Tuesday, 9 April 2013

BLAKE'S 7 reboot greenlit

SyFy has greenlit the Blake's 7 reboot being helmed by former Heroes writer Joe Pokaski and James Bond director Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, Casino Royale). A 13-episode first season will go into production later this year.

The reboot will be set in the year 2136 and will see seven criminals - six guilty and one not - being sent into exile on a prison colony. They escape and acquire a powerful alien spacecraft, with which they can begin a fight back against the totalitarian government that rules the human worlds.
FremantleMedia International today launches the eagerly anticipated remake of the cult drama Blake’s 7 to international buyers at MIPTV. In development with US cable network Syfy, the 13 x 1 hour series will be produced by Georgeville TV, the independent studio co-founded by Leon Clarance of Motion Picture Capital, the financing arm of Reliance Entertainment, and producer Marc Rosen. The science fiction classic will be written by Joe Pokaski (Heroes, CSI) and directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, GoldenEye).

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” 

Blake’s 7 is one of several premium drama offerings in the FremantleMedia International scripted portfolio which includes Wentworth (10 x 1 hour), a FremantleMedia Australia production set to premiere on Australia’s Foxtel in May this year, and The Making of a Lady, a psychological event thriller produced by Runaway Fridge and which captivated UK audiences when it aired on ITV1 in December 2012.

This premise is similar to that the original Blake's 7 - which ran for 52 episodes and four seasons from 1978 to 1981 - although there are several key differences. The original Blake's 7 was set closer to a thousand years in the future and there were only ever five or six human (or humanoid) characters, with the remaining one or two places taken by AIs. This description implies there will be seven human characters and the setting will be much closer to that of the present day.

From the sound it, then, both Zen and ORAC will be missing (which will anger fans) and the show will be asking audiences that humanity has established an interstellar civilisation in just 120 years, rather than the 800+ years of the original, which seems rather implausible. In addition, the suggestion that Blake is a soldier will also annoy a lot of fans. Blake in the original series was an engineer, a fixer whose attitude towards being a freedom fighter mixed charisma with naivete. Not being a soldier, more of a problem-solver, was a key point of his characterisation. This new version sounds altogether more cliched.

No casting information has yet been announced, although it has been confirmed that Pokaski will be writing the first episode and Campbell will be directing. Pokaski may also be writing the majority (or all) of the season, but Campbell's involvement beyond the first episode is unclear. It is also unclear at this stage who will be the showrunner.

At this stage, I am unconvinced by the project, which seems too conservative and predictably dull. With some better writers (Pokaski's heavy involvement with the second through fourth seasons of Heroes, which were terrible, is not encouraging) and the right cast, it could still turn out okay though. Maybe.


RobH said...

Having loved the original series, I too am unconvinced with what is proposed. It almost seems like, since they cancelled Farscape, SyFy has been unwilling to go with anything that pushed the boundaries. This will be especially true with the revamped Blake's 7 as one of the major parts of the original series was that the "good guys" didn't always win, often had to do things which weren't much better than what the "bad guys" did, and frequently struggled with these choices. And as much of the focus was on the character drama and not necessarily the action, I'll dubious as to how well this will translate into the new show.

Brett said...

It sounds like they want to turn it into a more generic, crappy space opera series, with SyFy level special effects. I'll definitely pass on this one.

Scott Lynch said...

Yeah, you can feel the clenching hands of SyFy genericization around this one... I want to have hope, but they're not offering much at this stage. You're absolutely correct about the original Blake and his appeal... he was, as Avon reminded him, from a pampered elite background and he was frequently naive or clueless about just what steps his insurrection should take. "Handsome soldier tortured by the loss of his dead wife" is straight out of the purest vein of TV cliche imaginable.

Tanaros said...

I had such high hopes for this, but they are slowly eroding...
I was a little kid when the show was aired but it stayed with me because of its inherent quality, grittiness and characterization.
The reboot so far looks generic and predictable.
Maybe if they could get Joss Whedon or Neill Blompkamp but... (sighs deeply)
... one can dream, right :)

Prankster said...

I've always wanted to see this show, but I don't think it's even available on DVD here in North America? Or am I wrong about that?

The premise definitely sounds very Farscape-esque. The involvement of the Heroes guy isn't very encouraging, but I do tend to place the blame for that show mostly on Tim Kring, and Martin Campbell is a very good storyteller, so maybe.