Looking forward to it! Interesting implication that Avalon might eventually be running in parallel to the events of the main series. If so, it'll be cool to see some of the wider effects that the actions of Blake's cell have on the parts of the Federation we typically didn't get to see. The aftershocks and the blowback.
I wasn't going to get this. I mean, Blake's 7 without Avon, Servalan and Blake doesn't bear thinking about - but it seems this is promising something different: it's own world. The trailer's very good, and I think I hear a new version of the theme towards the end. Also, Steve Lyons is script editor, and Bayban's back! I think I've just talked myself into ordering the bundle.
The new theme music, then! The original has become iconic, but it was always very Dudley Simpson: the kind of thing only he could do. This theme is very ... Big Finish. Nowhere near as individual, but reminiscent enough of Dud's stuff to be pleasing - to my ears, anyway.
There are some good Nation-like names here - Gryson and Krask (who sounds so like Stephen Grief that I thought Travis was due for an early reveal) for example. Steve Lyons' opening story Terra Firma is set at a very interesting time in Blake's 7 history, and it is good to know these stories don't wish to shy away from the power and controversy of the early televised story details. By it's very nature, Avalon is a side-dish rather than a main course, and as such, is very enjoyable. The central character - a kind of Blake's 7 version of Clara Oswald, sprinkled over the show's history - is nicely played but isn't hugely interesting in her own right. Having said that, Blake himself wasn't massively engaging before he had chance to interact with what would become the main cast.
After the TV series often sent the lads out on adventures, whilst Cally and Jenna stayed on board the Liberator, the character of Avalon alongside Fay and Jenna help makes this another female-centric line-up. Whether this will continue through to the next story Throwback and beyond, remains to be seen.
Pilots are always tricky creatures. They have to do so much all at once; introduce you to the main characters, demonstrate the setting and, ultimately, create and subvert their own expectations. The Way Back was very good at establishing the fundamental ethos of Blake and the Federation and Terror Firma follows in similar footsteps. Immediately, from the word "go", we get a sense of Avalon in her natural element. She's definitely not Blake, but then, she doesn't need to be. She's what happens after organised resistance is smashed. They go underground and they get meaner.
The show dabbled quite extensively with the difference between terrorist and freedom fighter. Her singeminded commitment is kind of unnerving and it's an interesting aspect to bring to the character. The idea that we're looking at someone who we could call a fanatic if she were working for the Federation. The dynamic between her and Travis (hell, her and the President) will be an interesting one to see. I won't say much more for those who haven't heard it yet, but each of the cast make for a good counterpoint and Fay was very sweet (not a character type we really saw on the parent show either, so bonus there). A good start.
It isn't always easy to limit yourself to one episode per day, if you're enjoying yourself. Better that though, than gobble up this new box-set all at once. It has it's rewards though because you can take stock of the first episode and, in this case, the new emphasis on the world of Blake's 7. I find that I looked forward to episode two more even than I imagined.
The familiar musical strains of Nigel Fairs usher in business as usual in this Bladerunner-esque dome, and Gary Russell's story immediately engages with one of my favourite B7 standards - Travis interrogating some poor blighter, in this case Argo Madison (played by Cliff Chapman. I'm sure I had a brief conversation with Cliff Chapman on a Big Finish thread on Facebook. Could be wrong though). When Stephen Grief's superb voice tells you you're an 'irritant', it's time to worry.
This is a good, well-paced slow-burning tale - intriguing and well played. As always, Fairs' sound design is spacious and convincing. Cleverly, this story is building on what we already know of Avalon, with her barely featuring here. We get to know her reputation and importance to the Federation. As previously mentioned, she is not Blake, but it's becoming more believable that Blake wasn't the only free thinker that interested the authorities.
I've enjoyed the individual stories so far - this one especially - and am also liking the bigger picture: even after all this time, the Blake's 7 universe is subject to compelling world building - in this case, with a wealth of new faces.
Following the Travis-tastic last episode, we're into less of a character-study and a more traditional story. That's not to say we don't have interesting characters here. Trevor Baxendale is a name I always look out for, and he rarely disappoints. This is full of good and interesting characters, including one called Tarrant. Jon Edgley Bond as Weston joins the splendidly gravelly-voiced line-up of brutes - I thought Weston was another John Ainsworth cameo top begin with!
I love the style of the TV show where the characters whizz around from quarry to quarry - I mean planet to planet* - but there's a lot to be said for setting these three adventures in roughly the same location. It gives us a chance to really get into life in The Dome, which is always worth exploring. This is the kind of thing that I love so much about The Robots series - 'that which has become known as' world building.
I mentioned previously how Terra Firma was very female-centric. This tips things back into male-focussed territory once again, with only Avalon and Fay (Becky Wright) turning up to cause problems for the blokes. I'm not sure why I even mention this, really, as Big Finish have a long standing reputation for balancing genders in their stories.
Lots of dark business, lots of clandestine meetings in secret, lots of intrigue and in-fighting (and of course, betrayal), and the ongoing difficulties faced by the interesting character of Madison, who complains so much, he could almost be a distant relation of Vila. But he's a great character in his own right - they all are.
I've hugely enjoyed this boxset, and it's good to see there's plenty more lined up in coming months. It's good solid story-telling in the Blake's 7 universe, but employing - out of necessity - a re-examination of that, and they've gone back to the very beginning to do it, to litter the cosmos with characters we never met in the TV show. And it works. Apart from putting flesh on the bones of those early elements, the stories are terrific in their own right. I hope this is a success - it deserves to be.
This was a terrific set. I was hesitant at first but I love this new direction. I think Madison is the most intriguing of the new characters, and his introductory story was my favorite of the set. Looking forward to the next one.
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