The Tripods (1984) – The English Channel: July 2089 AD

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Large naval vessels require manpower, and in many cases such manpower is hard to come by. In a world over-run by large marauding Tripods, sailors must be in short supply as traveling around could be seen as too much freedom. Two runaway boys are the perfect target for naval impressment, and guess who I’m talking about – That’s right, it’s Will and Henry! When we last left the boys, they were under the impression that they had been kidnapped onto a ship on its way to Africa rather than their planned destination of Europe. It turns out they weren’t on the wrong ship after all, but Captain Curtis is not the saint that Ozymandias spoke of. He takes their money and offers little help other than safe passage, a fact that both Will and Henry resent. Good thing he can deal with the Tripods’ henchman, as we get to see them a whole bunch this time around.

Episode three marks the first real appearance of the show’s resident Nazi-like dirt bags – The Blackguards. Blackguards are humans that keep an eye on other humans, reporting anything suspicious to their three legged overlords. Clad in black robes and utterly silly headwear, the Blackguards are almost cartoonish in their villainous ways. Just think of all those scenes in all the World War II movies you can think of where a pale-faced German guard asks someone to see their “papers”, that my friends is the Blackguards. That isn’t to say that they are comical or ineffective, they are creepy as hell and the sheer sight of one makes you cringe whilst watching the show. It seems that anytime anything is going well, at least one Blackguard is waiting to ruin it.

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This episode also marks the first appearance of a new main character named Jean-Paul or “Bean Pole” as he is nicknamed almost immediately. Bean Pole is a tall, skinny French boy that sees himself as somewhat of a genius. When we first see him, he is wearing a pair of crude eyeglasses that he has fashioned himself. It seems he has avoided “capping” for more than a year by simply pretending to be deathly ill each time he is supposed to have the deed done. He knows that once he is capped, he will no longer invent things, or be creative. He is tasked with guarding Will and Henry in their Blackguard cells, but secretly plots to help them (and himself) escape. The three do their best re-enactment of the climax of The Shawshank Redemption and venture into the unknown.

I enjoyed this episode because the “adventuring party” is finally fleshed out with Bean Pole. My one quibble is that his English “accent” is too perfect considering he is supposed to be a Frenchman. I guess one can chalk it up to the same logic that made Sean Connery a Spanish man, Kevin Costner Robin Hood, and Patrick Stewart a Frenchman from space. Sometimes the best actor isn’t whatever nationality he is supposed to be. Returning to my tired Lord of the Rings analogy from last time, we have characters in the same vein as Sam and Frodo finally meeting their Gandalf. If only Bean Pole was secretly some sort of wizard, those Tripods wouldn’t stand a chance!

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Obligatory purchase links:

The Tripods: Series 1 & 2 [Regions 2 & 4]

The White Mountains

The City of Gold and Lead

The Pool of Fire

When the Tripods Came

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Blake’s 7 Could be Perfect for Syfy

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I’ve been slacking on posting news on here for years now, but I did want to comment on a recent announcement. It seems that a brand-spanking-new version of the classic BBC science fiction series Blake’s 7 is in production by the former Sci Fi Channel. I know it changed its name to Syfy years ago, but that still looks like a slang term for syphilis to me, and makes me cringe when typing it. Syfy has been looking for their next big show for quite a while now, and with channels like BBC America directly competing with, and in many ways overtaking them in the realm of speculative fiction TV, something like Blakes 7 could be a real “shot in the arm” that the network needs. It could even be their next Battlestar Galactica if they play their cards right. Truth be told, I wasn’t a fan of the recent version of Battlestar Galactica because I was far too fond of the original show. For years I wondered why they chose the BSG license to do such a remake, when more fitting brands would have been better – ones like Blake’s 7.

Blake’s 7 is a dark show comprised of anti-heroes and criminals banded together to fight a common foe. The story follows the struggles of Roj Blake (as played by Gareth Thomas). A notorious political dissident, Blake has been arrested, tried, and convicted on false charges by a brutal totalitarian government, and deported to a prison planet. Blake unites a group of fellow misfits, steals the transport ship he’s on, and wages a war against his oppressors. To sum up Blake’s 7 one simply has to imagine George Orwell meets Star Trek. Well, that was the original show at least; nobody really knows what direction Syfy will take the show. And considering the fact that the show is very underground here in the States, I seriously doubt that it will stay completely faithful.

I did find an official write-up (posted below) for the show that appears to be some sort of treatment for the new show. Is it the same magic, or could we have another dud like Syfy’s unwatchable Flash Gordon catastrophe? I guess time will tell.

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The year is 2136, Blake wakes up on one side of the bed. He reaches for the other side. There’s nobody there. As reality sets in, this handsome ex-soldier sits up, and looks at a photo of his wife Rachel. Beautiful. Deceased. 

A revolutionary reinvention of the long-running BBC series made in the late 1970s, Blake’s 7 tells the story of seven criminals – 6 guilty and 1 innocent – on their way to life on a prison colony in space, who together wrestle freedom from imprisonment. They acquire an alien ship which gives them a second chance at life and become the most unlikely heroes of their time. 

David Ellender, CEO FremantleMedia International and Kids & Family Entertainment said, “Blake’s 7 was such a forward-thinking concept that the show continues to have resonance with audiences today. Its complex characters and gritty storylines, coupled with the highly talented team and modern production techniques are sure to appeal to both original fans of the show and new viewers.”  Leon Clarance, co-founder of Georgeville Television and CEO of Motion Picture Capital, the finance arm of Reliance Entertainment, said, “Joe Pokaski and Martin Campbell have worked tirelessly with the Georgeville TV team to create an amazeballs reboot of this classic space opera which I watched with my father when I was a child. This reimagined classic for a new generation of science fiction fans will enthrall original and new fans alike. I couldn’t be happier to have our beloved show handled internationally by the passionate team at FremantleMedia.”

And yes, He said “amazeballs” in a press release…

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