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April 9, 2013 8:35 AM   Subscribe

More than five years after it was first announced, it looks like beloved British 1970s/80s science-fiction show Blake's 7 (previously) is coming back to television. The story about the innocent freedom fighter framed for sex crimes against children and his criminal compatriots fighting the Authoritarian Federation is getting a fresh lick of paint at SyFy. It will be directed by Casino Royale and Green Lantern director Martin Campbell. But should it return?

No, Idris Elba is not playing Blake.

And, of course, an audio remake of the "original" Blake's 7 exists from Blake's 7 Productions. And Paul Darrow has been pondering the fate of Avon given his idea of Avon as Napoleon in exile has been ditched.

But the Americans are remaking The Tomorrow People (previously). It was announced earlier this year that the revival had received a pilot order from the The CW.
Australian actor Luke Mitchell was cast for the pilot as John Young.
posted by Mezentian (110 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
No, Idris Elba is not playing Blake.

I was genuinely angry when this turned out to be an April Fool.
posted by permafrost at 8:36 AM on April 9, 2013


American. Syfy. I'm... torn.

They can have Tomorrow People, though.
posted by Leon at 8:38 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


One of my favorite shows of all time. Idris Elba would have been awesome.

Discovering that this is a US, not UK, reboot certainly makes me cringe and also barf.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:40 AM on April 9, 2013


Sapphire and Steel. Get on it, BBC! I don't want to hear any more of this claptrap about how it's "an ITV property," and you don't "own the rights."
posted by Iridic at 8:43 AM on April 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


I think I'm angry pretty much every time it is confirmed that Idris Elba is not playing somebody.

Pacific Rim had best not suck.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:46 AM on April 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Ah, Servalan. Along with posters of Kate Bush in that top, Princess Leia, and erm Sarah Brightman, you did put confused and muddled thoughts and emotions into the head of this young boy at an impressionable age.
posted by Wordshore at 8:47 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, Idris Elba is not playing Blake.

Boooooooooooo!
posted by Artw at 8:47 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


But, how will Syfy recycle the alien costumes from Doctor Who for The Tomorrow People?
posted by Karmakaze at 8:50 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Only if they dust off and use the original sets and props, like spray-painted hair dryers and egg cartons for spaceships.
posted by Flashman at 8:50 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could see Ron Moore doing well with this, especially since he wouldn't start out trapped in the pseudo-Mormon mumbojumbo Galactica is steeped in. But hearing that it's guys from Heroes and CSI doesn't fill me with confidence.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:51 AM on April 9, 2013


sex crimes against children

wut
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:51 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


American. Syfy. I'm... torn.

Actually, their take on Being Human has been....not bad. It's gone in a different direction, but I wasn't too thrilled with the fourth season of the UK version anyway.

And the werewolf ends up being an adorable little woobie in both versions.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:52 AM on April 9, 2013


In the meantime, check out another recent remake, Blake's Junction 7.
posted by jonathanbell at 8:56 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Idris Elba should star in all the things.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:57 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The opening credits.
posted by Wordshore at 8:57 AM on April 9, 2013


Discovering that this is a US, not UK, reboot certainly makes me cringe and also barf.
I don't worry about that these days; you would have thought House of Cards would be the sort of quintessentially British thing that wouldn't translate but the US remake transposed it admirably I thought. TV drama has come on in leaps and bounds over the past decade and the US has led the way in the English-speaking world I reckon.
posted by Abiezer at 8:58 AM on April 9, 2013


Sorry, SyFy is never, ever going to do anything right again. They wanted to build a crappy, crappy new identity to please their marketing department, they succeeded beyond their skeeviest exec's most wretched fever dreams, and BSG was good in spite of SyFy, not because of it.

They blew Caprica, they brought on wrestling, they made campy bad monster movies that are not even fun as campy bad monster movies. A network that hates science fiction enough to invent a name to prove how much isn't worthy of trying to tackle what was, really, despite all the BBC low budget silliness, amazingly nuanced and deep. Screw 'em in the ear, man.
posted by sonascope at 9:01 AM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Mm...needs a hot blonde with a tennis racquet.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:02 AM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]



sex crimes against children

wut


Yup. In the original.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:06 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sapphire and Steel. Get on it, BBC!

Oh cool: Netflix (DVD) has the complete Sapphire and Steel!
posted by yoink at 9:07 AM on April 9, 2013


Sorry, SyFy is never, ever going to do anything right again.
Oh, right, wasn't aware of this particular network. Consider my comments general to the point of meaninglessness.
posted by Abiezer at 9:07 AM on April 9, 2013


Oh cool: Netflix (DVD) has the complete Sapphire and Steel!

It only takes 13 episodes for the characters to decide to ascend a staircase!
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I could see Ron Moore doing well with this, especially since he wouldn't start out trapped in the pseudo-Mormon mumbojumbo Galactica is steeped in.

DS9 is not exactly free of that.
posted by Artw at 9:14 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh cool: Netflix (DVD) has the complete Sapphire and Steel!

It only takes 13 episodes for the characters to decide to ascend a staircase!


But yet you still might understand which direction they were headed after watching them.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:14 AM on April 9, 2013


Sorry, SyFy is never, ever going to do anything right again.

While I have no deep love for SyFy, I begrudgingly have to give them props for some actually good work recently. For one, the aforementioned US version of Being Human has been good enough to keep me watching every season, even though I am not a fan of vampires or werewolves in any way.

The first season of Continuum showed good promise, too.

I'll definitely give the new series/game tie-in Defiance a look. Lord knows they're hyping it hard enough. They're obviously dumping boatloads of money into it.

But, yeah, if only they could stop with the wrestling and rubber-monster movies.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:15 AM on April 9, 2013


They blew Caprica, they brought on wrestling, they made campy bad monster movies that are not even fun as campy bad monster movies.

Don't forget, they also decided that MST3K wasn't quite "sci-fi" enough, even though the entire show took place in outer space and featured a roughly 50/50 robot-to-human cast ratio.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:15 AM on April 9, 2013


It's hard to imagine an American Blake's 7; the Britishness of it, particularly the class distinctions, is such a key part of the show. It's a good story though and could be redone well.

Speaking of British sci-fi I just watched the first episode of Utopia (Channel 4) and wow it's amazing. Why can't US producers do something as exciting? Clearly Utopia is borrowing from American shows: Heroes, X-Files, etc. But it's so much more interesting. Maybe just because it's from a slightly different culture.
posted by Nelson at 9:18 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


With the recent updates about the Blake's 7 reboot in conjunction with all the news about Thatcher's death, it's a reminder about what an interesting coincidence it seemed at the time that just when the Iron Lady was coming to power a sci-fi show was chronicling the rise of a ruthless female leader and the squabbling, ineffective resistance movement to her. And honestly, who wouldn't prefer Jacqueline Pearce's Servalan to Maggie Thatcher?

I doubt that SyFy's reboot will get any of the subtext right, or have any subtext at all.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:19 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't forget, they also decided that MST3K wasn't quite "sci-fi" enough, even though the entire show took place in outer space and featured a roughly 50/50 robot-to-human cast ratio.

I....may actually see their point. Yeah, that's the frame setting, but can you really say that something that is at its core a clip show is really a good representation of sci-fi?

I mean, I could keep the screening-bad-movies part but swap out Mike and the bots and the Satellite Of Love and make it me and a sentient wagon wheel, and rather than being in outer space I could be an intern at this film archive, and it would still be essentially the same show. And yet, me and the sentient wagon wheel wouldn't make it "history" enough for the History channel* and the "old movie archive" wouldn't make it a fit with TCM either.

* I am aware that The History Channel is barely working with history itself at this point. Just go with me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:22 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


And yet, me and the sentient wagon wheel wouldn't make it "history" enough for the History channel* and the "old movie archive" wouldn't make it a fit with TCM either.

But Hitler and a sentient wagon wheel . . . that'd be history gold!

Call me, Hollywood.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:24 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


As predicted by Nostradamus!
posted by Artw at 9:25 AM on April 9, 2013


When Alan Moore and his musician partner Tim Perkins made a CD about the spirituality of William Blake, Perkins jokingly suggested they should call it Blake's Heaven.

It eventually emerged as Angel Passage, but I still like Perkins' title better.
posted by Paul Slade at 9:32 AM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


The new series has been written by Joe Pokaski, who has experience with Heroes and CSI, as both a supervising producer and writer.

Man, and I thought I had a terrible résumé.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:33 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh God, you guys, they need to show HYPERDRIVE in America. I love that show!
posted by newdaddy at 9:39 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I....may actually see their point. Yeah, that's the frame setting, but can you really say that something that is at its core a clip show is really a good representation of sci-fi?

MST actually showed nearly the whole movie, which distinguished it from other mockery shows like Mad Movies, and gave it more of a horror host aesthetic. That is what places it firmly in the sci-fi tradition.

And yet, me and the sentient wagon wheel wouldn't make it "history" enough for the History channel* and the "old movie archive" wouldn't make it a fit with TCM either.

Ah, but you're actually proving Strange Interlude's point, if you just change the trappings of the show it doesn't really make it any less or more science fictional. So the adjustments the Sci-Fi Channel demanded at the time, which messed up the premise quite a bit for awhile and forced them to try to have "narrative arcs," whatever that means in a show about puppet robots mocking movies, were meaningless.
posted by JHarris at 9:41 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, about Defiance.... I keep looking at the art and twitching. I mean, yeah, I can understand that the Arch is kind of THE establishing shot thing if you're doing St. Louis and having a hole blown in it is cool and let's the audience know that shit has gone down (even if it wouldn't stand in real life). But living in St. Louis is a lot less like living on a ring world than most people seem to imagine. Also, why is there a mountain range running through the center of town and not something else. Like maybe a river.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:42 AM on April 9, 2013


I am going to judge this based entirely on the new design of the federation trooper's uniforms that are leaked ahead of the show's release.
posted by biffa at 9:44 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I....what.

I just can't even process this information.

Reboot Blake's 7?

I need to lie down.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:47 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


MST actually showed nearly the whole movie, which distinguished it from other mockery shows like Mad Movies, and gave it more of a horror host aesthetic. That is what places it firmly in the sci-fi tradition.

I'm not sure I follow. How is a "horror host aesthetic" part of the genre of sci-fi?

Ah, but you're actually proving Strange Interlude's point, if you just change the trappings of the show it doesn't really make it any less or more science fictional.

Well....yeah. My point remains that "the act of looking at movies is not inherantly sci-fi." The only "sci-fi" elements to the show was the framing element, and even you admit that when they tried to expand on that it didn't work.

Look, if I put a Lisa Frank unicorn poster in an ornately carved frame, the Metropolitan Museum of Art isn't going to accept it simply by dint of the frame being nicely executed. The frame for a thing =/= the thing itself. And "watching crap movies" is not, to my mind, inherantly "sci-fi". If they had shown only sci-fi crap movies like "Plan 9 from Outer Space," and not shown non-sci-fi crap movies like "Santa Claus And The Ice Cream Bunny", then I could see you making a case for the show being sci-fi.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:55 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, Idris Elba is not playing Blake.

Any word on Chiwetel Ejiofor playing Avon?




Also, if Morena Baccarin doesn't play Servalan, there is no justice in the galaxy.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:02 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


After not being up to filling Diana Badler's jackboots in the awful-for-lots-more-reasons-than-her reboot of V, I'm not sure I'm ready for Morena Baccarin to take over for another awesome-80s-SF-villain.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:06 AM on April 9, 2013


I actually thought she was one of the few good things about the V re-boot. The rest of that show was so bad, I still haven't gotten the smell out of my apartment.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:09 AM on April 9, 2013


Wake me up when SyFy remakes The Starlost.
posted by GuyZero at 10:10 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, why is there a mountain range running through the center of town and not something else. Like maybe a river.

Aliens have terraformed the Earth more to their liking. I thought the mountains in St. Louis was odd, until I caught the preview show last night.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:11 AM on April 9, 2013


Speaking of British sci-fi I just watched the first episode of Utopia (Channel 4) and wow it's amazing. ..

Yup; my favorite TV of the last few years. Looks lush, unusual soundtrack, great acting, odd mix of characters, and it unexpectedly goes to a few places politically that other shows, and debate in society, just won't go to. Loved it.
posted by Wordshore at 10:13 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "I'm not sure I follow. How is a "horror host aesthetic" part of the genre of sci-fi?"

Horror and SciFi are very much sister genres, to the point that many bookstores file them on the same shelf.

Personally, I wouldn't argue that MST3K necessarily falls across a bright line border containing Science Fiction, but I will argue that it's a whole lot closer than professional wrestling!
posted by Karmakaze at 10:13 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


a black screen, ominious chords on the soundtrack then

SYFY in cooperation with The Asylum

present


jarring note

BLAKE'S 7

starring


drum-laden pounding instrumental music with looming horns

TRACI LORDS as SERVALAN

BARRY WILLIAMS as VILLA

MICHAEL GROSS as AVON

and

JALEEL WHITE as BL--


bzzzz oh hey let's find out what shenanigans Peter Griffin's up to tonight.
posted by JHarris at 10:25 AM on April 9, 2013


I wouldn't argue that MST3K necessarily falls across a bright line border containing Science Fiction, but I will argue that it's a whole lot closer than professional wrestling!

Oh, no argument there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:28 AM on April 9, 2013


When I first heard that SyFy was going to be airing wrestling, I was all, 'cool!', but then I saw it. No robots or ray guns or holographic aliens ANYWHERE. What the hell?
posted by item at 10:28 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Horror and science fiction have always been closely related, and horror host shows would be as likely to show 50s paper plate flying saucer sci-fi as a Frankenstein movie. Plus since the beginning Sci-Fi would slow horror and fantasy material as well as the subject of their ostensible focus.
posted by JHarris at 10:35 AM on April 9, 2013


Um... Wood Harris should play Avon.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:44 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Karl Urban as Travis.
posted by Artw at 10:47 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The important news is that Paul Darrow is doing an audiobook version of the Blake's 7 novel he wrote. Yes, I watched Blake's 7 over Doctor Who as a teen because Avon was just so dreamy.

I don't want to invest hope in a SyFy show if they're going to cancel it in 20 minutes.
posted by dragonplayer at 11:14 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, I watched Blake's 7 over Doctor Who as a teen because Avon was just so dreamy.

You and my mum. I think I was only allowed to stay up so she had the votes to watch it.
posted by biffa at 11:17 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The only network with more contempt for science than SyFy is the Discovery channel.
posted by srboisvert at 11:19 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Interesting though that Martin Campbell may be involved: so far as telly goes, his (original) version of Edge of Darkness is still for many the high water mark for British TV, but that was equally the product of frighteningly good writing and performances. It's always struck me as bizarre that his film work has always fallen so far from the tree and all that: certainly the Edge of Darkness remake was just rather perverse by comparison.

Second Urban as Travis. No doubt Simon Pegg will be up for Villa.
posted by specialbrew at 11:22 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


And while we're stealing the cast of Dredd... Lena Headey!

(Fat Bloke from Game of Thrones would be my Villa choice.)
posted by Artw at 11:44 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


If we're stealing from GoT then Rory McCann for Gan.

The question is whether they go with the orginal 7 characters or some of the later ones. You only need Tarrant when Blake has disappeared. Jenna is fairly interchangeable with Dayna and Soolin I would argue.
posted by biffa at 11:56 AM on April 9, 2013


So glad Blake's Junction 7 has been linked, because somehow Martin Freeman as Villa really works for me. And since such things are apparently these days obligatory, would that mean Benedict Cumberbatch as Travis?
posted by Coobeastie at 12:04 PM on April 9, 2013


When I first heard that SyFy was going to be airing wrestling, I was all, 'cool!', but then I saw it. No robots or ray guns or holographic aliens ANYWHERE. What the hell?

What you were looking for is called Kaiju Big Battel. It is all those things, and occasionally giant wrestling waffles.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:28 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, Idris Elba is not playing Blake.

Ideally, Blake won't be in it at all.
posted by Segundus at 12:41 PM on April 9, 2013


Karl Urban as Travis.

For a second there, I got him confused with Keith Urban, and was like "...how the fuck would that work?" But Karl Urban- yes that makes much more sense.



(Fat Bloke from Game of Thrones would be my Villa choice.)


Conleth Hill or John Bradley?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:41 PM on April 9, 2013


Ideally, Blake won't be in it at all.

Or, in a bizarre twist, he could literally be seven years old.
posted by Grangousier at 12:47 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


That blurb is bizarre. In just a few words, it manages to contradict my idea of Blake in almost every possible way. The original Blake is interesting exactly because he's not like the guy they're describing -- because there is absolutely nothing soldierly about him; because his personal life is a curious void; because he is magnetic and brilliant but not conventionally handsome. Blake wouldn't be the same without Gareth Thomas' baggy eyes and severe mouth, or something equivalent to them.

I know it's just a blurb and we have no real idea what nu-Blake will look like or do, but it says something that they thought this was the right way to sell their ideas. It suggests that we won't be seeing anything as courageous as the original series, which started out with its hero robbed of past and personality, his reputation destroyed -- not a guy who currently has anything as stable or identity-making as his own home and bed.

And I find it distasteful that they went with the "dead wife = characterization" angle in a reboot of a series that, for all its stilettos and impractical gowns and difficulties figuring out what to do with Jenna, was full of intense, passionate women who were never deployed as blunt tools to make the men sadder. I mean, contrast beautiful dead Rachel with the story of Avon's lost love.
posted by thesmallmachine at 12:55 PM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Segundus: “Ideally, Blake won't be in it at all.”

That would truly be the best thing. The original series was actually better after his departure halfway through. This is probably because Avon was one of the most compelling characters in any TV show ever; but of course all the characters on Blake's 7 were fantastic.

Seriously, if anyone hasn't seen this series, they should. It's Star Wars for adults – Star Wars if it had actually confronted and dealt with all the ugly, messy details of revolutions: the bloodiness, the fatigue, and above all the difficulty in defining who the "good guys" actually are and knowing what the limits of revolutionary action ought to be. There's this moment I love in my favorite episode, "Rumours of Death" – the episode opens with one of the heroes, Avon, being tortured brutally by an ugly little man who delights in inflicting pain. Like so many Blake's 7 moments, this kind of makes you grit your teeth and feel a touch of anger at such an execrable person. Then, in the space of five minutes, Avon's friends arrive, and the "good guys," the "heroes," turn the situation around, torturing that ugly little man, manipulating him, and threatening to kill him. It's hard to watch turnarounds like that without feeling a little queasy and starting to question where the limits really are here.

Even today, there aren't many shows that have so thoroughly dealt with character and right as well as Blake's 7 did.
posted by koeselitz at 1:44 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's Star Wars for adults

Or Star Trek for cynics. It's not a coincidence that Servalan's oppressive galactic government is called "the Federation".
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:04 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've been reading Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies and I've just realised that Thomas Cromwell is Avon in my mind's eye.
posted by Summer at 2:13 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's nothing, I just heard that John Leguizamo signed on for the Netflix original sitcom adaptation of Solaris.
posted by Mister_A at 2:16 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, if anyone hasn't seen this series, they should. It's Star Wars for adults – Star Wars if it had actually confronted and dealt with all the ugly, messy details of revolutions: the bloodiness, the fatigue, and above all the difficulty in defining who the "good guys" actually are and knowing what the limits of revolutionary action ought to be.

It's also, to be completely clear, almost unwatchably cheap and tatty. It makes early Babylon 5 look like Jackson's LotR.

At one point they are faced with climbing down three sets of ladders to get into some underground complex. The ladders are the same, with different colour lighting. The spaceship is made of toilet rolls. The guns are perspex rods (that I still thought were wicked cool when I was 9, obv).
posted by Sebmojo at 2:41 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


True, I've rarely seen a cheaper-looking professional production. And even when they have something good, they tend to spoil it with overuse -- there's that one late-season episode where Tarrant and Dayna beam down to the Planet of Outfits From Seasons One and Two.

But it works for me. I find Blake's 7 fascinating because it's an uneasy mixture of true darkness and Z-movie effects and high camp, because the space suits' helmets were visibly unattached, because most of the bases were malls and power stations, because half the cast left, because it got to a point where they apparently let Paul Darrow do whatever he wanted. The show is more theatrical than televisual, with snappy writing and scenery-hungry, overqualified actors compensating for the two-dollar sets.

I laugh at B7 all the time. How can you not? One of the greatest, most defining scenes of the series involves a man pushing a tiny cube of plastic with what looks like a toy truck, pretending it's very, very heavy. Cally has three different origin stories. And, oh God, poor Vila -- the lines he had to say. I can't always dignify them by calling them jokes.

But it's an important series to me -- its depth of characterization, its wit, its meanness, its absolute high tragedy. Sometimes there's no line between failure and success, and I think a B7 that failed less would also be a lesser triumph.
posted by thesmallmachine at 3:50 PM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


True, I've rarely seen a cheaper-looking professional production.

Sandbaggers. Which is amazing.
posted by Artw at 3:51 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, what I was generally shocked about was the way that they managed to cram that much darkness and grimness into a really, really cheap production. Like, there were genuinely moments when you totally forgot the cheapness because you were so drawn in. Which is in many ways almost the opposite of many more popular science fiction series.
posted by koeselitz at 4:02 PM on April 9, 2013


When the aliens come our best bet is a 100 foot robotic Stringer Bell.
posted by Tacodog at 4:06 PM on April 9, 2013


I loved B7 as a kid, and have watched the whole thing as an adult, but really, the acting was pretty ropey (I loved Avon but Darrow is more hammy than hammy the ham flavoured hamster), as was the dialogue and the quality of the scenery. It was pretty nasty though, not just the finale which was a total slap in the face for me when I was 10 but other episodes too, the one were they steal gold which turns out to be useless, the early S4 one where they get the improved engines but have to fry the engineer. Its basically SF set in a pretty uncaring universe, with little sentimentality, and all the characters with mixed motives (dictatorship with no qualms about murdering or tranquilising large parts of populations vs common criminals turned resistance) and so absolutely ripe for the BSG treatment.
posted by biffa at 4:12 PM on April 9, 2013


True, I've rarely seen a cheaper-looking professional production.

Did I mention The Starlost already? Because you are missing out on one awesomely bad show.
posted by GuyZero at 4:31 PM on April 9, 2013


Heh, I'll have to check Starlost out. And I've been meaning to look at Sandbaggers. It'll be a challenge to make cheap spy fiction look cheaper than cheap SF, but I bet they're up to it.
posted by thesmallmachine at 4:55 PM on April 9, 2013


Sandbaggers almost benefits from the way it makes everything in the grey and beige world of the 70s look cardboardy and set-like, and the way that location shoot are obviously just down the road and not whatever exotic local they're trying to pass it off as gives it a dreamlike Kafkaesque quality. It's great. And super super grim all of the time.
posted by Artw at 5:51 PM on April 9, 2013


A CLASS G SOLAR STAR 5,000 MILES IN CHARACTER
posted by Sebmojo at 5:54 PM on April 9, 2013


James Purefoy for Avon.
Ciarán Hinds as Blake.
Ray Stevenson as Gan.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 6:52 PM on April 9, 2013


G'damn, I've been hoping I'd see a resumption of B7 in my lifetime, and this HAS TO HAPPEN!!! It was the darkest, most character-driven sci-fi I watched. It may even turn out gOOd with Martin Campbell being a New Zealand and in the generation that would have watched the original.

It is not a happy-ending kinda show so please, syfy, don't put bows on it.
posted by arzakh at 7:46 PM on April 9, 2013


The Starlost had the AWESOME POWER OF HARLAN ELLISON.
WHO DARES DEFAME THE MASTER?

(I kid, he had his name taken off it. But The Starlost, while awful, is actually a pretty neat idea waiting for a remake -- based on my viewing of the first episode).

It is not a happy-ending kinda show so please, syfy, don't put bows on it.

Or angels in it.

Fremantle Media has put out a statement about the 13 one-hour episodes.

And io9 has a bit of a script review for the Tomorrow People pilot:
This time around, we're in New York and the Tomorrow People have a secret base in an abandoned subway station. They still have the computer named Tim and the teleportation. Stephen (played by Robbie Amell, the cousin of Arrow's Stephen Amell) is a troubled teenager who's been put on antipsychotic medications because of his delusions and his father's history of mental illness — but then he finds out that he actually has powers like telekinesis, telepathy and teleportation.

Seems like they're keeping closer to the original than the remake. There's even a Jedikiah, but not the real one.

Y'all are talking about actors, but it'd be nice to see some scripts. Tanith Lee wrote some of the better episodes in the original series.

Personally, I can't see it working. Avon, Villa and Sleer are all such iconic characters, and recasting them won't sit write. I mean Avon's voice alone... Even Gan had a pretty well developed back story for such a one-note character.
posted by Mezentian at 7:59 PM on April 9, 2013


I would also like to point out what might be the first use of "amazeballs" in a legitimate press release.
posted by Mezentian at 8:00 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


And, well, thanks to YouTube we can all enjoy Seven Minutes Of Avon's Insults and Jibes.

And, I'm not sure if it counts as a spoiler or not, but here's the final scene from the final episode.

For me the finale of Terminal was actually better, more shocking. In part because I had to wait two years to find out what the hell happened.
posted by Mezentian at 8:10 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's also, to be completely clear, almost unwatchably cheap and tatty

I don't know, that's part of what I like about it though. I mean, hello, I don't watch 1970s BBC shows for their special effects. There's plenty that's just as cheap in classic Who. B7 is fun in part because of the cheapness and the sometimes perplexing design choices. For example, the first season's idea of what people would wear in the future is smocks. Smocks for goodness sakes. So. Many. Smocks. And then we get the puffy sleeves. I'm pretty sure there are a few outfits that Gareth Thomas could've gone hangliding in the sleeves were so big. And the clunkiness of the weapons, and all the buttons they always had to push. And yet, the show is still so unremittingly dark, as others have mentioned before, that you still get sucked in.

This reboot fills me with terror, because I really don't think you can recapture what B7 was saying at the time.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:31 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


For example, the first season's idea of what people would wear in the future is smocks.

It's just me, maybe, but ... well... some of the sleeves and puffy shirts were a bit out there, but I suspect it was a reaction to the tight-fitting, shiny-shiny future fashion aesthetic of other contemporary shows... Buck Rogers, for example. Or even Doctor Who.

The DVDs have, I believe, an interview with the costume designer, but I think it focuses more of Servalan's outfits. Which never made sense, but she made them work.

I liked the Liberator guns. The fourth season ship and guns never worked quite as well, and the plot was a bit confused by that stage. Avon was less about himself, which never sat right.

And yet, the show is still so unremittingly dark, as others have mentioned before, that you still get sucked in.

The fact you never know who could die and when killed me as a kid. And the Headhunter gave me nightmares.

Incidentally, all of the B7 episodes seem to be on YouTube as of two weeks ago.
posted by Mezentian at 9:47 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


And, I'm not sure if it counts as a spoiler or not, but here's the final scene from the final episode.

It's a pretty big one. Haunted me when I saw it as a kid. However one of my favorite pledge drive moments was the guy from the Georgia Doctor Who society who was answering phones with a sign in front of his station reading... (spoilers, kind of):







"Avon lives: he ducked."
posted by JHarris at 10:17 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Technically Avon and Blake both live, assuming you believe Afterlife, a book I have never read and probably never well after re-reading this as an adult.

I just want to lament that we will never see this idea which I mentioned above:
Paul Darrow purchased the rights to the show and was originally part of the recent project which would have been called Blake's 7: A Legacy Reborn. Reportedly, Darrow would have made an appearance as an aged Avon in what he described as "Napoleonic Exile" on a penal planet, his exploits long forgotten, most or all of the others long dead. (This scenario is close to one described by Blake's 7 creator Terry Nation.) Avon would have passed the torch on to a new group of escaped prisoners who would become the new Seven.


Also note the trivia:
In the final season, the BBC demanded that the metal studs on Avon's boots should be removed, as they were "unacceptably aggressive."

Ah, the BBC.
posted by Mezentian at 10:27 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know anything about Blake's 7, but that blurb I just read sounded suspiciously, and by suspiciously I mean exactly, like the idea behind Farscape.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:06 PM on April 9, 2013


There are similarities between B7 and Farscape (and Firefly, and even Lexx) but they're all quite different beasts in execution. So it's all good.

The crew of the Liberator can't really be described as plucky.
posted by Mezentian at 11:18 PM on April 9, 2013


I think Idris Elba would have been better as Gan.

If you can find a show called The Cult of Blake's 7 somewhere on the internet then watch it - a brilliant half hour of viewing, with interviews with all the main players.
posted by DanCall at 3:01 AM on April 10, 2013


Indeed. The Cult Of ... series, what I have seen, were great. I think I tracked down the Dr Who, Tripods and Doomwatch ones when Demonoid was still around.
posted by Mezentian at 4:48 AM on April 10, 2013


Will they show the massacre of the civilian outlaws that is in the original first episode in the remake? God I love B7 - as mentioned upthread, so dark and cynical, I can think of nothing else that starts that way. I doubt it will be the same now, I doubt the TV company will make it half as dark.
posted by marienbad at 5:04 AM on April 10, 2013


Man I love the Seven... not had a watch through for a few years, once I've caught up with some other stuff I think another will be on the cards.

Of course it was flat out awesome as a kid, even the fact that, even more so than Who, it was all quarries and oil refineries meant that any bit of rough ground could be a alien planet in my imagination. As an adult what sticks out, even more so that the ropey special effects and over enthusiastic acting is the inconsistency in script editing... one week Villa is an idiot, the next super clever etc. It jumps the shark in the fourth series - the island of Moreau ripoff and the space punks eps are almost unwatchable... but totally jumps back for the ending. Overall it's still awesome - nothing, not even Who in its full-on Gothic era, was ever as dark.

And nobody but nobody has ever run through a quarry wearing an evening dress like Jacqueline Pearce

Of course Syfy's going to ruin it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:29 AM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Speaking of British sci-fi I just watched the first episode of Utopia (Channel 4) and wow it's amazing.

Utopia is one of the best things I've seen in years... roll on the next series.

Where is Jessica Hyde?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:30 AM on April 10, 2013


Metafilter: nobody has ever run through a quarry wearing an evening dress like Jacqueline Pearce!

I was inspired to watch Utopia, but ended up dabbling in Orphan Black. It's not awful.
posted by Mezentian at 7:42 AM on April 10, 2013


It's also, to be completely clear, almost unwatchably cheap and tatty

You know, for years it's been an urban legend that is obviously incontrovertibly true that the special effects budget for each episode was 50 pounds. That's right, less than 75 USD. Even in the 1970s, that didn't buy much.

If you check on youtube for B7 outtakes, there is a great scarcity of funny flubs, and a large preponderance of cheap firecrackers failing to go off inside cheap fiberglass tubes.
posted by seasparrow at 5:46 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


This could possibly support its own FPP, but I don't feel like beefing it up:
SyFy is apparently set to announce a tonne of new projects, including adaptations of Ringworld and Childhood's End (as well as The Man In The High Castle) and about half a dozen spaceship shows including:

Clandestine: ... there's a clan of bandits who are attacked and "left for dead" by Coalition forces, and they're forced to take refuge inside a derelict Coalition spaceship that's just floating in deep space. Once on board, they decide to masquerade as Coalition officers while continuing their life of piracy — until they stumble on a secret about the true nature of the Coalition. This sounds very Blake's 7, actually. Gale Ann Hurd (Walking Dead) is also producing.
posted by Mezentian at 6:02 PM on April 10, 2013




Even if isn’t quite as iconic, there’s nothing wrong with Dudley Simpson’s theme music for Blake’s 7

Apart from the fact that it was stolen wholesale from Music by John Miles.
posted by Grangousier at 2:05 AM on April 11, 2013


. If necessary, set an episode in a radioactive jungle containing carnivorous plants that house a rare mineral that will cure a space plague.

Sold!
posted by Artw at 6:47 AM on April 11, 2013


... Starring Brent Spiner as The Space Plague.
posted by Mezentian at 6:55 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have never heard of this show 'til now, I'm going to youtube some episodes and see if i can abide the usual BBC production value issues long enough to get engrossed.
posted by Mister_A at 7:34 AM on April 11, 2013


Mister_A, if you are trying to get into B7, there is a good guide to get you started. IO9 occasionally comes through with stuff like this, which helps make up for most of the dreck there. I particularly like the advice that you watch the last episode first-- knowing how this story ultimately ends makes everything so much darker. They also have good advice about which episodes (and entire seasons) to skip.
posted by seasparrow at 9:48 AM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


How could you have Orac with an American accent? Being properly testy isn't even a thing this side of the Atlantic.
posted by scruss at 11:41 AM on April 11, 2013


David Hyde Pierce.
posted by Grangousier at 12:09 PM on April 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I concede that DHP is the NIST Pt-Ir standard for North American testiness.
posted by scruss at 7:15 AM on April 13, 2013


They're promoting the hell out of Defiance on Comcast. It... Does not look good. Everything about it screams embarrassing and outdated Sci-do, TBH. Still - they have lots more science fiction on the way.
posted by Artw at 7:21 AM on April 13, 2013


They're promoting the hell out of Defiance on Comcast. It... Does not look good.

It's not good. Last night I finally gave-up on it and turned it off half-way through the show.

I was inspired to watch Utopia, but ended up dabbling in Orphan Black. It's not awful.

I'm still on the fence with Orphan Black.
posted by homunculus at 12:13 PM on May 7, 2013


Not sure Orphan Black won't collapse under the weight of its plotting but the star Tatiana Maslany is the real deal (or she's getting some amazing direction)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:16 PM on May 7, 2013


I quite like Defiance. I think it will fire on all cylinders if it gets out of its awkward first season issues. Plus, it has the Tarrs. Those guys are great. There's a lot to recommend, I find, beyond the pilot and some kinks. Rob at io9 really dug the last episode, and I agree. But I want to like Defiance.

I'm still on the fence with Orphan Black.

I'm on Team Black. Tatiana Maslany isn't quite the natural mimic that we saw on Dollhouse in Enver Gjokaj, but I am finding it easy to pick the clones, and it keeps twisting the story to keep me interested. This weeks Fucked Up Desperate Housewives was hilarious.
posted by Mezentian at 4:04 AM on May 8, 2013


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