I finished listening to this set today. I liked the last two stories more than the first two. Vila, in particular, had a pretty tough time in both. Perhaps Mark Wright's Resurgence is my favourite - this could change in subsequent listenings, of course. But Mark is such a brilliant writer anyway, and particularly good at Blake's 7. Did I imagine he and Cavan Scott were going to take over the B7 range at one point?
Perhaps the reason it took me a while to get into Crossfire part 1 as a whole is that the style is more leisurely and introspective than earlier full-casts. As such, Crossfire emerges as something of a mix between the more 'physical' full cast dramas and the (still missed) Liberator Chronicles. As it turns out, what we have now reminds me more than ever of the style of the television stories. Above all, it's great to have regular Blake's 7 back at BF. I look forward to more.
'Surround yourself with yourself' - Kristeen Young.
Halfway through this set, and so far it feels like an unexpected disappointment. Especially when Blake's 7 at Big Finish is generally of such a reliably high standard.
I found the first story, Paradise Lost, a bit perfunctory, really. Not bad, and it was nice to hear Hugh Fraser back again, but the whole thing just felt a little dull and paint-by-numbers, and seemed to lack much of anything to really help distinguish it in any way, besides clearly setting certain pieces in motion that will be picked up later. I also found Yasmin Bannerman's performance in this one oddly stilted at times, whereas I thought she was fine in Spoils of War and The Way Ahead, so that took me aback a little as well. It was okay overall, but okay is still a bit disappointing when it comes to Blake's 7 on audio.
True Believers, on the other hand, I found to be the worst Blake's 7 story that I can recall Big Finish making. Overly long for a story with so little actual content, full of clunky descriptive dialogue and exposition, dreadfully dull one-note guest characters on a quest that I found awfully hard to get interested in, much less be engaged by, and it just dragged on so much, with nary a surprise in sight. Honestly, Jan Chappell did her best to inject some life into proceedings, but to no avail really. It's not awful, but it is the biggest dud I can recall as far as audio B7 goes, and I honestly can't recall an audio based B7 story I enjoyed less than this one (and I do own them all).
Also, regardless of what one feels about the quality of the True Believers story itself, or any lack thereof, it is hard to not come away wondering what the point was of putting that kind of, seemingly unrelated, basically solo adventure in the first boxed set of an ongoing full cast collection such as this one. On retrospect, the more I think about it, the more completely out of place it felt to me.
Hopefully the second half of the set is more enjoyable...
Have now started listening to this, only episode 1 so far. I held off until I had all 3 boxsets and will now listen at the rate of 1 a week to try and recreate the "feel" of an original TV season.
Episode 1 good, although I feel that the hindsight that comes with having seen the S4 episode Traitor takes away from some of the tension that would otherwise be inherent in the coming civil war.
Interesting reference to Del Grant, is that all that is going to be said about his departure from the Liberator? Sounds like there was something of a falling out.
So far, so good with Crossfire
UPDATE/EDIT: Just realised what was wrong with episode 1 - Avon didn't kiss the female guest star. In light of how the episode ends, he really should have kissed her in order to be consistent with the TV show.
Listened to True Believers this week. Not great. Not terrible either, but it struck me as a generic sci-fi story that could have been used in Star Trek or Doctor Who or Stargate, etc. In fairness to Simon Clark, he was only given 1 regular character to use (plus a couple of cameos from Dayna) and told to write a story about religion, it was never going to be easy for him .... I think Clark is a good writer who was not well served by the brief he was given and he deserves another shot at writing a "proper" B7 story - i.e. all regulars present and not about religion.
A bit of an oddity really, but one that fits in well with Season C episodes like Dawn of the Gods, Ultraworld etc.
Resurgence this week. Something of a resurgence for the Crossfire 1 box set itself, which is now back on form after True Believers. Mark Wright is one of the stronger writers for the range and this just felt like a good old fashioned B7 romp. One I look forward to re-listening to.
Fearless this week. Good, solid enough, episode. Perhaps not setting the world on fire and the "Vila loses his fear" struck me as a bit gimmicky as if they are running out of ideas, plus the female criminal who is a past associate of Vila's came a bit too soon after something very similar in Spoils of War. But overall, a good enough episode of B7.
As for Crossfire 1 overall, I am enjoying it - a promising start to the series. Not too keen on episodes that don't have the full team appearing (i.e. True Believers and Fearless). Works OK as a one-off, but if it is going to continue to be like that at the same rate of 2 out of 4 per boxset then I will be disappointed overall and feel a bit shortchanged. What was the point in stopping the Liberator Chronicles and going entirely full cast if you're not going to use the full cast? If we're only going to get 2 regulars in an episode then I would prefer the Liberator Chronicles to make a comeback.
I can understand how the Vila/fear thing might seem like a gimmick. However, I think it was consistent with the character we saw on TV and heard on BF. Vila is... Vila. Kind of like the Oz Cowardly Lion - they both would much rather avoid scary situations, but once in them, they still manage to perform well, even if they quiver a bit in the process. And Cally's abilities were woefully overlooked for much of the TV show, so to see it used here, propping up a "flaw" in Vila, seems more like an "expected storyline" than a "gimmick". Keating gets to step out of his normal Vila shoes for a few brief moments in this one, and I thought he did an excellent job of it.
Now, the way that Blake's crew seems to run into "old acquaintances" every other story, okay, yes... that does start to wear thin.