Blake’s 7: a stellar quest through cheap spacesuits and high drama (video).
Blake’s 7, the British science fiction TV series that seemed to operate on the principle of “why let a decent budget get in the way of an intergalactic revolution?” Born in the creative chaos of the BBC between 1978 and 1981, this beloved brainchild of Terry Nation (no, not a place, an actual man) served up four series of lo-fi high drama that could only be outdone by a particularly spirited game of charades at a drunken Christmas party.
This video opens with a visually striking title card, showcasing the iconic Liberator spaceship against the vast backdrop of a starry galaxy – an apt introduction for Stam Fine Reviews’ in-depth exploration of the cult British science fiction series, ‘Blake’s 7’.
As the synthetic chords of the Blake’s 7 theme ring out, the video dives into its content. It begins by answering the question, “What is Blake’s 7?” With a slew of concept art, vintage promotional material, and select clips from the show, the narrator details the premise of the series, its themes of rebellion against authoritarianism, and the eclectic band of characters that form the heart of the story.
From the 5:45 mark onwards, each character is introduced individually, starting with the eponymous Roj Blake, portrayed by Gareth Thomas, and moving down the roster. These profiles are well-balanced, providing an insightful look into each character’s personality, quirks, and the roles they play within the series, all while treating the viewer to clips showcasing their memorable moments.
Subsequently, the video transitions to an examination of the show’s timeline. The narrator provides a detailed breakdown of each season (‘Series A’ through ‘D’), incorporating their major plot points, production issues, and the evolution of the series’ tone and thematic underpinnings.
Throughout this chronology, the video emphasizes the innovative model work, ground-breaking special effects (for its time), and the series’ struggle against BBC’s budget constraints. The video even delves into a section titled “The End of Blake’s 7, first attempt,” highlighting the show’s near brush with cancellation and its eventual survival into a fourth series.
As the video approaches its final act, it enters spoiler territory with the “Endgame” section. This portion discusses the series’ controversial conclusion, a bold narrative move that continues to divide fans to this day. Before wrapping up, the video touches upon the show’s unforgettable music and sound design, its line of merchandise, and the enduring legacy of Blake’s 7, even offering recommendations for the best and worst episodes.
Stam Fine Reviews leaves no stone unturned, promising further exploration of the series’ 52 episodes in Part Two and a tantalizing hint of a potential Part Three dedicated to discussing the finer points of apostrophes in titles – a lighthearted way to wrap up this exhaustive and engaging exploration of the iconic British series ‘Blake’s 7’.
In this series, Roj Blake (played by Gareth Thomas), an idealistic, political dissident, finds himself at the helm of this celestial clown car, wrangling a crew that features a surprisingly practical thief, a smuggler, a big guy with a vague job description, a space captain, a weapons designer, a gunfighter and, of course, a sentient computer. Blake, a man with the luck of a chronically broken mirror owner, is pursued across the galaxy by the Federation, the authoritarian equivalent of an overbearing HOA, and Servalan, the Supreme Commander with a penchant for dramatic capes and missed opportunities.
With plotlines as tight as their production budget, “Blake’s 7” often seemed more like “Blake’s 3.5,” thanks to the show’s rather flexible interpretation of the word “seven.” The number of crew members varied with the seasons, fluctuating with the mortality rate of the cast and the availability of new recruits.
While the show did, indeed, feature all the hallmarks of space opera — spaceships, robots, galactic empires, aliens — these elements were delivered with such melodramatic fervour that it sometimes felt like the show was less interested in the oppressive Terran Federation than in the oppressive forces of tight trouser seams. As for the alleged “enormous sense of fun,” it was often akin to the joy one might find in a vigorous tax audit.
The “Blake’s 7” universe extended far beyond its TV incarnation, spawning books, magazines, annuals, toys, models, audio dramas, video compilations and a wealth of merchandise which could only have been created by a department hell-bent on monetizing every last pixel of the show. It seems there was a sector of the population that wanted nothing more than to recreate the magic of “Blake’s 7” in their own homes, presumably by inviting over friends for dinner and then faking their own deaths.
Ultimately, “Blake’s 7” remains an enigma wrapped in a mystery, stuffed in a secondhand spacesuit. It’s a show that confounded critics, delighted fans, and managed to drag a spaceship built on the budget of a modest light bulb across the galaxy and into the annals of science fiction history. It is, in essence, a testament to the power of a good idea, an enthusiastic cast, and the enduring appeal of galactic incompetence. “Blake’s 7” – an interstellar calamity that you just can’t help but love.