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  Directed by
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  Specs
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer - Series Two
  • 3 Audio commentary
  • Cast/crew biographies - Characters
  • 2 Featurette
  • Outtakes

Blake's 7 - The Complete Series One

BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 701 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

You’ve really got to hand it to whoever was ahead of their time in deciding that television of the late 70s demanded a science fiction series. Star Trek was long gone and wouldn’t be revamped for many years with the Next Generation. It’s just a shame that whoever decided this show would be made didn’t want to give up a whole lot of budget for it.

"You may not be tranquilized any more, but you’re still dreaming!"

Blake’s 7 details the misadventures of Roj Blake who is sentenced to exile on Cygnus Alpha. Just why that is so we learn in time - as we also learn the truth of who Blake actually is and why the Federation want him dead so badly. Teaming up with a bunch of other prisoners being ferried out to Cygnus Alpha, Blake takes control of the ship and heads out into the great beyond pursued by Travis, a maniacal Federation lackey. Much adventure and cheap sets ensue.

While the entire series has been written and conceived by Terry Nation, this is about the only real strength of the series. The sets are laughable for technology so advanced as to have created space travel, the props themselves are a close second and the science is wholly flawed. A few examples;

  • Meteorites are only meteorites when they enter the atmosphere of Earth (or some other planet). In space they’re just meteors and should be called such.
  • When a ship trails smoke in space it shouldn’t travel upward, but continue in the direction it was fired at.
  • And turbulence? In space?
  • My favourite though must be in the hull breach that gets blocked by someone holding their hand over it! There apparently seems to have been an escape of the Laws of Physics from this world as well.

Still, if you remember this show fondly from your youth you may well be able to look beyond these flaws. Personally, I couldn’t and while I liked the idea of renegade prisoners on the lam forever and ever in space, I couldn’t get past the shaking sets and costuming. Not to mention the hopeless special effects and clumsy model work. However, it’s applaudable that it made it to television at all in the 70s, so that has its value too.

  Video
Contract

Transferred from a video source, this actually comes up quite clean and sober compared to some TV of the era. There are a few video flares floating about but these are the fault of the original stock and not the transfer. There are some troubles with grain in outdoor and night shots and some parts have film artefacts (again the shot to film stuff mostly). Shadow detail is surprisingly good, blacks are true and overall this digitally remastered series looks fairly good for its age. And of course, it’s in the old-school TV ratio of 4:3.

  Audio
Contract

This audio quality here is fairly clear but the music has dated very, very badly, made up of too much synthesised electronica and feeling very 80s (so it is actually a little ahead of its time, ironically). The score was composed by Dudley Simpson and it does the job of putting us amidst the action and the late 70s/early 80s incredibly well. If that's a good thing.

Dialogue is clear and well understood if a little wooden at times and occasionally clichéd, but for the most part you won’t have any trouble understanding what was said.

  Extras
Contract

There aren’t a great deal of extras here and what there is can be found on the fifth disc in the set. 2 Outtakes, a Missing Scene, 1 Robot, 2 Flat Feet and a Blooper is the charmingly witty title of exactly that. This runs for a little past seven minutes and isn’t really that interesting, unfortunately. They barely even touch on the robot part which I am disappointed by. Robots are cool.

The Episode Synopses is a brief breakdown of each, umm, episode, which seems a little confusing given that those episodes appear on the other four discs. Filler!

The trailer for series two follows and this is sure to have you wetting yourself if you managed to make it this far through all 13 episodes included here. This runs for 2:35 and is action packed and sparkling with good humour.

There follows a Blue Peter segment from the Stone Age which runs for 7:54 and details how to make the Liberator Teleport Bracelet the crew enjoy wearing throughout the series. This woman’s hair has to be seen to be believed. A well-sourced piece of history, but still a little uninspiring.

Character Introductions is a series of short films made up of edits from the series and is mildly humourous but swiftly uninteresting.

Finally there are audio commentaries on three episodes from some surviving cast members and a producer. These are chatty affairs and worth it for the fans, but there’s very little technical information about the show. It’s more like a reunion where people discuss what’s been going on since and sharing memories of working on the (flimsy) set.

So not a rich batch if you’re a diehard fan, but possibly enough to interest for a little while. The newly animated menus and CG models of the ship are worthy of note too. Ironically these probably cost bugger-all to make and look way better than the original models and animation ever did.

  Overall  
Contract

This isn’t a speculative purchase here, this is more for the fans of the series from way back when. While it does have a fairly good story behind it, there were just one too many simple mistakes included that swayed the balance for this reviewer unfavourably.

I know it was a popular series and all and the consequential remakes and such are coming but I couldn't get into it as I expected to. Performances are fine, but the flimsy sets, the crappy props and the undisguisable late 70s hairdos are just too much.

This is one for the fans. All Blake's 7 million of them.


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      And I quote...
    "Performances are fine, but the flimsy sets, the crappy props and the undisguisable late 70s hairdos are just too much."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-T29S32S 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
          Akai
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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