The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Friday, 16 September 2011


Nearly ten years ago, I did what I like to call a 'Blake's 7 Watch'. Well, sort of. I started half-way through the second series, because I'd watched the first series too recently (i.e. within the last ten years), and only wanted to watch episodes I'd not seen since they were originally broadcast.

So that I would never have to watch any of the episodes ever again, I wrote up my thoughts after each episode as a review. These reviews, as reviews tend to do, became more detailed and elaborate as time went on. I shall republish them here, but please bear in mind these are 'Voices From The Past' so some of the topical references may be outdated and my writing style may be even more immature than it is now. And please bear in mind that any opinions I express in these articles do not necessarily reflect opinions I currently hold.

Here are the first two reviews, from Jan 28 2002 and March 3 2002 respectively. First, some general thoughts:

I'm currently watching the Blake's 7 on UK Gold, for the first time since way back in the 70's. I remember it as being excellent, adult entertainment; I'm amazed by how well it holds up now - much better than Doctor Who of the same era. If you ignore the Captain Pugwash animation for the spaceships, that is. I particular enjoy the Dudley Simpson and the Terry Nation aspects.

My main sources of fascination are; 1) Jenna, and in particular, is she shagging Blake? I notice they always beam down together and seem awfully intimate on occasions. Either the characters are supposed to be shagging or REDACTED 2) the way Paul Darrow will run into to a room and do a sort of hop-and-skipping motion as he maneuvers himself around a desk to sit down in a hurry. Paul Darrow is the master when it comes to running into a room, hop-and-skipping round a desk and sitting down in a hurry 3) trying to work out who would play who if the casts of Blake's 7 and S Club 7 were interchanged and 4) the way people keep on staring out of a window and talking at empty, black space as though doing so lends their words greater significance. I suppose that's why it's called Clackavoid.

And now a review:


Stone me. Doctor Who never got this bad.

The '7' seems to have taken a turn for the worse since Gan left. First there's a rather dreadful Chris Boucher script about a leotard louse creature that talks in pidgin English whilst the multi-chinned bloke out of Coronation Street who says everything twice tries Travis for treason I said Ashley he t-t-t-tries Travis for treason etc etc.

Then there's a uncharacteristically badly-plotted script by Robert Holmes which features a scene of a gas attack where the Federation troopers [who are wearing gas masks] are collapsing whilst the locals [who are not wearing gas masks] remain perfectly fine. Which doesn't even have a 'Don't look at me! Don't look at me!' scene in it.

And now... Allan Prior's dialogue is even more clackavoid than Nation's or Boucher's has ever got; it alternates between portentious- Pip-n-Jane-speak and statements of the bleedin' obvious, often within the same sentence. The model work is a Greatest Hits of all the previous modelwork sequences, with which we are by now painfully familiar. And we are treated to a veritable b-list of Doctor Who villains - a Fibuli, a Ranquin and a Chen. The plotting is ludicrous - you'd think something so hackneyed and cliched would actually make logical sense by some sort of default, but it doesn't. What the hell is Avon's motivation? Or Servalan's? Or Travis'? Or Blake's? Orac is the only character in it with any motivation, and that's just to say something sarky before Avon pulls out his plug with that wonderful peowweeee sound which I believe was sampled in 'Peter Panic' by Blur.

How many former friends and relations does Blake [or 'Roj', as he suddenly seems to be called] have scattered about the universe? Why is a forty-year old pig farmer in wellies being referred to as 'my boy'? Why is Travis suddenly a fat cockney with gaffer tape over one eye instead of a scheming homicidal maniac in a mask? Why has Gareth Thomas stopped acting? Is Cally actually in it any more? Why do the Mutoids now all look like Theresa Gorman? Why does Servalan look like a female version of Marc Almond?

I notice that Jenna is now doing 'Rachel out of Brookside' acting; in other words, just alternating between doing happy and sad expressions irrespective of the lines she is given. And Paul Darrow is obviously the star of the show now. I've previously mentioned his wonderful ability of running into rooms and pirouetting neatly around desks to land into seats with meticulous, breathless urgency. Well, on top of that he now has this thing of being beamed down somewhere, only to drop to a crouch and point his gun suspicously in every direction, teeth gritted, eyes gritted, nose gritted, arse gritted - everything gritted, in fact. It's like he's acting for 7 because the other 6 can't be arsed any more.

Directed by Vere Lorrimer. Directed? A scene in which the camera is pointed at Blake and Ranquin's wellies throughout? A scene in which Ranquin pushes Travis over a cliff in which we see neither Ranquin nor Travis nor the cliff? And Blake and Ranquin dropping giant polystyrene boulders on a 'Nut-o' [a psychopathic muto, apparently] - or, at least, rolling them playfully along the ground towards him.

Still, it could be worse. There could've been a hands-on-hips 'doh, Vil-a' comedy moment at the end. Eeuruuruek.

To be continued.

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