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Criticism of Blake's 7
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thunda



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 7:02 am    Post subject: Criticism of Blake's 7 Reply with quote

I’m going to list the things that have bothered me about Blake’s 7. I’m not going to criticize stuff that suffered because of their tight budget because I’ve always understood that, from the very beginning.
Feel free to join in!


Aliens - In General
You don’t need lavish special effects or extravagant makeup to show the viewer who is an alien, all you need is a different way of talking, dressing, acting, mannerisms, etc. You can tell the Klingons, Vulkans, or Minbari are aliens even if you couldn’t see their faces. Also, alien planets should scream “different” when you see them. Granted, if they can support human life they would have to be Earth-like but that doesn’t mean Earth. Things like animals, insects, plants, buildings should look different. It does not have to be actually shown but it should be implied.

Aliens - Cally/Auranor in particular
Cally was born and raised on another planet. That means her speech, clothing, customs, beliefs and thinking should set her apart from the rest of the crew. I’ll assume that everyone in the galaxy speaks English but not every species should speak it the same just like people in different parts of a country or even city speak differently. She could have been given a slight accent or just have her use her words differently. Also, she’s a telepath who is able to project thoughts into an individual’s mind so I would think that implies a certain amount of control. An Auranar wouldn’t want to send her/his thoughts to the wrong person or at the wrong time or something they didn’t intend to so they should have a certain amount of discipline. This would reflect in her character and demeanor. Her clothing should also have been different. The colors, the style, the way she dresses, should reflect not only her character but also her planet’s.


Aliens - Andromedans in particular
I don’t have much problem with the way they acted being that it was implied they had the memories of the person they duplicated, my problem is with their fleet. From what we saw of them they appear to be an ordered, disciplined, well structured race so their armada should reflect that. Instead of a rag tag bunch of random ships we should have been shown multiple spacecrafts of the same design, with a few variations, in an orderly formation. The formation should also show their species “character” which seems to be stealth and careful infiltration so perhaps put their smaller, faster craft in front and their larger more powerful ships behind them in case there is any type of resistance.
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thunda



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Female Crew members:
The writers seemed to have a habit of making the women of Blake’s crew incompetent in order to advance the plot. Jenna is supposed to be a top notch smuggler..er, free trader, yet she constantly needs Blake to tell her how to fly the Liberator. Blake is an engineer, he may know more about designs and theories but he should not know more about actual piloting than Jenna. I don’t recall Avon ever instructing Tarrant how to fly.

As for Cally, she starts out as a bada$$, fearless loner but gets reduced to the teleporter/nurse who screams her head off at the sight of an overgrown lizard. That’s in addition to her habit of getting possessed.

Dayna also starts out bada$$ but can’t go ten steps without needing a man to rescue her. She couldn’t even keep Servalan prisoner without getting b!@#$ed slap to the ground. In fact, any time she’s supposed to watch someone they conveniently find a way to escape.

Soolin? Well, she’s not usually involved in the actual story but in Stardrive she gets used as a shield long enough for Atlan to escape. Come on, she’s a mercenary, a hired gun and she gets treated like the typical helpless female liability. On her home planet the writers gave her even less respect by having her and Dayna fall asleep with Vila on guard and needing Avon to save them.

All in all I believe the women have been possessed (Jenna and Cally) or held hostage (Jenna, Cally, Dayna) while the men seemed to have experienced neither.
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thunda



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Weapons

Firearms - A society’s technology is sometimes judged by the level of its weapons and since the Federation is at the top of the food chain their hand held rifles should reflect that. Military rifles today are much deadlier than those from one hundred years ago so Federation rifles should be way more advanced than today’s yet I never got that feeling. Like in most scifi the writers thought by putting the word energy, plasma, pulse, etc. in front of rifle makes it more futuristic. This is not a special effects criticism because I understand the budget limitations but somewhere it should have been implied that Fed firearms have a longer range, different settings, high output capability, rapid fire, wide dispersion, or something that shows they are better than twentieth or twenty first century weapons. The same goes for Liberator’s weapons. They should have been shown to be more advanced than the Federation’s and it should have been stated that the power pack they had carry with the hand held weapon gave it more ammunition than a Fed weapon or a targeting system or something.

Dorian’s guns - Laser, plasma bullet, percussion shell, micro grenade, stun, drug, a weapon for every occasion. Sounds cool, almost as cool as a lawgiver. Too bad they never used them. The stun and drug would have been a nice alternative to all the wanton slaughter in season four and it wouldn’t have cost the special effects department any more than usual.

Spaceships - I don’t know the science behind fighting in space so I won’t make a big deal about this but if a plasma bolt is coming towards your ship and it takes a few seconds to arrive, why can’t you just move out of the way? Unless it locks onto a vessel or explodes when it gets close, changing course by a few feet should get you out of danger.
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white afro in space



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great thread, thunda. Good to see a bit more in-depth commentary.

With regard to Weapons and Spaceships, I always got the impression that there was some 'heat seeker' or 'shape seeker' built into the ship's projectile weapon mechanism/software. I don't recall the episode (and I hope I'm not confusing this with another show - most likely Red Dwarf), but I seem to remember the crew on the Liberator commenting from time to time that a plasma bolt had "Target Locked", or words to that effect, as if to say that the opponent ship had locked onto them as a target. To me, this indicates that their ship was able to show that another ship had scanned them and locked onto them as a target.

With regard to hand-held weapons, it must be difficult to imagine what future developments of weapons would bring. Thus the perceived limitations of the weapons presented is a little glaring as we ourselves travel into the future and leave the show stuck 20 years before the turn of the century. In a very real sense, such limitations and lack of accurate future-prediction send up a little signal, for me, and positions the show itself as an object in time and space and pushes away the suspension of disbelief that would ordinarily be the show's 'bread and butter'. Such signals away from the suspension of disbelief form a big part of my appreciation of the show and I find that aspect both interesting and illuminating, but that's another topic entirely.

Problems of 'future-prediction' goes for all technology in the show, not just weapons. I was struck, just yesterday while watching the Red Dwarf Episode Holoship, where they had inadvertently landed a correct prediction. It was a scene where a character is seen to use a device much like a kind of antennae-less, flat, walkie-talkie to speak to his own ship. In fact, it looked a lot like a modern smartphone with a bit of a wacky case (people can buy all sort of wacky cases for their phones these days). What struck me was the way the character was holding it away from his face and talking to it in front of his mouth, rather than the side of his face like a phone. I see more and more people doing this with their smart phones everyday - I do it so as to avoid the side of my face hitting icons on the screen. This example is particularly unique, I think, because it is only been since the arrival of the smartphone that Holoship's 'prediction' has sort of come true. I suppose that throughout the 90s and early-mid 00s, this antennae-less, flat, walkie talkiie would have looked kind like a bit of an anachronism*.


*Note: Admittedly, the character in question WAS talking into the device like a dictaphone and wasn't hearing communication back to him from the 'other end of the line'. Yet, it was the image of this guy talking into this flat, rectangular object that fit in his hand, several inches in from of his mouth, with half of the rectangle poking up out of his hand, that is only now so peculiarly recognisable.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

white afro in space wrote:
Great thread, thunda. Good to see a bit more in-depth commentary.

With regard to Weapons and Spaceships, I always got the impression that there was some 'heat seeker' or 'shape seeker' built into the ship's projectile weapon mechanism/software. I don't recall the episode (and I hope I'm not confusing this with another show - most likely Red Dwarf), but I seem to remember the crew on the Liberator commenting from time to time that a plasma bolt had "Target Locked", or words to that effect, as if to say that the opponent ship had locked onto them as a target. To me, this indicates that their ship was able to show that another ship had scanned them and locked onto them as a target.


So a plasma bolt is something like a torpedo? That would make sense but in Duel they make it appear to be energy based; “If Pursuit Three keeps firing, it won’t have enough reserve to put up its own defense shield.” As I mentioned before this is a minor criticism, just something I wish they had done a better job defining.

white afro in space wrote:

With regard to hand-held weapons, it must be difficult to imagine what future developments of weapons would bring. Thus the perceived limitations of the weapons presented is a little glaring as we ourselves travel into the future and leave the show stuck 20 years before the turn of the century. In a very real sense, such limitations and lack of accurate future-prediction send up a little signal, for me, and positions the show itself as an object in time and space and pushes away the suspension of disbelief that would ordinarily be the show's 'bread and butter'. Such signals away from the suspension of disbelief form a big part of my appreciation of the show and I find that aspect both interesting and illuminating, but that's another topic entirely.

I realize the science from scifi shows 30 or 40 years ago doesn’t all hold up and I wouldn’t criticize them for that. In fact I applaud series like Blake’s 7 for attempting to speculate on future inventions, I thought the small, portable computer concept, Orac, was genius. However, I will criticize if an object just doesn’t make sense logically even back then.
I’m going to mention the “suspension of belief” factor later particularly in regards to something the character Pella said.




white afro in space wrote:

Problems of 'future-prediction' goes for all technology in the show, not just weapons. I was struck, just yesterday while watching the Red Dwarf Episode Holoship, where they had inadvertently landed a correct prediction. It was a scene where a character is seen to use a device much like a kind of antennae-less, flat, walkie-talkie to speak to his own ship. In fact, it looked a lot like a modern smartphone with a bit of a wacky case (people can buy all sort of wacky cases for their phones these days). What struck me was the way the character was holding it away from his face and talking to it in front of his mouth, rather than the side of his face like a phone. I see more and more people doing this with their smart phones everyday - I do it so as to avoid the side of my face hitting icons on the screen. This example is particularly unique, I think, because it is only been since the arrival of the smartphone that Holoship's 'prediction' has sort of come true. I suppose that throughout the 90s and early-mid 00s, this antennae-less, flat, walkie talkiie would have looked kind like a bit of an anachronism*.


*Note: Admittedly, the character in question WAS talking into the device like a dictaphone and wasn't hearing communication back to him from the 'other end of the line'. Yet, it was the image of this guy talking into this flat, rectangular object that fit in his hand, several inches in from of his mouth, with half of the rectangle poking up out of his hand, that is only now so peculiarly recognisable.


Great scene especially when Lister pulls out a pack of cigarettes, uses it like a dictaphone and duplicates the character’s pretentiousness;
Lister: Lister to Red Dwarf. Displays evidence of spoiling for a rumble. Seems unable to grasp simple threats. With careful pummeling, could possibly be sucking tomorrow’s lunch through a straw.
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thunda



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crew Stations

First of all, what is where they always assume their stations called? Is it flight deck, control room, command deck, the bridge? Is there an official term used? I’ll use flight deck for now.

I know it looks good to have all of the crew on the flight deck at separate stations at the same time but what exactly are they doing? If they’re duplicating the original Star Trek series you would have the Helm(piloting), Navigation(plotting course), Communications(messaging), Science Station(analyzing tactical data), various sensor stations(monitors ship’s sensors), and of course the Command seat. I assume Blake fills the commander’s role and Jenna the pilot’s but what about the rest? I think each station has a different function because sometimes a crew member had to leave his/her position for an empty one. And do you actually need so many people to run the Liberator? The reason crew stations worked/works on Star Trek is because it relates the human element(or alien, I don’t want to appear racist. Although the term “alien” might be racist in itself. Okay, I’m digressing here.) but they don’t have a computer like Zen. Star Trek computers usually keep a low profile and are used mostly for the ship’s interior functions. With Zen it’s different, you tell him take you to a planet, he(it?) plots the course, takes you there, puts you in orbit and even gives you some information on the planet. So unless Zen goes into one of his moods and you have to fly on manual it should be more efficient to let him have control. When you consider they’re moving at about 100x the speed of light, well, would you want humans or a computer in control? In combat I’m undecided, Zen would have the advantage with reaction time with a shouted order but he would be a disadvantage if the order wasn’t specific enough.

All in all I just wish the show would have shown which console does what and the effect it has. Then maybe specified which character was suited for that position. I also would have liked if they explained the benefits of having a human doing the operation rather than Zen.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd always assumed that each station served a particular purpose, for the same reasons you describe (having to leave one station to go to another to see what was happening there). Also, that the crew had assigned particular members for each station where it would utilise their skills or just keep that person there in case something came up at that station.

I'm sure if you watch all the episodes and keep track of who is where and what is asked of them, they might be fairly consistent. That is, if the scripts were edited so that they actually were consistent. For example, I seem to recall Cally being in control of navigation, Vila in control of removing the shields for firing, Dayna in control of firing weapons etc. With different writers working on the show, some slip ups were bound to occur that either slipped past the script editor, or that they had to simply go with because of plot considerations (easier to have the one or two characters there doing everything from their own stations as it might have been too tedious to have them running back and forth many times throughout a long scene).

One thing that strikes me is the reference to 'scanners' (i.e. nothing on the long range scanner) and that each character usually gets to chime in with "nothing on the scanner here". This suggests to me that there's a different function for each station's scanner where each scanner might have a different field of view, a different range, or picks up a different type of energy emission (electromagnetic, heat, movement, etc.).

With regard to Zen, there are times where they get Zen to do it all (usually when Orac is hooked up), and times where they go 'manual'. I assume the reason for this has to do with what happens when you ask a computer to do 'something' with vague instructions. As Rimmer found on Red Dwarf with the Scutters, "you ask them to 'keep an eye on that lamb', and they do. They watch it burn for the next three hours". If the computer requires complicated instructions, yet you might not be up to the task of delivering those instructions in a manner in which the computer can respond to, sometimes it's simpler to just do it yourself.
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white afro in space



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2015 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Getting back to your post on the representation of women in B7, thunda, you make some very good observations. B7 really falls down heavily in this regard. Soolin, in my opinion, is the only female character that they get right, or just about right.

It could be a late 70s thing, but I imagine that women were probably not regarded well in many shows from the era. Looking at a few police/action type shows that I'm familiar with, women are mostly window dressing. I'd be inclined to suggest that the problems of representation are a factor of real-world inequality at the time the show was made. Like with weapons and technology, the makers of the show just couldn't see beyond what was happening in the world at the time, or couldn't expect their viewers to do so. The real world thus encroaches upon the show.

Modern shows have the same problem. Even the Walking Dead deals in male and female character types that adhere to the typical gender roles we expect of men and women on screen. Most often, they don't act as 'people who just happen to be men or women', but instead stand for gendered representations of 'emotional', 'nurturing, 'protecting', 'individual', etc. I noticed in season 4, for example, they've started giving Michonne a bit of a gendered backstory. Up until them, she was mostly gender nuetral except for her appearance. It would be interesting to see if the Walking Dead could be seen to fall foul, just like B7 has, in a similar way 35 years down the track. Would a 30 year old, 35 years from now, notice these artificial gender types in a show like the Walking Dead. I daresay they should, yet it would be the great dumbing down of culture that I predict to occur over the next 3 decades that would prevent them from doing so.

Another problem that you mention is that each character, male and female, is usually depicted as having some kind of special talent and that they are the top man or woman available in their field. Thus when the characters encounter someone like Servalan in relatively polite or benign circumstances, the act of killing Servalan off there and then would put an end to the show's dramatic tension. In a realistic situation, Dayna could just finish the job straight away. But in the world of the 'program-as-entertainment', such a job couldn't be finished straight away. One of the Austin Powers films mentioned this in a humorous way, mocking the James Bond films. Dr Evil wanted to capture Austin, explain to him all his plans, and then kill him. Dr Evil's cynical Gen X son protested saying something to the effect of 'Just shoot him now! C'mon, already!!'

In order to prevent the 'instant death' of a main protagonist, the writers have to develop scenarios that prevent the other characters from doling out the easy death and destruction. It might be that the characters need something from the enemy in order to survive themselves. B7 certainly wasn't too good at maintaining such scenarios. That they often required a female character to mess it up (yet again. Good one, Dayna!) demonstrates the problems they had in coming up with reasons to keep opponents alive. To be fair, however, it is a difficult thing to do in a realistic manner. In a real world situation, characters simply aren't going to need that particular something from their enemy in order to survive themselves. Thus we come to a distinct boundary between the real world and the artefact (the show) where realism has to take a back seat to production or dramatic constraints.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

white afro in space wrote:
Getting back to your post on the representation of women in B7, thunda, you make some very good observations. B7 really falls down heavily in this regard. Soolin, in my opinion, is the only female character that they get right, or just about right.

It could be a late 70s thing, but I imagine that women were probably not regarded well in many shows from the era. Looking at a few police/action type shows that I'm familiar with, women are mostly window dressing. I'd be inclined to suggest that the problems of representation are a factor of real-world inequality at the time the show was made. Like with weapons and technology, the makers of the show just couldn't see beyond what was happening in the world at the time, or couldn't expect their viewers to do so. The real world thus encroaches upon the show.

When I criticize science fiction I take into consideration the country’s cinematic history. I don’t question Japanese movies that combine ninjas, demons, vampires, and giant robots or American movies where all the female aliens wear lipstick and high heels because the precedent was established decades ago. If this was American television I could ignore it being that the Ripley(Alien) era was just starting but this is British tv that gave us the groundbreaking Emma Peel. Having Soolin, who has her gun drawn get grabbed and used as a shield so Atlan can escape is something I can’t just let go. It’s lazy writing.


white afro in space wrote:
Modern shows have the same problem. Even the Walking Dead deals in male and female character types that adhere to the typical gender roles we expect of men and women on screen. Most often, they don't act as 'people who just happen to be men or women', but instead stand for gendered representations of 'emotional', 'nurturing, 'protecting', 'individual', etc. I noticed in season 4, for example, they've started giving Michonne a bit of a gendered backstory. Up until them, she was mostly gender nuetral except for her appearance. It would be interesting to see if the Walking Dead could be seen to fall foul, just like B7 has, in a similar way 35 years down the track. Would a 30 year old, 35 years from now, notice these artificial gender types in a show like the Walking Dead. I daresay they should, yet it would be the great dumbing down of culture that I predict to occur over the next 3 decades that would prevent them from doing so.

Agreed. I believe the writers wrote that Michonne back-story to appease the casual fan who needs a generic reason why a woman has to be more capable than a man. Visiting a different television forum I noticed that the hardcore Walking Dead fans were upset with that, particularly the women.



white afro in space wrote:
Another problem that you mention is that each character, male and female, is usually depicted as having some kind of special talent and that they are the top man or woman available in their field. Thus when the characters encounter someone like Servalan in relatively polite or benign circumstances, the act of killing Servalan off there and then would put an end to the show's dramatic tension. In a realistic situation, Dayna could just finish the job straight away. But in the world of the 'program-as-entertainment', such a job couldn't be finished straight away.

I thought the reason for Dayna not killing Servalan in Death-Watch was somewhat believable being that she was doing a favor for the two people closest to her now, Avon and Tarrant, but Blake’s reasons for not killing Travis always had a comic book feel. And let me repeat, somewhat believable.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thunda wrote:
Crew Stations

First of all, what is where they always assume their stations called? Is it flight deck, control room, command deck, the bridge? Is there an official term used? I’ll use flight deck for now.


In Terminal I believe Avon referred to it as the flight deck, he said something along the lines of "I'm tired, but I'd prefer to have the flight deck to myself for a while longer." Paraphrasing, I'm traveling and don't have the DVD's with me.

Command deck is ringing a bell for me, but I'm not sure from where. I'll keep an ear out on future rewatch.

I am heartened to see the discussion of women in Blake's 7. From my perspective, I've loved seeing such strong women on the screen, which probably goes to show just how badly other shows treat their female characters. But focusing on the positives would be a whole separate discussion. I'll look to see if there is a thread going.

One of the biggest criticisms I have with Blake's 7 is the promise of these amazing female characters is never fully delivered. Jenna, Cally, Dayna, and to a lesser extent, Soolin, all start as unique individuals with their particular skill sets, interests, and passions. As the series goes on, each of them becomes more generic, more of the stereotypical "helpless" lady in distress, gets mind controlled or kidnapped in need of rescuing. I'd argue that Servalan has the most consistent character growth, but I'm incredibly biased and tend to "forget" her character's missteps.

Whereas the men seem to get more interesting and real character development. Sure, Vila's drinking problem may be viewed as a flaw, but it flowed organically from the type of man he was introduced as, and quite frankly, made him more compelling. Avon's descent into poor decision making sparked much discussion. Blake's fanaticism and insistence on being right at all costs ended up costing him. Okay Travis got the shaft, but nothing's perfect.


ETA: I changed what I wrote about Avon, as I don't truly believe he ever went mad. Just became less adjusted as time and horrific circumstances would do to any one.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Commissioner Sleer wrote:


In Terminal I believe Avon referred to it as the flight deck, he said something along the lines of "I'm tired, but I'd prefer to have the flight deck to myself for a while longer." Paraphrasing, I'm traveling and don't have the DVD's with me.

Command deck is ringing a bell for me, but I'm not sure from where. I'll keep an ear out on future rewatch.


I checked some online Blake’s 7 transcripts and in Redemption Cally says “flight deck,” in Shadow Blake says “flight deck,” and in Hostage the crimo says “show me the flight deck,” so I guess it’s flight deck, although I’m not sure why.


Commissioner Sleer wrote:

I am heartened to see the discussion of women in Blake's 7. From my perspective, I've loved seeing such strong women on the screen, which probably goes to show just how badly other shows treat their female characters. But focusing on the positives would be a whole separate discussion. I'll look to see if there is a thread going.

One of the biggest criticisms I have with Blake's 7 is the promise of these amazing female characters is never fully delivered. Jenna, Cally, Dayna, and to a lesser extent, Soolin, all start as unique individuals with their particular skill sets, interests, and passions. As the series goes on, each of them becomes more generic, more of the stereotypical "helpless" lady in distress, gets mind controlled or kidnapped in need of rescuing. I'd argue that Servalan has the most consistent character growth, but I'm incredibly biased and tend to "forget" her character's missteps.

Whereas the men seem to get more interesting and real character development. Sure, Vila's drinking problem may be viewed as a flaw, but it flowed organically from the type of man he was introduced as, and quite frankly, made him more compelling. Avon's descent into poor decision making sparked much discussion. Blake's fanaticism and insistence on being right at all costs ended up costing him. Okay Travis got the shaft, but nothing's perfect.


It’s not like the writers didn’t have anything to work with:

Jenna - Female Han Solo

Cally - Alien, telepath, guerrilla fighter ostracized by her people and has a bit of a death wish.

Dayna - Daughter of a former revolutionary leader whose mother was killed by the Federation. Raised in a hostile environment to be a warrior. Both her father and sister killed in the same day.

Soolin - Born to farmers on a planet of thieves, Killers, mercenaries, and psychopaths. Survived her parent’s being murdered and trained with the people who did it so she could avenge them. Bodyguard and companion for a man who was almost immortal.

Servalan - Futristic Julius Caesar



Commissioner Sleer wrote:

ETA: I changed what I wrote about Avon, as I don't truly believe he ever went mad. Just became less adjusted as time and horrific circumstances would do to any one.


I think Avon was as mad as a hatter!
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Race in B7

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those “why aren’t there [fill in the blank] in Blake’s 7” type of posts. I, and I believe most science fiction fans understand that casting has a lot to do with location, availability and ability of performers. So even though fans would like to see characters that they can identify with, it isn’t always possible. When reading a book you paint your own picture of the background characters and likewise in a series such as Blake’s 7 where you only see a small amount of people. I believe in Terry Nation’s universe race was not a big deal and people had finally seen beyond race and skin color. The Federation and its planets were certainly color blind considering that Dayna, Ro, Selma, or Ginka got treated no differently than anyone else. So what am I criticizing? Keep reading.

Pella: The Black woman must win.
For me this line is like when you get bit or stung by a bug. You know scratching it will make it worse but you do it anyway. It just seems to stand out so much that I could never stop thinking about it. There’s nothing wrong with it, Pella is giving an accurate description but it seems like something an earthling of 1979 would say instead of a futuristic alien feminist. This is the first time Dayna’s color/race was mentioned which got me wondering if the Seska had ever seen a person of color. If not, Pella would have described Dayna as brown rather than black but If the Seska were women of various colors then perhaps Pella thought some of them as different. That would explain why she chose Dayna to threaten to kill at the end. Also, what makes her statement stand out more is that Kate responds with, “I know. Two Seskas and a woman against Gunn Sar?” leaving out color. From watching the story you would think that if any character mentions Dayna’s color it would be a bumbling oaf like Gunn Sar who apparently doesn’t care about it. Nor do his tribe who captures her. Nor did anyone until this episode. See, I shouldn’t have started scratching. Anyway, if the writer had a reason for that line he should have made it more obvious, if not then he should have left it out.

Dayna: “Do you think I’ll pass for a Helot”
So basically Dayna is asking if this is another all White planet the crew is going to and also marks the second time race/color comes up(insinuated actually) in the series. This is not the case here but there’s actually nothing wrong with a planet having a homogeneous race of people being that it’s plausible that a similar type group of humans left Earth to colonize their own world. I remember at least two Star Trek(TNG) episodes that had a Black(African) planet and a Native American(red Indian) planet. In this episode her line kind of implies that her skin color may be something of a rarity in the galaxy or at least on certain planets. I don’t know if that’s what Terry Nation or the producers intended but considering the makeup of Earth in 1979 it seems a bit short-sighted. Personally I feel that race, like language, hairstyles, attire, etc. is one of those things that unless a part of the story can be added to suspension of disbelief. Besides, infiltrating a culture is more than being the same color and Dayna and Tarrant appear to only lurk in the swamp rather than blend into the city so I question why the line was put in.

“No problem. When Helotrix was first settled, the old Stock Equalization Act was still in force. Every earth race had to be represented.”

I get the feeling the writer was trying to make a social commentary at the expense of two of the characters but since there is no definite proof I won’t pursue it from that perspective.

This is science fiction, there’s no more need to explain the racial composition of a world than there is to explain why the British have apparently conquered the galaxy. If you watch Japanese, Korean, or Chinese scifi you don’t need an explanation why planets are all Asian or why giant monsters like to attack Japan. I didn’t see Avon’s line as being necessary to the story but if the writer felt it was then work it in differently or like they say “show, don’t tell.”


Gong?
I might be wrong about this and if I am I’ll apologize but in Children of Auron when Ginka removed his helmet and showed his face I could swear I heard a gong. The only reason I bring this up is because I noticed in older British and American movies/series whenever it has to do with Asians a gong is heard. The gong seemed to be emphasizing Ginka’s race yet the story clearly shows his race was irrelevant. Omit the gong.

note: short sided was edited to short-sighted.
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Last edited by thunda on Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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Commissioner Sleer



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Gong?
I might be wrong about this and if I am I’ll apologize but in Children of Auron when Ginka removed his helmet and showed his face I could swear I heard a gong. The only reason I bring this up is because I noticed in older British and American movies/series whenever it has to do with Asians a gong is heard. The gong seemed to be emphasizing Ginka’s race yet the story clearly shows his race was irrelevant. Omit the gong.


Unfortunately you did hear a gong. I cringe every time I watch that otherwise enjoyable episode.

Even if one interprets Ginka being passed over for command for a white officer, Deral, the gong is completely unnecessary and inappropriate.

There is no reason for the gong.
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white afro in space



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent post thunda!

Quote:
See, I shouldn’t have started scratching.
No, you shouldn't have. You've done it now. We're going to be itching all night and beyond.

You do realise that Power is a Ben Steed episode, don't you? Are you second guessing a Ben Steed line and underlining it as a possible error? I never thought I'd see the day. You're going to have to hand in your Harvesting license. No more Kairos for you!

Ben Steed is obviously alluding to a racial implementation of 'eugenics' in Seska society. Because of the limitations imposed on the Seska, what with there being a devastating war between the sexes on their hands, which they are losing, the luxuries of a top-down imposed Affirmative Action crusade of the kind that we see in Western capitalist countries just isn't workable. Seska society, based on Pella's informed use of the offending adjective (pun intended) assigns persons to appropriate tasks and stations in life based on race. Racial characteristics are utilised and encouraged when they are strengths and avoided when they are weaknesses. Seska society 'plays the averages' when they can in order to obtain a greater productivity from their individuals. Thus the offending adjective provides a more specific description Dayna and her presumed position in society than the description 'woman' would have achieved. Steed doesn't necessarily agree with this himself, and nor do I, he has simply presented it as a possible outcome in that particular situation.

Seeing as Traitor isn't a Ben Steed episode, we can safely assume that a more nuanced reading of the script isn't going to reveal anything useful. In other words, they botched it. Avon's line serves no purpose and is ridiculous. Robert Holmes shouldn't have written it, and Chris Boucher should have been on top of it. If a true genius had written the line, such as Ben Steed, Avon would have instead mentioned Dayna's fashion sense (her clothes, make-up, hair) in response to her asking about passing for a Helot.

Yes, you heard a gong. Actually, I think it might be a tam-tam . It shouldn't have been there. There's so much wrong with it, god knows how they kept it in there. Yet there is a case, I believe, that we could be judging the late 70s too harshly against modern ideas. Hear me out here. In another British TV show, The Professionals, which was made during the exact same time as Blake's 7 was, there is an episode where it is revealed that the 'villain' of the episode is a Chinese woman. It's done exactly the same way as Blake's 7: the face is initially obscured and then revealed slowly to show a character we've seen throughout much of the episode. What do you hear as the villain' s face is revealed? A raking style hit on a cymbal or gong! I am not kidding you here. I am not making this up. Proof?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CD-IlSdA2Q

Check out 33'05".

Same era, same industry, roughly the same viewing market. Same hackneyed chinese cymbalism! Absolutely disgraceful. (but not as bad as my puns)
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thunda



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Commissioner Sleer wrote:
Quote:

Gong?
I might be wrong about this and if I am I’ll apologize but in Children of Auron when Ginka removed his helmet and showed his face I could swear I heard a gong. The only reason I bring this up is because I noticed in older British and American movies/series whenever it has to do with Asians a gong is heard. The gong seemed to be emphasizing Ginka’s race yet the story clearly shows his race was irrelevant. Omit the gong.


Unfortunately you did hear a gong. I cringe every time I watch that otherwise enjoyable episode.

Even if one interprets Ginka being passed over for command for a white officer, Deral, the gong is completely unnecessary and inappropriate.

There is no reason for the gong.


Ginka claimed that Deral was promoted over him because he had connections but I believe his superiors saw character flaws in him which became evident in the episode. I might be wrong about that but if race was the reason for Ginka being passed over then that means they chose an actor solely because of his race to play the part of someone not chosen solely because of his race.

white afro in space wrote:
Excellent post thunda!

Quote:
See, I shouldn’t have started scratching.
No, you shouldn't have. You've done it now. We're going to be itching all night and beyond.

You do realise that Power is a Ben Steed episode, don't you? Are you second guessing a Ben Steed line and underlining it as a possible error? I never thought I'd see the day. You're going to have to hand in your Harvesting license. No more Kairos for you!

I probably should have written “writer and/or director” because I was also questioning whether the actress was ad-libbing or the director put that line in thinking it would sound “cool.”

Btw,
I thought Harvesting licenses were lifetime.

white afro in space wrote:

Ben Steed is obviously alluding to a racial implementation of 'eugenics' in Seska society. Because of the limitations imposed on the Seska, what with there being a devastating war between the sexes on their hands, which they are losing, the luxuries of a top-down imposed Affirmative Action crusade of the kind that we see in Western capitalist countries just isn't workable. Seska society, based on Pella's informed use of the offending adjective (pun intended) assigns persons to appropriate tasks and stations in life based on race. Racial characteristics are utilised and encouraged when they are strengths and avoided when they are weaknesses. Seska society 'plays the averages' when they can in order to obtain a greater productivity from their individuals. Thus the offending adjective provides a more specific description Dayna and her presumed position in society than the description 'woman' would have achieved. Steed doesn't necessarily agree with this himself, and nor do I, he has simply presented it as a possible outcome in that particular situation.


Once again some wonderful insights, Afro! I hardly know where to start.
So you believe that the Seska migrated from Earth then devolved into some kind of caste system based on race? Then during the war probably changed to a class system similar to the Minbari(Babylon 5) with warrior, worker, religious, science, etc., classes? Would all the races be considered Seska? When it came to procreation did they actually separate the seminal stock by race? Did all the (other race)Seska receive neckbands and if so did it enhance or inhibit them? Without the neckbands the Seska were clearly of a different mind-set, perhaps their natural one so a case could be argued that Gunn Sar actually liberated them. (Must..stop..scratching)The Hommiks didn’t seem surprised by Dayna’s color so were they of various races? Whether they were or weren’t it makes you wonder which group was really more advanced.(Stop scratching damnit!) Okay, I think I’m going to stop now. It’s just one line. (Keep repeating that) It’s just one line. It’s just one line.
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