Blakes 40 – Blakes 7 40th Anniversary Rewatch: Series Two, Episodes One to Three

Redemption

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Redemption is a slightly odd way to kick off series two. Mainly because the first thirty minutes are Liberator bound, which gives it the feel of one of S1’s cheaper bottle stories (like Breakdown). Still, this does give us plenty of time to goggle at everybody’s new togs whilst the Liberator moves very slowly to a mysterious destination.

Avon – as usual – gets most of the best lines. His needling of Blake (“well now, you only had to ask”) is a delight. Sadly, the amount of time spent aboard the Liberator means that by the time we get to Space World there’s no time to explore it in any detail. Harriet Philpin and Sheila Ruskin look very nice but since the Altas are slaves to the machine they aren’t gifted distinct characters (so the creators of the Liberator remain just as much of a mystery at the end of the story as they were at the beginning).

There’s a nice bit of location filming, but Redemption doesn’t really amount to anything more than an amiable run-around.

Shadow

There’s a harder and more cynical edge to this story, which after a few fairly generic Terry Nation romps is more than welcome.

Blake’s desire to deal with the Terra Nostra, despite knowing exactly what they stand for, is a highly revealing character moment – clearly the ends justify the means for him. That Gan is the one who expresses the most vehement disapproval is a nice touch (this allows him to emerge as a character in his own right for once, but alas it’s too little and too late).

Blake is proved to be completely wrong, which demonstrates just what a flawed “hero” he is. Vila may be acting early on from self interest (he’s desperate to get to Space City) but his assessment of Blake – a pampered Alpha grade who wouldn’t last a minute amongst the underclass that Vila used to hang out with – seems spot on.

Avon delights in later telling Blake “I told you so”. And his ironic comment (“law makers, law breakers, let us fight them all. Why not?”) when learning of Blake’s next crazy scheme is a typically good Darrow moment.

Space City might be rather underpopulated (we have to rely on Vila’s vivid imagination to fill the gaps) and the subplot with Cally and Orac does seem rather bolted on to fill up an underunning script, but overall Shadow is a good-‘un and a favourite from S2.

Weapon

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Travis, after getting out of rehab, looks strangely different …

Brian Croucher doesn’t have a particularly auspicious debut (Travis here has all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop). Luckily, he would settle down a bit in later episodes.

The plot doesn’t make a lick of sense. If a perfect facsimile of Blake (or indeed two) can be whipped up, you’d think they’d be put to better use than what we see here. Clone Blake’s sole function is to inspect Coser’s wonderful weapon, IMIPAK, for a few minutes before Servalan arrives and takes it off him. Eh?

The earlier scenes with the Clone Master are fun though – all moody lighting, dry ice and Dudley going overboard on the organ ….

John Bennett does his best as Coser, despite the character’s funny clothes and the fact he’s only got one mood – very, very angry. Candace Glendenning also doesn’t have much of a part but is really rather lovely, so I’ll cut her some slack.

Scott Fredericks, despite his limited screentime, makes easily the best impression as the supremely confident puppeteer Carnell.

And what of our heroes? Well, they spend most of the episode on the Liberator, having a chat. Which sort of sums this one up, it’s mostly talk with little action.

Easily Chris Boucher’s least engaging story.

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