The question is, what do we call the series now? It’s like 1,000,000B.C. or The Tribe of Gum: just factually inaccurate. I mean, Blake never had ‘7’ in the first place: Messianic as he might have been, the poor man never actually talked about himself in the third person, and one of his ‘7’ was his spaceship. And if you count him, you have to count Orac, which makes 8. Till the death of Gan…
No, to avoid all confusion, I think they – or rather, I – will have to change the name by which we refer to this weird and wonderful sci-fi soap. Surely a prime contender would be ‘Space Babes’: Avon being Space Babe #1, of course. (And I’d also argue for his name being in the title, just to ensure he never leaves.)
But this story seemed overrun with space babes, and they all want a piece of Space Babe #1 (who can blame them?). First Avon is awoken in a cave with a kiss from new Liberator recruit Dayna. Then he gets a crème de menthe fuelled snog from deposed president Servalan. Perhaps we know that Dayna’s sister Lauren isn’t going to stick around because she doesn’t swoon at the sight of Paul Darrow; whereas Space Babe #5, Steven Pacey, is definitely interested.
I’d also like to put in a special mention for
Doctor Who Guest Star
and UNIT babe Richard Franklin, playing the great-great-great-great grandson of Captain Mike Yates. I was tremendously disappointed that Yates Jr. was exploded by Vikings within five minutes of the opening titles. It’s a terrible waste, as Invasion of the Dinosaurs proved he’s an excellent baddie.
I do hope we get a Nick Courtney cameo in an upcoming adventure. Can’t you just see Courtney squaring up to Darrow? Courtney’s got form as a villain too, as any fule kno. I’d cast him as Travis’s older, deadlier brother. I’d call the episode AVENGER. I think I’d probably film it in North Wales…
Anyway, before I drift off into one of my ‘if I made Blakes 7’ reveries, can I take a moment to ponder the disappearance of every single crewmember bar Space Babe #1 and Orac. Is this really it? Vila and Cally dispatched? Blake and Jenna zooming away on missions of destiny of their own?
If so, it’s an act of terrific chutzpah. It wasn’t long ago we had a spaceship heaving with have-a-go heroes in sci-fi tabards, being chased by not one but two supervillains. Now it’s Dayna and this mysterious, somewhat effeminate space pirate – in a universe where the Federation’s disintegrated and green blobby aliens are trying to invade – and Terry Nation is poised to endlessly recast the storylines of two of last year’s best adventures (‘Killer’ and ‘Countdown’) with Servalan as the unpredictable figure from Avon’s past.
And I’d definitely watch that. It’s tempting to say that in focusing on Avon in this adventure, he’s finally realised who’s the star of this show – but that would be untrue, because of course it’s Servalan, Servalan, Servalan, and Nation gives her some fantastic material here. It’s so bold and unexpected to have her suddenly cast defenceless into an alien environment: to see her manipulate, persuade, threaten and kill in cold blood.
If she isn’t over-used in Season 3, there’s no telling how amazing this character – and Jacqueline Pearce’s totally sublime performance – can go.
As for the rest of them, I really don’t know what to think yet. I’m sad to see Jenna leave (and offscreen, too), but I don’t blame Sally Knyvette for going: the most she got to do in that last run of stories was flirt with a man in a purple leather miniskirt, and nobody needs work that badly. As for Cally and Villa, I fully expect them to bounce back next episode, but doing only goodness knows what. This episode demonstrates how exciting characters can be when they’re not jostling for attention in a rugby scrum of space colleagues, when they don’t have a massive alien spaceship for protection and no comedy pratfalls to lighten the tone.
I like my Blakes 7 like I like my drinks: bright green, made of goodness knows what and liable to induce extremely arch dialogue.