The final instalment of this trilogy of boxsets is a grand farewell to the Blake’s 7 universe.
The Liberator’s computer systems have been taken over by an alien parasite and the crew – who now need to find Avon as well as try and regain control of their ship – are racing to not only try and save their leader but also to save themselves. Hot on their heels is the President, keen to reassert his dominance of the galaxy, a mad general from Tarrant’s past and strange woman who swears she’s been sent by Avon to help them.
With the deaths of actors Jaqueline Pearce and Paul Darrow hanging over this entire season, Big Finish have regrouped to give Avon, and the rest of the crew of the Liberator, a send-off worthy of the show.
This final instalment of the Restoration season is bold and well-paced for the most part. The scripts by Trevor Baxendale, Steve Lyons and David Bryher crackle with the energy that made the original episodes so enjoyable. It is clear that all the writers enjoy playing in the Blake’s 7 sandpit.
Whilst the first story, Parasite, takes a while to get going and features one of the more vocally annoying characters to appear in the series, the remaining stories work well together and climax with a tremendous final episode, Imperium, that rounds not only the season of stories up, but pretty much puts a giant cherry on top of the entire Blake’s 7 audio stories from Big Finish.
It helps that the cast are uniformly excellent. Original TV series’ actors Michael Keating (Villa), Steven Pacey (Tarrant) and Jan Chappell (Cally) slip seamlessly into their roles. Keating especially, has an almost ageless quality to his voice. Yasmine Bannerman (Dayna) and Alistair Lock (Zen/Orac) round out the Liberator crew and continue their effective interpretations of the same roles from the original series. Many other roles are reprised from previous volumes in the audio series but the three that truly stand out are Hugh Fraser as the duplicitous and scheming President, John Green as General Mordekain, and Evie Dawney as Selene Shan.
Director John Ainsworth has a total command of his players and elicits the best performances from his cast. He also manages the difficult task of bringing Avon back into the narrative seamlessly (I won’t spoil it for you, but it is very special). He is aided by an evocative score and sound design by Nigel Fairs, Simon Power and Richard Fox. A bonus disc of interviews is included as usual, with much discussion on the story from the cast and crew.
This has been a series of some difficult gestation, but Big Finish have managed to pull off one of the most enjoyable Blake’s 7 sets in a long time. The memories of this much-loved series will come flooding back and like most cliff-hangers from the series, you can’t help but wonder “Where to now?” Let’s hope we have not heard the last of Blake’s 7 in the Big Finish universe.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: February 2020
Approx RRP: $56 CD, $25 Digital Download