Good for Big Finish for doing the seemingly impossible, and keeping the B7 fires burning when some of the bigger names are no longer with us. I really want to hear more from Avalon; she seems the closest character to Blake without being Blake - but I'm certainly happy to hear more from Jenna and Cally. Trevor Baxendale too. He has a real feel for B7. The character of Shrinker sounds very promising especially. This'll be a pre-order then, as soon as my bank balance has recovered from the rise in my monthly electric bill payments.
Oh and is the Dorian character in the central story the same one from Rescue? Sadly the original, excellent actor is no longer with us, but I'd be very pleased for a return for Dorian, just as long as he brings that lonely Sea Devil with him.
Big Finish have such a tricky task with this series right now. I have enormous respect for what they’ve pulled off so far, and I fully accept there are commercial, practical and creative considerations I’m not privy to.
That said: the announcement of this set made me a little uneasy about the current direction. Bringing back so many one-off villains at once makes the universe feel progressively smaller at a time it’s begging for more expansion a la Avalon (a fantastic series I can’t wait to hear more of).
The last trio of Worlds releases did walk the line very well — and the writers are great! — so I’ll be curious to see the reactions on this one. I just can’t shake the feeling I’d be more excited if the hook were simply “Jenna and Cally having fun adventures as a duo”.
Trevor Baxendale rarely lets you down, especially when it comes to Blake's 7, and this wittily titled tale is no exception. My favourite strand of this story is that featuring the character of Fion, and a backstory for the Mutoids, which is so good, I'm surprised it hasn't been done before - in fact, I still think it could be explored further. Rather like Terry Nation's other hybrid creations, The Robomen, there's much morbid mileage to be had. My only issue with this, and it's an unfortunate one, is that the characters of Jenna and Cally aren't that interesting when on their own. They're likeable enough (for alleged terrorists!) and very capable, but they lack the acerbic wit of Avon or Tarrant, or the deceptively shallow Vila, or even the silly pomposity of Orac. As such, the old phrase 'the villains get the best lines' is probably true.
A good start to this latest B7 spin-off - another range that doesn't seem to be talked about enough. The latest variation on the theme is a nice one, but I can't help but wish they'd stuck with the same version for all the B7 spin-offs.
Rescue remains a favourite televised Blake's 7 story for me, one of the highlights of the excellent Series 4. It's true to say that Matthew Gravelle is an excellent recast for the late Geoffrey Burridge, who was so good as Dorian; both actors command a certain swagger, arrogance, charm and vampiric dangerousness and these qualities are put to good use in this story. Basically an intriguing runaround set in the unscrupulous world of smuggling, Jenna and Cally are given lots to do, much more than they did on television, and it's always good to hear Alistair Lock's excellent Zen and Orac. On the evidence of this, I'd like to see more returns for Dorian should this range continue, and more exploration of his darker side. He has the capacity to be so much more than just another tool of the federation - in fact, since events in Star One, he could be the nearest thing to a returning maverick villain since dear old Travis.
This rounds off a solid Blake's 7 spin-off set. I stand by my earlier feelings that Cally and Jenna suffer a little as characters without their often more interesting crew-mates. Having said that - and I don't enjoy being negative about this series - Andrew Smith gives them both an enjoyably ruthless streak here. Even the normally placid Cally takes delight in some aspects of the story, whilst expressing justified horror in the face of others. Jenna, though, and her relationship with the excellent Shrinker, is terrifically brutal - she demonstrated some of this in the anniversary story The Way Ahead, specifically her tremendous physical fight with Travis, and it's taken to another level with this. Good use is made of the Mutoids here, and there are some terrific conversations between Jenna and Shrinker about the way thery both go about things.
If there are any more spin-offs (and I hope there are), I have two requests - more of this Stannis nastiness, and also, could we stick with just one version of the theme music? The version used here is nice and moody but lacks punch, so much so that the climactic scene fizzles out when it could have benefitted from a good strong theme tune kicking in.
I didn't love these stories, but I liked them enough that I look forward to hearing them again. The three returning villains are great fun and I'm glad BF revisited them.
This forum is for fans of audio drama, and is not endorsed by the BBC, Big Finish, or any other organisation discussed within.
Links to our forum from other websites do not indicate our endorsement of, or cooperation with, those sites.