UFO episode reviews... [spoilers]

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Klaus, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. QuasarVM

    QuasarVM Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I thought that was a great idea too! Very original...

    Any of you guys rich enough to get the ball rolling on this remake?

    :lol:
     
  2. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ...btw I should have the first review up later tonight... they synopsis is done.
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  3. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Hugh Jackman, then?
     
  4. ITL

    ITL Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was an avid UFO fan when it originally aired, when I was a kid. I even had the toy Interceptor - which for some reason was green....

    It's being re-aired on digital TV over here at the moment. Good nostalgia.

    And I'd love to see a remake!
     
  5. WillsBabe

    WillsBabe Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Sold! :D
     
  6. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    OK, an actual review for the review thread!! :D

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    “Identified”

    This introductory episode begins in 1970, a decade before the main period of the show.

    We see a landed UFO and a man and two women taking video of it, and then being hunted down by unseen killers, including some FPS-style shots from the alien’s POV… one woman is shot, the guy gets away, and the teaser ends with the other woman screaming as the aliens close in.

    This incident and others like it, including a number of abductions, prompts the world’s major powers to convene a series of meetings on how to coordinate their response. US military officers Col. Straker and Gen. Henderson land in England on the way to a conference in London, and show a British official pictures from the video camera confirming that this was indeed an alien ship. The car is attacked by a UFO and crashes… Straker escapes serious injury but Henderson is badly hurt.

    Now we move to 1980, and the SHADO [Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation] command facility under Harlington-Straker film studios is operational. The idea of having the headquarters under a film studio is to disguise strange goings-on and large projects easily. The studio makes real films and those working there do not know what goes on under their feet. In true Thunderbirds fashion Straker’s entire office is an entrance, sinking underground when the proper voice-print ID has been given.

    One of the purposes of this episode is to introduce to SHADO’s far-flung web of bases and vehicles built at great expense over a decade for Earth’s defense. We get our first glimpse of both the legendary purple-wigged women of Moonbase and the submarine/fighter hybrid called Skydiver… a sub where the front end is a jet which splits off and launches from underwater into the air to pursue UFOs in the atmosphere. [Straker mentions a “fleet of submarines” but in most episodes we only see one.] The captain of Skydiver [and the pilot of the fighter, Sky One] is Peter Carlin, the same guy who took the video in the teaser ten year before and has a picture on his cabin wall of the other woman last seen as the aliens closed in, his sister who has not been seen since that night. Moonbase serves as the forward tracking station and also hosts a trio of space fighters called Interceptors, each armed with a massive missile in the nose. We also meet SID, the Space Intruder Detector, a computer-controlled satellite in Earth orbit which coordinates the tracking of UFOs and calculates the attack vectors.

    Moonbase:
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    Interceptors:
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    SID:
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    Skydiver:
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    Sky One:
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    Meeting the main characters is of course the other focus of a pilot, and besides the acerbic Col. Ed Straker, we are also introduced to his second-in-command Col. Alec Freeman, one of Straker’s oldest and closest friends. Freeman is a skilled pilot and also quite the galloping Bond-esque ladies’ man… his schmoozing of Straker’s secretary Miss Eyland when we first see them made my friend and I immediately dub her “Moneypenny” for the rest of the series. [That will lead to a great moment later on but I’ll save that ‘til it happens :D ] We also meet Moonbase commander Lt. Ellis, the most pneumatic of the purple-wigged lunar ladies, and get an infamous sequence in the dressing-area of her switching from her catsuit leggings to a metallic silver skirt which would give Bill Theiss pause… :eek:.

    Col. Ed Straker:
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    Col. Alec Freeman:
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    Lt. Gay Ellis:
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    Lt. Nina Barry:
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    Lt. Joan Harrington:
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    Capt. Peter Carlin:
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    The B-story centers on alien efforts to stop SHADO from getting a crucial new piece of technology, a “eutronics” radar device which will make it possible to detect incoming UFOs at a much greater range. The aliens have evidently attacked the factory where the array was made, but luckily the device had already been completed and was no longer there… now SHADO needs to fly it from the US to England so it can be launched to Moonbase, and Straker fears the aliens will try to intercept the flight. Alec Freeman is assigned to personally fly the uber-cool SHADO SST carrying the eutronics array and its design team, demonstrating both Straker’s faith in him and the importance of the mission. We get a classic bit of Freeman-as-Bond when one of the team proves to be comely Virginia Lake [who will ironically replace him as 2nd in command later in the series] and his eye-rolling pickup line is that for the first time in his career he wishes he were flying subsonic aircraft so the trip would last longer… :lol:

    A UFO promptly appears on an inbound course, and we get the first Interceptor scramble as the trajectory’s termination is confirmed to be the North Atlantic. The Interceptors fire a brace of missiles but the UFO just squeaks through and continues on to Earth. Now it’s all up to Skydiver, and we get our initial glimpse of Sky One blasting off from the sub and leaping from the water into the air. After some cat-and-mouse play with Freeman and the SST in the clouds, Captain Carlin blasts the UFO with a nice shot from Sky One’s rocket pods and it splashes trailing some lovely orange smoke. Straker orders him to do a flyover to make sure, and he spots a space-suited alien body floating in the debris.

    The alien proves to have survived the crash, and they find it to be a humanoid in a suit containing an oxygenated liquid – not its natural state but a modification made to offset the stresses of the prolonged massive rate of acceleration needed to travel between worlds. Freeman and Straker mention that we’ve been looking at the idea but they’ve evidently perfected it – which is a fascinating tidbit that is never mentioned again lol. The doctors manage to revert the alien to air-breathing but exposure to our atmosphere causes him to age rapidly and he dies.

    The subsequent autopsy reveals that as some have suspected, the alien has been the recipient of multiple organ transplants from human donors. Straker says the report suggests them to be a dying race, now sterile and trying to prolong and renew themselves with human body parts. As a last interesting-but-nasty twist, one of the alien’s donors proves to have been Carlin’s sister from the opener, and though he grieves as Straker gives him the bad news, he at least has closure now and knows he has avenged her to at least some degree.

    ---

    This pilot episode covers a lot of ground, which prevents it from getting too deeply into any of the characters under the burden of showing us so many of the cool toys they all get to play with and how SHADO’s operations work in general. As is often the case the first time out of the box, the actors come across as a little stiff while learning what makes their characters tick… other than Straker’s tightly-wound drive and hard-ass style, and Freeman’s seeming intent to woo every female in sight we don’t learn much yet. The infamous changing scene and Lt. Ellis applying make-up at her command post are the type of things we won’t see again and make me wonder if they were thrown in to get ITV to buy it lol… though the off-duty femtominiskirts will continue to put in an appearance from time to time.

    One obvious thought about the show’s general arc – there are some serious security problems, with the aliens able to identify particular defense plants for attack and pinpoint the location of key personnel in cars and aircraft. This would imply either aliens passing as humans or humans working for aliens, knowingly or otherwise, and the latter will prove to be one of the show’s ongoing themes. We see Straker chewing out someone for an inadvertent press leak, which will also be one of his constant worries.

    The fact that the Interceptors carry only a one-shot missile has long been hooted at by some, and the only sensible analogy I can come up with is a WW2-era torpedo bomber – not the most efficient mode of attack but one which can sink a capital ship with the right shot. I don’t think Skydiver makes a whole lot of technical sense, but as a way to project airpower anywhere while maintaining secrecy it works quite well -- and it’s just simply so fracking cool that I don’t care how silly it seems at times. :D

    The smoking and drinking by everyone involved is perhaps the show’s most dated aspect, though one I find personally hilarious… not only do they smoke in SHADO Control but aboard the submarines and on Moonbase!! :lol: priceless…. Straker has an autobar in his office which dispenses liquor on command – he doesn’t drink but Freeman is often imbibing on duty, sometimes with Straker handing him the glass! [Ed Straker may be a hardass but hey, I really need to find a boss who hand me drinks at the job and sends me to work with hot women in purple wigs and minskirts…]

    On a cool sidenote, the SHADO lunar module launches from a VTOL mothership not unlike the White Knight which Virgin Galactic is using to launch its suborbital flights... probably the first use on UK or US TV of a spacecraft launching from aircraft.

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    So overall I’d give it a solidly middling grade – it does what it has to do and lays the groundwork for many of the series’ important themes, such as making sure the various parts of the defense network come together to fight various alien strategies, keeping SHADO’s operations secret from the aliens and the public, Straker as a demanding boss, efforts to decipher the aliens’ physiology and motivations, and the personal demands and costs of keeping the world safe from an implacable foe.

    ---

    Next up: “Computer Affair” …did a Moonbase romance lead to an astronaut’s death? Stay tuned!
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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2009
  7. aelius

    aelius Commander Red Shirt

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    Count me in on the "remake would be cool" side. I enjoyed UFO a lot when I was a kid, and still enjoyed it whenever I have managed to catch reruns.
    One thing about the aliens being humanoid though. In one of the last eps the "creepy doctor" (that's great) examined the body of an alien and found it was entirely human, leading to speculation that the aliens might be using entire human bodies as hosts for their consciousness'. I thought that was very creepy.
     
  8. WillsBabe

    WillsBabe Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Hey! Don't be spoiling our fun by actually getting back on topic... j/k.

    Great review. You've made me want to watch a couple of discs and get out the UFO coffee table book I found a couple of years back.
     
  9. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    A good review, and a nice synopsis of the episode. Also, you link to the 'infamous sequence', so you've got your priorities right!:techman:

    BTW, it's been a while since I've seen this episode. Am I right in thinking that, after Straker gives Carlin the news about his sister, we get a voice over from Straker mentioning the illnesses that the aliens suffer? As I recall, one of them was 'hereditary sterility'. How, exactly, would that work? "I can't have any kids, because my parents couldn't":lol:.
     
  10. LaxScrutiny

    LaxScrutiny Commodore Commodore

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    Absolutely awesome review!! Thanks!

    I loved this show as a kid, I'm going to keep my eye out for the DVD's now. I'll be watching this thread regularly for new episodes.
     
  11. QuasarVM

    QuasarVM Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Now I'm gonna have to pull out my UFO DVDs...:bolian:
     
  12. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    He does use that line, in reading from the autopsy report in his office. That is quite an oxymoron, unless it means that something has made this generation of the aliens able to procreate but not have fertile offspring? It's definitely an odd construction lol.

    ty for the encouragement all, I'll have the next one up a little quicker I hope... I only have 5 episodes left on my initial watching but I'm viewing them again before doing the reviews.
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  13. Ptrope

    Ptrope Agitator Moderator

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    I'd forgotten that the "infamous scene" was shot in the mirror of the cubicle where the other girl was dressing. Clever!
     
  14. The Squire of Gothos

    The Squire of Gothos Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Great stuff, I remember catching it lunchtimes on UTV (ITV for Northern Ireland) as a kid.

    There was so much wierdness, I'm surprised I wasn't freaked out more by it. The autopsy scene in the credits (pulling something off someone's eye) and I remember the scene where they tried to get the alien to breathe air too.

    The models really spoiled us too, par for the course for a Gerry Anderson series. But why has nobody mentioned the mobiles?!
     
  15. WillsBabe

    WillsBabe Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In the fake Roswell Autopsy footgate (and let's assume it is), I wonder if that's where they got the idea for lifting something off the Grey's eye? :eek:
     
  16. Marc

    Marc Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Think it's something akin to a contact lense but can't remember if was so they could see when on earth or someting do with being able to see in the atmosphere suits.
     
  17. Australis

    Australis Writer Admiral

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    Thanks for this. UFO was one of my favourite shows as a teen. And I had the die cast Interceptor AND the Mobile. Looked real good on my bookshelf :D.

    I also think it would be a GREAT show to revive, it already had that darkness they push in BSG, compared to cheesy oldBSG.

    One thing would have to change: the Interceptors would have to carry more than one missile. Better to make the Interceptor a pilotless drone.

    That treatment for UFO2 was pretty cool as well (Michael Winter did it, isn't he some big noise?).

    Now to get back to my idea for reviving Stingray...
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2009
  18. McCoy

    McCoy Commodore Commodore

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    No mention yet of the only thing I wanted in real life after watching this show...Straker's car! :D
     
  19. The Squire of Gothos

    The Squire of Gothos Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And there's a surprising amount out there on it too.

    Sounds like a surprisingly expensive prop, the body was made from hand beaten aluminium.
     
  20. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The contact lens was to protect the eye from the oxygenated liquid they were breathing in the suits... :D

    ...and the mobiles will figure heavily in the next review. Hope to have that up very soon.

    According to wiki:

    And personally I like Foster's car better than Straker's... :D

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