: Recommend something with one of your favorite actors in it for an old-TV newbie (me).
Well, I gave this matter about two seconds of consideration before I knew there was only one answer. I know that evelyn_b
has been enjoying everything she's seen of Doctor Who
so far - and also likes I, Claudius
(and Julius Caesar
?), so what else could I say but... Blake's 7
I once wrote a non-spoilery introduction post
that may help (because if you Google B7 or look at anything to do with it, you will be majorly spoiled), but in short, it is not exactly I, Claudius
in space, but if you sort of took that, a Shakespearean tragedy (especially Julius Caesar
, Doctor Who
, Robin Hood
and a whole lot of snark and cardboard spaceships and 70s glam rock in space costumes and shook it up in a bag, you might just get something like Blake's 7
In terms of actors I like, it has David Collings in the last episode, and I like all the regulars and am very pleased to catch them in other old TV.
It is unofficially/semi-officially connected to Doctor Who
, mainly because so many people worked on both shows in the 70s, from Terry Nation (B7's creator, and creator of the Daleks) to various actors, set designers, directors, the producer, the script editor Chris Boucher (who also wrote Robots of Death
, one of my fave DW eps, which also features David Collings & is Agatha Christie/Isaac Asimov-inspired) to some of the props. (And then in the 80s, DW borrowed some B7 props back, so there's one scene in a Seventh Doctor story where people are wearing Avon and Servalan's costumes.) Some corners of the Doctor Who Extended Universe cross the two officially.
You should pop over to my other post here, but basically, it is the anti-Star Trek, it could win the universe snarking competition by a mile, it has fanfic tropes for real, and despite all the reasons that it shouldn't work, it does, and it's amazing and enjoyable and bleak and heart-breaking and ridiculous all at the same time & almost every single character is interesting, from that guard on the left to our heroes (and our villains).
It also, btw, has the best/worst costumes and the very worst SFX! (Classic Who has nothing
on Blake's 7. In any argument about which show has most delightfully terrible SFX, B7 is already the winner.)
Anyway, it is a thing! It's definitely worth taking in at some point during your Doctor Who
tour. It's like the 1970s Torchwood, only if Torchwood weren't awful. (Sorry, Torchwood, I'm just never going to like you much; I think we'll both have to accept that. And anyway, obv. Torchwood could never be as good as B7. That would be silly.)
S1 is slow, although it still has fabulous costumes and snark, but if you get fed up, you can probably get by with eps 1-3, 6 and 12-13, before going onto S2, where the pace picks up rapidly. The big downside is that for complicated reasons, it's not out on DVD in Region 1, but YouTube/Dailymotion searching usually coughs up the eps. (At the moment, it's here
, but the same copyright people are quite dedicated to taking it down again.)
The other thing I could rec here is obviously Sapphire and Steel
, (ITV 1979-1981) which is one of the most amazing bits of old British SF ever made. It embraces its slowness and cheapness and makes a virtue of it, and spent all its money on its stars, which was a good decision, as they got Joanna Lumley and David McCallum. David Collings features in two of the "Assignments" as Silver, and it's a very good part to see him in.
S&S is a show about mysterious creepy things going wrong with time because humans have been playing with dangerous things like clocks and nursery rhymes and photographs and flowers and railway stations (and, worst of all, motorway service stations). Sapphire and Steel are mysterious beings who come along and sort these things out. They're not human, but we don't know what they are, except seriously cool, telepathic, and very beautiful and that they like standing about looking alarmed at stuff before dealing with it by being nearly as scary as the scary stuff. They call themselves Elements, but neither Sapphire nor Steel is actually an element anyway, so who knows? As a TV Guide once put it: "There are many ways of keeping an audience's attention - total lack of explanation is not supposed to be one of them."
It is a weird gem of SF and it is seriously mind-blowing and awesome. Once you get accustomed to the fact that nobody and nothing will ever move quickly in it, it gets really addictive. (I was once vidding it and thought my software had frozen but it was just Sapphire and Steel standing very still while looking mildly alarmed and beautiful again.) The fic for it is also weird and beautiful and wonderful and everybody does it slightly differently, because nobody knows what any of it means.
(I was going to link to eponymous_rose's brilliant guide, but it is now locked, tragically, because it was the best intro to S&S. Have this fanvid I made ages ago
. It isn't a good substitute, but despite me being a newbie vidder and too ill to get the aspect ratio right (I know! eek!), it's still a good intro to what the show is.)
The length is only the equivalent of six Classic Who serials, or "Assignments" as they're known in S&S, and a few people have all of them up on YouTube, (e.g. here
but the DVDs are also out pretty much everywhere, too). Assignment One is particularly slow and still has a lot of trappings of its original concept as a children's show (before somebody changed their minds and turned it into more general teatime tales of terror).
There are apparently currently plans to remake it which is intriguing but also terrifying, because is modern TV brave enough to forego any explanations whatsoever? Can they find anybody as good as Joanna Lumley and David McCallum? How will I ever cope if somebody else is Silver? The thought is scarier than an evil pillow*.
But at least not as bad as the idea of the B7 remake, which we have to hope will never happen. (Or better still, a pilot/1 series happens and is awful and cancelled BUT intrigues some new fans. Sounds like a cunning plan?)
(I'm sorry if I'm reccing too strongly, but while I'm apologetic about some of my stranger old TV loves, I am never going apologise for loving these two. Even if they're possibly the strangest of all. They won't work for everyone, but they're good enough & influential in the SF field to be well worth trying for anybody interested in either SF/fantasy or old British telly.)
* It is important to note that while S&S doesn't even try to compete in the silly SFX stakes, it does have one truly amazing category winner in Assignment Three's evil pillow. If I didn't want to get this posted now, I would go look for my pic of Steel glaring at said evil pillow.