Despite the destruction of their ship and the treachery of
Servalan, the renegade Avon and his companions continue their
fight against the Federation. However, their situation is
now more desperate than ever.
three series of Blake's 7 seemed like enough, and with
so many changes to the programme's format it looked like there
wasn't much scope for going further. Blake was gone. Jenna
was gone. The super-spaceship Liberator and its unique
computer, Zen, were gone. The Federation - the totalitarian
system against which Blake had always fought - had lost its
power. Space Commander Travis had died in his vendetta against
Blake, and now it looked like the President herself, Servalan,
was no more. How could the BBC keep the show going?
a new crew member and a new spaceship, series four of Blake's
7 got off to a shaky start. Glynis Barber played the latest
addition to the Seven, and while Soolin, her character, looked
good on paper, Barber never convinced. Her acting was wooden,
and irritatingly, she emphasised certain lines by wiggling
her eyebrows up and down while speaking. Worse still, the
new spaceship, Scorpio, was (no doubt deliberately)
the very opposite of the Liberator, and therefore a
huge disappointment. It eventually had a teleport and faster
engines, but could never hope to match the magnificence of
its predecessor. The set of its flight deck was similarly
underwhelming. It was clear the BBC did not want to lavish
money as it had originally with the opulent Liberator
set. The only saving grace was the new computer, Slave. While
obviously a replacement for Zen, at least the character was
pleasingly different and engaging.
Avon and his mates had a spaceship that could outrun Federation
ships, featured a teleport facility that no-one else had,
and sported a main computer that talked. Very original. There
was more recycling to be had, but it was thankfully less clumsy
But it wasn't all bad, because series four had exactly what
previous series had done with aplomb: great characterisation
and interplay. The chemistry between Avon, Vila, Servalan,
Orac and Slave was the thing that brought life to each episode.
Beyond the naff special effects and cheap sets, there was
always witty dialogue and dramatic personal confrontations
to enjoy. Paul Darrow (Avon), Michael Keating (Vila), Jacqueline
Pearce (Servalan) and Peter Tuddenham (Orac and Slave) were
the show's veterans and knew how to deliver. No matter how
bad everything else was, it was the talent of those actors
that kept you tuning in every week.
four was the last series of Blake's 7, and featured
a memorable finale. One, indeed, that caused controversy in
the media and outcry by the public. Now released on DVD, fans
can relive the conclusion of a show that, despite its short
tenure of only four series, conceivably burned brighter than
its sister programme, Doctor Who. (No e-mails, please!)
7 has already been released on VHS in the past, but, just
like the releases of classic Doctor Who on DVD, the
Blake's 7 series four box set is something special.
The thirteen episodes have been digitally remastered, and
the final disc contains over two and a half hours of extras.
The icing on the cake is what happens when you make a menu
selection: a CGI animation of the Scorpio undertaking
a manoeuvre from one of the stories. If only they'd had that
kind of technology back then...
the quality of the episodes is variable, they are all enjoyable.
The best are Games, Sand, Orbit and,
the very last story to be aired, Blake. Sand
is particularly memorable because it is so very different
to a typical episode, and Jacqueline Pearce is able to show
a side to Servalan that has only been hinted at in the past.
course, the extras are what get the fans salivating, and the
BBC has not skimped. For example, there is some highly entertaining
raw studio material, showing various takes and how the actors
behaved, or misbehaved, between shots; a Blue Peter segment
on making a Scorpio teleport bracelet; an interview
snippet with Terry Nation, the series creator; a documentary
on the Radiophonic Workshop and a recent, riveting interview
with Paul Darrow. There's more besides, and none of it will
short, despite the weaknesses of series four, this box set
is a must-have for any fan.