Starring Gareth Thomas as Roj Blake, Sally Knyvette as Jenna Stannis, Paul Darrow as Kerr Avon, Michael Keating as Vila Restal, David Jackson as Olag Gan, Jan Chapell as Cally and Peter Tuddenham as Zen
with Jacqueline Pearce as Servalan and Stephen Greif as Travis

Blake in a brainwashing machine

01 The Way Back

A spectacular start, expertly laying the groundwork for both the Federation and the way they run, and for Blake himself. The choice to largely focus on the one character (Vila and Jenna are the only other regulars to appear, in cameos) is born out by the gripping narrative, a strong performance from Thomas and the fine work on supporting characters. An excellent script matched by a surprisingly good-looking final production.


02 Spacefall

Still very much about Blake, but the subtle introduction of Avon and the gradual rise to prominence for Vila and Jenna works nicely. On transmission it must have been difficult for the casual viewer to guess who would make it through. Fine performances from Glyn Owen and Leslie Schofield, and some surprisingly careful scripting from Terry Nation, contributes to a decent, gritty episode that might move on from some of the big ideas of the first one, but makes up for it with some tense action.


The London is dwarfed by the Liberator

In space, you can still hear Brian Blessed

03 Cygnus Alpha

The last of the opening trilogy continues to round out the characters (or at least tries to - this is about as fleshed out as Gan would get), but the whole idea of a prison colony turning out to be a bunch of religious zealots is bizarre. Thanks to Brian Blessed it's never boring, but it just feels very left field after the intended quasi-realism and gritty tone of the series so far.


04 Time Squad

The first episode to use what would become a recurring Blake's 7 format - half the crew go off to a planet and have an adventure, and something largely unrelated happens to the other half back on the ship. In this case, the thread with Blake, Avon and Vila that introduces Cally is the more interesting, comprising as it does the first strike back against the Federation. The stuff with the titular sleepers on the Liberator feels very much like it's marking time, however.


Cally and Blake

Blake and a Decima

05 The Web

A very boring episode. The Liberator's struggle with the web is every bit as tedious and frustrating for the viewer as it must be for the crew, and when we get through it there's a bizarre little lab at the end. The little Decimas are hard to dislike, even if Gareth Thomas looks totally bemused by the events around him, but the final reveal is awful stuff. It's a bit preachy too.


06 Seek, Locate, Destroy

The introduction of Servalan and Travis actually undermines the threatening faceless Federation to some extent, putting a pair of fairly standard villains in charge of things. However, the performances of Pearce and Greif go a long way towards making up for this, and distract from a plot largely reliant on convenient accidents. The "I got here first" thing feels rather trite and stretches credibility; what a coincidence that Blake brings it up and has a chance to turn the tables on Travis in a similar fashion about half an hour later. However, it's nice to see the Federation back as the focus after three episodes off.



Avon, Blake and Cally discuss mysteries

07 Mission to Destiny

The simple premise of a whodunit in space works rather well, even if this feels like an episode off from the premise of the series (especially due to is' placing, with a Travis episode before and two after). The mystery segment is generally handled well, though why the Ortega's crew never seriously suspect the strangers who've teleported aboard while they're all knocked out is a bit much. Overall, it's a bit of a guilty pleasure - very silly in theory, very watchable in practice.


08 Duel

Borrowing heavily from Star Trek, "Duel" moves nicely despite the fact the plot can be summed up in a sentence. Sinovar and Giroc feel a bit out there compared to most of what's gone before (especially Sinovar's nipples), but it's superbly directed by Douglas Camfield. Thomas and Greif both put in excellent turns, somewhat making up for the rest of the regulars just sitting there and watching (even Jenna doesn't do much). Still, if something's going to be derivative, it might as well be slick and watchable, and "Duel" certainly is.


Blake fights Travis with a big stick

Chevner and Jenna lay down covering fire

09 Project Avalon

A decent-enough central plot is helped by some good action sequences, even if chunks of the plot are a bit implausible (why doesn't the Avalon robot just crush the vial as soon as it has it?). You just sort of go with it. The biggest problem is that Travis comes up with another complicated, flawed plot and is rapidly losing credence (as is Servalan for using him). Also, it bugs me no end that David Bailie's eyebrows join in the middle, which is a shame as he's otherwise very good here.


10 Breakdown

Finally Gan gets something to do, even if he's kept either mad for subdued for most of the episode. More interesting is Avon - he has an underlying contempt for Gan, yet still gives up the location of his bolt hole to save him. Complex characterisation? Or just bad writing? At the end of the day the plot's just not enough for the episode (notably the standby time-filler of a difficult journey across unsafe space), though Julian Glover puts in a fine performance as the vain, Federation-sympathetic surgeon Kane - "You touched my hands!".



Sarkoff and Blake

11 Bounty

Arguably the most padded of several heavily padded episodes towards the end of the season. It's also cheap, even by B7 standards - note Sarkoff's 20th century antique collection made up of whatever was lying around the props department. However, "Bounty" is dragged along by the fine performances of Thomas and (especially) TP McKenna, and some fine politics. Tarvin feels tacked on and superfluous, though, and his gang's silly harem costumes don't help.


12 Deliverance

A return to the tenuously-related parallel plot format seen in "Time Squad". Once again it's the 'title' thread that's dull - Avon and co. feel like they're sidelined on the planet below just so Ensor Jr. can plausibly hijack the ship. However, the latter thread is well-presented, helped by a determined and heartfelt - if workmanlike - performance from Tony Caunter. The former is best not mentioned - Suzan Farmer's delivery is a bit too close to the nympho nuns from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.


Ensor holds Cally hostage

The crew inspect Orac

13 Orac

A decent enough actioner that grows nicely from the last episode (in effect making this part 2 of a 3-part storyline, a level of week-to-week continuity not seen since the prison ship episodes). The radiation sickness scenes on the Liberator are suitably grim, though Servalan and Travis feel a little tacked-on (Greif's injury is surprisingly well-covered unless you're looking for it, incidentally - sorry Stephen, but no-one really watches your feet). There's a good, fussy performance from Derek Farr which really rounds Ensor out, and overall "Orac" finishes the season nicely.