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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Full Frame
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer - Series 3
  • Audio commentary - on 3 episodes
  • Featurette
  • Animated menus
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • Digitally remastered
  • Interviews
  • Documentaries

Blake's 7 - Series 2

BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 733 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Blakeís 7 was heralded by fans as a revolutionary and ground breaking space opera in the same light as the original Star Trek series. While DVD gives us an unprecedented opportunity to relive our past in front of the tube, sometimes our past is best forgotten.

Donít get me wrong (oops, too late) the story behind Blakeís 7 is creative and engaging. It was definitely science fiction television at its best 25 years ago but Blake and his crew, and the sets and props, havenít aged as well as they could have. As much as I want to take a lightsaber to Blakeís 7 cheap and flimsy sets, overly dramatic situations and cast of Shakespearian try-hards, I will restrain myself because some of my friends are die hard fans and they know where I live.

In Series 2, Blake and crew journey onwards with their newly acquired plastic box with flashing lights (A.K.A. Orac) in their fancy stolen space ship and attempt to disassemble the oppressive Federation. The main mission for this season seemed to be finding Star One, the base of operations for The Federation. Of course Servalan and Travis the Federationís best (worst) were on their trail at every turn, killing crew members and generally making it hard for Blake to continue his crusade for freedom in the galaxy and properly enunciated vowels. (Ed: Evidence was discovered that said reviewer was reviewing this DVD downing a bottle of fancy shmancy port, smoking a pipe and generally watching the paint dry on his ceiling).

Good news for fans is that Paul Darrow (Avon) has bought the rights to produce a new mini series of the show set 25 years after the original ending, starring himself and a new cast of revolutionaries (no, itís not being called Avonís 7). Unfortunately a little research reveals that the plans for series seem to have stalled but anything can happen in sci-fi television land. If they can remake Battlestar Galactica they can remake anything.

  Video
Contract

There is a disclaimer on the back of the box set stating that, ďDue to the archival nature of this footage, sound and picture quality may varyĒ. Given that this show has just celebrated its 25th anniversary, the video transfer has stood the test of time quite well.

This set consists of 13 digitally remastered episodes and the care shown to the remastering process is very evident here. For the age of the source material the transfer is surprisingly clear and sharp, colour depth is good and black and shadow details are acceptable while not being spectacular. The transfer isnít without problems but the presence of grain and video faults can be forgiven and do not detract from the overall presentation.

As you would expect, all the episodes in Blakeís 7: The Complete Series Two are presented in the original aspect ratio of 4:3 full frame.

  Audio
Contract

The audio presentation follows the same pattern as the video transfer in that it is doing well for the age. The audio content is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track and again is surprisingly good considering the age and composition of the source material. Despite the cheesy sound effects and overly synthesised music threatening to overcome your senses, the dialogue is clear and crisp at all times.

  Extras
Contract

The first Series for Blakeís 7 included a decent collection of weird and interesting special features. This series continues the tradition and adds even more to keep the rabid fan happy for at least a couple of hours.

Audio Commentaries on episodes Shadow, Trial and Gambit
These commentaries feature some key cast members Brian Croucher (Travis), Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Michael Keating (Vila), Jan Chappell (Cally), with Producer David Maloney and the writer of many episodes Chris Boucher. As we have come to expect with a cast heavy commentary the focus of most of the dialogue is on trivia and recalling of on-set experiences along with the usual discussion of hairstyles and costumes (why are actors so obsessed with their hair?).

Saturday Superstore (5:01)
My ignorance of British shows from the 80ís is a given but this effort looks like a morning show aimed at kids. This short segment shows us the idiots guide to blue screen technology and would have been interesting back in the day but now it just comes across as old and condescending.

Introducing ORAC (0:20)
A very short panning shot of the bridge of The Liberator ending up on ORAC with some mindless blathering from the cranky computer.

June Hudsonís Costume Collection (17:18)
Probably the most interesting extra in this set this includes a quite lengthy monologue with Jane Hudson who was the lead costume designer for series 2. Jane takes us through the process involved in deciding on the look and composition of a number of the key costumes in the series.

Matís Models
Mat Irvine was one of the visual effects designers on the series and mostly responsible for designing and making the numerous model spacecraft used in many episodes. Filmed in June of 1993, this short segment has Mat explaining the process behind building the models and giving away some trade secrets.

The Mutoids (1:30:
A weird composition featuring edited scenes from the series, which show mutoids for no apparent reason.

The Ballad of Travis II (3:19)
Backed by the Dire Straits song ďThe Manís Too StrongĒ we get a short history of Travis the ultimate bad guy presented as cut shots from various episodes in the series.

Scene Today
What looks like a British morning show from the early 90ís, this segment was essentially a promotion for the original release of the series on VHS. Featuring interviews typical of this type of morning show we have a decidedly older looking Gareth Thomas (Blake) and Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan) being asked questions about their time on the show and what they are doing now.

Multi Coloured Swap Shop (19:36)
Another British kids show where guests sit on a couch and answer questions taken over the phone from fans all over the country. (Ed: I remember seeing clips of Christopher Reeve on this show promoting Superman; somewhere on this Internet). Filmed on 10 March 1979 approaching the end run of the second season we see Jacqueline and Gareth gritting their teeth and putting on a brave face for the promotion of the show.

Episode Synopsis
A static text based synopsis of each episode in the season.

Small World: Model Spacecraft (8:53)
Presented by Eric Thomson this short documentary focuses again on Mat Irvineís model work on Blakeís 7 as well as his work on other sci-fi shows of the time (Dr Who) with a short demo of a moon base segment illustrating how you can turn an egg carton and a cigarette lighter into a fully functional moon base. Mat Gyver?

Series 3 Trailer
Two versions of this trailer are available, one in full frame and the other in widescreen. Could this mean that Season 3 will be available in an anamorphic widescreen presentation?

  Overall  
Contract

If you have never heard of Blakeís 7 you probably havenít bothered to read this far anyway. If you have, bravo but go back to the ďSave EnterpriseĒ web page and donate the $100 odd you'd save to that cause by not buying Blakeís 7.

However, if your old Blakeís 7 VHS tapes are showing their age and you crave for some nostalgic sci-fi with an impressive set of extras then this is the box set for you.


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      And I quote...
    "If you crave for some nostalgic sci-fi with an impressive set of extras then this is the box set for you. "
    - Chris Hore
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-676A
    • Projector:
          BenQ PB6100
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V995
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale Diamond
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wharfedale Diamond
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale Diamond
    • Subwoofer:
          Energy 12"
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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