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Is Syfy Planning A Darker ‘Blake’s 7’?

Backdoor pilot route is similar to what channel did for ‘Battlestar Galactica’


Since the end of “Battlestar Galactica,” Syfy has been looking for a way to recapture the critical acclaim it received for that remake, but just couldn’t seem to find the right franchise to make it work.

But now the cable channel has a major prospect in its scope, and it was one even back in the late 1970s was unafraid to kill off main characters and try something completely different.

Syfy is set to do a remake of “Blake’s 7,” a so-called “Dirty Dozen in space” that Terry Nation developed for BBC in 1978. Nation is the creator of the Daleks in “Doctor Who,” and created a handful of science-fiction series on his own before his death in 1997.

Joe Pokaski has scripted the potential backdoor pilot, with Martin Campbell in line to direct, according to Deadline.com. Pokaski, who currently works as a supervising producer and writer for “CSI” on CBS, earned some genre street cred as a writer and supervising producer for NBC’s “Heroes,” scripting 10 episodes of the series. He got his start in 2006 with another of Tim Kring’s series, “Crossing Jordan.”

Campbell is a television director-turned-film director responsible for hits such as “GoldenEye,” “Green Lantern” and “Casino Royale.” He most recently directed the pilot for “Last Resort,” a new ABC series from “The Shield” creator Shawn Ryan.

In its original run, “Blake’s 7” lasted four seasons and 52 episodes, and was based on a team led by Roj Blake, a political dissident who uses a ship to fight a group known as the Federation, which has taken control of Earth and its colonies. The number refers to the people who man the crew, a crew that changed more often than not through Nation’s liberal use of character deaths. That kind of work, uncommon for television at the time (and for decades after), meant that anyone could be axed at any time.

While the series may not be popular to younger and American audiences, it was an inspiration for a lot of dysfunctional science-fiction in later years, including “Farscape,” “Andromeda,” “Firefly” and even the remake of “Battlestar Galactica.”

But what would a new “Blake’s 7” entail? According to some reports, Syfy may try and take a darker path like it successfully did with “Battlestar Galactica,” and try to create a new flagship program. Syfy is pinning a lot on its upcoming new series “Defiance,” which is complemented with a massively multiplayer online game, but has not been able to prove it can create successful modern versions of sci-fi classics since “Battlestar.”

The pilot is being producer by Georgeville Television, which recently sold “Crossbones” to NBC as a mid-season replacement. The shingle is a new one led by Leon Clarance (who provides financing to Reliance Entertainment) and Marc Rosen.

The revival has been more than a dozen years in the making. Producer Andrew Mark Sewell acquired the “Blake’s 7” rights from the Nation estate in 2000 with the idea of creating a continuation. After a few starts and stops, Britain’s Sky1 (which co-financed the first season of Syfy’s “Battlestar Galactica”) ordered two 60-minute scripts as a potential pilot for a new series in 2008. However, the scripts were never produced, and Sky1 officially pulled the plug in 2010.

Sewell recently sold the rights to Georgeville.

No timetable has been set, but it’s likely a pilot could film early next year and be available to air as a Syfy December miniseries at the end of 2013, geared to start as a potential series in 2014.

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