First broadcast in the UK in 1970, the classic Gerry and Sylvia Anderson series UFO is available in yet another collection. This latest outing includes all 26 stories over 8 DVDs, and follows the production order, rather than any of the alternatives such as the broadcast order, or the Fanderson recommended order. For those who need the details, the production order is the same as the Fanderson except (as per this release) the episode Survival is fourth and Exposed is fifth. Episodes are in 4:3 format and have (at some point) been digitally remastered. There is also some evidence this is a repackaging of an older Carlton release.
For those who don’t know, UFO focuses on the alien fighting organisation SHADO run by Ed Straker (Ed Bishop) with a secret HQ below a film studio, a moon base, an underwater vessel (Skydiver) whose front section can launch as a jet interceptor, and a satellite monitoring device SID (Space Intruder Detector). It was a live action series as opposed to previous successes such as Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. The premise is alien invasion, with SHADO tasked with keeping the aliens secret while defending the Earth and finding out what the invaders are up to. The latter two are somewhat at odds - it’s hard to interrogate an alien after you’ve blown his ship up!
The show was a step-up for the Andersons; the use of live actors meant better effects, full-scale props and striking costume designs all bringing a distinct look to the show. The subject matter was more adult as well, in some cases particularly so. Apart from Ed Bishop, the regular cast appeared in various episodes, with George Sewell and Michael Billington prominent as second-in-command Col Alec Freeman and Col Paul Foster respectively. As an aside, the episode order switch between Survival and Exposed concerns Col Foster joining SHADO in the Exposed episode, just after featuring in the episode Survival!
To a large extent UFO is still very watchable (and looks great thanks to the restoration), even if effects have moved on considerably in the past several decades. The music works, the costumes are memorable and even if some of the future looks rather dated now, the stories themselves are still strong and this boxset is a superb way to remember UFO or become a new fan. At less than £15 at the time of writing, this is a tremendous value for anyone. Highly recommended!
UFO / DIRECTOR: GERRY ANDERSON / SCREENPLAY: GERRY ANDERSON, SYLVIA ANDERSON / STARRING: KEITH ALEXANDER, HARRY BAIRD, MICHAEL BILLINGTON, ED BISHOP / CERT: PG / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW