Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Blakes 2007

One of the great pleasures of the new series of Doctor Who is the fact that my seven year old son also loves the show (so long as it's in colour - he refuses to watch Troughton or Hartnell, the young fool). It's not just him, though - all his friends love it too which has the unexpected bonus effect of making me suddenly the street's coolest Dad. I actually heard one of his pals the other day saying "You're *so* lucky - my dad's not got *any* Doctor Who DVDs" which was one of the stranger things I've ever heard anyone say.

Anyhow, I thought that I'd show him some other great TV from my youth and so stuck on the first season of Blakes 7.

And he hated it.

Without someone to identify with, he just wasn't interested and, within twenty minutes of putting it on, he had wandered off to find his Gameboy, leaving me to wonder how they could update Blakes 7 to capture that essential 7-13 age group who buy cheaply made tie-in toys (the other essential age group for that kind of thing is, of course, mid-thirties guys like me).

For a start, there'd have to be some serious recasting. Even at the beginning of the show Gareth Thomas was 33, Paul Darrow 37 and Jacqueline Pearce 35. These are not acceptable ages for series lead nowadays, where mid to late twenties seems to be the norm. Plus they were all...well, a bit ugly and/or Welsh. So first things first - replacements of the three leads with:

  • John Simm from Life on Mars as Blake
  • Nathan Fillion from Buffy as Avon
  • Jaime Murray from Hustle as Servalan.

    That gives us a couple of actors from two of the three most popular shows in BBC in recent years, plus an American who genre fans may well recognise. We'd probably need to have at least one black actor (Adrian Lester, possibly, in a more cerebral Gan role) and a minimum of one gay guy (James Dreyfus possibly as Vila - you really can't be too obvious in your casting.) Cally can turn out to be a bit of a lipstick lesbian later, if focus groups think that would boost ratings.

    Next, we have the woeful fact that - Blake apart - the entire crew of the Liberator are actually guilty of the crimes they were convicted of. Most of them don't even have extenuating circumstances to aid audience identification. In OZ, Prison Break, or Prisoner: Cell Block H any character with whom the audience is intended to bond will be either (a) innocent or (b) guilty but it's not really their fault. In Blakes 7, only Blake is actually innocent, with Gan guilty but a bit unfortunate. The rest of them revel in their criminal pasts.

    So what we need in Blakes 2007 is a series of flashbacks, shot with some kind of hazy filter a little like the scene where Kaiser Soze kills his own family in The Usual Suspects. Each of these flashbacks will last about ten minutes or so (enabling us to show all the back stories in one Special Episode) and in every case will establish either innocence or that it wasn't their fault. So Vila will still be a thief, for instance, but he'll only steal enough to feed some starving street kids he's keeping a fatherly eye on. Jenna will be a smuggler, but the cargo will be contraband medicine she was taking through a Federation blockade in a Firefly stylee. And Gan will be plain innocent.

    Which leads us onto the next area needing improvement. As it stands Blakes 7 is about moving the story forward in as exciting and action-packed a manner as possible. Which was all well and good in the 1970s, but nowadays we have to ask ourselves - where's the love?

    Let's give Gan a family back home (better make it quite a big family so that we can have one or two of them killed by the Federation over the course of the series). They can be working with a feisty young female lawyer (Billie Piper, naturally) to set Gan free when news of his escape reaches Earth. Having run from the Feds, Gan has - in the eyes of the general populace at least - proven himself guilty and this his family find themselves under growing pressure (probably on a bi-weekly basis at most) to disown him as a terrorist.

    But wait there a minute - a terrorist? The 'heroes' of Blakes 2007 can hardly be criminals, (no matter how innocent, plucky or plain unfortunate) fighting against a legitimately positioned central government using violent means, can they?

    Because that would make them the baddies and the Federation the good guys. That's just too freakish a reversal for any audience to accept - cheer for the Cylons and boo at Admiral Adama? Sorry, can't be done

    Oops, sorry - wandered into another show entirely for a moment there.

    But the point still stands - in the modern world it's just not plausiable to make terrorists the heroes of any show. So lets' make them evil. Scrap the nice back-stories and replace them with flashbacks nicked wholesale from the movie The Dirty Dozen. Vila is now a peadophile, Jenna a smuggler of hard drugs to Primary School World and Gan a white slaver. Servalan, on the other hand, is a now a feisty young lawyer, working on a case which will expose those within the Federation who are secretly helping the Blakian Terror Group (I'm presuming this would be some kind of left-wing cabal, led by the Vice President...eh, Deputy Prime Minister...no, that doesn't sound right, best move the entire series to the USA and recast with uglier actors).

    Oh, and the ship can't be called the Liberator now, obviously. How about the Benedict Arnold - or is that too subtle?

    Right - I think we're ready to go. I'm sure my son would watch this new version - not that I'd let him of course. It sounds far too unpleasant.


  • Bookmark and Share


    Blogger alienvoord said...

    why did you show him the first season? try the 3rd or 4th season.

    2:54 pm  
    Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

    Selfishness, pure and simple - I fancied watching it again in order.

    Looks liek I'll have to do it on my own though :(

    5:30 pm  
    Blogger Stewart M. said...

    If I lived nearby, I'd watch it with you. I've been meaning to do that again, in fact.

    Season Four was always the highlight for me... 'We NEED the space-drive.'

    I also think that the middle-class nature of nearly every actor involved was part of the series' charm. I was glad to see such a sarcastic post - I, too, would hate to see the series resurrected in that fashion. They just don't make television like the used to...

    6:10 pm  
    Blogger Stewart M. said...

    I, too, was severely disappointed with The Age of Steel - mostly for reasons of just plain poor writing (and the Doctor being rubbish). However, I thought the direction itself was the best yet... it's the one saving grace of either episode.

    What does your son think/say about David Tennant?

    6:53 pm  
    Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

    Oh he prefers Tennant to Eccleston by a distance. He liked the last season, but he definitely seems to be more into the new Doctor (for a start, The Empty Child scares him rigid which nothing in the latest series does :)

    His favourite of all though is Troughton (based entirely on the Two, Three and Five Doctors - he doesn't watch black and white TV, sadly, prefering to go out instead to play football if I put any on).

    7:17 pm  
    Blogger Scott Liddell said...

    Can I be the voice of Orac?

    8:51 pm  
    Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

    Scott: "Can I be the voice of Orac?"

    Ooh, Scott in 'knowledge of proper telly' shock!

    There's none of yer Monkey Dust nonsense here.

    9:26 pm  
    Blogger Stewart M. said...

    ...and Gan will be plain innocent.

    Oddly enough, Magic Bullet play 'The Mark of Kane' (which I'd be more than willing to share with you if you've yet to hear it [or Logic of Empire, for that matter]) makes Gan out to have been a serial killer/rapist prior to having his limiter installed...

    5:53 pm  
    Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

    Stewart M: "Oddly enough, Magic Bullet play 'The Mark of Kane"

    I actually have 'Mark of Kane and 'Logic of Empire' somewhere but I've never listened to them. Are they any good?

    And how can they make Gan a rapist/serial killer when it's established that he's no such thing in the TV series? Or do they just say that he was lying in 'Time Squad'?

    7:26 pm  
    Blogger TimeWarden said...

    Perhaps your son will enjoy "Blakes 7" and black and white "Doctor Who" when he's older? Even colour "Doctor Who" was in black and white for me, as a teenager in the Seventies without a colour set!

    And, to be honest, the Daleks look better in black and white. They never looked more powerful than they do in Trafalgar Square. I even knew of someone who would watch "Remembrance" with the colour off!!

    1:48 am  
    Blogger Stewart M. said...

    " And how can they make Gan a rapist/serial killer when it's established that he's no such thing in the TV series? Or do they just say that he was lying in 'Time Squad'? "

    I thought it was sort of odd, myself. I need to go back and listen to those. The Mark of Kane is alright - it basically just explains what's up with Roj's eye in Blake.

    Logic of Empire, however, is brilliant. You simply must listen...

    Do you like the Kaldor City at all? I enjoy the series more than anything ever produced by Big Finish, to be sure. But then, I am a big sucker for Boucher and Darrow.

    5:34 am  
    Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

    Timewarden: "Perhaps your son will enjoy "Blakes 7" and black and white "Doctor Who" when he's older?"

    Fingers crossed, but I don't know any kids of any age who will watch B&W TV, so I'm not overly hopeful.

    Still - he does like season 7 of Who, so that's a plus....

    9:39 am  
    Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

    Stewart M: "Do you like the Kaldor City at all?"

    I love Kaldor City, although the final one in the series less so (Russell Hunter was too obvioulsy missing).

    I'm actually going to order the Magic Bullet Faction Paradox cds today based on how good the KC audios were.

    9:43 am  
    Blogger Mags said...

    Hmmm...a bunch of small time crooks, innocents and people with a mysterious past dodging around the galaxy on a scrappy spaceship, on the run from a powerful Federation? Haven't we already had the C21st B7 in Firefly?

    3:28 pm  
    Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

    Mags:"Haven't we already had the C21st B7 in Firefly?"

    Yeah, the thought did occur to me. But no-one's actually hunting for the Serenity crew except in the movie - *and* they cut the damn show mid-season before they could wrap up the plot.

    I'd take Firefly back over B7 any day, granted, much as I love B7.

    3:39 pm  
    Blogger Stewart M. said...

    Woah, woahh. Firefly over Blake? You've got to be out of your skull, Stuart!

    While I enjoyed it at the time, Firefly has nothing on B7 - at least not to my mind...

    B7 offers us (arguably) superior acting, more interesting character dynamics, more imaginative plotting, and even better character drama (sadly this counts for almost everything in the biz today, to the expense of imagination [which disgusts me]), all painted upon a much more intense, grittier backdrop.

    Then again, I'd rather strangle myself with my own small intestine than sit through an episode of Buffy, so perhaps something about Whedonass just doesn't agree with me.

    5:23 am  
    Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

    Stewart M: "Woah, woahh. Firefly over Blake? You've got to be out of your skull, Stuart!"

    Sorry Stewart - Joss Whedon is untouchable, and FF is his greatest work.

    I love B7 to bits and some of the episodes are wonderful, but FF has *everything* - at every level it feels more like a real society populated by real people than B7 ever did (not, I grant you, that was really an aim of 70s UK TV sf), plus it has more humour and charcater beats per episode than than B7 has in an entire series.

    Even if you don't like Buffy or Angel (and how can that be?), you should give Firefly another chance.

    9:13 am  
    Blogger SAF said...

    Lest we forget, "Farscape" also had its B7 parallels. As a ship, Moya is a fair Liberator analogue, while Serenity is a fair analogue for the bucket of bolts Scorpio.

    12:32 pm  
    Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

    SAF: "Lest we forget, "Farscape" also had its B7 parallels."

    Ah, 'Farscape' was on TV during my ten year hiatus from watching much sf on TV (which is also why I've only seen one episode of Babylon 5, half a dozen ST: DS9 and Voyager).

    Is it any good?

    1:14 pm  
    Blogger SAF said...

    Well, you're asking the wrong person, because I'm thoroughly biased. I thought it was utterly brilliant: constantly creative, great character dynamics and design that just set it apart from anything else. Of course, also like B7 it ran for only 4 seasons. I've actually yet to see Season 4 myself, so for all I know it may go off the rails, but the Peacekeeper Wars 'miniseries' that endeavoured to wrap it all up after its cancellation (a bit like Serenity in that respect) made for great watching, although because of the cut down running time some characters were somewhat overlooked (also a bit like Serenity).

    3:26 pm  
    Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

    SAF:"I thought it was utterly brilliant"

    Good enough recommendation for me - I was going to give something called 'Jeremiah' a shot now that we've finished watching 'Tru Calling', but 'Farscape' sounds much better (and Demonoid can always be relied on to provide a sample :-)

    3:52 pm  
    Blogger Stewart M. said...

    I rely heavily on Demonoid as well. What's your username?

    6:03 pm  
    Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

    Stewart M: "What's your username?"

    lennyzer0, same username as I use for UKNova , mailing lists, forums...

    6:57 pm  
    Blogger GorebridgeLady said...

    The meanderings of Maniacs, your son is the only sane one here. Lovely Boy. just like his dad was before he discovered TV. Stuart Didn't have a TV at home until he was 6, but he has made up for lost time. And he is also right, David T is just delicious !!!!!!!!!

    7:18 pm  
    Blogger SK said...

    Interestingly, according to IMDB, Simm is 36 and Fillion 35 (they don't seem to have Murray's birthday). So in fact about the same age as their originl counterparts.

    Now, while, yay, my chance of being a leading man has not totally ended as I leave my miod twenties behind for good, this does raise an interesting question of perception. Do the modern actors act younger? Look younger? Perhaps take better care of themselves (I remember when that remake of Sabrina Fair came out, there were comments on how both Bogie and Ford were far too old for the girl but Bogie, with his hard-drinking, hard-living lifestyle, really looked it, while post-80s-health-obsession Ford had kept in rather better shape)? Or is it just that they are less ugly/Welsh* and therefore seem younger in general?

    I suppose the first question is, did you actually know the ages of your suggested actors and that's part of the joke, or did you honestly think they were younger than they are, in which case there's maybe a serious question to think about?

    * Anyone else thinking of the Song of Patriotic Prejudice?

    9:33 am  
    Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

    That's a very good point, and no - it wasn't intended to be part of the joke. I did Google the three of them when I wrote this and though Murray and Simm were under 30 (Murray is actually 28 but Simm is as you say in his mid-30s which just goes to show that blogging is anothe rone of those things that encourages poor research).

    I do however think Simm and Murray play their roles as twenty-somethings (Fillon, in retrospect, was a poor chice of example all round - he's a father figure in Firefly and certainly no spring chicken in Buffy).

    I'm not entirely sure I can pin-point why that is - audeince identification figure being of paramound importance nowadays (cf Rose in Doctor Who)? A simple case of relative ages of me and the actor - I'm in my mid-thirties now so actors, like policemen and football players all seem younger? The faster pacing of modern TV shows meaning that younger (looking if nothign else) actors are required to believably handle the...well, pace?

    It's an interesting point, certainly.

    7:15 pm  
    Blogger SK said...

    Ah, you managed to find Murray's birthday; which makes another interesting point. Her Hustle co-stars, Lester and Warren, are both ten years older than her (though they continue the tradition of looking twenty-something, and therefore being suitable candidates for the new Liberator crew).

    So is there a gender difference here? Thirty-something men get to play leading roles and love interests; but women after thirty are past it? (Morena Baccarin isn't that much older than me, depressingly; the love interest in Life on Mars similarly is late-20s).

    I did, years ago, think about how to bring Blake's 7 back; and I suppose as it's never going to happen it can't hurt to share it. It would be set a hundred (or so) years after the original series, when the revolution finally succeeds. It would begin with a butchering of the Federation's first family, a la the Romanovs; but the new regime would realise that the last thing a nascent society needs is real revolutionaries hanging around, so the Blake-esque figurehead (who was apalled by the needless slaughter of the children) would find himself on the run (in the company of the one member of the first family to escape, Anastasia-like, and a bunch of reprobates, of course) from his former allies, who are trying to build a better society with him out of the way.

    Disturbingly I now realise I was thinking of the Anastasia character being the younger, audience-identification figure. Gosh. Gets inside your head, this.

    Working title: Federation (not that Paramount's lawyers would have allowed that, I suppose).

    12:11 pm  

    Post a Comment

    Links to this post:

    Create a Link

    << Home