B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

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The Way Back/Spacefall

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Total votes : 6

B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby shuzbot » Tue May 26, 2020 11:08 pm

Welcome to the Mondas best of B7 Rewatch

In true PMF style, it's a free for all aproach. Separate threads after this, but to get us started...

Enjoy, we all look forward to hearing your thoughts.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby The Ginger Cat » Wed May 27, 2020 12:35 am

Have at it folks.

Blake's 7 - 1x01 - The Way Back




Blake's 7 - 1x02 - Space Fall

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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby shuzbot » Wed May 27, 2020 1:20 am

"They murdered my past and gave me tranquilized dreams".
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby StarQuake » Wed May 27, 2020 9:55 pm

"You realise going outside is a category four crime?"

So far fetched. It's barely a category five crime.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby Cygnus Prime » Thu May 28, 2020 12:52 pm

THE WAY BACK:

First thoughts are that the cast are uniformly playing it with utter conviction and that Gareth Thomas has great screen presence, deserving of being a series lead.

As has already been pointed out, the first episode plays very much like a futuristic episode of PLAY FOR TODAY.

And, as has also been pointed out in discussion of the show, Blake's 7 begins with a Federation massacre triggered by a man called Tarrant - and only one man left standing. ;)

People often complain that Blake was a boring black and white hero and that Thomas was lumbered with playing him as such, but Blake is much more complex than that. Fanatical, wounded and obsessed. He knows how to manipulate people and pushes to get his own way, blind to the cost. He even rationalises his own mistakes after a period of regret, then resumes his vendetta.

The first episode wrong-foots the audience as people that one might assume are going to be regulars actually end up getting dispatched brutally.

Going back to the acting style and the writing, this show is stuffed to the gills with theatre trained actors - and it shows. Compare this to many shows nowadays where a soap opera level of acting seems to be the norm and scripts are duty bound to have tension destroying quips in the face of danger. Blake would now be thowing smart alec one liners up at the camera in her isolation cell.

But something has been lost I think and this 1978 videotaped thing is real drama imo, far outclassing - and far more engrossing than - any glossy modern shallow rubbish.

I love the way this episode sets out the series stall and is a real character piece showing Blake taking all the horrifying injustice and then concluding with his resolve to return set in stone.

And technically Avon's sort of in the first episode. We just can't see him. :lol:

9/10
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby StarQuake » Thu May 28, 2020 2:03 pm

It's a fantastically acted first episode, with every actor treating the material with the uttermost respect. It's got a lot of nerve in that, for a show that was being lined up to be a big space-based action series, it doesn't get off Earth, doesn't feature spaceships, has a hero that doesn't throw a punch, fire a gun, or win, doesn't introduce most of the regulars (including villains), and actually ends with our hero being convicted of molesting children. This never happened to Captain Kirk!

It's pretty bold adult stuff. In terms of serious issues handled seriously, I don't think the show ever gets back to this level. It does get more fun, though, starting with next episode...

Actually, I've got to mention just how great that theme is. The seventies were a great time for British tv theme-tunes, and B7's reminds me a little of I,Claudius'. It's atmospheric and foreboding and takes me back to the seventies when I was a kid. It's magic.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby The Ginger Cat » Thu May 28, 2020 6:23 pm

That's The Way Back done and dusted then. Grim and gritty with a nightmarish quality to it, it's a great introduction to the series, setting up all the Blake/Federation stuff very nicely.

As others have noted, a sort of standalone episode, could work easily as a one off drama/play or something and well acted. I can't fault it.

A few observations. Jenna is much harder and Vila almost comes across as sinister in this. Love the model work, the Dome especially. The Federation guards guns don't have their usual firing sound effect. Shame they didn't bring back the Dev Tarrant (Jeremy Wilkin) character. Thought he was rather good in it.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby shuzbot » Thu May 28, 2020 9:31 pm

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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby shuzbot » Thu May 28, 2020 9:33 pm

Image

So basically, there was a big overspend on the first series cos they lost co-production money and a major distributor that could have accessed more territories. Distributor's do severely limit the profits in this country as we lack the vertical integration of the US.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby Servorobot » Fri May 29, 2020 8:26 am

Very interesting.

Thanks for that Shuz.

The Way Back is terrific. There is some grit and both this and Space Fall show how important a character to the series Jenna was at the start. Pity that was watered down so much in future episodes.

I agree with GC about the sinister aspect of Vila in this episode, but that’s gone by the next episode where the character borders on being an imbecile.

I also agree it was a shame Dev Tarrant never returned.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby Nyder's Genesis » Fri May 29, 2020 2:16 pm

This episode was so well scripted by Terry Nation. He wrote all the episodes for season 1 and it was clear he was flagging in some of the later episodes. Here though every character was well rounded. And for all the ropey special effects that come to the show later on, that exterior composite shot of the dome when Blake and his friends were outside was very impressive. Like others have said Vila's character must have been altered when the next episode was made. It was also one of the rare times when Blake was referred to by his first name. And those torture flashbacks were very disturbing.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby shuzbot » Fri May 29, 2020 2:19 pm

In Alan Stevens' and Fiona Moore's book, Liberation, they mention that Blake was originally to have been a teacher which would have made his trumped-up charges more sinister.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby StarQuake » Fri May 29, 2020 8:21 pm

Nyder's Genesis wrote:This episode was so well scripted by Terry Nation. He wrote all the episodes for season 1 and it was clear he was flagging in some of the later episodes.

If you look at the Wiki entry (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Blake%27s_7) it says that though Nation was commissioned to write all the episodes for series 1 he realised he wouldn't have the time, so he produced the first drafts for the episodes and left Chris Boucher to do the rewrites.
According to Boucher, "Terry came up with the characters, he came up with thirteen good stories, but he didn't come up with the dialogue. I remember saying, and I think it's pretty close to the truth, that for a long time, Paul Darrow [playing Avon] never spoke a line that I hadn't written or altered to make the lines sharper."

Nyder's Genesis wrote: Like others have said Vila's character must have been altered when the next episode was made.

Again from the Wiki:
One script was abandoned early; Locate and Destroy was originally planned as the fourth episode. This story would have re-introduced the character Travis, first seen in the pilot script, now with a mechanical arm and an eye patch. Travis would be ordered by his superior officer, "Commander Shervalan", to recapture Blake. This script's plot elements would later be used in the episodes Duel, Mission to Destiny and Deliverance. The last of these centred on Travis attacking the Liberator while Jenna was captured by primitives living on a planet ravaged by a biological weapon released by the Federation. Travis was later renamed Dev Tarrant in the opening episode The Way Back; the Travis that appeared from Seek-Locate-Destroy onwards was a new character, while "Commander Shervalan" became female and was renamed Servalan.

The characters of Trent, Selman and Klein were removed from the series, although Trent and Selman appeared as Blake's fellow prisoners and were then killed in the broadcast version of Cygnus Alpha. These characters were removed in order to control costs and to give the remaining characters more work. Blake's 7 would now comprise Blake himself; Avon, who acquired the scheming nature of Arco Trent; Vila, who now acquired the cowardly aspect originally planned for Avon; Jenna; Gan; Zen, the Liberator computer; and a new character: the telepathic alien, Cally, who was added to balance the gender mix among the cast. This character had similarities to that of Doctor Who companion Leela – created by Boucher, who was inspired by the Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled. Stevens and Moore speculate that Boucher had a large part in the creation of Cally, whose skin and hair were to be coloured red, while coloured contact lenses would be worn by the actress when Cally entered a telepathic trance, giving her a more alien appearance. These ideas were finally abandoned to reduce costs and save time.

I think Boucher must have been behind several of the alterations. I think the sharper, more sinister Villa we see in The Way Back is more interesting in isolation, but probably the version we're familiar with was better for the group dynamic.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby shuzbot » Fri May 29, 2020 8:35 pm

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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby shuzbot » Fri May 29, 2020 8:37 pm

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As you can see from my above post, the funding from the dropping of Timelife meant they had an effects budget of £50 and directors had to revise plans on the morning and the release of an updated script. But the programme was still well-received.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby Cygnus Prime » Sat May 30, 2020 3:57 pm

Spacefall

A good, solid episode, in which the regulars are introduced and the format is established.

It says much for the writing and acting when a failed takeover of the ship is so engaging.

Blake's - imo frankly insane - conviction that they will get another chance after they have been recaptured shows the determination of this born leader. That they do happen to get another chance is by the by.

Vila dropping the gun seems a little forced however and does his character no favours, showing him as a bit too stupid, when it is later often emphasised that he is actually a bright man hiding his intelligence.

Poor old Nova though. How lazy was Terry Nation in just reversing the name of another character when giving this poor fool a monicker? I think Blake would have got this over-keen follower killed at some point down the line though, even if he had made it as far as the Liberator flight deck.

Talking of the Liberator. What a fantastic design for a spaceship, both inside and out.

Shaving foam can kill. Beware.

Funny how Avon's brother never got a mention again.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby Servorobot » Sun May 31, 2020 11:10 am

Spacefall

Good, but not quite as good as The Way Back.

The dynamic is established and I only wish Jenna remained as integral to the team as she does in these early episodes.

We finally get to meet Avon who isn’t quite what he becomes. He seems more self absorbed than the driven, ammoral character we come to love later.

I’ve mentioned this before but I was dead chuffed as 16 year old to discover my father knew someone who was in Doctor Who (Dad first mentioning Les Schofield as someone he was in the Navy with when we were watching Face of Evil).

To see him later appear in Star Wars and Blake’s 7 only added to that feeling.

He’s good here, although he tended to play these sort of characters a lot.

The premise established it was off to the rest of the series.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby StarQuake » Sun May 31, 2020 8:06 pm

Spacefall isn't on the same tier of serious speculative fiction that The Way Back was, but it's more fun, and it's still quite gritty, if a little sloppy at times. The bit where Jenna scoops up the sealing foam with her bare hands and tells us that it hardens in seconds, whilst continuing to play with the oh-so-obviously not hardened foam, does make me groan. Could the director have not told her to quickly wipe it off on the wall or something? Also, the guy who dies in the wall crawlspace is so much weaker as an actor than those around him, he can't die soon enough. He's not awful, he just doesn't belong on the same stage as most of the others.

Avon's intro is great. I remember when I first rewatched this episode back when it came out on VHS it was a shock to see Avon as just a white-collar criminal rather than the leather-wearing killer he was later to become. Villa, as others have pointed out, just becomes an idiot. I suspect that is Boucher's influence, seeing as Nation wanted him to be Simon Templar-like.

Altogether a great episode, imo.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby The Ginger Cat » Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:40 pm

StarQuake wrote:The bit where Jenna scoops up the sealing foam with her bare hands and tells us that it hardens in seconds, whilst continuing to play with the oh-so-obviously not hardened foam, does make me groan. Could the director have not told her to quickly wipe it off on the wall or something? .


Yeah, had a bit of a snicker at that one myself. I really enjoyed Spacefall. This episode had the added ingredient the first one didn't, Avon. It's funny how you're instantly drawn to the character (he's the one to watch sort of thing) I do like Blake and Gareth Thomas plays him very well but there's something extra special about Avon/Paul Darrow.

A couple more ramblings...

Thought Leslie Schofield was bloody good as the nasty (Raiker), boy did I enjoy it when that arsehole got sucked out of the tumble dryer hose. :lol:

And man, that first glimpse of the Liberator, never fails to give me goosebumps.
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Re: B7 - The Way Back/Spacefall

Postby StarQuake » Mon Jun 01, 2020 7:14 pm

When they light the Liberator right it looks really good. I think it's one of the most iconic space-ship designs, up there with the Enterprise and the Millennium Falcon.
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