Blake’s 7 series 2
After watching series two of Blake’s 7, I can see why the show has such a strong and loyal following. This is the season where the show hits the ground running and never really lets up. As with all non-first season reviews there will be spoilers here but, I will try to keep them to a minimum as American genre tv fans may not have seen this series yet.
The first thing that lept out at me about the second series was the much improved visual effects. I don’t know whether this was due to the show being given a greater budget or, already having the existing sets, they were able to spend the visual effects money on more stuff. The goofy transporter effect is still with us but for some reason I found it less irritating this time around. This could be due to the overall improvement in the effects area but could just as easily be due to me just become accustom to it. The other improvement that I saw over the course of the series was the writing doing a better job mixing the episodic versus continuing arc formats. This was done largely by favoring the story arc which was fine with me. One thing I noticed right away and, I don’t know if this had an impact on this, was that other writers were brought in on this season as opposed to Mr. Nation doing the whole thing himself like the initial season.
Like I said in the introduction the series comes screaming out the gate from the beginning. The first episode Redemption immediately addresses the elephant in the room of who actually built Liberator in the first place. We get to meet the builders and learn that, as a measure of comparison, the Federation may not be the worst alternative out there for living arrangements. This was a tightly written episode that successfully sucked me right into the second series. And this is only the beginning of a lot of great stuff that we see this season. The major story arc is the search for the computer control center that administers the Federation and, by administer I mean stuff as all encompassing as regulating planetary climates. These are all maintained in one facility which might sound like a bit of stretch but, old and decadent dictatorships do have a record of making less than brilliant decisions like this so I was able to go with it. This quest is a major background story throughout the entire series and features a twist ending that wrapped the season up with a bang.
One thing that I really liked about this season was the heavy focus on character development. Vila in particular gets brought out as more than then borderline stereotype we saw in the series one. This leads into something else that really stood out for me this season. When one of the main characters dies, directly as a result of Blake’s obsession to destroy the Federation control center, it has a serious impact on him. In the episode Trial which immediately follows the loss, Blake decides to leave the crew for awhile by teleporting down to an uninhabited planet to deal with his emotions. This is something that was pretty groundbreaking for a tv series from that time period. On a side note, the “uninhabited” planet Blake goes to turns out to have a serious science fiction twist that is unique, well handled, and something most genre fans would appreciate. One thing that we see come to a sort of head is the conflict between Blake and Avon over the “mission” of the Liberator and her crew. Even this turns out to have a bit of a surprise ending as well.
Another thing we got a good look at was the true depths of depravity that passes for business as usual within the Federation. One of the things we learn is that in order to quell rebellions on their various planets, the Federation is not above using planet encompassing neutron bombs designed to go off in the event of a loss of control. In the episode A Voice from the Past, we see another rebellion attempt put down with a downright chilling performance by Servalan that looked like something one would expect to see on a telescreen in Oceania.
As should be obvious by now, series two of Blake’s 7 really knocked it out of the park for me. I’m very much looking forward to series three which I should be getting to shortly.