Cleveland Amory, March 10, 1973
"Have you ever thought," one character asks in the premier episode here, "about the victims of UFO incidents - their loved ones, brothers, sisters?" Frankly, we never had, but now, having been a victim of this show, we see no reason to confine our thoughts to loved ones, brothers and sisters. There's trouble enough here even for total strangers. And, speaking of strangers, UFO is one more of those syndication jobs made in England. When we were a boy, in the days of The Forsyte Saga, "Made in England" used to stand for something. Now it seems to stand for I-can-get-it-for-you-wholesale.
Not that the younger set won't find plenty to like here - they will. It's all very futuristic - it takes place in 1980 - and full of terrific hardware: a submarine which launches airplanes, a Moon Base complete with buglike moon mobiles, a Space intruder Detector called SID for short, etc. The trouble comes with the software - the people, the stories and the dialogue. Cdr. Edward Straker (Ed Bishop) is the star - at least he's the crossest of the group. In any case, with him - or at least not actively against him - is a plaster cast consisting of Col. Alec Freeman (George Sewell), Col. Paul Foster (Michael Billington), the captain of the Seagull X-Ray craft (Peter Gordeno) and the girl in charge of Moon Base Control, Lt. Gay Ellis (Gabrielle Drake). All of them go around saying things like "Right," "Roger," "Wait here," and "I'll be back."
All these people work for something called SHADO, which stand for Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organization, and is enough to put you immediately on the side of the other guys (who, by way, are green-faced, have pink eyes and breathe liquid). To combat them, the girls on our side wear purple hair. The first episode revolved around the aliens running short on on vital organs - you know, things like hearts, livers, lungs, thyroid glands - so they came down to kind of an earth supermarket. "They look upon us," one of our guys said, "not with animosity but with callousness, the way we look upon animals." In another episode, Colonel Foster is apparently captured by alien people who un-air him and make him breathe liquid. In the nick of time, our guys rescue him and re-air him only to find out the whole thing was a dream. In still another show, a guy, wounded and helpless against an alien is befriend by the alien, who, when human rescuers come is shot.
The idea that anything in outer space must be an enemy is perhaps one of the most offensive things here. But it's got a lot of company. For one thing, the violence - it's laid on with a trowel. For another thing, although we are told that race prejudice burned itself out "five years ago," outer space, even in 1980, is still crawling with male chauvinist pigs. In fairness, though, some of the girls do have very important jobs. One of them, dressed in a silver-mesh leotard catsuit, had the job of checking boosters. She sure had all the right equipment.
Transcribed for the SHADO Library and Archives by D.A. Rorabaugh.
U.F.O. is the © and property of ITV Studios Global Entertainment and used for promotional purposes only.
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