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"UFO," a British television series created by Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson, first aired in 1970. Set in the then-future year of 1980, the show blends elements of science fiction and military drama. Its central premise revolves around a covert organization named SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation), established to combat alien threats to Earth.
The series begins with the premise that Earth has been under secret attack by aliens from a dying planet, who kidnap and kill humans to harvest their organs. These aliens, indistinguishable from humans when wearing specially designed suits, face a desperate situation on their home planet and see Earth as their only salvation.
SHADO, led by Commander Ed Straker, operates under the guise of a film studio, with its main base located beneath the studio. The organization employs a variety of high-tech vehicles and equipment to monitor alien activity and intercept them. These include the Skydiver, a submarine with an attached jet aircraft; the SHADO Mobile, an all-terrain vehicle; and the Interceptor, a spacecraft designed to destroy UFOs with a single missile.
The show explores various themes, including the personal cost of secrecy. Straker, for example, sacrifices his family life for his duty, resulting in a strained relationship with his ex-wife and son. The series also delves into the psychological and moral complexities of the characters, especially as they face life-and-death decisions in their clandestine war against the aliens.
Each episode often features a blend of ground and space-based action, with a focus on both the military and scientific aspects of the conflict. The show's visual style is marked by its use of miniatures and practical effects, characteristic of Anderson's earlier "Supermarionation" works but executed with live actors.
Despite its futuristic technology and extraterrestrial warfare, "UFO" maintains a strong emphasis on character development and ethical dilemmas. It explores the toll that a secret war takes on the individuals involved, as well as the broader implications of humanity's first contact with alien life.
Overall, "UFO" stands out for its imaginative premise, complex characters, and its mix of action, drama, and speculative science fiction. Though it only lasted for one season, it has garnered a cult following and is remembered for its innovative storytelling and distinct aesthetic.
"UFO" was effectively cancelled after its first season, and thus it can be said that it didn't run its full course in terms of the creators' original intentions. The show was initially planned to have more than one season, but several factors led to its cancellation.
Despite having a strong fan base and being popular in certain regions, "UFO" struggled with inconsistent ratings and viewership in key markets. Additionally, there were significant production challenges and budget constraints. The decision not to proceed with a second season was also influenced by changes in management at the broadcasting networks and shifting trends in television programming at the time.
Interest in continuing or reviving the series did exist, and there were discussions about a follow-up series. This eventually evolved into a new project, "Space: 1999," which shared some conceptual and stylistic similarities with "UFO" but was a distinct series with different characters and settings.
|Ed Bishop as Commander Ed Straker
|Dolores Mantez as Nina Barry
|Michael Billington as Colonel Paul Foster
|Ayshea Brough as SHADO Operative
|George Sewell as Colonel Freeman
|Keith Alexander as SHADO Radio Operator
|Antonia Ellis as Joan Harrington
|Gabrielle Drake as Lieutenant Ellis
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