“UFO” was a short-lived sci-fi fantasy TV series created by Gerry & Sylvia Anderson. The premise of the show was that the governments of the nations of the Earth discover that a dying, extraterrestrial civilization has been paying clandestine visits to Earth with the sole purpose of kidnapping & killing humans to harvest their body parts. The United Nations authorizes and funds a highly secretive international organization nicknamed SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organiztion) to combat the alien threat.
Under the command of Colonel Ed Straker (played by Ed Bishop), SHADO creates several different means of protecting Earth from the aliens:
1. A sosphistaced underground computerized headquarters pretending to be a major film studio in the heart of London.
2. A manned base on the moon (called Moonbase) armed with three fighters to attack UFOs before they reach Earth.
3. A sophisticated control & radar tracking satellite called SID (Space Intruder Detector) orbiting the Earth to detect incoming UFOs.
4. A fleet of submarine fighter carriers (called Skydivers) called upon to attack UFOs in Earth’s atmosphere should the Moonbase fighters fail to destroy UFOs in space. Each Skydiver is capable of launching a single fighter called Sky One (or using some other numbered designation).
5. A fleet of sophisticated armored personnel carriers called Mobiles to seek out and destroy UFOs that manage to land.
6. Other support craft like moon rovers, the Lunar Module (used to shuttle Moonbase personnel between the Earth & moon), and other support aircraft.
The 26 episodes of the series focus on several recurring themes:
1. SHADO’s continual attempts to avert the alien’s plans & attacks.
2. The various ways in which the aliens attempt to destroy SHADO or its commander, Colonel Ed Straker.
3. The effect that being a SHADO operative has on one’s personal life, often focusing on Straker’s personal life, but also Colonel Paul Foster’s (played by Michael Billington).
4. SHADO’s attempts to obtain more information about the aliens.
5. Security threats to the secrecy of SHADO.
6. Ongoing funding issues for very costly SHADO expenses (usually battles between Straker and General Henderson, played by Grant Taylor).
“UFO” very much has the look, music and feel of the 1960′s, since that is when it was filmed: the infamous purple wigs that female Moonbase personnel wear, the occasional hippy party, the exuberant use of bright colors in homes and go-go boots. None of that takes away from the quality of the writing. The dialog may not have always been top notch, but the consistency with the plot as well as the revisiting of previous storylines made for a very engaging, character-driven series. In comparison with the Anderson’s later TV series “Space 1999″, “UFO” was far more consistent and interesting. “Space 1999″, which was originally set to be the second season of “UFO”, never achieved the same level of character development or consistency, though its special effects were improved.
The 26 “UFO” episodes are as follows:
2. “Computer Affair”.
3. “Flight Path”.
7. “The Dalotek Affair”.
8. “A Question of Priorities”.
10. “The Square Triangle”.
11. “Court Martial”.
12. “Close Up”.
13. “Confetti Check A.O.K.”.
14. “The Responsibility Seat”.
16. “Kill Straker!”.
17. “Sub Smash”.
18. “The Sound of Silence”.
19. “The Cat With Ten Lives”.
21. “The Man Who Came Back”.
22. “The Psychobombs”.
23. “Reflections in the Water”.
26. “The Long Sleep”.
People who are more accustomed to expensive, computerized special effects of today may not enjoy “UFO” as much because its special effects are far less sophisticated; but don’t let the lack of funds and lack of technology spoil your enjoyment of this well made TV series. Overall, I rate “The Complete UFO Megaset” with 5 out of 5 stars. Other memorable characters in the series include Col. Alex Freeman (George Sewell), Col. Virginia Lake (Wanda Ventham), Lt. Gay Ellis (Gabrielle Drake), Gen. James Henderson (Grant Taylor, 1917-1971), Nina Barry (Dolores Mantez) and SID (voice of Mel Oxley).
Was this review helpful to you?
“UFO” had one of the most dynamic title sequences in television history. A great theme song, with a jazzy organ and brass group playing the theme and some fantastic editing of the notable Gerry Anderson FX cut with a teletype machine giving you facts about the SHADO organisation (well, it is British!) and the faces of the lead characters, finishing with the interceptors destroying a UFO right on beat!
But beyond that, the show itself was an interesting one. It’s funny seeing it now, since we’re much farther away from the futuristic year of 1980 than the people who made it were at the time! Cars with gullwing doors, guys (and even doctors!) wearing Nehru suits. And, of course, an established base on the Moon, (complete with girls in Nancy Sinatra white go-go boots, silver lamé jumpsuits and pastel purple wigs!) to prevent evil aliens from invading.
It’s clearly a late 60s view of the early 80s, and that makes this series fascinating enough and tacky enough to recommend on its own!
Beyond that, this DVD collection has a lot going for it. In addition to all of the episodes, carefully preserved by A&E, you get some bonus deleted scenes and/or other fx on each one of the eight disc collection. And the stories themselves are intriguing as they are improbable, so that’s pretty entertaining!
It may not be Gerry Anderson’s most famous work (cult kids classic, “The Thunderbirds” and “Space: 1999″ are sure to be better known), but I think it’s the best of the bunch!
I was surprised at how well this show has held up over the years. The special effects are often spectacular even by today’s standards (I’d much rather see good model work than poor computer animation any day). The scripts are inventive and moody. The drama is occasionally great, but sometimes is cliche and serves as a distraction from the plot unlike, say original trek where the drama was a natural extension of the plot. The outdated view of the future is actually part of the charm, but also, if one considers that the future they were attempting to project was only 12 years off, perhaps it isn’t that outdated after all. I found no rascism or sexism in this series however, unlike some overly sensitive viewers here (the freedom for women to bare their bodies was considered part of their “liberation” in the late 60s). In fact, the show sports an attractive female colonel who is taken seriously by her colleagues.