What’s that? You thought Blake’s 7 was finished on this blog? Nope! As a big fan of the Big Finish audio releases for Doctor Who, I had to give their Blake’s 7 range a go, especially as the whole of the first series was relatively cheap! Let’s take a look at the first half of the first Full Cast Audio Drama series, shall we!
An attack by Travis and a squad of Federation pursuit ships leaves the Liberator damaged, its engines in desperate need of repair. Blake is forced to take his ship into The Derelict Zone, which is filled with hundreds of drifting spacecraft that never made it out alive… The same fate awaits his crew. Because the time long expected has come… one of them has turned traitor.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
As if the Liberator looked like that during the TV series…
Roj Blake (Gareth Thomas) – Fearless leader of his own group of rebels, Blake is now more determined than ever to find Star One and put an end to the Federation once and for all…
Kerr Avon (Paul Darrow) – Cold and calculating, Avon is slowly becoming more accustomed to working in a group, and even going along with Blake’s plans. Not that he’d let on, though…
Vila Restal (Michael Keating) – Cowardly thief who never finds the time to stop complaining. Or drinking… but mostly complaining.
Jenna Stannis (Sally Knyvette) – Former smuggler who has ended up running alongside Blake and his band of rebels.
Cally (Jan Chappell) – Partially psychic woman from the planet Auron, she is often the voice of reason in the group… if she gets a role at all…
Orac (Peter Tuddenham) – Super intelligent A.I. who has managed to become sentient enough that he complains about having to do work below his level of expertease.
Zen (Peter Tuddenham) – The A.I. for the Liberator, Blake’s ship. Handy for controlling the Liberator… and that’s it.
I’m pretty sure via dialogue that the ship is supposed to be just floating under the water, not on the seabed, but what ever. Cover looks cool!
Even though Series 3 is my favourite of the four TV series, it is nice to hear Blake and Jenna back, as this is set during the tail end of the TV’s Second Series. It’s also good to hear all of them back together again, though obviously I’ve had a lot shorter of a wait than most! Sure some people, especially Blake, sound notably older and more gravely, but I’m used to that given all the Who audio I’ve listened to over the years (though it has to be said that Villa sound exactly the same!)
Episodes 2 and 3 form a lose arc based around the planet Staxis, where the Federation train new commanders by having them lead troops against captured prisoners who are allowed to roam free as rebels in order to properly test the cadets. Episode 2, “Battleground”, tells a good story between the cowardly and incompetent trainee commander generally being an arse who relied on his family’s name for promotion. He is especially unpleasant to his “Battle Tracer”, basically the person who has to log his moves and report his success back, as she comes from “common stock”. Blake, of course, leads a group of rebels into the command tank and takes it over, but it only ends up with casualties on all sides. Avon, on the other hand, is listening to Orac, who has become worried over a Federation version of himself he has detected, and is after someone who has knowledge of the project.
In Episode 3, “Drones”, they end up crashing the Liberator into the ocean of Straxis, and Blake sees his as an opportunity to possibly help a rebel he left behind during the previous escapade. While Blake, Cally and Villa end up getting involved with a new rebel group and the horrible micro-drones that have been injecting them with a virus then watching their victims die horribly. At the same time, Avon and Jenna have to fight off drones of their own, ones who are trying to attack the sunken Liberator. It’s a frightening concept, and it re-paints the Federations as the heartless empire they were back in the TV Series 2.
Ah yes, back when there were actually Blake and six other characters in the show…
While Episode 1, “Fractures”, isn’t that bad, it does suffer from “been there, done that”. An entity takes over the ship and isolates members of the crew and then starts playing mind games with them by faking their voices over the radio. They manage to get together and confront it, and eventually defeat it. It’s very much like the Series 3 episode “Sarcophagus”, especially the ending. As a kick off of the full cast range of Blake’s 7 audios, I felt it was a bit weak.
So all together it’s a good start, with it getting progressively better as it goes along. The cliffhanger of their being a Federation Orac, or “Fedorac” as they kept saying, is a good one, and is a good excuse as to why they detour from their planned attack on Star One that we see in the TV series 2. Let’s keep the momentum going!
Episode 1 “Fractures”:
Episodes 2 “Battleground” and 3 “Drones”: