Blake’s 7 – Audio Series 4 “Crossfire – Part 2” Review

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The fourth series of Full Cast Blake’s 7 audios continue, this time with a full set of good to great stories, thankfully. The series concept of a civil war between the current and former Presidents of the Federation has created some fun directions to take the crew, and I’m now eager to see how it ends! Let’s take a look at the four stories comprising “Crossfire – Part 2”

Synopsis (of Episode 1 “Funeral on Kalion”):

Thern Sorron, the ruler of Kalion, is dead. Federation presidents, both old and new, attend the funeral ostensibly to pay their respects, but whoever possesses the Seal of Kalion, controls the vast Kalion shipyards.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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If this cover had the Liberator on it, it would actually feature the 7… Oh well.

Kerr Avon (Paul Darrow) – Avon is wondering what role he and his crew can play in the on-going civil war, and more importantly, how they can profit from it…

Vila Restal (Michael Keating) – Vila, master thief and self-confessed coward, sees no reason to stop the two Presidents from wiping each other out, if it means he can get a break…

Cally (Jan Chappell) – Cally, a telepath, is still happy to stay on board the Liberator and see where this new civil war will take her and the rest of the crew…

Del Tarrant (Steven Pacey) – Tarrant was formerly a top pilot in the Federation, assigned to the former President to boot. That being said, he has no preference as to who he wants to win the war…

Dayna Mellanby (Yasmin Bannerman) – Dayna doesn’t really care about the civil war, all she cares about is getting her hands of Servalan, one way or another…

Orac (Peter Tuddenham) – Orac is a super-intelligent computer that helps the Liberator for no other reason than that’s who currently has possession of him. He has no feelings one way or the other on the civil war… obviously.

Zen (Peter Tuddenham) – Zen is the computer that controls the Liberator… and that’s about it. I normally wouldn’t even include it, but’s it’s part of the “7”, so…

Servalan (Jacqueline Pearce) – Servalan used the chaos of the intergalactic war to seize power for herself, but is finding it hard to establish her power base when the former President is massing a force to fight her…

The Former President (Hugh Fraser) – The former President, whose name still remains a mystery, is gathering men and planning out strategies for how to take his place back at office…

And more!

The Good:

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Got to love the old Federation troop helmet, complete with nonsensical bit of green plastic!

Episode 2 “Shock Troops” is the highlight for me this box. We see the old “life from a grunt soldiers perspective” as a Federation trooper known only as “Niner” is featured doing her normal life, interspersed with video diary entries back home to her dad. Dayna soon appears as a high-ranking soldier and you’re left wondering if she is undercover or if she’s been somehow brainwashed. Avon is soon heard in her head trying to break her free, and it leads to some great scenes of Federation brutality and a good look at the character of Dayna and how she might be if she hadn’t escaped the Federation as a child. There is a good, if rather dark, ending with Niner finding out her messages home and memories are all artificial, and that she and Dayna are part of a new micro-chipped slave labour group. It’s all really well done and a treat to listen to.

Episode 3 “Erebus”, is another good one, and an episode that feels closest to the TV show. It deals with Avon coming up against the skilled computer hacker who once landed him in prison all those years ago (where he eventually escaped with Blake and co.) and has some good scenes between the two of them, with the listener knowing full well how capable Avon is of killing even a former lover. There is also a bunch of scenes between Tarrant and Vila, who make for a fun double act when they can’t decide which corridor to take and that sort of thing. It genuinely put a smile on my face.

The final episode, “The Scapegoat”, is a good look at the power of media and how it can alter perception. The former President blows up a populated building and tries to blame the Liberator crew for it (and point out how Servalan failed to stop them for all these years and she still can’t protect them etc.), and the plan includes a fake Vila just in case, who then ends up getting into all sorts of scrapes with the real Vila, which makes for an amusing combo, then quite a surprisingly sad one, at the end… It also has Tarrant get stuck under the aforementioned collapsed building with a civilian who is convinced he and the Liberator crew are terrorists, and it all ends up with Avon rather depressingly pointing out that it doesn’t matter if the truth gets out, people will believe what they see in the media first and from their trusted source, no matter how blatantly false it is. A rather modern problem not so subtly played with, though at least it did fit the Blake’s 7 world well, so I won’t be harsh on the subject being forced in.

The Bad:

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Not the best cover ever, which makes sense given the “not the best story ever” quality it has…

Episode 1 “Funeral on Kalion”, is the weakest of the four, but it’s still average, not really bad. Kalion is a planet neutral and away from the Federation, but it also creates ships for it under a contract. The head of Kalion dies and so the control over the shipyards is up in the air, drawing Servalan, the former President and the crew of the Liberator all to the planet in order to nab the key that will give them all the power. It has some fun scenes, especially between the two Presidents, but the ending falls a bit flat, as the Priest retains the key and nobody wins, and all returns to normal.

Overall Thoughts:

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A rare cover appearance for Orac! I suppose there are only so many ways to “pose” a see-through plastic box…

One story was average, the rest great to good… can’t argue with that! As I said previously, I’m genuinely interested to see where this all goes, especially as the former President is a character created by Big Finish, and therefore he could conceivably meet his end when the Civil War comes to a close. I’m looking forward to finding out!

4 Star Listen

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