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The Way Back, again

A couple of years back I started, but didn't finish, rewatching Blake's 7. I'm giving it another try for b7rewatch, and so started inevitably by returning to "The Way Back". On top of my comments from last time, I will add the following two points once the b7rewatch discussion starts:

First, the look of it is even better than I remembered. The camera shots through bars, or stairs angled to look like bars, reinforce the claustrophobia. The close-ups on Blake's eye bring home to us that his perception (and thus ours) has been altered and may not be completely reliable. The silent guards in their masks and black uniforms are very sinister indeed. The shots of Blake's memory being wiped are effective so it's not surprising that they get used twice.

Second, the show does a good job of subverting our expectations for what kind of series this is going to be. The very first word from an on-screen character is spoken by former child star Gillian Bailey, who was one of the Double Deckers (if you don't know, don't ask). Then we go to the rebel meeting chaired by Robert Beatty, veteran of various screen performances (Who fans will know him as the General in The Tenth Planet). It looks rather as if Bailey and Beatty are going to play central characters in this new series; but they are mercilessly mown down. (A bit like Temmosus of the Thals, with some important differences.)

Then it loolks like Blake may be sprung by his lawyer, even though the lawyer and his wife are played by less luminous actors, and we may be moving towards a series with Blake's new friends Jenna and Vila in space, and Tel and Maja Varon as his agents on earth, Blake somehow operating in between. But the Varons too are killed, off-screen, though we glimpse their twisted corpses.

The Way Back gives us no idea of what sort of show this is going to turn into. The first episode ends with Blake's permanent deportation from Earth, for crimes he didn't commit, his only allies killed by the government. It is not a happy ending, but it certainly left my ten-year-old self wanting to watch more back in 1978.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 3rd, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
Blake's 7 had Servalan and a computer that appeared to have been made from a beer crate, and I remember part of it being filmed on location using the back of Leeds University as the moonbase. But mostly it had Servalan. Ergo, it mattered not if it was, as it turned out to be, utter bobbins.
Sep. 3rd, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC)
I remember part of it being filmed on location using the back of Leeds University as the moonbase

Ooh, really? I've only ever watched the odd episode of Blake's 7, but this gives me another reason to do so systematically some time, as Leeds University is where I work! Thanks for the info.
Sep. 3rd, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
Much of it was filmed in the parts out the back of the Stoner Building and Roger Stevens; squint a little and imagine a couple of BBC lighting rigs and you can sort of visualise a moonbase there.

Edited at 2009-09-03 05:49 pm (UTC)
Sep. 3rd, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC)
Yes, I guessed that would be the most likely part of the campus. I expect it looked very futuristic back in the '70s!
Sep. 3rd, 2009 04:26 pm (UTC)
"The Way Back" is in many ways the pilot of a show that never got made.
Sep. 3rd, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
former child star Gillian Bailey, who was one of the Double Deckers

Oh, that's why she always seemed vaguely familiar!
Sep. 3rd, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
I love Blake's 7, watched it as a young child without really following it, then much later saw the first couple of seasons as an adult. Was most impressed.

For all the limitations of 1970s BBC scifi, the show somehow still managed to be harsher and more believeably human (especially the bickering amongst the main characters) than many others before or since.

And that theme music.....
Sep. 3rd, 2009 11:52 pm (UTC)
"The Way Back" is fantastic, and the second episode is pretty good, too. It's "Visit to the Planet of BRIAN BLESSED" where it all goes downhill...
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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