Blake's 7 introduction

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Blake's 7 was a British sci-fi TV show first broadcast from 1978 and 1981 during which it ran for four thirteen-episode seasons. It was the creation of Terry Nation.

I watched the last two seasons as they came out. I was only nine years old and used to beg my dad to let me stay up after A Question Of Sport to watch it. I recently rewatched it and realised how formative they were to my tastes and worldview. I also saw how ahead of its time it was.

In 1978, it had a consistent universe with continuity. Things that changed stayed changed and characters developed. Each season had a proper arc as well as standalone missions. The action was as much driven and shaped by the characters as it was by the arc. Also, no one was safe. The seven change across the story and name roles are killed off. When I first watched the later seasons as a kid a big part of the arc was that Blake was gone/lost and they were searching for him, a journey that eventually leads to their downfall in one of the bleakest endings in TV history up to and including today. 

It was made on a micro-budget and many modern viewers will find that too distracting, but I found myself once more compelled by the excellent story and central characters. 

Earth is home to the Terran Federation whose trading and diplomacy empire spreads through the known galaxy. Those who do not wish to join in are then faced with the federation's authoritarian regime who use brutal troops, brainwashing and drugs to suppress opposition. Blake is a dissident leader who was brainwashed and turned into a model citizen. At the start, a rebel group extract him and wake his memories. They are caught and massacred and Blake is sent off to a penal colony on another planet, the regime still wary to martyr a popular figure.

On the journey he meets other criminals and prisoners. Jenna is a pilot arrested for smuggling, Vila a cowardly thief who is too good at his job, Avon is a sardonic computer genius arrested for taking five million credits from a fed account and Gan is a strongman who has been fitted with a restraining chip in his brain. The prison ship stops to investigate an abandoned ship of alien design and this perfect rogue team take the opportunity to escape and steal it. Renaming it The Liberator, they are now armed with the fastest ship in the known galaxy with remarkable technology including a teleport system - that no one else in the galaxy has yet perfected. 

Under Blake's impassioned and often reckless leadership they set about waging a guerrilla war on the federation. This leads them on many encounters that often ask more questions than they answer, show up the characters' complicated motivations and conflicting moral ideas, and are rewardingly adult in theme.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy Best published on August 15, 2012 5:51 PM.

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