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Was Blake 7 camp?
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Cockroach Boy



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 9:32 am    Post subject: Was Blake 7 camp? Reply with quote

There's been quite a bit of discussion on some of the Doctor Who and Star Trek threads about whether those shows were camp.

But what about B7?

As fans we know that the B7 universe is a ruthless entropic place where the good die as often (if not more often) as the bad and we're all going to become Links anyway.

However, very often the general, non SF viewing public - and indeed some sections of the SF community - see the series as a place where men run round in big shoulder pads and villainesses strike a pose.

So was Blake's 7 camp? If so, is there a dfiscernible point at which this begins or was it present right from The Way Back.

And finally, if B7 was camp, does it acctually matter? Would it necessarily reduce the impact of its message if we were to say that it were being delivered in a highly stylized manner?
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hogswine



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since it is a pet hate of mine and I raised the topic in the other threads, I will respond first!

The answer is, no, not in the first series. B7 Series 1, with its grimy settings, masked guards and ruthless Travis is in no way camp. A few moments, like Servalan droppng her fur coat in Project Avalon, were as bad as it became.

Series 2, with its somewhat more outlandish costumes, culminating in the Michelin Men, lacked some of the edge, and the flamboyance of Servalan grew somewhat. Having stereotyped and outlandish homosexual characters in the form of the casino owner (can't remember his name) and freind were an indication that even early on B7 was seen as camp, if this episode is indeed self-parody.

Dayna is initially a shakey character in Season 3, swooning over Avon as soon as she meets him and hunting with a bow and arrow but as Aftermath is based ont eh Tempest and moments such as the coincidental meeting between Avon and Servalan are handled with such aplomb, it is easy to forgive. However, this season is so inconsistent that it is perhaps where the show lost its way and Nation's original grim vision of "only terror in space" is lost.

It is really in season 4, when Servalan is no longer a Machiavellian ruler but has become the outrageously dressed fugitive Sleer that the show borders ont eh ridiculous. Whilst the casino owner and his boyfriend were amusing in Series 2, to repeat these characterisations in Egrorian and Pinder was tiring (Dorian was a better exampe of subtle decadence though his change of character is a little sudden), as were the ridiculous costumes on the various factions in Warlord. It was a long way from Cally's subtle alien nature to have these, though characters like Zil were camp throughout. Perhaps Servalan's new name was also a relfection of her transofrmation from scheming politician to comic book villainess who kills everyone who crosses her, even her own lackeys. Possibly her nadir was ogling the slaves in Cancer and the overacting of Piri in that same episode. Slave was a cartoon computer after Zen and grim characters like Soolin seemed out of pace in a universe populated by lecherous Oracs, Space Rat punks and Og monsters.

Ultimately, I think the linchpin is Servalan. She should have been killed early and perhaps a new President could have been established as a villain or a civil war could have erupted after her fall from power. Perhaps even Avon and Blake could have found favour with the new regime and been chraged with hunting her down,a dangerous tiger when cornered. THis would have returned the show to its early grim massacres and 1984-like world and away from a cartoonish Servalan stabbing everyone who recognises her as the deposed President.

Hog-Swine, over and out.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avon Don't think B7 was total camp
Do think every programme needs some comedic relief
Are you talking about wobbly walls and stuff like that?
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white afro in space



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

oooooo Another fine topic, Ted. Love your work!

Just jumping in with a quick opinion here, but, Yes. B7 is definitely camp, which according to my dictionary means "exaggerated or artificial in style".

When did it start? I'd say that Cygnus Alpha is the first camp episode for me. There were signs in Spacefall, however Spacefall also contained a fair amount of real grit and for me the grit side of the scales wins out.

That B7 is camp in no way limits the power or dilutes its message in any way. In fact, I'd suggest that the sheer artifice of the program, it's unabashed, unwavering ridiculousness (if I may be so bold as to use such terms) allows it a dimension of social commentary not available to other programs camp or otherwise, a social commentary where the rank, decadent artifice found in everyday life is laid bare for all to see.
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BlakNo1



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In S3-4, yes. S1-2, not so much. Eps like Animals are "camper than a row of tents".
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Cockroach Boy



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

white afro in space wrote:
That B7 is camp in no way limits the power or dilutes its message in any way. In fact, I'd suggest that the sheer artifice of the program, it's unabashed, unwavering ridiculousness (if I may be so bold as to use such terms) allows it a dimension of social commentary not available to other programs camp or otherwise, a social commentary where the rank, decadent artifice found in everyday life is laid bare for all to see.


Giving that many real life dictatorships behave in ways that are outlandish and grotesque, the 'campness' of B7 could even be said to have a certain 'reality'. Although we tend to think of such regimes as very utalitarian, the upper echelons generally live in comparative splendour and will behave in very flamboyant ways even as they are sending people to their deaths.

It's interesting that you talk about the commentary reflecting everyday life. The sequences of the drugged citizens being gunned down in Warlord
could be taken as an example of this, a satire on the way a culture can induce blindness to the brutality trhat surrounds it. It's also an example of how what starts of as a camp image of dreamy eyed people with dyed hair can be used to tragi-comic effect.
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pickle



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

camp doesn't come close. it was super-camp. it was sooo camp.
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dave



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agree a fair bit with what Hogswine says. Whilest series 1 and 2 have their camp moments, series 3 and 4 progressively get more "out there".

Not just the situations and Servalan's flaming flamboyance but even dialogue and mannerisms get increasingly theatrical. In particular Tarrant comes to mind with his sweeping bows and increasing sense of telling jokes, whilest Vila becomes ever more the fool.

For me it probably comes to a head in "Sand" where our 2 enemies share a bed for the night with the theatrical lightning for company.
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white afro in space



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 4:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cockroach Boy wrote:
It's interesting that you talk about the commentary reflecting everyday life. The sequences of the drugged citizens being gunned down in Warlord could be taken as an example of this, a satire on the way a culture can induce blindness to the brutality trhat surrounds it. It's also an example of how what starts of as a camp image of dreamy eyed people with dyed hair can be used to tragi-comic effect.


The social commentary I was thinking of with regard to camp specifically was that B7's ridiculousness, that its artifice is so obvious, destroys any credibility in any mass-media artifice that exists today, from mobile phone ads to political sound bites to the latest drivel pouring out from Hollywood. The mass-media is shown to be the chimera that it truly is and not the comforting cocoon that it tries to be.
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Cockroach Boy



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

white afro in space wrote:
Cockroach Boy wrote:
It's interesting that you talk about the commentary reflecting everyday life. The sequences of the drugged citizens being gunned down in Warlord could be taken as an example of this, a satire on the way a culture can induce blindness to the brutality trhat surrounds it. It's also an example of how what starts of as a camp image of dreamy eyed people with dyed hair can be used to tragi-comic effect.


The social commentary I was thinking of with regard to camp specifically was that B7's ridiculousness, that its artifice is so obvious, destroys any credibility in any mass-media artifice that exists today, from mobile phone ads to political sound bites to the latest drivel pouring out from Hollywood. The mass-media is shown to be the chimera that it truly is and not the comforting cocoon that it tries to be.


Do you think that was intentional or are you suggesting this as a way in which the images can be consumed?

These things have been done deliberatley - Mat Groening, Greg Araki, Tim Burton all spring to mind as past masters IMO - but I find it difficult to attribute such an agenda to Terry Nation or David Maloney.
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Steve Rogerson



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh gosh, how can you ask the question? It was camp beyond belief.
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white afro in space



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cockroach Boy wrote:
Do you think that was intentional or are you suggesting this as a way in which the images can be consumed?

These things have been done deliberatley - Mat Groening, Greg Araki, Tim Burton all spring to mind as past masters IMO - but I find it difficult to attribute such an agenda to Terry Nation or David Maloney.


It's far too subversive, far too clever, stashed away under all that flamboyance to be anything but intentional
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thunda



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Never considered B7 as anything other than first rate scifi with low budget special effects.It didn't have the scientific theory or techno babble of Star Trek TOS,but it did have some original scifi ideas.
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BLAKESCREWE



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avon was camper than a week at Butlins!
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pickle



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cygnus Alpha was so camp that I'd imagine many viewers had already lost their capacity to be surprised by the time melodramtic zombies and Stephen Greif's homoerotic Big Daddy arrived on the scene. And certainly by the time the misanthropic computer geek turned up for work in tight fitting black studded leather I doubt anyone batted an eyelid.
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