Ahem. We are gathered here in the sight of the dearly departed Terry Nation to discuss issues of the utmost importance: how best to handle the Blake’s 7 reboot. Our *snicker* distinguished panel will all answer the same questions in their own inimitable fashion. The panel consists of Science Fiction Romance authors Jaleta Clegg, Nina Croft, Pippa Jay, Erica Hayes and myself, Diane Dooley. Let the games begin!
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Jaleta: The show was completely wonderful. My hubby and I would set aside every Saturday night at 10 pm just for watching the show when our local PBS station had it on. My fourth child was born during an episode. I was very upset with her for years for making me miss the end of the episode. I’d love to have the series on DVD but it just hasn’t been available in the bargain bins at Wally’s World where I shop. Let’s show Blake’s 7 some love and make it available for everyone on Netflix or something. Time to write a petition…
Nina: Avon was my first love. Okay, maybe Han Solo was first—but Avon came a close second. I think he ruined me for ‘nice men’ and that means he owes me! But really, because I was a huge fan. I used to wait avidly for each episode and that definitely qualifies me to give my opinion.
Pippa: A lifetime addiction to science fiction books, series and films are my qualifications. Also a weekly addiction to the show when it was on live, buying every book, annual, video and DVD of the series, spending a fortune on my very own teleport bracelet from the series, dressing up as one of the crew for my first scifi convention, and belonging to the fan club. Why did I love it? It had torn and twisted characters, the coolest ship in the universe, fab weapons, and Zen. And Avon was the most unique ‘hero’ I’ve ever encountered.
Erica: Because we know best, that’s why… I’m a B7 fan from way back. Not a crazy, memorabilia-collecting, convention-attending fan, but I must have watched the series dozens of times. I used to have a dodgy old set of VHS tapes, and they got so crunchy from repeated viewings that you couldn’t hear the audio properly any more. I love space opera of any sort, but B7 is just so British. There is no silver lining. The future is pain, and we’re all going to die horribly 🙂
Diane: Because it’s my all-time favorite sci fi TV show and it was so very dark and cynical and British. Just like me! *grin* I watched it when I was very young and it continues to influence my writing to this day. My husband would say it influences more than my writing and he would be correct. He should be happy that my early introduction to Kerr Avon sold me on the joys of a sarcastic man.
Jaleta: Cally seems way too flat to me. I’d make her a telepathic ninja. That would be awesome to watch. She also needs a tail and furry ears.
Gan would be more fun as a MacGyver character. Give him a gym sock, a stick of gum, and two paperclips and he can fix anything. Give him a mullet, too. And make him look like a young Richard Dean Anderson. Oh, yeah. I think I need a MacGyver fix…
Nina: I think Blake was actually my least favorite character. Can I get rid of Blake? We could perhaps rename it Avon’s 7. Okay, maybe not, but can we make him more like Tarrant—younger, better looking, not so stuffy. In fact, I think we can amalgamate the two into one character.
My next least favorite was Jenna. But that might be a bit unfair—I didn’t hate her; I was just jealous. I wanted to be a beautiful blond space pilot (I still do!) So maybe I’ll leave her alone.
Pippa: I think Gan was seriously underplayed. He always seemed to be more in the background, and a bit typecast as the strong but dumb muscleman of the group. I’d like to see more of his back story done and his part in the group played up. I also wasn’t that keen on Tarrant. I think they need a more suave, sexier actor to play him this time around, to give even more reason for him getting under Avon’s skin and challenging Avon as the leader. Watching Avon get wound up and yet get his own back on Tarrant was often the highlight of some of the episodes for me.
Erica: Well, we could give Tarrant a haircut. That’d help him no end 🙂 Seriously, I don’t actively dislike any of the major characters, but I think a few were under-utilised. Jenna was a bad-ass chick who never got to do much. I’d love to see her take a more active role! And I always thought Gan could have been a really interesting character, with that limiter implant in his head. Maybe he really was the psychopath the Federation claimed…? I think the best thing about the reboot will be that it can go to all those dark and seedy places that it wasn’t possible to go to in the era of the original.
Diane: Gan was a big lug who never had a decent line. I’d make him a lot more interesting. Maybe make him more ambitious and deceitful, definitely a lot more intelligent.
Cally got on my nerves, as those telepathic/empathic-type characters are prone to do. Why are they always so nice? It’s an annoying cliche. In my reboot she’d be using those powers to get rid of Blake and become the leader. She’d be a lot more selfish and a lot less touchy-feely nice.
3. We are all notorious for adding romance to our sci fi. Which two characters would you have fall madly in love and what would this add to the reboot?
Jaleta: Gan and Servalan need to have a torrid love affair. Think of the complications for Blake when one of his trusted people is madly in love with his power-hungry opponent. Besides that, I feel sorry for Gan. He isn’t nearly as sexy as Vila, Avon, or Blake. He needs to land the hottest woman around just to prove he isn’t a dumpy engineer character with all brains and no sexiness.
Nina: Well no one else is having Avon, so I reckon it’s got to be my Blake/Tarrant amalgamation and Cally. Cally was really cool. I loved the whole telepathic thing (a lot of my characters tend to be telepathic.) She was also an alien. I think a little alien/human romance would definitely spice things up.
Pippa: I always felt there was something between Avon and Cally that was never really taken advantage of, or perhaps deliberately underplayed? I think if they wanted to add a romance to the series, they would be excellent fodder, especially with Cally’s telepathic talents. Would she be able to tell what he was up to? How would he keep things hidden? Would she betray him to the rest of the crew when he was working on one of his mad schemes?
Erica: Travis and Blake. Yeah. Obviously some deep unrequited issues there.
Diane: I remember one particular episode when Dayna and Tarrant were forced to demonstrate human mating methods for the entertainment and edification of a bunch of bad guy aliens. Tarrant was all,” I couldn’t possibly!” while clutching his pearls. Dayna was like, “get your butt over here and let’s have us some fun!” For that reason alone I would allow Dayna to have a passionate, torrid affair with whoever the hell she wanted. Um. I was probably far too young to have watched that scene *giggle*
4. Who could top Paul Darrow as Avon and Jacqueline Pierce as Servalan? What are your picks for actors who could do justice to these fabulous roles?
Servalan? That’s a hard one. Zoe Saldana (Uhura from Abrams’ Star Trek) could probably pull it off.
Nina: For Avon, I think Alexander Skarsgard. He has the right balance of cool and mean, plus he’s gorgeous. I don’t know for Servalan. I quite like the idea of Angelina Jolie, or perhaps someone a little older but still attractive—Sharon Stone? Or maybe Glenn Close, she makes a good baddie.
Pippa: I’m not very up on US actors since this is being rebooted in the States. As a type of actor – having seen Daniel Craig playing James Bond, I think he’d be a good match – a cold, calculating killer under a sophisticated facade. For Servalan – I just saw Anne Hathaway in Dark Knight Rises, and I believe she’d make a superb Servalan. Sexy, sassy, and looks good in tight black leather.
Erica: Honestly? No one. I think trying to replicate the original cast would be a mistake. Old fans would hate it, new fans wouldn’t get it, and everyone would just end up getting confused ☺ the best thing for the reboot would be to go with a new, fresh, young cast who can make the roles their own. Only… let’s not have any gender switches, okay? Blake and Avon already have the best emotional conflict ever. And please, no Whedon-esque waif-who-is-secretly-badass characters. We’re over it. Cally is a warrior woman, not a skinny teenager.
Diane: Hard acts to follow, for sure. I’d go with relative unknowns – character actors who could really do just to the roles. And I wouldn’t pretty up Avon too much either, though I would expect the actor playing Servalan to be able to pull off those amazing outfits. I’d earmark a nice chunk of the budget for some spectacular gowns for my beloved Servalan, maybe even hiring some up and coming designers to go wild. I would also expect Darrow and Pierce, as well as the other originals, to get some kind of guest spot, showing respect for the original series.
Jaleta: I would completely change the ending. Just because you are a very small band of revolutionaries fighting the giant evil beauracracy doesn’t mean you don’t have a snowflake’s chance in hades of winning. Look at Star Wars, Robin Hood, or even Firefly. The little guy can do great things if he believes in himself and his cause. And if he has cool people around him who support him and are true to his cause.
British stories tend to be edgy and dark. Look at Douglas Adams. But they don’t have to be. Look at Terry Pratchett. They can be hopeful and uplifting even when things are at their most grim. I want heroes I can believe in, heroes who are a bit more courageous than your average Joe. I want heroes who believe in right and wrong and stick up for the right. They don’t have to be perfect. In fact, they’re boring if they’re too perfect. But I want them to feel bad when they slip up. I want them to agonize over choosing between two evils. I want them to believe in their cause. I don’t want another dark, gritty, edgy series where everyone is shades of dark gray or black; where everything is horrible and awful. Those shows make me want to commit suicide. Give me a show with flawed heroes and hope.
And then at the end, let them win at least a little. Let them triumph over evil. All of us know it won’t be permanent. Evil will always rise again. But for a short while, we know they can be happy and live in peace. Give me heroes to cheer for as they fight against overwhelming odds and somehow manage to win.
Nina: Well, the why is obvious—I want a happy ending.
As to the how, I think Blake/Tarrant, Cally and Avon are left alive and beat the federation in that last battle. Tarrant and Cally go on to rule the universe, which gives me my happy ending. And Avon… hmm, what to do with Avon? Oh, and then Avon finds this alien time machine, sets the coordinates for Earth 1981, and turns up right in the middle of my bedroom, and we both live happily ever after. The End.
Pippa: I’m not sure I’d change the ending. There was an ‘after’ book – Afterlife – which had two of the main characters surviving, having just played dead. And there were hints that at least some of the others might be alive. After all, perhaps it could all have been just a faked media event to convince any rebels that Blake’s Seven were dead and gone. It all depends whether the reboot follows closely to the original or not.
Erica: Not at all. It’s the only possible ending. The whole series (for me, at least) is based around the idea of an enemy so big and all-pervasive that it can’t be defeated without destroying everything. So either you surrender and make the best of it, or you fight an ultimately futile battle. That’s who Avon and Blake are. And that’s why the ending is so wonderfully ironic – Avon knows the battle is futile, but he decides to fight it anyway, and ends up getting them all killed, including the man who convinced him to fight in the first place. If the prospect of survivable victory was real, B7 wouldn’t be B7.
Diane: Change the gutsiest ending ever? Hell no! It would end the same way. With gravy on it. The main thing I would change is to make the cast more multi-racial.
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Hey, SyFy Channel – Let us know if you need any knowledgeable, passionate, experienced writers *grin*
My thanks to the wonderful panelists ~ Diane Dooley.
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Jaleta Clegg likes her heroes hunky and her heroines sassy. She writes science fiction adventure, silly horror, and every genre in between. When she’s not writing stories or passionate essays about science fiction topics, she’s usually watching entertaining shows and crocheting abominations such as her infamous Cthulhu cat toy (complete with jingle bell!). You can find more about her at http://www.jaletac.com, including links to her stories, novels, and cthulhu projects.
Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia, which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.
Nina writes all types of romance usually mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction. Visit her atwww.ninacroft.com
A stay-at-home mum of three who spent twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay bases her stories on a lifetime addiction to science-fiction books and films. Somewhere along the line a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her various characters, she spends the odd free moments trying to learn guitar, indulging in freestyle street dance and drinking high-caffeine coffee. Although happily settled in historical Colchester in the UK with her husband of 19 years, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.
Diane Dooley writes science fiction, romance and horror – sometimes all in the same story. She is the author of science fiction romances, Blue Galaxy from Carina Press, Mako’s Bounty from Decadent Publishing, the forthcoming Blue Nebula, also from Carina Press, and numerous short stories. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.