First in a new run of full cast audio dramas based on the popular science fiction tv show Blake's 7. And if you're reading this, you know what it was all about so no explanation should be necessary.
This is an all new story for the characters. It's a full cast audio drama. It's set at an unspecified point in the second season of the tv show. Although it has for certain reasons to take place after the episode 'Trial.'
Blake and the crew of the Liberator are still on their quest for the location of Star One, the Federation's control computer. An encounter with an old adversary and a squadron of Federation pursuit ships leads to them heading through an area of space called the Derelict zone in order to escape.
The zone is filled with dead ships. None of which made it out of the area alive. Some of the crew wonder why, and what destroyed them. And why Federation ships have been ordered to keep away from there. But the Liberator presses on and seemingly gets away scot free.
Or has it? Strange things start to happen. And the fragile trust that the crew who were thrown together by chance have in each other might be about to break....
This is a full cast audio drama, with the original actors who played Blake, Vila, Avon, Cally and Jenna returning to their roles. Along with a short appearance from Brian Croucher, the second Travis, also reprising his original role. Peter Tuddenham, who voiced Orac and Zen, is no longer with us, so another actor takes those roles.
Running to just over fifty minutes, it has the same length as an original tv episode. And it does feel like it could have been one. It is confined almost Entirely to the Liberator. The only guest character is a brief appearance by a Mutoid on the Federation pursuit ship.
Ultimately, as well, the plot is a bit of a generic science fiction one.
But it works, and it works superbly.
Because it starts with the original theme tune. Which is guaranteed to get your eager anticipation going. Although the cast do sound recognisably older you quickly get used to that. They all slip back into their roles with aplomb. And the writing of the characters is spot on. Some of the lines of dialogue that are comments from other characters directed to Vila are laugh out loud funny for the right reasons.
Also, it uses the audio medium to the fullest, which helps it unfold at a very good pace and create a nicely unsettling atmosphere at times when it requires it.
The finale does have some excellent character moments also.
This is self contained as a story, but it does also set up the next release in this range right at the end, and you can hear a trailer for that on the penultimate track of the disc.
Along with just over ten minutes of entertaining interviews with cast and crew on the track after that.
You can either grow old waiting for the promised remake to come to pass. Or you can listen to this, and feel like it's early 1979 on BBC1 on a Monday night all over again. So it's an essential purchase for fans.
I'll be honest the new B7 audio remakes with Colin Salmon et al, didn't really do it for me when I heard them on BBC Radio 4 Extra. The hybrid Early Years using some of the old cast were better, but this is the real thing! New adventures with the original cast a la the new Big Finish Who tales.
Fractures is a good start (semi pilot?) set between series 2's "Voice from the Past" and "Gambit" It's a character based story which is probably a wise place to begin as it gives the cast a chance to re-establish their old working relationships and re-establish themselves to us as the old characters without bringing in a guest cast as they will obviously do in later stories. The Liberator after a quick run in with Travis and a pursuit ship or 2, come across a derelict ship that requires investigation. But quickly evidence comes to light that one of them may be betraying the others. The crew begin to turn on each other each desperate to find out who is working against them and why. Is it for instance Blake, still affected by the mind control device (seen in Voice from the Past)" ? Some of the voices have changed quite a bit most notably Gareth Thomas. He doesn't sound like the Blake of old but he does re-establish the character of Blake, helped by great moments such as Avon apologising for doubting his word "It's not like you to apologise." Paul Darrow's voice is a little gruffer too ( he's smoked a lot of cigarettes in the last 33 years I would guess!) but he finds his old alter ego quickly and becomes the Avon of old.
Mostly the others sound very similar to the way they did back in the day especially Sally Knyvette and Brian Croucher whose voices in the characters of Jenna & Travis, seem to have hardly altered at all.
All of the cast perform well, as if they've never been gone and it's a testament to Justin Richard's (*1) strong script that they all get good material. After all 5 main characters is a lot to juggle in 60 minutes and unlike the TV version you cannot give anyone a bit of physical business to compensate for the lack of lines. Inevitably later stories may have to feature some characters more than others but hopefully they will all get their turn.
2 characters who have to sound different are Zen and Orac due to the sad death of their original voice Peter Tuddenham, but Zen is not as different as you might think and Alastair Lock (*2) 's recreation of him is stunning, very close to the original. He doesn't get the Patrick Mooreish voice of Orac but captures the fussy self-importance of him to a T.
We end with the beginning of a story arc, as there is something they need to check up before they go on with the search for Star One. Full Cast Stories are for now to be set mid series 2-late series 2 (I understand as Josette Simon does not want to return as Dayna. Please correct me in comments if I have this wrong!) This naturally means recasting Gan can be avoided. It does create a small potential problem as this limits story potential and for my own money I would suggest Big Finish sound out Glynnis Barber about returning (rumour hass it Stevn Pacey is happy to consider a return) and if she's keen then do a series 4 tale or 2, where Dayna's back on Xenon. Failing that, recast Dayna which has been done before in Sevenfold Crown & Syndeton Experiment when Angela Bruce took the role. So she could be approached & if not I'm sure there are others good for the role.
The CD rounds off with some brief interviews with the cast-all delighted to be back and Justin Richards who reveals he is script editor for the series-sounds to me like we're in safe hands!
*1 yes the same Justin Richards who has written many Dr Who books *2 the same Alastair Lock who did the dramatised audio documentary "Travis the Final Act" & 2 B7 audio dramas; "The Mark of Kane" & "Logic of Empire", all recommended.
For anyone who missed it, Blake’s 7 has returned with a brand new series, starring the original cast, and it’s all available on audio…
Although last year’s full-cast adventure, Warship, was well received, this story still needed to act as an introduction to this first new series of Blake’s 7 (with the original cast) and needed to be good. In this respect, Justin Richards has almost succeeded. Wisely eschewing a big , bold adventure with lots of guest cast, this episode opens the series with a close, tense thriller, based entirely on the Liberator itself with almost no guest cast at all. After apparently escaping a ‘Bermuda Triangle’ style section of space, they quickly find problems with the ship and split up to fix it. At which point they get trapped and the tension begins to mount. What is going on and who is trying to kill whom? As attempts are made and accusations fly, you begin to wonder if everyone will actually make it to the end…
Which is where the beauty of this play reveals itself. Yes, this is based during the second of the TV series and we know that no one died (other than Gan), but this doesn’t stop Richards playing with us and the characters; characters who are pitch perfect in virtually very way. This whole story is a character piece, digging under the skin of each of the crew and presenting us with just who they really are, paranoia, mistrust and all. That they are so accurate is due to the skilled writing and cast, all of whom clearly loved putting this together.
However, it is not quite perfect: the story itself is a little generic and attentive listeners will very quickly work out what’s going on. I began to find myself becoming a little impatient, wondering when everyone would work it out and just get on with sorting it. The end, when it did come, felt a little deus ex machina, but the quality is so high overall that this is just about forgivable.
As usual, there is a brief batch of interviews at the end of the disc, but before that, and true to the original series, the actual episode ends with a definite lead in to the next one.
I really enjoyed this story. It was really good to listen to the actors form the orginal series back in action, yes they did sound a bit older and that was apparant but the banter and characterisations were still there particularly Avon. I loved the orginal series and remember having a serious thing for Jenna and Cally never could decide which one I fancied more, ah pubescent fantasies! The story itself was interesting and very well done, I have only recently come across this series and was really pleased to discover big finish was doing them, I knew of the various doctor who's that they had done. I shall indeed be getting more from this series highly reccommend if like me you enjoyed the original series.
Sometimes with an audio book and especially one from a tv series I find that it wouldn't make a good tv episode, however, Fractures I feel would off slotted in nicely. It center's on the main characters with only a brief camo by Travis at the beginning, all In all its good stuff and look forward to the rest
This is Series 1, episode 1 of the Blake's 7 story Fractures. It is part of the Classic Audio Adventures range of Blake's 7 stories from Big Finish Productions.
In this full cast audio drama are Roj Blake (Gareth Thomas), Kerr Avon (Paul Darrow), Vila Restal (Michael Keating), Cally (Jan Chappell), Jenna Stannis (Sally Knyvette), Travis (Brian Croucher), Zen/Orac (Alistair Lock) and Mutoid (Bethan Walker). It is written by Justin Richards and directed by Ken Bentley.
If you liked the story Warship Blake's 7 Warship CD (Blakes 7 Big Finish) then you will love this. I do not wish to give the plot to this adventure. If you want to know more then listen to the trailer at Big Finish Productions.
All I will say is look out for the next 5 stories in this series. The next being 1.2 Battleground.