Incredibly so ... plus downright dips its toes into religion as manifestly evident.
Which is something even the original BSG (AKA Mormons in Space) didn't stoop to. I mean the big reveal of the Minbari surrender? And it constantly resurfacing and made the central premise of one of the films?
I wasn't aware that religion being "manifestly evident" was a case of "stooping." There's plenty of examples in fiction. And if we're talking about Battlestar Galactica, the rebooted series does it, and is stronger for it.
About the best thing of the show is Londo and G'kar. And G'kar only because it was constantly entertaining melodrama... and Londo because who doesn't love the Space French?
Disagree it was melodrama. Both of them have layers, and both of their conflicts are about tangible issues existing in their universe, that extend to their races as a whole. B5 doesn't shy from conveying the horrific effects of war (including planetary bombardment), with such effects extending to planetary occupation.
It also doesn't help that the characters are boring.
Disagree that we're boring. Also, if we're playing the comparison game, Blake's 7 has a case of a selection of interesting characters, and tepid supporting ones. Every crew member of Serenity has some level of nuance. You can't say the same for the crew of the Liberator.
Whedon wanted a show about anti-heroes, but what we got after backseat management by showrunners is a shitty universe, with boring characters, with tropish sci-fi nonsense, in a setting not built to handle it and requiring far more character-centric development that could never be hoped for.
Completely disagree with that.
But a key part of that chugging along was a universe that was invariably huge. EACH episode being self-conbtainedstories helped detail a livinguniverse where trillions are enslaved, drugs, have face technological regression, or mind-numbing highs of rogue scientific development.
Ever heard the saying "wide as an ocean, deep as a puddle?"
Blake's 7 takes place over the galaxy, but it's broadly sketched. Any details are gained almost entirely from inference. There's no sense of planetary geography, and it doesn't help that again, the effects can't keep up with the universe. Funnily enough, a factory of the Federation looks exactly like it does in the 1970s, and quarries are still the de facto environment for confrontations.
Like the Tachyon funnel that can just obliterate people, planets, suns ... Blake's 7 is a frightening universe where technology cannot exist morally, and where there are so many people that arguably the Federation just represents any late stage economic system struggling under the weight of growing nepotism and massive megacivilization for which no idealism can hope to survive beond constant rebellion and violent malcontent.
Which is entirely speculative.
Lots of planets are shown to exist outside the control of the Federation, and a lot of them are shown to have apparently regressed technologically. The Federation, if it represents anything, is "space fascists." The Federation is bad, because fascism is bad.
And that is made all the more clear by looking at the character progression of Blake himself and his eventual death ...
Um, what character development?
Granted, haven't seen series 3, but Blake, of what I've seen, is in the same psychological standpoint as he was at the start - anti-hero, shades of grey, willing to do extreme things to topple the Federation. Maybe more extreme at the end, but that's about it.
That any attempt to control and maintain law and order in a place like B7's universe is invariably going to be violently opposed, or be a violent and lawless place by its own hand. And I think that's a far more accurate and realistic portrayal of interplanetary colonization than whatever Firefly tries to present itself as.
First of all, that statement can just as readily be applied to Firefly, where the Outer Planets are rough living in of themselves, or in the case of the Unification War, violently oppose "law and order."
Also, if we want to get into realism, Blake's 7 is far removed from that. We have FTL travel, aliens (who conventionally look exactly like humans), the idea of pre-determined evolutionary pathways), teleportation, etc. And if we want to look at the Federation, it's little different from the Empire in Star Wars - galaxy spanning empire that does very bad things, and is so huge that there's little room for nuance.
Firefly, on the other hand, even discounting its more down to earth technology, depicts a universe that's much more akin to our own. There's a setting of haves and have-nots, where the have-nots, with a government that isn't over the top evil, but will do what it thinks is best (often for itself). Or to put it another way, the Alliance in Firefly could be said to have parallels with any number of real-world governments. The Federation of Blake's 7 has more in common with 1984.
Yes, B7 has an invariably complex, weird, oddly disjointed universe on its own... but then again, you can say the same thing about our lives on Earth.
Earth has defined geography, with defined international relations, and defined cultures. Blake's 7 has "the Federation" controlling "the galaxy." That's it.
And fine, no fictional universe will ever match the detail of the real-world, but B7 doesn't work in detail. We can make inferences about the setting, but at least in the context of the series, it's an amorphous, ill-defined one.
The nature of the Alliance in Firefly is convenient. Sure, the Alliance is more 'nuanced' ... but realistically what sort of nuance do you actually see in reality? The nuance between Spanish soldiers in the Philippines and the 'nuance' of the U.S. soldiers and its violent colonization immediately afterwards under the auspicesof 'liberation'?
Usually adding moral ambiguity is the opposite of convenient. It would be easy to paint the Alliance as "the bad guys," but it doesn't.
And reality is nuanced. There isn't a single conflict in the world's history that doesn't have layers of nuance. History (as a subject) exists for a reason, to gain an understanding of truth, as best as we can define it.
The dialogue about the Alliance is convenient ... whereas the idea of law and order, and corruption of the Federation in B7, is, entirely, more realistic to what humans face on a daily basis. On this planet. Right now and recent history.
The opposite is true. There's no equivalent to the Federation in real-world history. There's no single-world government. The Federation is this amorphous "thing" that exists in B7. It has some levels of nuance, but only in the context that it might be a necessary evil (per Andromeda), and that there's at least some good people that exist inside it. The Alliance can have any number of parallels between colonial powers and colonies, or the international power structure (since the Alliance stemmed from the US and China), or within a country itself (Old West in the US). The setting of Firefly is representative of human history and power structure. The Federation is something purely out of science fiction.
And again, I'll reiterate, we know exactly how the Alliance came to be. How, when, and why Earth was abandoned, how 'the Verse was discovered and colonized, how the GEA became the Alliance, and how, when, and why the Unification War began and ended. With the Federation, we know extremely little, only that this is some undefined time in the future with a galaxy spanning empire that's tyrannical. How, when, and why this came to pass are questions that are never answered.
B7 is clearly written in a time and tone of reference where the common Briton was internalizing the truth of its colonization and imperialistic history. The fact that the British were not going to be remembered fondly. When all the false narratives of things like Malayan revolutionary movements and widespread anti-British sentiments were suddenly being reported more honestly and interpreted and displayed more truthfully on British television sets.
And it shows...
Um, how? There's barely any parallels between the Federation and the British Empire. There's barely any parallels between the Federation and any historical empire. It would be arguably impossible to, if we assume that the Federation is indeed the power that colonizes the galaxy, with said galaxy being pretty empty of non-human life. There's evidence that there might have been some kind of prior colonization (given how often the crew encounter low-technology societies - maybe they regressed?), but that's not analogous to colonization, with one power establishing control over a separate, previously unrelated power.
Also, there's no real sense of false narrative. If anything, the series leaves it open to the idea that the Federation may be a necessary evil, that Blake's rebellion might do more harm than good. Countries that achieved independence from the British empire probably benefitted from the divorce in the long run, and we don't have to worry about the equivalent of Andromedans threatening anything.