With the explosive finale of ‘Battleground’ still ringing in our ears, Blake feels he should go back to the battle planet of Straxis but the crew aren’t so sure. ‘Drones’ is the third part of a six-part series and the 7 are coming apart at the seams.
When the Liberator comes under attack, it starts to shut down and the safety of it’s all too human crew seems like an irritation for the alien ship. A crash-landing in an unusual place sees part of the team going off to seek out the convicts and idealists who form the cannon fodder for the Federation. Meeting up with some of the more organised fighters, Blake is astonished to find they are expected and disturbed to discover what awaits all of them as they fight for survival.
This third part of the continuing adventures of Blake and his 7 not very merry men, women and boxes of spare parts is wedged in the middle of the TV series two and in a completely believable way which adds some depth to the original TV show. The band of freedom fighters seems trapped in their roles and personas and each of them harbours a hidden resentment which starts to tear them apart. When Vila is attacked, it means the group must pull together but for how long?
‘Drones’ is written by Marc Platt (‘B7: A Rebellion Reborn’, Big Finish Audio) who picks up the storyline ably taking it to the next stop. There is plenty of snippy dialogue and you can almost treat this as a standalone story. It packs a lot of content into the sixty minute running time. Even better, it includes more of the main plot arc and although some events may seem incidental, they are building up to the inevitable finish in part six. Some of us are reliving the series and that is great but really this ought to attract new listeners to the show and they could do no worse than start with this six-part series.
‘Drones’ builds on the previous two episodes, nothing is wasted and using different writers for each episode means there is a collaboration almost like they planned it this way! The use of the original actors and, this is where audio covers up the forty year gap, adds meaning for the original fans and getting those characters right with those clever writerly words leaves the listener with the wry chuckle of recognition.
There are some high quality scenarios only dreamed of in the BBC special effects department. It is ably produced by Ken Bentley and the music and sound are created by Martin Montague with the music by Jamie Robertson. These people, who don’t get name checked often enough by me, are the core of this drama and make the fantasy come alive. Their skills allow us to briefly believe we are aboard the Liberator or down in the heat of the battle with the deadly drones chasing us and my hat is duly doffed.
‘Drones’ has enough action and the occasional brutal disposal of characters to satisfy the ‘Call Of Duty’ boys but this is more than just a boys’ own adventure. Despite the shaky sets, ‘Blake’s 7’ was always more than just a rehash of ‘Robin Hood’. Look closely and it has element of morality, philosophy even psychology and, oh yes, some feminism in it. This is worth more than one listen although the writers must be fully aware that sometimes in this highly disposable world that’s all it gets.
(pub: Big Finish. 1 CD 60 minute story. Price: CD: £10.99 (UK), Download: £ 8.99 (UK).
cast: Gareth Thomas, Paul Darrow, Michael Keating, Jan Chappell, Sally Knyvette, Alistair Lock, Tim Treloarand Sara Powell
check out website: www.bigfinish.com