My mother always warned me “laughing comes to crying“. I never liked that expression because it always sounded like you should never have too much fun. It’s only with age that it made more sense. Big Finish have released ‘Blake’s 7 Restoration Part 3′ and it is the end of an era. My enjoyment turned to sadness.
Admittedly, I was wary of this set. I enjoyed the second box set but it wasn’t my favourite. Part of me wondered if that had something to do with knowing that Paul Darrow, the leader of these sets, had passed on before those stories were released. I may be a new fan and one more familiar with Big Finish’s output than the television programme, but I had fallen for these characters.
I came to Blake’s 7 with ‘Spoils of War’ and didn’t imagine I would then become the guy to cover most, if not all, of the following releases in that range. I didn’t mind though. My imagination was captured and it was fun learning about these characters and this world. When Jaqueline Pearce passed, as devastating as it was for listeners, the show was able to continue. She had the perfect wrap up for her character. It was still not the same without her though. However, when Paul Darrow left us it took the standard that we know and love and brought it to a conclusion.
Thankfully the good people at Big Finish really do love stories and know how to tie a bow and wrap things up neatly.
These 16 stories weren’t meant to signal a finale box set. Restoration, as a title, was more an indication of what the crew of the Liberator had to do before continuing on their adventures. It has since taken on a new meaning: Restore immediately before season 4 of the program. Is that what happened? Was it satisfying? Let’s look a bit closer.
The set-up for these four stories is made early on and works well. It starts off with Avon missing and Selena coming on board to help the crew with their computer troubles. Trevor Baxendale is a fantastic writer who has produced some of the best Blake’s 7 stories, including the finale of this set ‘Imperium‘.
‘Parasite‘ does a stand up job of introducing Restoration 3’s major arc but it suffers when losing focus on our lead characters. The back and forth between Valren and Zoraya on the doomed planet of Tronis becomes tiresome. While this could be viewed positively, to have two characters of varying age ranges offer different stands, it grew repetitive. Especially once we learned that Valren was withholding important info. It’s frustrating patience from an adult mentoring a replacement. If it weren’t such a large portion of the audio, I probably wouldn’t have even mentioned it.
There’s so much goodness in this story though that those characters aren’t enough to bring it down. Perhaps another listen would help. It’s wonderful, however, to have Tarrant take a more central role and Steven Pacey does a superb job of balancing leadership whilst being overwhelmed. Of course it’s the amazing Jan Chappell as Cally who’s the real leader.
From here on out it’s just a glorious ride. Steve Lyons delivers an exciting script with Failsafe which pits our heroes with their enemies but neither can do harm to the other. Yasmin Bannerman as Dayna stands out as she’s not focused on Servalan. Dayna has more room to be her own character though we still feel her anger and frustration.
John Green as General Mordekain delivers a particularly excellent performance. His character goes through some interesting developments and between script and what Green delivers, it makes for a fascinating listen.
Any stand out stories, for me, will almost always focus on Vila as the lead. He’s such an honest character and Michael Keating gives him such depth. Writer David Bryher does a terrific job balancing excitement and human drama.
Reunion continues the overarching plot of the parasite on board the liberator but brings back one of the best Big Finish created characters Zeera Vos. Rebecca Crankshaw always breathes such life into Zeera and paired with Vila, this story needs next to nothing else. But it sets up the conclusion beautifully and gives some genuinely touching moments.
Trevor Baxendale returns to give us the conclusion that we all wanted. A conclusion that the cast and crew deserve. With the President seemingly secure in this role again the challenges become less about victory and more about getting out alive, with Avon.
There’s little that needs to be said here. If you’ve been along for the ride thus far, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Baxendale delivers wonderful dialogue and the cast make every breath matter. Imperium is an absolute triumph!
It’s a sad time for Blake’s 7 fans knowing that full cast audios, as we know them, are over. Thankfully we have all of these splendid stories and Restoration Part 3 is the best conclusion we could hope for. Despite my unfavourable feelings towards the relationship between two characters in Parasite, this set has been dynamite! It works because of all of the hard work from previous sets but Restoration 3 pays off all those stories.
If ever there was a group of stories that were a must for Blake’s 7 fans it’s this. Despite the high word count of this review, the only thing really worth saying is: Go listen to Blake’s 7 Restoration Part 3. It’ll be so much better if you’ve heard the rest of the series, and even some of the sets before this one but it’s great regardless.
You can purchase your copy of Blake’s 7 Restoration 3 from the Big Finish website.
Concluding the epic Restoration story arc with four brand-new adventures set during the TV series’ third season.
5.9 Parasite by Trevor Baxendale
Avon is missing, and Zen has taken control of the Liberator – but can the rest of the crew trust Selene’s offer to help, and what is the secret of the doomed planet Tronis?
5.10 Failsafe by Steve Lyons
General Enton Mordekain is trapped underground, badly injured, with no memory of how he came to be here – and he’s manacled to his worst enemy, Del Tarrant. He has to work out who he can trust – and fast.
5.11 Reunion by David Bryher
A secret lies buried on the prison planet Cygnus Alpha. The Quonar parasite wants it – and so does Zeera Vos. With the Liberator crew caught in the crossfire, Vila and Zeera must face the past if they have any hope of getting out alive…
5.12 Imperium by Trevor Baxendale
Fighting to save Zen – and prevent the President regaining total control – the crew of the Liberator must rescue Alta-One, the last survivor of the System, and discover the ultimate fate of Avon.
- Paul Darrow (Kerr Avon)
- Michael Keating (Vila Restal)
- Jan Chappell (Cally)
- Steven Pacey (Del Tarrant)
- Yasmin Bannerman (Dayna Mellanby)
- Alistair Lock (Zen / Orac)
- Rebecca Crankshaw (Zeera)
- Evie Dawnay (Selene Shan)
- Hugh Fraser (The President)
- John Green (General Mordekain)
- Trevor Littledale (Valren)
- Sheila Ruskin (Alta-One)
- Becky Wright (Zoraya)