I’ve been back online to see what caught my eye across some of the streaming services that we use here at home. After the disastrous first episode last week, I’ve already given up on The Walking Dead: World Beyond on Prime Video. I wasn’t really looking out for anything in particular this time, but a few shows did catch my eye…
Blake’s Seven (Britbox)
When you talk about the BBC and science fiction, you automatically think about Doctor Who. But others have a fondness for one of the channel’s more mature shows. Starting in 1978, Blake’s Seven centred around a group of criminals and freedom fighters and misfits, fighting against a corrupt Federation ruling the galaxy with an iron fist. Led by Roj Blake, a former freedom fighter and escaped prisoner, the rag-tag group explores the galaxy while striking at the Federation in any way they can.
Blake’s Seven is a much darker series than I remembered growing up. It’s certainly not one meant for a younger audience. The scripts are rock solid even today and the episodes had me gripped from start to finish. Every character had plenty of depth to them and a variety of motivies driving their actions.
The only thing that really let the series down are the effects. The BBC was never known for its effects and production values for its sci-fi shows and Blake’s Seven was no exception. What was surprising was that the show came almost a decade AFTER Gerry Anderson’s UFO which offered vastly superior model and effects work, showing just what British sci-fi television could really do.
Doctor Who (Netflix)
And speaking of Doctor Who, I spent some time this week revisiting some old episodes of Doctor Who over on Netflix. While Britbox has the entire run from 1963 up to the end of the Sylvester McCoy era, Netflix is the home of modern Who.
Even though David Tennant hasn’t played The Doctor now for a decade (which is an astonishing thought in itself) his episodes are still amongst the best of the modern era. Sitting down to watch the final three partner with Catherine Tate (“Turn Left”, “The Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End”) was a delight and ignoring some of the scientific absurdities of the episodes, they still made for gripping television. Tom Baker is still my all time favourite in the role, but with stories like these, Tennant comes a close second…
Bananaman (Prime Video)
The 1980s DC Thompson comic character from The Dandy and Beano was brought to life in this cartoon series made for the BBC. Keeping in line with the single page format of the comics, each episode ran for just 5 minutes. It focused on the surreal adventures of schoolboy Eric who magically transformed into the superhero Bananaman any time he ate… you guessed it… a banana. Accompanied by his faithful pet crow, he faced off against a swathe of supervillains week after week.
What made the cartoon great fun was the tight writing, genuinely funny scripts that worked on levels for kids and adults alike and inspired casting. Featuring the voice talents of Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor, this was – in essence – an animated version of The Goodies. The zany humour of the 70s cult series was replicated superbly making this a delight to watch for fans everywhere.