Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Blake's 7: not sure it needs a 'reboot'

Do you remember 1970s SF telly programme Blake's 7? Lots of jokes get made about Blake’s 7 and wobbly sets, usually by people who haven’t seen it in years (or at all). What they miss is how very different it was from most science fiction popular at the time – think of Battlestar Galactica (the original, of course) and Space 1999, and Buck Rogers was soon to come on the scene. Star Wars had been a massive hit at the cinema. They were stories with heroes. While Blake's 7's central character Roj Blake, the framed, falsely convicted fugitive, had high ideals and selflessness in common with other TV heroes, his allies included smugglers, murderers and mercenaries, people like opportunistic thief Vila Restal and cynical computer-genius-turned-hacker Ker Avon. Avon was actually my favourite character: so blatantly looking after his own interests, he was actually trustworthy.

Blake’s 7 also had Servalan, possibly the most wonderful villainess ever to feature in an SF show – forget born-to-power Princesses Ardala and Aura, Servalan led a military coup on her way to the top and wore telly’s slinkiest, most diva-tastic wardrobe when she got there. She may have led an evil, authoritarian dystopian regime, but she certainly looked good doing it.

Needless to say, I’m greeting the news that there’s going to be a ‘reboot’ (ie remake) of Blake’s 7 with some trepidation. Sometimes remakes are done well. Battlestar Galactica. The US Office. The two film versions of The Addams Family with Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston. Sadly more often, they’re done badly. The US Life on Mars. The film version of The Addams Family with Tim Curry and Daryl Hannah. The film version of The Avengers (noooooooooo!). The recent version of The Prisoner, in particular, was not good despite having a great cast. So much of the quirkiness and character of the original was lost, and that’s what makes me worry most about the new version of Blake’s 7. Can they capture Servalan’s blend of sex and severity without turning her into a pastiche? Will they retain the ambiguous morality of Blake and his allies, or will they become generic ‘good guys’? I’d love to see a remake that does justice to the original, and the fact that SyFy are behind it - as they were the remade Battlestar Galactica – makes me hopeful, but I suspect I’d be better off sticking to Big Finish’s radio plays for my modern Blake’s 7 fix…

2 comments :

  1. They've been threatening it for years. I just don't think it would work; Doctor Who is a very different beast because of the ever-changing cast and style. Blakes 7 was more solid, with more of an adult central theme.

    I reckon it would be like Survivors, maybe good for a series or two, but I would much rather someone was trying to come up with something new. British Sci-Fi feels like it's really in the doldrums...

    Perhaps if Chris Boucher was heavily involved in the remake, it might work? x

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  2. Well, the pilot episode is being written by a chap who worked on Heroes and CSI, and directed by the one who directed Casino Royale. This does worry me a little: both those things are high on flash, low on grit and real nastiness.

    My favourite British horror/SF in recent years was Ultraviolet, and that was made nearly 20 years ago. There's been nothing near it in quality since.

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