Review by Betty Ragan

Well, I just recently got "The Sevenfold Crown" and "The Syndeton Experiment" (bought 'em both second-hand; after the bad word-of-mouth (word-of-keyboard?) I'd heard about them, I was rather leery about spending my money), and I thought I'd post a mini-review with my Humble Opinions, just for the heck of it. (Although how useful/interesting they're likely to be to anybody, I don't know... Judging from the reviews on Judith's website, I seem to have very much a minority opinion... :))

Actually, much to my surpise, I rather enjoyed "The Sevenfold Crown." The plot's pretty goofy, admittedly, and it's got holes big enough to drive Scorpio through. But at least there were enough interesting things happening to keep me interested in the story.

I do have somewhat mixed feelings about the characterization... There were a number of character elements that felt rather off to me: A major chunk of the plot, for instance, hinges on Tarrant not knowing what kind of power cells are used to power Scorpio's drive, and I simply don't buy that one at *all*. Tarrant may be capable of many kinds of stupidity, but ignorance about the workings of his ship is *not* one of them. Slave actually comes across as a bit of a smartass, at least in the first half of the story (and since when does he call anybody but Avon "Master?"), but since I actually kind of like his characterization here *better* than in the series, I'm not going to complain too much about that. Vila seems to have developed some kind of eating disorder... Actually, his obsession with food here doesn't really seem out-of-character, at least not at first (being the little hedonist that he is), but the joke is stretched out far enough to seem rather bizarre, as if he's suddenly come down with bulimia between episodes. And then there's Avon's sudden desire to rule the galaxy, something that just doesn't quite work for me, although I can wave my hands around a bit and come up with a reasonably satisfying explanation for it all. (Actually, Avon's characterization falls apart quite a bit at the end, not least because they make the mistake of using a rather odd plot device to attempt to give us a look at what's going on inside Avon's head. This is a mistake, IMO, because a) it requires some forced, not-terribly-well-written and rather weird dialog, and b) trying to *figure out* just what's going on in Avon's head, as far as I'm concerned, is half the fun of B7 in the first place. :)) On the other hand, except for that stuff, I think the characterization of Avon and Vila, at least, is quite good. (And Darrow and Keating do an excellent job of re-creating their characters.) Avon, in particular, has one wonderfully chilling line that is IMO is just very, *very* fourth-season Avon.

But, mainly, the reason I enjoyed it was the humor: there's quite a lot of it, and some of it is very pleasantly character-based. I got a real kick, for instance, out of Orac telling Vila that he was almost as stupid as Avon. (Pity Avon wasn't in the room to hear that one. Or that we wouldn't have been able to see his face if he was. :)) I was laughing through a lot of the story, and that alone makes it worthwhile for me. Yeah, it's far from the pinnacle of B7 scriptwriting, and I don't consider it anything remotely like canonical (although the ending does add an interesting dollop of Avon-angst that's *almost* tempting :)), but it was fun. I paid $10 for it on ebay, and it kept me entertained for a couple of hours (and I'll probably play it again at least once), so I figure I got my money's worth.

"The Syndeton Experiment" on the other hand... Oy. Actually, I was laughing all the way through that one, too, but it was *definitely* a case of laughing *at* it, not laughing *with* it. To begin with, Barry Letts apparently got confused about just which show it was he was writing for, because the script isn't Blake's 7 at all: it's pure Doctor Who. Now, I happen to love Doctor Who, but Whovian campiness and B7 characters are two great tastes that simply do *not* belong together. Never mind the ridiculousness of the plot (giant robots and all), seeing Servalan reduced to a gloating, raving Doctor Who-style villian is downright painful (and there's no way even a talent like Jacqueline Pearce's could salvage the situation).

And the characterization... [Shudder] Avon is given several, um, interesting bits of background, each of which struck me as more wildly implausible than the next. And everybody -- absolutely *everybody* -- gets to be a complete idiot. I mean, the sheer amount of idiocy that is required to make the plot work is absolutely staggering. Admittedly, Out Protagonists have proven themselves capable of some less-than-shining intellectual moments, but if they were *this* dumb, they'd've never survived the first season (hell, they probably wouldn't have survived to *adulthood*, not in the B7 universe).

Oh, there's also the fact that the technology (e.g. the way FTL travel works) bears absolutely no resemblence to the way anything worked on the show. ("Sevenfold Crown" suffers from that a bit, too, but it's much more egregious here, and large portions of the plot hinge on the details about "hyperspace" -- a word that I don't think was ever even used on the show.) But that's a fairly minor point by comparison.

I paid $5 for this one, used, and, hey, it was probably worth that much just for the chuckle factor (and so I could at least say that I'd heard it), but I'm *very* glad I didn't pin too many hopes on this one...

Hmm, OK, maybe that wasn't a very "mini" review, after all... :)

Last changed on 17th of April 2001

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