Archive for March 4th, 2022

Continuing my thoughts on the classic BBC sci-fi series Blake’s 7, which ran from 1978-81.  The first part appeared the last week of January, and three installments on the series’ characters followed in successive weeks.

It’s always interesting to me to think about a creator’s influences; what sci-fi or fantasy books, shows and movies did they find interesting, and how did that affect their own creations?  After the first season of Blake’s 7, the influence of its creator, Terry Nation, seemed to wane while that of script editor Chris Boucher waxed.  Boucher was clearly influenced by Dune, not so much for its specific desert-world setting (though that definitely appears in other Boucher stories such as his Doctor Who serial “The Robots of Death”) as for its portrayal of future colonial societies which have grown away from Earth as they developed, some to the point of even forgetting about their origins (as Leela’s people did in Boucher’s Doctor Who serial “The Face of Evil”).  In the “Blake” universe, there hasn’t quite been enough time for that; by the stated times in several episodes (especially the Robert Holmes-penned “Killer”), the main action seems to take place in the 29th century.  However, in other episodes we meet societies such as that from which crew member Cally came, which seem to have gone though or fallen into a dark age, but were at a much higher level of technology in the past; Boucher’s own “City at the Edge of the World” (a title which I’m sure deeply annoyed Harlan Ellison) entirely revolved around this concept, and the idea infuses a number of other episodes to a greater or lesser degree.  Even the third-season background of Servalan trying to rebuild the splintered Terran Federation after the invasion from Andromeda (which Nation apparently originally conceived of as a war with the Daleks) has its roots in both actual history (“Make The Empire Great Again!” is not a new idea) and the Dune universe, and the entire series’ theme of independent colonies forcibly subdued by a central government with pretenses to some kind of legitimacy in turn influenced later shows like FireflyBoucher also definitely seems to have been influenced by Star Trek, and I don’t just mean in titles such as the aforementioned “City at the Edge of the World”; the plot of “Death-Watch”, for example, bears a striking resemblance to that of the Star Trek episode “A Taste of Armageddon”, though both the particulars and the resolution were very different. That’s not a complaint, BTB; one of the great things about sci-fi IMHO is the way that creators are directly influenced by each other, and openly admit it.  For example, J, Michael Straczynski (whom I believe to have himself been influenced by Blake’s 7) borrowed his Babylon 5 psionic system from the writer Alfred Bester, and acknowledged that by naming a villain (played by an actor borrowed from Star Trek) after him.

Look for more about the series’ writing next week.

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