The DVD Hut
The first thirteen episodes from Gerry Anderson's sci-fi series. In 'Identified' an aircraft carrying Alec Freeman comes under threat from a UFO. 'Computer Affair' finds Straker wondering whether Gay and Mark's relationship might be endangering the Earth's defences. 'Flight Path' sees Straker uncover an alien plot to attack the moon. 'Survival' has Foster on the trail of a lone alien assassin at work on the moon's surface. In 'Exposed' Foster begins to suspect a cover-up after he sights some UFO activity while piloting a test plane. 'Conflict' sees the chairman of the International Astrophysical Commission attempt to pull the plug on SHADO's operations. 'The Dalotek Affair' has Foster become suspicious of the Dalotek installation when video blackouts start occurring on the moon. 'A Question of Priorities' finds Straker forced to choose between his son's well-being and the integrity of the Earth's defences. 'Ordeal' sees Foster beaten senseless by some aliens in a sauna. 'The Responsibility Seat' has journalist Jo Fraser obtain some sensitive information when she bugs Straker's office. In 'The Square Triangle' an alien interrupts Liz Newton's secret rendezvous with her lover Cass Fowler. 'Court Martial' sees Straker and Freeman try to save Foster from sentence of death. And finally, 'Close Up' finds Straker plotting to send a probe to the Alien home planet.
UFO was Gerry Anderson's first live-action TV series after a decade of producing such children's animated classics as Stingray (1963) and Thunderbirds (1964). The premise of UFO, which ran for a single season of 26 episodes, was like a more serious version of Anderson's Captain Scarlet (1967)--in the near future of 1980 a hi-tech secret organisation, SHADO, waged covert war against mysterious alien attackers. Ed Bishop played the American head of SHADO--he had had previously featured in Captain Scarlet and Anderson's Doppelganger (1969)--though in all other respects this was a thoroughly British production. As with all Anderson series UFO evidenced remarkable technological inventiveness and groundbreaking production values, coupled with startling lapses in fundamental logic too numerous to list.
Much more adult in story and content than earlier Anderson productions, and surprisingly dark with its pragmatic view of human nature and downbeat endings, the show now seems like a forerunner of The X Files and the equally short-lived Dark Skies (1996). Barry Gray's memorable theme and atmospheric music greatly enhanced the overall impact. Stylishly made, though terribly sexist by current standards and featuring eye-catching costumes more fitted for a camp fancy dress party than the front line of a futuristic war, this cult classic eventually evolved into Space 1999 (1975).
On the DVD: this four-disc deluxe box features the first 13 episodes. The first disc includes an alternate, more violent opening scene, while later discs feature text transcriptions and photographs from scenes cut due to TV running time restrictions. All discs provide extensive galleries of publicity and behind the scenes photos, as well as character profiles or a history of SHADO. The opening episode, "Identified", features a commentary by Gerry Anderson, in which he talks in general about the production of the series and Ed Bishop does the same for the episode "Sub Smash". From the animated menus onwards these DVDs have been beautifully designed and produced. The mono sound is exceptionally strong and the restored and remastered picture is almost unbelievably good for a 1970 TV show. With barely a flaw anywhere the episodes look so clear, colourful and detailed that they could have been filmed last week. --Gary S Dalkin
These discs are Region 2 (PAL) format, and will work on all modern Australian & European DVD players. Your DVD player may need to be multi-region enabled in order to view this (most players in Australia are). Please check your player before purchasing.