Back in 2005 writer / actor Tim Plester and director Ben Gregor got together a pretty damn impressive cast which included Martin Freeman, Mark Heap, Mackenzie Crook, Johnny Vegas, Raquel Cassidy and Susan Earl to make a homage to the much loved seventies and eighties sci-fi show Blake’s 7. Blake’s 7 was a gritty, often downbeat piece about a group of outlaws on the run from the federation which unlike a lot of genre fare from that era still mostly stands up to this day, but unfortunately Plester and Gregor didn’t really do much with the idea.
Indeed most of the jokes can be guessed from the title, a pun which isn’t that great in the first place, and so it sees the group holed up in a motorway service station as they’re a bit peckish. Nothing much really happens apart from they pick on Vila (Martin Freeman, fairly poor and playing it in the same way that he did with most of his 2000’s sitcom roles as slightly hesitant and bland), get something to eat, accidentally destroy Orac (voiced as he was in the series by Peter Tuddenham) and then play on some arcade games before buggering off. Servelan (Mackenzie Crook, who plays it a little too subtly) is also present but either she doesn’t notice that the space outlaws are present or doesn’t care, and the only notable thing that happens is that Avon (Mark Heap, who’s fine but nothing more than that) bumps in to former leader Blake (Johnny Vegas, the best of the lot) in the toilets and they have a brief, strained chat where Blake obviously misses being with Avon but the latter really doesn’t want to reunite with him. And then after a bit more bickering they leave and it all feels like a massive disappointment.
Plester and Gregor clearly thought it’d be funny to see a bunch of space rogues doing very mundane things, arguing, playing pranks on each other and then larking about in an arcade but unfortunately they were wrong. Or at least they didn’t dedicate enough time to the script which is occasionally funny but often quite annoying and doesn’t really go anywhere. On paper it might have seemed amusing to see Vila moaning about needing to go to the toilet, or Servelan playing an arcade game, but it’s just a bit dull and to pull off the idea the script really needed to be much sharper. None of the actors (bar Peter Tuddenham) attempt to emulate the characters they’re portraying and mostly seem to be playing variations on themselves or their best known characters and this seems a major misstep as they could have had a lot of fun being much sillier, and though Mackenzie Crook looks the part it’s strange that his is such a bland take on what was a deliciously camp villain.
The best part is when Blake and Avon interact, which is the only joke where a knowledge of the original series is really required, and it’s a shame they didn’t play around with other factors from the show as then it might have been a lot funnier. As it is it feels like they waste a massively talented cast, most of the female members get painfully little to do, and if anything it’s like a student film that was made on a tiny budget for shits and giggles rather than a short which stars some of the most talented British comedy actors that we have. And also Martin Freeman.
You can watch it here on youtube.