|I started watching season 2 of Blake's 7, yesterday (the DVD box set having arrived recently). It is such a fantastic show, it puts its modern progeny and its contemporaries to shame. After enduring the filthy sediment that is Andromeda season four and to a lesser extent five (as if season three wasn't bad enough), switching to Blake's 7 is not just like a breath of fresh air, it's like a breath of fresh air near a bakery in an agricultural rural village early in the morning when you've been living in sewers for a month and have just narrowly escaped from drowning in excrement. Firefly, Stargate and that bloody show that people keep harping on about with the pale blue girl and the hairy guy aren't much better than Andromeda's terrible seasons, if at all. Shallow characters whose idea of witty cutting remarks include such gems as "shut up" and "no, really, shut up", and despite that rubbishness you have to agree with them because the other characters just won't shut up.|
Among its rough contemporaries, there's Doctor Who and Star Trek (yes, I realise Kirk Trek predates Blake by about ten years, but from a 2005 perspective it's reasonably contemporary). Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy both Doctor Who and Kirk Trek - but not in the same day as Blake's 7. I watched what is apparently one of the better Tom Baker Who episodes a few hours after a Blake, and it was dreadfully disappointing. In comparison, the music is all jumbled, the dialogue is bland, the characters flat. It wasn't a horrible painful experience like watching an episode of Andromeda season 4, but still, I was wishing for Avon to come in and save the day by bringing some competence to the universe and then insulting everyone humorously.
Really, Blake's 7 has everything you could possibly want from a space opera series unless you're criminally insane - it has ongoing plot continuity (others: Babylon 5, Farscape), it has all episodes functioning pretty well as standalones (others: All Treks, Buck Rogers, Battlestar Galactica), it has interesting characters with a bit of depth (others: um?), it simultaneously has fantastically cliché characters (others: okay, everything), it has really well placed music (others: I don't know, but certainly not Andromeda season 4 which plays what is clearly victory music for the heroes being chased), it has delightful yet mostly non-ridiculous costumes (others: hm, maybe Babylon 5?), it has genuinely witty dialogue (others: ha, not bloody likely. How about Andromeda season 5's "give me your ship!" "I think you're confusing me with someone who gives a ship." No, I didn't think so.), it has effective conflict within the crew (others: Andromeda season 1, Babylon 5, maybe Farscape but I hate Farscape so I couldn't tell you), it has occasional competent baddies (others: only by dint of baddies somehow having survived long enough to assemble vastly superior technology, never by intelligence), and it has comically crude special effects (others: Doctor Who is the only real peer, but Kirk Trek and Battlestar Galactica get an honourable mention).
The two things Blake's 7 really does lack for is enough episodes, and DVDs releasing quickly. I've nearly run out of shows to occupy my pre-work toast ritual, and was thus forced to place orders for DVDs of old Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers (how long before they do a remake of that, d'you reckon?) and Knight Rider. Next week I'll be shaking my zimmer-frame at you all and extolling the virtues of making one's own entertainment. Now go and get yourself some Blake's 7 and Monkey DVDs.