Sci Fi TV Reboots the Should Happen: Blake’s 7

By | October 6, 2016

Television reboots and revivals are all the rage mostly because the entertainment industry prefers name recognition over original ideas. But there are some properties that truly deserve a re-look because they didn’t quite achieve their goal the first time around or they were cut short.

What Is It? This British science fiction series followed a group of rebels led by Roj Blake that were on the run from the tyrannical Terran Federation. They acquire an alien spaceship which they dub the Liberator and use it in their ongoing battle against the Federation and its allies. The series was created by Doctor Who writer Terry Nation (the person who created the Daleks).

When Did It Air? BBC, 1978-81, 4 Seasons Totaling 52 Episodes

Where Did the Original Fall Short? As with classic Doctor Who, the budget was far too small to match the show’s ambitions. It also tended to follow an episodic format which made it seem like Star Trek with bad guys at times.

Why Reboot It? While this series is considered a science fiction classic, it has had very little exposure in the United States beyond a brief run on PBS in the early 80’s (and it has yet to be released on DVD in the States or made available on any of the streaming services). And while the original Blake’s 7 had its failings, it was also ahead of its time in many ways. Morally ambiguous characters leading a sci fi show has become a trope these days, but that was pretty daring back in the late 70’s. The show also had an epic scope to it and took many twists and turns during its four season run. And despite its budget shortfalls, it proved a much better attempt to bring grand sci fi to television on the wave of Star Wars mania than the big dollar U.S. entries Battlestar: Galactica and Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century, both of which all too often descended into camp. A reboot of this series (or perhaps a revival that brings back some of the original cast to join a new generation of rebels) would definitely benefit from today’s CGI technology. And this one would be a perfect fit for the serialized story-telling that has become the norm with sci fi shows these days. There was an announcement just a few years ago that Syfy was working on a reboot of the series (more on that below), but nothing has come of it and those efforts apparently morphed into or were replaced by Dark Matter which has many similarities to Blake’s 7. But with sci fi fans currently clamoring for more space opera and studios / network execs preferring some name recognition, this property sounds like perfect pickings as the next big reboot.

Where Can I Watch the Original Series? Sadly, nowhere in the United States easily. The entire series is available on DVD, but Region 2 only. And it has yet to find its way to one of the streaming services which seems rather odd to me. You can seek out bootleg DVDs that are Region 0 or 1, but the quality of those is a crap shoot.

Already Tried It: There have been efforts in place to reboot this series for the past fifteen years and more, but nothing has come of it yet. The rights to the series were purchased from the Terry Nation estate (creators hold the rights to their properties in Britain, unlike here in the U.S.) and there were attempts to produce a movie, a mini-series, an animated series, and an ongoing live action show. Paul Darrow was set to reprise his role as Avon for some of the early efforts but bowed out due to creative differences. Sky TV in Britain was set to move forward with a series at one point, then Syfy picked up the torch, but still no Blake’s 7 reboot. You can read more about the failed efforts to revive the series at this link. Big Audio has acquired the rights to the series and produced several radio adaptations that continue the story and also looked at the early years of the main characters. But we are still waiting for the show to return to television.

Interesting Fact: Series lead Gareth Thomas and Fourth Doctor Tom Baker wanted to do a crossover between Blake’s 7 and Doctor Who, and the invasion from Andromeda that came at the end of B7’s second season was originally supposed to be an attack by the Daleks. Unfortunately, the idea for the crossover was nixed and Blake never did meet the Doctor (but still could if a reboot / revival were to happen).

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