Movies for Gamers #4: Blake's 7

Another favorite science fiction series of mine is Blake's 7. Made in the late 1970's and early 1980's by the BBC – by some of the same people who also did Dr. Who then. It follows the adventures of a group of rebels led by the escaped political prisoner Roj Blake, who by chance get hold of a very advanced alien ship: “The Liberator”. Four seasons long they try to stay ahead of the Federation, which much resembles a Thatcherite Imperial England gone haywire.

In fact, the very evil Federation is led by a woman (“Servalan”) who has more than a passing resemblance of the Iron Lady. Only her hairdo is a lot better. Short and black. Her one-eyed aide Travis, with his death-ray artificial hand, less caught my fancy, but he's okay too.

The special effects of Blake's 7 were below standard in its own day already. And so were the movie sets with wobbly chairs. Montage may also be to slow for today, and in the earlier episodes you can see how actors and writers are still searching for the right tone and tempo. So maybe as a modern viewer one needs to take a few steps back.

But many of the stories I think are still very good. Especially the cynical Avon, played by Paul Darrow, still impresses. He develops from Blake's most direct rival into his most fanatical disciple once Blake has gone in series three and four. It makes for a beautiful and gritty storyline. With lots of twists. Such as the one where Avon might throw his best friend Villa off the ship as excess weight. Or where a spark flies over between him and President Servalan.

All seasons are now available boxed in DVD. In my experience they are a good inspiration source for role playing adventures or even campaigns. Even if it's not science fiction. I even incorporated the secret base “Star One” from the series in my own fantasy universe. My players keep quoting Avon.

And maybe you just loved the series when you were a teenager, like me.

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