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UnChristmas Special

December 17, 2013

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I’m certain I’ve achieved nothing of value in in 2015 or 2014, so I’d rather go back a couple of years.  Looking back on 2013, it occurs to me that if I achieved absolutely nothing else that year (and there’s very strong evidence that I didn’t), I did at least re-watch every single episode of Blake’s Seven (1978-81).

A few days before Christmas 1981, that magnificently grumpy old atheist, series script editor Chris Boucher, wrote a concluding episode of Blake’s Seven which killed off the entire regular cast.  This dogged and principled refusal to concede anything to a seasonal festive mood has always attracted my admiration.  This bleak conclusion reminds me of why the show was so great.

There’s much to ponder in this dystopian romp through my childhood (or is that a romp through my dystopian childhood?).

I could never work out why Tarrant didn’t get slapped more.

tarrant

Del Tarrant had the most slappable smile in the galaxy.  With the most possible exception of this guy

rieu

Surely whenever his piloting spells were not urgently required, Del Tarrant must have spent the entirety of his time on board the Liberator (and subsequently Scorpio) pinned to the ground by his crew mates while being slapped across the face over and over and over again (by Dayna please).

One constant across all four seasons was Servalan’s refusal to make the slightest compromise with physical circumstances.  Servalan was sartorially magnificent.  If you’re the most ruthless megalomaniac in the universe, you make no concessions to utility whatsoever.  The most rugged, rocky, swampy and altogether  inhospitable terrain imaginable is no excuse for wearing anything other than a full length sparky ballgown with matching accessories.

For much of the time, the series was costumed with gleeful eclecticism.  And the bright colours were certainly needed because this was a show where people could die.  As did, with some regularity from the cheery Gan onwards.  The recurring refrain of “nobody’s indispensable” served as a kind of motto for the whole saga.   The most traumatic death of all, however, was that of the Liberator at the end of Season Three.  One of the most beautiful space ships ever conceived of is not only destroyed – it is violated, desecrated and slimed.  The Liberator dies a slow, nasty, smelly sort of death, and none of the survivors really recover from its loss.  Vila hits the bottle for season four and everyone except Avon abandons the happy spirit of dress up that characterised the first three seasons in favour of a drab military grey.

The show was a delicious reminder of the fact that generally speaking, when a heroic band of resistance fighters defy impossible odds, then those impossible odds ensure that resistance is only temporary.  “I fought the law – and the law won.”

Blake’s Seven not only never did a Christmas special – they actually killed everyone just for Christmas.  At no point did Avon ever break the fourth wall, raise a glass to the audience and announce “And a Very Merry Christmas to all our viewers”.  Try and imagine him doing it?  You can’t, now can you?

avon

Praise be.  Avon never learned the true meaning of Christmas.  And he never will.

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