The story titles, authors, and very minor story details for this box set were announced in the December 2017 edition of Vortex:
Ministry of Truth by Una McCormack ("focuses on the part propaganda plays in a conflict") Refuge by Trevor Baxendale ("gives us a first-hand look at the casualties of war") Kith and Kin by Chris Cooper (focusing on Tarrant and bringing back a character from the original TV series) Death of Empire by Steve Lyons
Synopsis Four new brand-new full-cast Blake's 7 adventures set during the TV series' third season
9. Ministry of Truth by Una McCormack In a special facility, the Federation propagandists are hard at work. When first Zeera Vos, and then the Liberator crew arrive, their work is disrupted, and a traitor, it seems, has been busy in their midst.
10. Refuge by Trevor Baxendale The Federation is in turmoil. The war is raging out of control. It’s time for Avon and his crew to pick a side – but when the Liberator finds a ship full of refugees, they realise that nothing can ever be that simple…
11. Kith and Kin by Christopher Cooper The planet Corrolos is a safe haven for ex-oligarchs and retired royalty. So why is Tarrant insistent on going there, and what was the last wish of his dead brother, Deeta?
12. Death of Empire by Steve Lyons Servalan is Supreme Empress of the Galaxy – but the man whose throne she usurped wants it back. The final battle of the Civil War begins – and it’s time for the Liberator crew to take a stand.
Written By: Una McCormack, Trevor Baxendale, Christopher Cooper, Steve Lyons Directed By: John Ainsworth
CAST Paul Darrow (Kerr Avon), Michael Keating (Vila Restal), Jan Chappell (Cally), Steven Pacey (Del Tarrant), Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Yasmin Bannerman (Dayna Mellanby), Alistair Lock (Zen/Orac), Rebecca Crankshaw (Zeera Vos), Dan March (Verner), Susie Riddell (Bowkan), Bruce Alexander (Galon), Malcolm James (Dev), Charlotte Strevens (Reeva), Peter Aubrey (Kimar), Hugh Fraser (The Former President), John Green (Mordekain)
After Box Set 2 of Crossfire lifted this series of Blake's 7 audios from the slightly disappointing set 1, Ministry of Truth sadly lurches back into comparative dullness. I'm not sure what has happened with Crossfire as a whole. Full cast stories that concentrate on a handful of crew-members makes a lot of sense and would, you'd think, promise the kind of character development approaching what we enjoyed in the Liberator Chronicles. But that doesn't really happen. Admittedly, the crew of the Liberator aren't easy to get to know - only occasionally on television did they have much in the way of deep character development - but that doesn't explain the slightly lacklustre nature of the stories themselves. Here, the cast are, as usual, excellent. The dialogue is typically perfunctory, with Tarrant proving the exception - he is an amusing foil for Avon's dryness. But there's little that lifts this story into high drama or tension. It's strange - the team behind Crossfire were also the team behind The Way Ahead, which was in my view, one of the best ever Blake's 7 audios.
I don't wish to appear too harsh on this. It is slickly made, sounds great, and has a nice twist at the end. But rather than people standing around talking (an odd criticism of an audio, I admit), a few monsters, a few memorable larger-than-life villains, perhaps an emotional thread running through the stories, something extra to invest in ... would be great. I really want Blake's 7 to continue with BF because it's a great partnership, and the earlier full-cast audios managed to do this, but Crossfire doesn't quite deliver. Let's see what happens with Refuge, next ...
This is a little more like it. Refuge still suffers for long scenes of people standing around talking (I still can't believe I'm using that as a criticism given the nature of audio, but other audios manage to make such moments a little more dynamic), but there is some good dialogue between the regulars (a cracking argument between Tarrant and Avon - more of this, please), and a good character in Galon. Galon is the kind of rogue who, back in television 1981, might have been played by Barry Jackson or Glyn Owen. A chance for Vila to reminisce is always good to hear but, as with the people Galon is smuggling, we hear people talk about the without ever actually hearing them. Off camera, you might say, which adds to my issue of 'standing around talking.' Trevor Baxendale's script is a good one, full of some nice twists and turns. While still a bit of a casualty of the current dry, 'minimalist' type of production, I enjoyed this.
I don't want to have any unkind words for this since I do think the whole Crossfire run is very welcome and worthwhile (how could it not be worthwhile, it's Blake's 7 and it features Paul Darrow), and I enjoyed it very much - but I would have to agree with anyone who thought some of the stories in Part 3 might seem a little too low key or out of place, and I think I enjoyed them less than I could have for seeming almost more like diversions instead of the drama progressively building to more climactic levels before the close.
Maybe the first three stories from Part 3 might have worked better if they'd come along earlier in the set, with the third part more directly addressing what's going on with the Federation and building up to the ending. Next time I listen, I might actually try listening to the stories in a different order and see if the whole thing doesn't work better dramatically. I do think that all three installments of Crossfire make a great set in spite of this gripe.
Post by Sir Wearer of Hats on Apr 9, 2018 8:37:30 GMT
I listen to the audio while walking and today I actually stopped and said out loud “Avon, you bastard”. I was glad there was no one around ESPECIALLY anyone named “Avon” when I reached the denouement of “Ministry of Truth”.
I enjoyed this. This is Tarrant and Cally's story really, with Avon doing the groundwork. Some nice mentions of Star One and some lovely comedy one-liners, delivered with all the dryness you would expect. I also noticed how good the incidental music cues were in this too - kudos to David Roocroft, Simon Power. Tarrant's reasons for his investigation into a galactic old folks' home are interesting too. Clearly, Tarrants are more widespread than we thought - certainly they were in many Terry Nation stories.
Alongside Cav Scott's Shock Troops, Christopher Cooper's Kith and Kin is my favourite story from Crossfire.
This is it. This is the baby. A good, solid, often spectacular finale to Crossfire, a series which has, to me, been something of a mixed bag. It's all here. Pulse-pounding sound design, concise set-pieces laced with tension, typically snappy dialogue, a ferocious monster, our heroes arguing with each other electrifying their scenes, a big bad villain (or two) and a production that defines the term 'space opera' as Blake's 7 always should. The story also covers that very interesting, very vague time when Servalan eased into the guise of Sleer. A truly powerful tyrannical figure suddenly an outcast and on the run is fascinating, and something I hope will be explored more. As with Travis before her, the Federation chews and spits out its fiercest defenders - unlike Travis, however, Servalan has too much arrogance and high ideas that she will never truly be on the run ... hasn't she?
Whilst I absolutely embrace the idea there should be 'bigger' episodes like this, and 'smaller' episodes to balance things out, the difference between both has been something of a chasm during this series. There's no reason why earlier stories should be somewhat blighted by a certain blandness when it is clear the team behind these audios are capable of something like this.
In the extras, it was mentioned how good it was to have such long scenes, which is great for story and character building. My view is that we could do with less. The balance is perfect here and, although I absolutely appreciate not every story has have a finale-urgency about them, such tension shouldn't be exclusive to the climax of a series.
Anyway, enough of my grumbling. It seems that not many others have any problem with the approach Crossfire has taken. And I would say that it is wonderful - truly wonderful - to have audio Blake's 7 stories with so many of the original cast. This story proves that everything is still in good hands - there's a real reminiscent of Terminal here, with The Liberator breaking down in stages, and a barn-storming cliffhanger too. Roll on Resurrection!
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