Syfy Resurrects BLAKE'S 7

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It’s official: Syfy has picked up the rights to the BBC classic Blake’s 7, and will be producing in partnership with Georgeville Television and producer Marc Rosen.

The original series was created by Terry Nation – and you’ll recognize him as the creator of the Daleks – and ran on BBC for four years beginning in 1978.

The story followed a group of renegades and escaped prisoners, led by Roj Blake (Gareth Thomas) as they led a revolution against the tyrannical Federation (not that Federation. The other one…). Later seasons had the crew led by Kerr Avon (Paul Darrow) following Blake’s disappearance. The show had 52 episodes, the last one ending with a great deal of finality.

So, would this be a full-on reboot? Syfy has done it before, with Battlestar Galactica, and the result was a critically-acclaimed show that won a Peabody. Of course, it tried to run off the rails a few times, but for the most part seemed to stay on course… at least until we found out Starbuck was an angel? Or something…

Another successful franchise reboot has been Doctor Who, even though that’s not a remake, but a continuation of the original show, making it the longest-running science fiction series in the history of television.

So, which would have the most success, a reboot or sequel?

One of the reasons the BSG reboot was so successful was the post-9/11 allegories the writers were able to include. Many of the story arcs resonated because it was a show about a war, and how people react to war, and the extremes some people will go to in order to survive. But 9/11 was eleven years ago now, and it doesn’t quite resonate the way it used to (or still should). So will audiences find the new Blake’s 7 as compelling as the original audience? Over ten million people watched the original, and many remain loyal fans to this day.

Still, dystopias abound, with The Hunger Games and NBC’s new show, Revolution. And we’ve seen the setting crop up in any number of films and TV shows over the years. So there’s a chance the new version could find an audience pretty quickly. Certainly, fans of the original will at least check it out and see if it’s worth watching – and BBC then needs to make sure it’s not The Prisoner all over again…

The show’s revival has been attempted before, both as original novels and audio plays.

Martin Campbell will direct the pilot. And while he has to claim Green Lantern, he can also claim Casino Royale and Goldeneye, so does that make it a wash? Writing duties fall to Joe Pokaski, who wrote for Heroes and CSI.

Syfy has given a script-to-series commitment, meaning if they like Pokaski’s first script, they’ll skip the usual pilot and go straight to a 13-episode order.

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