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Librarian
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General Henderson
Apr 23rd, 2011 at 3:01pm
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General Henderson may be our favorite opposition character.
Share your thoughts on him here.
  

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Matt
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Re: General Henderson
Reply #1 - Apr 23rd, 2011 at 3:44pm
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General Henderson:
My Thoughts:

The constant conflict over SHADO finances by the irresistible force (Straker) against the immovable object (Henderson) is a staple in the UFO universe. Their battles over the monetary situation, is the stuff that legends are made of.

In fact I see these two men as being much more alike than either of them care to admit. I do believe that under the surface they have mutual respect and even admiration for one another, but that relationship is constantly strained by the very real needs of SHADO against a very real limit in financial resources. I see their battles as more of a stress relief than real adversity. The one exception would of course the episode Conflict where they both seemed to be on the opposite side of the coin. In the end, they realize how much they have in common. Straker offering to walk him to his car was very telling, at least to me.

In Timelash, Henderson called Straker SHADO’s most vital piece of manpower, with told me that his opinion of the Commander was still in the stratosphere despite the differences that the two men endured. He reaffirms that opinion in Mindbender when he mentions Straker’s dedication as being a monkey on his back. The statement was in fact a backhanded compliment.

Henderson is really in a much more difficult position than Straker as he has to justify the enormous expenditures, both operational and capital to the international community that is supporting the IAC. It’s a given fact that very few people outside the IAC would have knowledge of SHADO’s existence and Henderson is in a never ending battle of securing resources through countless black projects and creative accounting. (Why do you think the government pays ten thousand dollars for a toilet seat?)

In my work I use Deb’s back story with some twists. For instance Henderson knows Virginia Lake personally, having flown with her father during World War Two. He witnessed the UFO attack that killed Robert Lake and his crew on the return from the Dresden raid on February 14, 1945. But he insists that Virginia not tell Straker of the shared history. The reason will become clear in my rewrite of Soul Mates. I tone the rhetoric down between Henderson and Straker in my later stories as Straker starts to see some of life on the other side.
« Last Edit: Apr 23rd, 2011 at 11:00pm by Matt »  

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Re: General Henderson
Reply #2 - Apr 23rd, 2011 at 8:52pm
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For me, it made sense to give Straker and Henderson history dating back to well before Straker was even born. That gave them both a little extra conflict in that the 'boy' Henderson watched grow up and who he regarded almost as family turned so difficult when given responsibilty, and Straker having to go against the man he considered an uncle and who now wasn't being very supportive.

The respect between the characters is well played by Bishop and Taylor. You know the two characters are very much alike but they are seeing different things and their reactions are based on that, not any real personal issues.

There is one OOC scene with Henderson (I call it OOC) that seems to color some people's perceptions of Henderson. In Mindbender, Henderson says 'I thought he was going to finish me.'

It makes Henderson sound like a coward even though we know he's not. He stood his ground in the office.
  

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Re: General Henderson
Reply #3 - Apr 23rd, 2011 at 8:56pm
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WOW. I always thought of Henderson to be a thorn in Straker's side. I was always baffled by the their arguments as in Confetti Check A-OK they seemed to be cool with each other and then in Conflict they to appear to be at each other's throats.  Undecided
  

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Re: General Henderson
Reply #4 - Apr 23rd, 2011 at 9:33pm
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Nice analysis, Matt.  Cool

For me, it's another example of the Andersons maybe making things up as they went along. I can see that there's great scope for drama and conflict <giggle> by having Straker and Henderson go head-to-head. It's even necessary. If you think about it, most tv series do have main characters in conflict with each other. UFO didn't have that with the SHADO lead characters - well, apart maybe from Jackson but I'd argue a) he's not a main character and b) even that wasn't consistent as Straker seemed quite comfortable with Jackson later in the series. I don't even recollect Foster being that rebellious in behaviour. I may be forgetting something but he pretty much did as he was told. Even when ordered to go and pick up girls in the course of duty.  Wink Yes, Freeman criticised some of Straker's decisions but he was more playing the role of trusted confidant, not a peer challenging peer. His loyalty is never in question.

So I think Straker and Henderson supplied the much needed "conflict" but the Andersons never explicitly told us what had happened to transition the two men to that stage. Though the assumptions (Straker taking what Henderson expected to be his role; Straker being his own man and not looking at Henderson as a mentor - as far as we are shown) are obviously logical and believable.

Perhaps if there'd been a second series this would have been addressed in a script. I do like the idea of their relationship pre-dating the setting up of SHADO. It makes the potential for later strongly negative feelings greater.

ETA:
Librarian wrote on Apr 23rd, 2011 at 8:52pm:
There is one OOC scene with Henderson (I call it OOC) that seems to color some people's perceptions of Henderson. In Mindbender, Henderson says 'I thought he was going to finish me.'

It makes Henderson sound like a coward even though we know he's not. He stood his ground in the office.

Interesting.  Cool I interpreted that simply as Henderson in shock after seeing Straker behaving so violently and apparently irrationally. And being in fear of his life. I didn't think of it implying fear and cowardice on Henderson's part.
  
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Re: General Henderson
Reply #5 - Apr 23rd, 2011 at 10:52pm
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Quote:
I was always baffled by the their arguments as in Confetti Check A-OK they seemed to be cool with each other and then in Conflict they to appear to be at each other's throats.


The events in Confetti Check A-OK took place ten years before the main action of UFO. A lot can happen in ten years. Henderson was old enough to be Straker's father - that's a generational issue and Henderson may have believed that Straker would, and should, always accept being the student, or at least always treat Henderson as a wise elder.

But Straker grew into the job of Commander and Henderson was left out. Plus, as Matt pointed out, Henderson was looking at the big financial picture and Straker's obligation was to SHADO. If you look at the arguments in Conflict, it's all about the money.

Quote:
I didn't think of it implying fear and cowardice on Henderson's part.

I felt the line wasn't needed and Foster's funny look at him when it was said indicated to me, at least, that it was supposed to say something unpleasant about Henderson. I may be reading too much into, but it just didn't 'ring true'.

But then, that's the beauty of writing - so many possible interpretations and no one is actually wrong if it's plausible. Wink
  

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Re: General Henderson
Reply #6 - Apr 24th, 2011 at 1:57am
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That's funny.  I also thought he was OOC in Mindbender, but not for that line.  It was the whole "Sheep! Baa!  Baa!" crap I found offensive.  And very out of character for the general.  That kind of stuff was childish in the extreme.  And then they played the damn line over and over in the following scene -- gak!  Tongue
  

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Re: General Henderson
Reply #7 - Apr 24th, 2011 at 2:31am
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I always figured the "Sheep! Baa!  Baa!" was part of Straker's hallucination. I mean, "Father Straker and his bleating flock"?
  

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Re: General Henderson
Reply #8 - Apr 24th, 2011 at 5:46am
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Everything Henderson says (in those scenes) is Straker's hallucination. Sheep, baaa baaa baaa and all. It's the way Straker's unconscious mind sees Henderson. Thinking henderson sees his people as a bunch of sheep. Mindless yes men and women. There just might be jealousy in that, maybe Straker thinks Henderson is jealous of his ability to have people follow his leadership so he mocks it with the maaaaaahhh maaaaah.



What I found interesting was 'You don't care, you really don't care' That's interesting coming from Straker, a man who often is considered to be just as uncaring. That tells me the opposite. The 'somebody ought to (beat you to a crisp ) is something meaty for writers too. Henderson (in his head) responds with "You don't have the guts'
Does that label Straker as thinking he is or being a coward? Heck no.   Ed was acting like a Looney Tunes tornado due to the moon rock, of course Henderson would think he 'would finish me'  If I was in that office, I'd be under Straker's desk.  Shocked    I didn't read anything into Foster's look except damn, Straker's alive there goes my promotion  Grin

   Henderson is a bigger man than Straker, but it's the quick striking, skinny  younger Boston guys that can turn you into a hoagie if you don't watch out.  Grin In Reflections, Straker is a decent hand-to-hand fighter. He crushed that fake Foster's throat bone with one hand, maybe the hyloid? Good arm and hand strength, muscle strength? Maybe paperweight lifting reps?  Grin I always thought Straker didn't defend himself well in that ep. To my surprise a combat book I recently bought told me how wrong I was.

Thinking Henderson was a wuss  based on one sentence is on par with thinking Lake was Sleep Around Susie just because she had a thing for Craig and Foster. 

In the story The Island, I made it where Henderson was jealous of what Straker achieved, as being the motivation for the loss of friendship. (plus I added another factor to push him all the way over the edge ) Straker took what was Henderson's. I don't think Straker ever lost respect for him, however.

My question is, what on earth was a lamp from a BAR doing in Henderson's office? Was the art/set director on drugs?  Cheesy

Henderson had an ugly office. imo




  
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Re: General Henderson
Reply #9 - Apr 24th, 2011 at 2:23pm
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Just goes to show how many interpretations can be put on the same scenes.  Smiley
  

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Re: General Henderson
Reply #10 - Apr 24th, 2011 at 3:32pm
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Librarian wrote on Apr 24th, 2011 at 2:31am:
I always figured the "Sheep! Baa!  Baa!" was part of Straker's hallucination. I mean, "Father Straker and his bleating flock"?

I think I agree with that, it makes the most sense, and as Amelia pointed out it could have been his subconscious mind acting out it's perceptions of how Straker saw Henderson.

Quote:
What I found interesting was 'You don't care, you really don't care' That's interesting coming from Straker, a man who often is considered to be just as uncaring. That tells me the opposite.

Right on! I've always felt that Straker had a deep sense of caring for each and every person under his command, even Ford, especially Ford. Straker saw untapped potential in him.

The Henderson/Straker dynamic was imo, one of the things that set UFO apart from many other sci-fi shows. It addressed a very real problem (financial woes) in a very believable way. Smiley

  

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