Candidly, the current state of the world and the latest news such a depressing f**king place, that the Daughter Unit and I have taken refuge in renovating the den, which is our TV watching room. A leak in the ceiling from an overflowing drip pan during the week that Wee Jamie was born resulted in part of the ceiling to that room falling in – and it’s taken a bit of time to clear up the mess, although the HVAC company whose’ unit was responsible for the overflow which caused the initial collapse were troopers and cleared away the mess and roughly patched the hole in the ceiling straight away. It turned out, though – that the deductible on my homeowners’ insurance was pretty high – to the point where the insurance adjuster and I pretty much agreed: take that money and just hire the local neighborhood handy guy to fix the damage – patch the ceiling and all – and just forget about filing a claim.

So that is what we have done – painted the walls with the half-bucket of pale gray-blue paint left over from the nursery, repainted the three bookcases with ice-white paint and moved out the armoire which took up altogether too much space in a small room. This very week we began watching TV there of an evening, with a newly-bottle-fed and bathed Wee Jamie in a small rocking cradle between us. Alas, until I have another client, or the sales of books absolutely skyrockets in the next month or two, actual replacement of the lamentably pop-corn textured ceiling with beadboard and the painted concrete floor with vinyl planks will have to wait. In the meantime, we’ve reclaimed the den for TV watching – and what did we find when we checked into BritBox to see what was on offer? Nothing more awesome than Blake’s 7, which was the British equivalent to the first Star Trek series, at a slightly later time period. This series aired on KUED in Salt Lake City, late on Saturday evenings, and which we discovered and watched slavishly – it followed, IIRC, an episode of Red Dwarf weekly. We loved them both, and I taped the whole run of Blake on VHS tapes, which I still have, and will maintain as long as the series remains stubbornly unavailable for a reasonable cost in a format watchable in the US. I even had a Blake’s 7 T-shirt, a gimme from KUED’s annual pledge drive, a shirt which I wish that I had taken better care of, for the nerd-credit that possessing such an item would presently afford me.

“Sets made of cardboard and plastic sheeting. Costumes borrowed from other shows. Shooting on gravel pits and the like. Each episode made for maybe three quid…” So goes one review on the packaged DVD set available on Amazon. Yep, those were the production values all right – I think that my high school drama classes might have made something higher-grade, overall … at least we might have spent twenty or twenty-five bucks. Only the early Doctor Who episodes boasted even lower-rent special effects, as I recall one which supposedly represented some kind of alien entity, consisting of a long sheet of lightweight plastic shower curtain agitated by an off-camera electric fan. Even the original Star Trek boasted more convincing set dressings and costumes, which is saying something indeed.

But against all those production and special effects shortcomings was a bravura cast of actors, plating interesting and flawed human or humanish characters, and some really excellent writing. There were no happy endings, and certainly no redshirts bumped off in each episode while the main characters emerged unscathed at the end of every episode and season. (One character, Ker Avon, in refusing to go planet-side: “I’m not stupid, I’m not expendable, and I’m not going!) In fact, by the end of three seasons, half the starting characters had been redshirted, and their technologically superior spaceship was gone, and the leader, Blake himself, went missing for all of the final season, until the very end. There was really noting quite to equal it on American TV until Babylon 5. Dystopic, dramatic, and engaging … and an improvement on watching the current news.


  1. We’re binge-watching “Adam-12”, and for the same reasons. We can go back in time 50 years and stay long enough to regain our sanity. We watch it for the same reason people went to the movies during the Depression. What a great little TV show.

  2. Oh, memories – “Adam-12” – when Los Angeles was livable … I’d want to watch that just to see how many local places I’d spot, in the Valley and the other suburbs. It used to be a bit of a game for me, picking out real locations on TV shows shot around LA back then!