Review of Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audio Drama - Blake's 7Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures (Trilogy Box Set)
By Ben Aaronovitch, Marc Platt and James Swallow; Performed by FULL-CAST
3 Audio CDs & 1 CD-ROM – Approx. 225 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: B7 Media
Published: 2007
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Opera / Galactic Civilization / Politics / War / Terrorism / Spaceships /

In the third century of the second calendar, the galactic Federation, once a beacon of democracy and peace, has become a corrupt tyranny. Roj Blake stood up for the ordinary people. The establishment framed him for crimes he didn’t commit and sentenced him to permanent exile on the notorious prison planet of Cygnus Alpha. The Federation thinks it has seen the last of Roj Blake. The Federation will wish it had.

The producers of this stunning re-imagining Terry Nation’s late 1970s television series have improved upon the original Blake’s 7 in the same way as Battlestar Galactica was improved upon in its new TV series. This set, contains the three re-cut episodes Rebel, Traitor, and Liberator (and 40 minutes of bonus features). It is absolute audio drama perfection. The show is fast, surprising, darkly thrilling and utterly unflinching. Roj Blake is a folk hero, like Robin Hood or Pancho Villa. His struggle to free the deluded citizens of the galactic federation is full of ambiguities not found in the simplistic Star Wars films. If you like audio drama, you’ll love Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures!

Alistair Lock, responsible for sound effects, fills the soundscape with original and re-worked B7 sounds. The music is orchestral, and reminiscent of the original show. The acting in all three stories is absolutely top-shelf, Derek Riddell (Doctor Who) is the hardened, yet compassionate, Roj Blake. The treacherously reliable Kerr Avon is played by Colin Salmon (Tomorrow Never Dies). Michael Praed (of Robin Of Sherwod fame) guest stars, it’s a real who’s who of British Actors! Even Carrie Dobro (last seen in Babylon 5’s Crusade), playing Jenna, gets a meaty role she can really sink her teeth into.
I first listened to the Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures on the Sci Fi channel UK’s website as the five minute episodes were released. They sounded great! But, because they were released three times a week, and because each episode began and ended with lengthy intros and outros (lasting a minute or so) it was nigh impossible to follow the story. NOT SO with this re-cut version!

Here’s a breakdown of what’s in the set…

Disc 1: Rebel by Ben AaronovitchRebel is not only easy to follow, it is impossible not to follow! The show is super-compelling – like a tractor beam sucking you in. The adventure starts on Earth with a government special-ops team trying to capture the elusive Roj Blake. Blake was an opposition leader, now he’s an accused pedophile and terrorist. He’s soon caught, but not cowed. At his sham trial he acquits himself well, but still gets convicted after the fair judge (played by Frances Barber) gets re-programed. Blake is sentenced to exile on a prison planet, but instead of being neutralized he and some fellow prisoners manage to find what may turn out to be a real source for change in the Federation – an alien ship of immense power!

Disc 2: Traitor by Mark Platt
Blake and company, now in possession of a starship with tech beyond that of the Federation, must master the artificially intelligent and suicidal computer. Traitor is action packed, scene transitions take micro-seconds, point of view shifts by sound (you can tell where you are by what the voice of the speaker sounds like). As in Rebel the physics and science are done in a deliberate “hard SF” style. Unbeatable audio action.

Disc 3: Liberator by James Swallow
In part three, the Scottish accented Supreme Commander Servalan (Daniela Nardini) and her lackey Space Commander Travis (Craig Kelly) hatch a plan to eliminate Blake and steal his new ship. Meanwhile, with their ship now in fully working order Blake’s seven argue as to the best course of action. Should they, as Avon suggests,turn pirate? Or should they, as Blake wants, turn “Liberator” into a flagship of resistance? A few light-years away something is waiting…

Special Features [CD-ROM]:

Blake’s 7: A Rebellion Reborn – [VIDEO]
A terrific 17 minute video documentary offering behind the scenes studio footage, on camera interviews and commentary on what made the old television series so great. Watching this will sell any old Blake’s 7 fan on this new series!

Sci Fi 360 – [VIDEO]
A short (4 Minutes 16 Seconds) video about Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures that aired on the Sci-Fi Channel UK, shot at the Sci-Fi-London 6 Festival.

Sci Files – [VIDEO]
Another short video (2 Minutes 1 Second) promoting the show. It too aired on the Sci-Fi Channel UK.

Blakes 7 Theme – [MUSIC]
An MP3 featuring an extended (2 Minutes 10 Seconds) version of the new B7 theme!

Blooper Reel -[AUDIO BLOOPERS]
An MP3 (5 Minutes 43 Seconds) of outtakes from the recording of the three episodes.

“He’s The One” – [MUSIC]
An MP3 rock ballad about Roj Blake performed by Slashed Seat Affair.

Various sizes of desktop wallpaper featuring B7 art.

The producers tell me we haven’t heard the last of the Blake’s 7 Audio Adventures! So, get on board citizens, the rebels need your strength.

Posted by Jesse Willis

6 thoughts to “Review of Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures”

  1. Nice, I was a bit of a slacker and didn’t bother with the 5 minute episode they posted online as I couldn’t listen to them on my iPod. So thanks for putting this show back on my radar screen.

  2. Strongly agree! The best new audio drama I’ve heard in I don’t know how long… I’d say in terms of quality updates and reimagining of a beloved series, this actually rates above BSG, as it maintains the spirit of the original perfectly, while making it fresh and exciting.

    I had a lot of trouble with the website that offered the streams, and never did hear the “Liberator” as a result… damn good to see this quality work offered in this format!

  3. No anger, no sharpness, no bite, no real hatred of opposing view points, and updated with modern PC overtones. Villa’s unlikeable cockney accent? Avon on sombinal? “We can’t just run around with guns!” Eh? Why not just include a funny alien pet as well that made noises in the background? They could probably generate power off Terry Nation spinning in his grave.

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