Reviewed: Blake’s 7 – Truth and Lies

Big Finish’s second season of classic Blake’s 7 audio adventures comes to a close with Truth and Lies by Justin Richards. This is the final story in the search for missing crewmember Dayna Mellanby, and it takes the Liberator crew to Apalon V having followed a vessel Avon and Orac are certain contains their missing comrade. The vessel is destroyed and Liberator tracks the launched life pod down to the surface of the planet. Uncertain as to whether the pod was carrying Dayna, or what lies ahead of them on Apalon V, the Liberator crew head to the planet with due caution that proves not to be unfounded…

After a series of stories largely showcasing individual crewmembers, the final story in the set is very much a crew ensemble adventure. The search for Dayna utilises all the Liberator crew and pits them against a new, formidable adversary. Truth and Lies is a tale of twists, mystery and comedy, playing off each facet in the spirit of the classic television show. For Blake’s 7 fans who know their subject, this feels very much like a story that would have aired in Blake’s 7’s third series; the Federation are peripheral, the odds are against them, and it’s uncertain which crew-member might turn things around…

The audience, aware that Josette Simon is not cast, may wonder whether the story will confront that issue and have her inside the capsule, or avoid the casting issue by the crew finding someone else…

Big Finish is the perfect ground for new Blake’s 7 as the limitations of audio match those of the classic series. Blake’s 7 rarely had much more than a smattering of guest cast, and so the small cast recordings for Big Finish feel true to the spirit. On top of that, much of the scene setting in Truth and Lies feels like the sort of studio locations you’d picture in the show; there are ducts, cells, living quarters a small trip to an alien jungle (Ealing studios probably). The cast work well, with Del Grant (Tom Chadborn) feeling very much part of the crew. Lisa Bowerman sits confidently in the director’s chair ensuring there’s consistency and flow to the proceedings. The guest cast perform admirably, though, you’ll have to forgive the less than forthcoming details on their characters as they are at the very heart of the title: truth and lies.

The main misgivings perhaps lie in the narrative framework around the story and the season as a whole: the hunt from Dayna. It is a masquerade for a missing, essential cast member. Indeed, it is an inventive and courageous approach to resolving a continuity dilemma, but it can occasionally serve as a heavy reminder that one cast member is not involved. This is not to say it is damaging to the story, nor that I don’t commend tackling this issue head on, just occasionally the issue does float to the surface. In some respects it could be argued this works for the story; Richards opens up Truth and Lies with the question as to whether Dayna IS in the lost escape pod.

The audience, aware that Josette Simon is not cast, may wonder whether the story will confront that issue and have her inside the capsule, or avoid the casting issue by the crew finding someone else. There is a further argument that this sort of tale again, is very in-keeping with series 3 of Blake’s 7; Blake and Jenna take to the life-rockets in the aftermath of the intergalactic war in Aftermath (3.01) but the audience knows the cast members have left the show and will not be present through the series. Having to believe characters are dynamic to the leading narrative and yet the actors are not, is something Blake’s 7 audiences have had to reconcile before. The Dayna arc in some respects, mirrors this very issue.

The story closes on a sort-of-cliffhanger/resolution. It’s an odd position that could resolve the arc or perpetuate it. Time will tell, and hopefully Big Finish, it will!



About

James is an illustrator and storyboard artist who had the good fortune to working on one of the most fan-despised Doctor Who video games of all times. His love of Doctor Who emerged earlier than his long term memory, but believes it reliably informed it was sometime after he learned to walk. James occasionally - nay, rarely - dabbles in a reviews, interviews and prattle for the kingdom of journalism as a lowly squire. He also shouts irrelevantly in some or most podKasts. He stands by his believe a police box shouldn't have square windows.


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