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The Gift of B7 - Part One
Luke and Michelle Sims
In 2013, Luke Sims (known on the forum as Gauda Cheese) embarked on another rewatch, but this time with his sister Michelle, who had never seen B7 before. He posted regular reports of her reactions and opinions on the Gift of B7 thread, and it was lovely to relive through her eyes the experience of watching the show for the first time. Horizon is very pleased now to present the blog as a four-part article.
I'm Luke. I'm 31, and have watched through the show around eight times or so since I first borrowed the entire series on VHS at the age of eight or nine. My wonderful sister Michelle happens to be nineteen and doesn't know anything thing about B7. She is unaware of the ending, that Blake leaves half way through etc... The good news is she likes watching shows with her nerdy older brother and she enjoys dystopian stories. I thought it might be cool to report back on her reactions and thoughts as we go. So without further ado....
The Way Back or We're playing those mind games together, Pushing the barriers planting seeds
One of the hard things about B7 for me is although I've only watched the show from start to finish eight or so times, I've watched many episodes repeatedly. So the challenge for me when watching this with Michelle, was to shut up and let her watch it!
The good news is she was disgusted with it...
Michelle caught on about the kids' programming. "Yeah, they are that bad."
The dome looked like "Half a Death Star."
The massacre and the deaths of Varon and his wife were quite the surprise.
Michelle didn't expect to see a girl in prison. “Are she and Blake going to get together?”
One episode in, and she was all over the hair, in particular Jenna's. "Her hair looks good for someone in prison!" She found the costumes to be drab and dull.
As for Vila, this is one teeny tiny thing I spoiled for Michelle, as I told her he was the only character who appears in all 52 episodes.
Michelle was like, “Ohhhh, so this is Vila.” Then she wondered what all the fuss was about. Oh, she'll see, she shall see...
Blake not being saved wasn't that big a surprise for Michelle, since the Feds were willing to kill the rebels, trump up paedophile charges and then kill his lawyer. Why would his day get any better?
After the episode finished, she looked at me and nodded, telling me we'd watch another one later tonight. A very good sign.
I've told her that I only dislike two episodes of the series, but I'm not telling her which. But for all of you, it's Shivan Strikes and Dayna's Bad Romance. I want to see how Michelle reacts to the silly robots in Season A, the Decimas, Zil, Kairos Spider and Ben Steed in general. As well as all the good things, of course.
Space Fall or Raiker Likes To Play Chicken
Upon seeing Gan fully upright, Michelle says: "He's the brawn, right?"
A few things made her laugh and there’s no getting around that. Some of the fight between Avon and the computer tech, and Raiker's smack in the mouth to Jenna. However, a good sign is that she finds Vila to be hilarious, especially when he talks about his complaint. I'll make a Vila fan of her yet.
She was surprised they killed off Raiker, as he made a good villain.
Michelle really likes Blake and Jenna, though doesn't know what to make of Avon at the moment.
When the credits rolled, she asked me if the ship was really going to follow the London for eight months, and she really wants to know who abandoned the ship before Blake and co got aboard. So would I, for that matter.
I had to tell Michelle that the opening credits don't count as having seen the Liberator, so I asked her what she thought upon seeing the ship and she said it was very slick. The London is a small claustrophobic rust bucket, whereas the Liberator is this huge shiny slick ship. Michelle wasn't as wowed by the interior, though she did like Zen, finding him/it scary at first and she dug the comfy couch. What kinda bridge/flight deck has a comfy chair?
As for me, I'm really enjoying this. It's like watching myself watch B7 for the first time. The 50 minutes seems to fly by for her, which is a good sign. I've tried again and again to get Mich into old school Doctor Who, and failed. She's happy just to watch the new show and just ask me questions about the old one. I had a similar fear that she might not enjoy B7, and just find it too dated.
Cygnus Alpha or Brian Blessed Are the Cheese Makers
I wasn't sure about this one. Personally, I think its a great episode, but Michelle doesn't like religious themes and stories. Thankfully, she did like Cygnus Alpha, about as much as I could expect her to. She did correctly predict that the drug was a load of rubbish, and I almost caught her jumping up happily when Vargas exploded.
The two characters Mich has latched onto the most are Gan (uh-oh) and Jenna. She thinks it's pretty cool to have a female pilot, especially for a show made way back when.
She still isn't sure what to make of Avon, but I think she's being diplomatic. She loves Blake though, so I'm curious to see how that changes as we go along, especially in Season B.
Is the ship organic, and is Zen alive? Those were two things she wanted to know right off the bat.
Not many laughs from her in this one, except where appropriate.
Time Squad or Cally Got a (Toy) Gun
This one drew a couple of chuckles in terms of the fighting, but I'm resigned to that. Different times.
Michelle thinks it's too early to say much about Cally, but she liked the telepathy angle and looks forward to seeing how it gets developed later on. Though Cally can only talk to people - why not make her a full-on telepath?
Meanwhile, her love of Gan and Jenna is growing; not surprising, since they are left on board the ship to fight ancient brood death clones.
I keep being asked about the ship and Zen, and Gan's musing about the nature of it echoed Michelle. Blue Leotard Computer Slaves can't come fast enough, but I think Michelle will find that somewhat unsatisfying, as she'll never get a full explanation about Zen or the previous occupants of the Liberator and who was attacking it.
The Web or The Dewey Decima System
"Are those big white balls from The Prisoner?"
"Those Ewoks are ugly!"
"Hey, Cally's mind has been taken over, right?"
Yes, Michelle, and get used to it.
This one didn't elicit any of the groans or chuckles I expected, and she was fine with the Decimas and Gestalt in a Jar. What Mich didn't like was Avon's attitude towards Gan when he went to help him fix the systems. Don't mess with her Gan!
Blake being saved by Avon she did like, and in hindsight you can see Blake might know a thing or two about Avon that Avon would never admit to.
Michelle was totally on the side of the Decimas, especially when they were shown grieving over the death of one of them. "I like animals, even the really ugly man-made ones."
Personally, I think it's the weakest story so far, but I don't have any huge problems with it, either. It's not amazing, but it's not horrible. I know Shake and Blake had a running gag about how horrible The Web is, and it's the first of many times I'd come to disagree with them.
Seek-Locate-Destroy or Ultimate Hide and Seek Championships
"Cutest. Robot. Ever!"
Blake: You don't matter enough to kill.
Michelle: "Oh, snap!"
"Yeah, Cally, kick his ass!"
We have a cat named Callie, so Mich likes Cally for that reason alone. Wait until she sees Shadow! Bad fighting? Who cares, Michelle just wanted her to beat that guy up good.
"Is Travis coming back? They didn't kill this baddie off."
Yes, Michelle he is, and he'll regenerate (not that I told her that, of course).
Michelle really liked this one. Yeah, the robot made her laugh, but not because it looked bad, but because it looked too damn cute!
"Is that thing supposed to be menacing?"
"Looks like it wants to give robot hugs."
Robot hugs of death!
Vila gets a chance to show off, and Michelle liked that – especially his line about being able to open any lock if he's scared enough.
Mich sat forward watching the screen the entire time, and I can imagine why – this one has it all: cool new baddies, intrigue, back story, action and evil hug robots. As much as I love Avon, right now I'm with Mich and some of you guys. He is a total douche bag, so far.
Michelle didn't have much to say about Servalan, but her first outing isn't much. This one's about building up Travis to be a threat. I didn't want to ask what she thought of her; I'll wait until Servalan's come back a few more times.
There's a good run of stories coming up, and I'm really looking forward to how Michelle responds to Mission to Destiny and Duel (two personal faves of mine). She doesn't know what Arena is, so she won't be making comparisons to that Star Trek story (Duel is a superior story anyway!)
Mission to Destiny or Just Drive Through It, Part 1
"Is this an episode where we have to figure out which one is the evil one?"
"Then it's Avon!"
"That Trope thingy isn't in the box, is it?"
"That guy's a perv." (Michelle talking about Sonheim).
One of my fave episodes with great lines:
I really rather enjoyed that.
You always see danger, even when there is none. (Close enough – you know the one I mean).
Michelle had a good old time with Mission and she liked Avon in it (well, to the point where he had some funny lines, and punching Sara out). She thinks Cally is a bad a%&. She predicted a few things, but she only told me her suspicion it was Sara after the reveal, so who knows? I believe her though, since she correctly predicted the neutrotope wasn't in the box long before the reveal. Who's the one that's the least likely suspect? Sara. Ergo, Michelle thought it was her, and besides, she did have the box at one point. Smart cookie. In my defence, I was aged 8 or 9 when I first watched this – and not as smart.
I laughed at Michelle's reactions to Sonheim and I agree he totally gave Cally the sleazy eyes. It was the kind of look you'd expect from Kevin Stoney, but I think everyone would let him get away with it because he is awesome.
This is the start of the Cally/Avon duo, which is a team up I like quite a bit. She has more in common with Blake, but I think works better with Avon.
I love how Nation changes genres in this series, and whilst Season C is more effective in doing that (for me) it is impressive coming from the same writer. I'll ask Michelle about that soon.
Duel or Dramatic Tree Sleeping (Fly Straight At It, Part 2)
"Jenna's first time off the ship!"
"Avon always gets the best lines, even though he's a butt."
"That dude is obsessed."
"What would Travis do if he did kill Blake and the others?"
Probably just go on another mission.
Halfway through the story, Michelle's only comment was about Jenna getting off the Liberator, so I asked her how she was liking Duel so far.
"Shut up. Michie watch this now!"
Errr, yes ma'am!
I think even if one has seen the Trek episode Arena, there is much to like here. Anyway, who cares? Sci fi borrows ideas like nobody's business – just look at nearly every Doctor Who story ever.
Michelle loved Duel and she enjoys a lot of the dialogue, even more so now that she's really getting into the characters. It was the little-used Avon who managed to get the best lines, like his comment about showing you care, and throwing nuts.
As much as I like Avon, here it's the Travis/Blake stuff that are the highlights. This really shows how ruthless and uncaring Travis is. He is the bullying face of oppression.
Michelle has predicted that this obsession Travis has with Blake is going to cost him.
Getting anything out of her this time was like trying to get blood from a stone, so I bit the bullet and told her I was posting her thoughts about each episode on the forum. She told me if she had known that, she might have given me more. So I smiled and waited, only for her to say: "I said I might!" Then she said something about me being a huge nerd and gave me a hug.
The other day she said she wished our cat Callie could communicate using her kitty mind powers.
Jenna getting to go down to the planet was something she noticed right away. She might get a bit frustrated with Season B.
Project Avalon or Soolin, the Mutoid Years
"The robot's back! Someone's gonna get hugged!"
Her look of horror/holy crap when Blake snaps some dude's neck was priceless.
"Jenna's killed heaps of 'em!"
"They just detained some nobody and eroded his skin. That's messed up!"
Another good story, but one Michelle found a little predictable, though I think we all expected that the Avalon on the Liberator was going to try something nasty.
She was delighted to see the hug robot make its second appearance.
"Where. Are. Humans? Must. Hug."
She liked Jenna being all gung-ho, and I'm pleased to see she's beginning to really like Vila. Another thing that surprised Michelle was seeing Servalan again, and she wants to know more. As for me - wow, how gorgeous does she look here! Michelle certainly saw another side of Blake in this one, and it shocked her. No chop to the back or a blow to the head, nope, just snap the guy's neck!
At one point she told me to shut up, because I was eating too loudly. Jeez, she's really getting into it!
Breakdown or Neurosurgery In Under 30 Minutes (Flying Into Space Stuff, Part 3)
"Gan tossed her like the Big Show!" (A WWE reference, there.)
"Holy crap!" The priceless look on Michelle's face when Kayn got nasty with a telephone.
"Just tell us who programmed the ship, already!"
"Look at Vila being brave!"
Enjoyable, and Michelle liked Kayn and Renor.... well, until Kayn went all psycho. I couldn't stop laughing at her reaction.
Not a huge lot to say, here. Michelle likes Cally, because it's the name of one of our cats.
"Oh no, Gan's going to hurt Cally!"
She liked Avon's quip about the aliens being intelligent for hating humans, which led her to ask me when we'd see aliens in B7.
"You know what I mean!"
She's in for a bit of a wait, there.
She LOVED it when Vila came in and pointed the gun at Kayn, and it's one of my favourite Vila moments, too.
The last thing she mentioned after the episode had finished was that a lot of people die in this show. I didn't tell her the body count would get much higher as the series went along.
Bounty or Leopard Wall Climber
"Is she really on a mission in a leopard skin coat?"
It's probably not real leopard skin.
"Come on Vila, you can do it!"
"Zen is useless sometimes."
A nice little episode and no, Michelle didn't buy that her beloved Jenna had betrayed the crew, but she enjoyed the story anyway. We both loved Sarkoff's belief that in the 20th century we all lived in houses like that one, and agreed that Tyce has a really huge mouth.
Avon..... is kinda liked now! I'm not going to count that as Avon love just yet, but Michelle digs the sarcasm.
Vila: I told you I couldn't do it.
Avon: I believed you.
That made us both cackle, and it gets me every time.
If there was one thing that annoyed Michelle, it was Sarkoff taking his sweet time to man up!
I did ask her if she had a top two favourite characters, just to see if it was the same or if it had changed and Michelle likes Jenna and........
Big hugs to Michelle. She still likes Gan, but Vila has usurped him.
Now she did mention this in Project Avalon and she reminded me of it here.
"Their tool box is an ice box isn't it?"
Why, yes. Yes it is.
Deliverance or Ditched Worshipper
"Ha, that looks like a boat ship."
"Me cave man go after lady."
"Blake's a dick. Uh, remember when you left Cally behind?"
"I like Avon in this one."
"Wait, did they totally ditch Meegat on the planet?"
And here we are with Deliverance, the episode where Michelle sees another side of Avon and likes it, even though he totally ditched Meegat on Cephlon.
She liked that there was a lot going on in this episode with the three sub-plots and that it will obviously continue on in the next episode. One thing I really love in this story is Vila's ribbing of Avon, and was happy to share some laughs with Michelle.
Avon doesn't wear the same style outfits as the rest of them, and looks cooler as a result.
I surprised Mich when I told her that Servalan is the hottest woman on the show, hands down. For some reason she thinks I dig blondes. My opinion might just might change in Season D.
We were both all: "Hell, yeah!" when Avon big booted some scavenger in the chest.
This is very exciting! We've gotten much further than I thought we'd get, and nearly finished Season A! I know she's going to enjoy Redemption, get sad at the Many Deaths of Gan, but mostly I want to see her response to Travis Mark 2.
Orac or Blake's Way or the Highway
"Awwww, no! Not the old man. Everyone dies in this show!"
"Why doesn't Servalan have a weapon?"
She does, its name is Travis.
Blake: Let me do things my way, Cally
Repeated back in a childish tone. "Blake's a douche."
With Orac, there wasn't much to say. Michelle was excited for it, because it's a season finale, but...... this is probably the weakest finale of all the seasons. They get Orac and then there's the cliffhanger, but it feels like a run-of-the-mill episode. I always forget that Redemption is a Season B story.
Michelle wasn't disappointed; there were plenty of good lines and a sprinkling of action, but she didn't tell me to put the next one on right away. If I told her the storyline for the next episode, we'd be watching it right now, BUT I want her going into every episode cold. Remember, she has no idea how the whole show ends, or that Blake and Jenna leave halfway through.
Clumsy Vila made us chuckle (head butting the door and teleporting into a puddle) and she's already predicting that Blake's going to use Orac against the Federation to get information etc.
And here we are the end of Season A. Woooo!
Season A Round Up
Just a couple of tidbits here:
Michelle's top three stories were: Mission To Destiny, Project Avalon and Deliverance. Interesting choices there, and if she ever rewatches the show maybe they will change or stay the same, but I do like all three myself, too.
Her least favourite was Cygnus Alpha; she really doesn't like stories with religious plots.
And for anyone wondering, my top three would be: Mind Games, Raiker Likes To Play Chicken and Dramatic Tree Sleeping.
My least favourite is probably the Dewey Decima System, but I don't hate it. Ugh, wait till I get to Shivan Strikes!
Michelle's favourite characters by the end of Orac are Jenna and Vila, and mine have been and always will be, Avon and Vila.
Roll on Season B!