistic characters
3. Plausible use of low budget effects
4. Magnetic draw on the viewer to keep on watching
5. Touches of genius sprinkled through the episodes
6. The music
Blake is a strong leader, already well known for previous exploits. With a piece of good fortune they capture the superstarship the `Liberator'. One aspect of Blake's 7 that will keep you on the edge of your seat is the tense action and risk taking. Blake takes some formidable risks throughout the series. Early on when nobody is confident with the teleport system Blake volunteers to try it out, risking his particles being spread across the universe. Success hangs by the slenderest of threads. The characters are marvels:
1. Blake - a natural leader, honourable, humane, idealistic and moralistic
2. Avon - a leader, highly intelligent, high ability with computers, materialistic
3. Villa - a coward, very criminal, breaks into anything, comic
4. Jenna - a pilot/smuggler, interacts a lot with Blake, dependable
5. Cally - a telepathic alien, not criminal, has good insight into problems
6. Gan - murderer, strong man, gentle giant, practical
The interaction of these characters is one aspect that makes the series a star. The arguments, conflicts and different ways of seeing things is plausible and done to great effect. Against this band is the immensely powerful Federation headed by Servalan and the renegade space commander Travis. Balancing these two unequal forces against each other has been a compromise for writers since fiction began. The reality of a quick annihilation stops the show and a sequence of very low probability events doesn't fool anyone. If I might be so bold as to criticise such a great achievement as Blake's 7 this is the area I would find fault. In `Mission to Destiny' Blake leaves with an empty box carrying what he thinks is a neutrotope, they run into an asteroid belt and run low on the energy required to maintain the force wall and power the drives. They are stuck. Teleport range along with other facts has been stated as 1000 spatials. A few moments later they teleport back to the other ship? Cally says `How did you get here'. How indeed.
The often quoted low budget effects of Blake's 7 have often been criticised. I find them a little uninspiring but this doesn't take much away from such a quality series. They are cleverly arranged to minimise their impact and often they could be realistic, realism not always being that flashy. Sometimes when the crew teleport down to an military installation which is a gas works, it seems like Blake is a time traveller coming back to Earth from his ship. It does reduce a little of the flavour but it's the consequence of not having the budget of Star Wars. Blake's 7 is a bit like one of those classic fibreglass cars from the seventies: cheap, pretty and handles beautifully but the rain leaks in and there isn't a V12 engine. In this series there are also some wonderful ideas that add a lot. Gan's brain implant and its malfunction, the super computer Orac, the different weapons. The Liberator with the computer Zen and his character. The idea that computers might be condescending and sarcastic. Then there's Travis with an artificial limb which a weapon has been installed. The mutoids that serve him, vampires requiring a serum to sustain their life. There is so much in this series from the scary `Time Squad', the spectacular `Seek-Locate-Destroy' to ice planets and obsolete space ships. Each episode is beautifully crafted as Blake's band weaves their way around the Federation, hitting centres, stealing prized equipment with their future hanging by a thread. The acting is excellent throughout and the characters seem lifelike. One trait of Blake's 7 is in the use of female characters - this is no male dominated series. A class act, most SCI-FI pales against this level of quality.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than DOCTOR WHO by far...,
Although I am a big fan of the time-travelling Doctor, that series was always intended to be a 'family' show. BLAKE'S 7 was its complete antithesis with a dark and cynical outlook that took many viewers by surprise.
Now remembered for "cheap" special effects and "hammy" acting (two claims I refute utterly!), the series dared to go where few others would even dream of, evolving over it's four seasons to take risks never before seen in television science fiction. For a start, there were few heroes aboard the Liberator - Even freedom fighter Roj Blake himself was a fanatic, prepared to go to extreme lengths to bring down the Federation. The rest of the crew were there for the sake of their own survival, seldom sharing Blake's ideals and motivated by greed or some other less noble instincts. Kerr Avon, as played by Paul Darrow, was an especially cold character - Exellently acted, Avon is truly one of the greatest characters seen in television drama ever.
Given that series creator Terry Nation's scripts for DOCTOR WHO were often laden with cliche & repetition, it's amazing that season 1 of BLAKE'S 7 (He wrote all 13 episodes) is so good. This is probably thanks to script editor Chris Boucher, the genius who crafted some of the series' best instalments from season 2 onwards including the legendary (& shocking!) final episode, BLAKE.
If you want gloss & flashy effects coupled with slick editing, look elsewhere - But for drama of a quality not seen since, BLAKE'S 7 is the only choice. The only crime this series ever perpetrated was to have a scope & ambition that exceeded its budget. Those with sufficient imagination can realise this and see beyind the visuals (no worse that contemporary DOCTOR WHO) at the multi-layered story-telling beneath.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Freedom fighters or Terrorists ???,
Blakes 7 for me was the pinnacle of TV when it first aired in 1978 when i was at the tender age of 9.It also aired when STAR WARS hit the Cinemas so this was a definitive year for the Sci-Fi junkie.The series revolves around the corrupt Terran Federation lead by the evil supreme commander Servallan played by the brilliant Jaquelene Pearce.Gareth Thomas played freedom Fighter Blake who with a band of outcasts escape to find the LIBERATOR.Which for me is one of the best Sci-Fi spaceships that a series has ever produced ,that was designed by Ian Scoones.Over the series the crew run into the Federation and the evil Space commander TRAVIS.And the assorted aliens as they try to escape not only Travis and the federation but evil aliens.Of the DVD there are a few special features and not much of note to mention.For the fan or the casual buyer this is a great series and well worth the asking price.
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the BBC's finest ever TV shows...,
Originally devised by Dalek creator Terry Nation as a 'dirty dozen' set 'in space', this groundbreaking series was the first and last of it's kind, other shows including Star Trek The Next Generation, Babylon 5 and Farscape would all borrow elements from it.
Blake's 7 was a darker more fatalistic reply to the American vision of future utopia depicted in Star Trek. Born out of the Cold War,Terry Nation could only see a hostile Orwelian future where human nature would never change.
In Nation's vision of the future, the B7 Terran Federation is a corrupt totalitarian superpower born out of atomic conflict. Expanding into space, drugging it's citizens and executing all those that stand in it's way.
Small pockets of resistance are easily dealt with on Earth but one man manages to put up a stubborn but ultimately hopeless fight. Old Vic actor Gareth Thomas brilliantly portrays a tortured freedom fighter whose belief that 'power should be with the honest man' drives him to commit acts that some would now regard as terrorism.
At it's very core, Blake's 7 was a study about the thin line between freedom fighter and terrorist - the descent from idealism into fanaticism.
With a powerful cast including Paul Darrow's brilliant self centred Avon, a stark realist constantly at odds with Blake's simplistic views - Avon's psychopathic nature would eventually match that of power crazed Supreme Commander Servalan. This show relied more on character conflicts & crisp dialogue than anything else (the low budget was one normally reserved for cheap police shows such as Softly Softly).
As the series progressed, the writers began to explore the political aspects of the show (no bug eyed monsters here that had often blighted Dr Who), the lower ranks of the Federation were often portrayed as likeable characters simply following orders who believed that Blake represented 'chaos'.
Armed with a powerful alien battle ship (found abandoned and drifting in space and beautifully designed), Blake wages a futile war on the Federation with a questionable crew of ex-convicts (some were murderers), blowing up gas works and shooting endless amounts of Federation guards on various planets (often the same quarry pit in the South East of England).
No traditional good vs evil fight here in B7 but various shades of grey pretty much like the world we live in today.
The finale of season one sees the arrival of Orac (later and accurately described by Servalan as 'just a box of flashing lights'). Never has a cheap prop had so much personality showing once again, the rare talent that writers such as Chris Boucher and Robert Holmes had. The episode is also memorable for introducing to the world of TV the season cliffhangers. Season one has a spectacular ending (those old enough will remember the impact this episode had next day at school with many thinking the crew were actually all dead despite the assurance of a further season). However, there was a more controversial cliffhanger yet to come but that is another story and another DVD boxset.
This B7 DVD set is essential for anyone who lost interest in Dr Who after the golden era of 1977 and those who enjoyed Babylon 5 and Farscape many years later.
Television script writing and character development are things that Blake's 7 still excels in some 26 years later whilst so many shows have since been forgotten.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love it - Hurry up and Release the Rest,
I was very excited when I received my Series 1 DVD set, and I wasn't disappointed. It was as good (or bad depending on your perspective) as I remember. Avon is the coolest, and my inspiration to become an Engineer (although I am not as ruthless as him!).
I would give the set 5 stars if I could see what they actors look like now - Servalan still sounds as sexy as ever, and Jenna is hot. I'd like to see how Villa and Travis have aged. I know that time moves on, but these guys rock. Where is Avon and Blake in the commentaries? Doesn't Avon (Paul Darrow) own the rights to the program - funny, he was always the smartest!
Also a 5-star for Amazon, I pre-ordered this series at £33 or so, they reduced the price after I bought the DVD, and they were kind enough to give me a refund. Amazon, you rock.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blakes 7.....The Dogs Rear Swingers!!,
This is exactly what i have been waiting for. As a kid i watched this excellent programme, i mean ok the sets may be a tiny bit shakey, but thats nothing compared to the great storyline and good acting.
The DVD extras are good to watch all i can say is roll on series 2!
If i asked ZEN if it was brilliant, im sure he would answer my question as
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Blakes 7 - Season One - 4-DVD Box Set ( Blakes 7 - Entire Season 1 ) ( Blakes Seven - Season 1 ) by Michael Keating (DVD)