Blake’s 7 remake: liberating, or a Federation of dunces?

logo for tv show blakes 7No sooner had we just finished watching the last episode of Blake’s 7 than the announcement hit the interwebs that an American outfit was interesting in remaking the cult British television show. First thought: this could be wicked, what with modern special effects and all. Second thought: another UK show mangled by Americans missing the point. Verdict: torn.

I loved Blake’s 7 as a kid; the 1978-81 show offered something different. A crew who were together by desperate convenience, who weren’t jumping each other’s bones but rather each other’s nerves, and who could lose just as easily as win. And, as io9 points out, led by someone who might just be a zealot dangerous to all around him.

servalan from blakes 7

The villain wears white … Servalan

The effects were hokey, the gender politics at times ghastly, the episodic plots sometimes dodgy, the fight scenes lamentable. We now have a ‘Blake punch’ in our house, whereby the merest tap on the shoulder will cause instant collapse. And yet, with the friction between said zealot Blake and self-serving computer whiz Avon, the equally self-preservationist thief Vila and the mercenary smuggler Jenna who found something — or someone — to believe in, the show is still enjoyable. There are the witty one-liners and put-downs, acerbic sniping all round. Dayna and Soolin can shoot straight, too; even Vila has his hero moments. And there’s Servalan, of course, a stylish, three-dimensional villain who has her share of travails. Talk about leave Buck Rogers for dead!

Add in some bold decisions: killing off a cast member mid-season, dropping the titular character for two seasons, destroying the uber-starship Liberator and replacing it with a far less ostentatious and well kitted out ship… Indeed, by the end of the final, fourth season, only two original cast members remain on the bridge. And then there’s the conclusion, of course: it’s hard to imagine an American television show in which the heroes totally and utterly lose.

If it does get up, it will be interesting to see in which direction the remake goes. Let’s just hope it doesn’t poke science fiction in the eye the way the remade Battlestar Galactica did.