My fat headed, rotund, sweary little pile of sentient cloth and stuffing, Jeb, shares my like for science fiction. We certainly watched enough of it as a kid and a cub. One thing we’ve been meaning to do is get around to re-watching Blake’s 7. The only time we saw it was when it was first on telly and that, as Jeb so rightly put it, was fucking donkey’s yonks ago.
What put us off was the solid gold fact that the special effects are pants and that it would ruin our enjoyment. That and the fact that we could never find a decent time to watch it as it was tricky to work around pub opening times.
But at last, one hungover Saturday morning with bacon sandwiches and Lucozade to hand, we got stuck in.
We happily spend the first half hour of our time playing and re-playing the theme tune, singing along louder each time until the neighbour threw a boot at our window. That’s a good tune that is.
Roj Blake is a carefree, model citizen living in a huge dome and it seems the whole human race are living in these things. Going outside to play is proper naughty, the authorities really don’t like that. The first shot is of this curly-haired carefree man wandering around some Doctoroo corridors.
JEB: Who’s that pillock?
DOUG: It’s Blake, as well you know!
JEB: Who’s that talking to him? Paddington’s tits! It’s a very young Ed Byrne!
DOUG: That’s a woman, Jeb. Behave yourself.
Blake is in a bit of a mood. On her say so he’s gone without food and water for 36 hours. He’s soon off with the woman and her associate to pop outside the dome for a bit which, as already established, is a bit criminal. And they’re being followed by a man who looks for all the world like he’s forgotten his wife’s birthday.
JEB: The population is being suppressed by drugs and whatnot. I’ll have to remember that one, might come in handy.
Jeb looked at me seriously for a long, silent moment before returning to focus blearily on the screen.
Blake has had his memory wiped and all his rebellious past is something of a surprise to him. In the day he was a big, influential rebel leader whereas now he’d have trouble swearing at a flower.
JEB: Same thing happened to me. Can’t remember a thing about yesterday. What happened and how much did it cost?
We both pause to laugh as the Federation fuzz show up just after Blake wanders off a bit. He hides inside a doorway and manages to conceal, we estimate, only 23% of his body mass from view.
JEB: Look at that tum! Look at it! It’s impressive but it’ll get shot off any second now.
DOUG: Nope, the clear plastic ring around their helmets must have a tum filter operational. Everyone looks thin to them.
All of Blake’s new rebel friends are wiped out by the Fed filth using alarmingly flammable guns.
JEB: What’s he doing!?
DOUG: I don’t… Blake, what the hell?
Blake casually saunters up to all these armed slaughterers and gets caught.
Now there’s a long old discussion about what to do with Mr Blake by some high up wronguns. A screen behind them shows Blake pacing in his cell like a trapped bear in a man costume. To discredit the man they invent some child molestation charges, put him on trial and let a couple of clear plastic balls determine the verdict.
JEB: Guilty. Bloody ‘ell.
DOUG: That was nasty business.
JEB: Can you put the kettle on, gasping for a cuppa.
I nip off to the kitchen and remember I still have half my bacon sandwich left which always goes well with a bloody good cup of tea. I hear Jeb shout from the other room…
JEB: Vila! Eey!
Vila is on screen, nicking Blake’s watch and there’s Jenna too. The team is starting to form!
I notice my empty plate and feel silly, I must have forgotten eating the rest of the sandwich. I bring the tea in and watch as Jeb sniffs it suspiciously, as he always does.
JEB: Is that milk fresh? If it’s not I’m going to kill one of your feet right off.
Some not at all bad model shots in this as Blake and the other prisoners get blasted off to some distant prison planet called Cygnus Alpha and not Nonce World like Jeb would have you believe. There’s a bit about Blake’s defence counsel starting to believe the charges were false and he runs around investigating, thinking and eventually getting murdered by that fellow who still looks for all the world like he forgot his wife’s birthday. Oh well.
By the time Jeb has drained his mug and put it upside down on his head, it’s the end of the episode.
The Federation prison guard type fellow leans in to the ridiculously confined Blake and tells him to take a long look at the receding Earth as that’s the last he’ll see of it. And Blake, in an exceptional fit of Britishness, politely remarks: “No, I’m coming back.”
Jeb and I are in stitches over this and repeat the line in more and more outlandishly British pronunciation until Jeb realises that the pub’s open. I ask Jeb if I can watch the next episode because it’s got Avon in it.
JEB: No, I’m coming back.