After being unavoidably delayed, Blake’s 7 is back in a new set of full-cast stories set in the timeline of season 3 of the original TV show. It’s a new production team with John Ainsworth taking over production, script editing and directing duties and a recasting for the character of Dayna Mellanby, now played by Yasmin Bannerman.
The set consists of four stories, the first a Steve Lyons story exploring the aftermath of the Galactic War in Liberation. It introduces Dayna, but also reminds us of other changes, such as Del Tarrant (Steven Pacey) joining the crew, and both Jenna and Blake being around no more. It’s set on a colony world in need of a shake-up and has plenty for most of the crew with Dayna teamed up with Vila (Michael Keating) and Tarrant working with Cally (Jan Chappell) while Avon (Paul Darrow) is on the Liberator with only Orac (Alistair Lock) for company. It’s a mix of action, character and introspection, possibly juggling too many themes, but with a core plot of rebellion and deception to enjoy.
The next two stories split the crew into two, and could have almost happened in parallel. Christopher Cooper’s Outpost is a classic story of Vila being reluctant partner to Tarrant as they pursue a lead to outpost Clivian 410B. There’s deception but also a surprising piece of backstory for one of the Liberator crew. The story has plenty of twists, not all predictable. Michael Keating is excellent in this story and his take on Vila gets better with ever set of stories.
The third story, Sophia McDougall’s Close Enough, takes Cally and Avon into a trap, a trap that puts Avon up against someone even more heartless than he. There’s a scientific advance, an exploration of the Aurons [Cally’s race of telepaths] (and Cally’s emotions) and it’s all topped up with a great angle on Avon’s character.
George Mann has the joy of setting the bulk of the final story Solus onboard the Liberator with the only addition to the crew being Servalan (Jacqueline Pearce) herself. Cue another story of trickery and an attempt to capture the Liberator. In only one disc George Mann finds plenty for all the characters to do, even if Servalan takes centre stage. Solus has an original threat and a well-written resolution.
Over the set John Ainsworth has resisted making a bigger arc, and the stories are more enjoyable for their integrity. It’s a great supporting cast, including big Blake’s 7 fan Tracey Wiles. The set comes with a whole disc of behind the scenes interviews, and Yasmin Bannerman is also outed as a fan of the original TV series, and her connection to the character of Dayna is a powerful one. Her take on the character is very much in line with the context of Dayna doesn’t try to be the original actor Josette Simon.
There’s plenty to enjoy with this set of stories, and the next few releases will all be boxsets set during season 3. We can’t wait!