Gerry Anderson's UFO TV Series
Gerry Anderson's UFO TV Show
I loved the Television show UFO!
In case you don't know what it was, UFO was a British television sci-fi series created by Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson.
You may know the Andersons from their other projects like Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds (Don't..mention..the..movie), and Captain Scarlet.
Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet were all done with Andersons "Supermarionation" but UFO was live action with Anderson's amazing special effects.
Actually it was the Anderson's first live action show.
Of course since I live in the US, I didn't get the first run, but I saw it in syndication.
It came on at an odd time here, Saturday afternoon or something like that, but I always caught it.
Having always been interested in UFOs and such, this show was perfect for me.
I said it was live action and action it was.
First the set up....
It was set in the near future....1980.
Remember this was 1970 when it was filmed.
An alien race is visiting and attacking the Earth to harvest organs for their dying race.
The show had a lot of plot lines that later went on to become UFO conspiracy subjects, human organ harvesting, amnesia drugs (kinda like MIB's "Neuralyzers"), human abductees, undersea UFO bases...I wonder if the X-Files writers watched UFO too...
The main cast of the show belonged to SHADO, which stood for "Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organization", the first (and last) line of defense between us and the extraterrestrial invaders.
Thankfully these people were armed with some of the most advanced (and coolest) equipment that had been seen on TV up to that point.
The special effects the Andersons designed for Stingray and Thunderbirds really paid off here.
This was the SHADO defense set up for Earth....
First off you had SID, (Space Intruder Detector), a tracking satellite that orbited the Earth and scanned deep space looking for aliens.
When a UFO was sighted by SID (One really cool thing on the show was they didn't say U-F-O, they said "you-fo", I always thought it was a British thing) anyway, SID caught the incoming UFO, and contacted SHADO command on Earth which operated under the guise of the Harlington-Straker Studios movie studio in England.
(Harlington-Straker was actually what is now Pinewood Studios, the studio where the series was being filmed.)
SHADO contacts the first line of defense...Moonbase.
There, Moonbase would launch the Moonbase Interceptors (that always flew in threes). The Interceptors were each armed with one really big Nuke and they would try to intercept and destroy the incoming UFO.
Now if they missed, the intercept was handed off to Skydiver.
Skydiver was a submarine with the submersible, undersea-launched Sky One interceptor aircraft attached to the nose.
Actually there were at least four Skydivers that patrolled the oceans..Sky 1, Sky 2, Sky 3, Sky 4 etc.
Skydiver would launch in an awesome sequence and blast off from beneath the ocean's surface to intercept the UFO in the Earth's atmosphere.
Now if the UFO was lucky to get by the Moonbase Interceptors AND Skydiver, when it landed on Earth (Usually crash landed because either the Interceptors or Sky 1 would get at least a piece of 'em) then the SHADO Mobiles would roll into action and track the downed UFO.
The SHADO Mobiles looked kinda like infantry fighting vehicles and they were armed.
Actually looking back, the stories were pretty dark for the seventies, and pretty weird at times.
They also had a large cast with Ed Bishop as Commander Ed Straker, head of SHADO, Col. Alec Freeman (George Sewell), Straker's right hand man, Moonbase Commander Lt. Gay Ellis (Gabrielle Drake) (for some pics of the funky Moonbase personnel uniforms, check out Rik Ravado's Hub, Weird Glamour - When Taste Goes out the Window)
Col. Paul Foster (Michael Billington) Straker's protégé and Gen. James Henderson (Grant Taylor), the man over Straker and SHADO.
Oddly enough, Ed Bishop passed away on June 8th, 2005 and Michael Billington died on June 3rd, 2005.
UFO only ran for one season, but it was "almost" continued in the Anderson's next project, Space:1999, which you may have also heard of.
There's a fan theory that Moonbase Alpha is the evolved SHADO Moonbase, we actually beat the Aliens in 1990 and that the Moonbase Alpha Hawk fighter was a replacement for the Moonbase Interceptor .
To back that up, in his idea for the second season of UFO that never came to pass, Gerry Anderson had actually proposed a storyline where SHADO Moonbase had been greatly enlarged to become SHADO's main headquarters,
Fans have clamored for a new UFO series for years, and now it looks like they may get their wish...kinda.
Robert Evans (the producer of Rosemary's Baby, Love Story, The Godfather and Chinatown) and ITV Global said in May 2009 that they were going ahead with a UFO movie, to be set in the year 2020.
Evans said in an interview that he wants to build a franchise, so depending on how well the movie does, UFO could be back.
UFO Movie Poster?
I recently discovered there is ANOTHER British science fiction film titled "UFO" that is coming out on January 11th, 2013.
The cast includes Sean Brosnan and Jean-Claude Van Damme and has no relationship to Gerry Anderson's UFO.
Gerry Anderson Passes Away
Sadly, Gerry Anderson died on December 26th, 2012 at the age of 83 after his diagnosis of dementia.
Many of the articles about his death mention that Matthew Gratzner is still working on a UFO movie, so maybe Gerry's legacy will live on.