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09.29.2016
UFO: The Complete Series (1970)
Movie Review by The Gravedigger
03.16.08

UFO: The Complete Series (1970) Gerry Anderson's first live-action series, still has the feel of THE THUNDERBIRDS series, particularly with the models of spacecraft and miniatures. You can also see the influence this show had on the "look" of SPACE 1999, which was done four years later, especially with the shots of the moon, the moonbase and the Interceptor ships, which are a precursor to the Eagles.

The series takes place in the "future", 1980/81, so it's the early 70's take on what life would be like a decade in the future. They have car phones, more futuristic looking cars, bases on the moon and also very odd clothes and hairstyles. For example, it's never explained why all the women workers on the moon base wear these identical purple wigs, other than that it's "space fashion".

SHADO is a world-wide secret organization created to deal with the threat of UFO's which have been visiting the Earth for some mysterious purpose. In the first episode we're introduced to the people who work there and also we see one of the aliens close-up. They wear red spacesuits, are entirely human looking except for their green-skinned faces, which is due to the green liquid they breath when traveling at high speeds in space. When we see aliens in later episodes they have normal flesh colored hands and green faces. They also don't speak.

The leader of SHADO is Commander Straker (Ed Bishop), who really comes off as an a-hole the first few episodes, until we see flashbacks scenes that make it understandable why he behaves like he does. There's also his right hand man Alec Freeman (George Sewell) who disappears 2/3 into the series and is replaced by Paul Foster (Michael Billington) and a female Colonel.

At first it's believed the aliens are here to harvest human organs, as some of the alien bodies show these transplants. Then, they are able to control humans via radio waves and these strange clear rocks. There's even an episode when they are spying on SHADO through the eyes of a cat. In another episode Straker and Foster find a domed building under the ocean that is filled with SHADO's doubles. It's not clear if they are exact duplicates or just made to look that way. Their ships and bodies can't take Earth's atmosphere for long periods of time or they'll age and disintegrate. In other episodes they try to release a deadly gas into the atmosphere, which would kill all life and in another set off bombs that cause earthquakes and kill thousands. So, do they want to harvest humans or just kill them off? It remained unclear up through the last episode.

For the most part the show comes off as a spy drama and an inordinate amount of time is spent with the characters smoking (while they are working, while they are at the moonbase, on ships, et cetera) and drinking (there's an alcohol dispensing machine in Straker's office!). And, of course, the affairs between all the co-workers. Also, I thought it a little weird that for being a top secret organization SHADO has their name written in large letters on the sides of their advanced vehicles and spacecraft.

Still, UFO is one of those television shows to check out just for its weirdness--and entertainment value.

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