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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

enik1138
-at-popapostle-dot-com
UFO: Identified UFO
"Identified"

TV episode
Teleplay by: Gerry and Sylvia Anderson with Tony Barwick
Directed by: Gerry Anderson

 

In the futuristic world of 1980, Earth organizes the new defense agency SHADO to intercept sinister incursions by UFOs.

 

Read the story summary at SHADOpedia

 

NOTES FROM THE UFO CHRONOLOGY

 

A newspaper in this episode places the date of these events as around August 24, 1980. Also in this episode, Colonel Freeman states that Moonbase should have the Utronic device within a week, suggesting that it gets installed in early September.

 

DIDJA KNOW?

 

The abbreviation "U.F.O." stands for Unidentified Flying Object and since 1952 has been generally associated with the possibility of such objects being extra-terrestrial vehicles visiting Earth.

 

The voice of the robotic Space Intruder Detector satellite (SID) was Mel Oxley, who also provided the voiceovers on public

service messages for BBC radio and television in the 1960s.

 

DIDJA NOTICE?

 

The title of this episode, "Identified", is likely a play on the "unidentified" portion of the phrase Unidentified Flying Object.

 

The opening scene of this episode is later revealed to take place in 1969.

 

The man taking the photographs of the landed UFO in the woods in 1969 is later revealed to be Peter Carlin, who goes on to become captain of Skydiver 1 for SHADO by 1980.

 

UFO was the only TV series of the time that I know of to depict alien invaders using projectile handguns and rifles instead of laser or other energy weapons, as demonstrated in this very first episode.

 

At 2:48 on the DVD, as the young woman, Leila Carlin, flees from the UFOnaut and is backed up against a tree, we can see that her short dress has been torn so high up that her panties are seen through the tear! The right shoulder of her dress is also torn through. But we get no indication of how all this damage occurred; her dress was intact at the beginning of the scene.

 

At 3:18 on the DVD, we see that the airplane that Colonel Straker arrives in is a Handley Page. The UK aircraft manufacturer went defunct in 1970, the same year UFO premiered in England. A Handley Page hangar also appears at 3:44.

 

The car in which Straker and General Henderson leave the airport appears to be a Rolls-Royce Phantom VI.

 

A brief article in the 1970 UFO Annual reveals that Straker has just completed an extensive tour of Europe and Asia, presenting evidence to world leaders about the reality of the UFO menace.

 

In these opening scenes, Straker is referred to as "Colonel" and in later scenes as "Commander". This is a reflection of his new position as leader of the organization SHADO. (A brief article in the 1970 UFO Annual reveals that Straker was promoted to this position by the International Astrophysical Commission. The commission is later seen in "Conflict". The IAC is a fictional institution.)

 

Straker and Henderson both wear "U.S." pins on their uniform, confirming to the viewer that they are both Americans with the U.S. Air Force.

 

During the car ride, a Cabinet minister informs Straker and Henderson that the Prime Minister is already at Chequers where they'll meet him in 30 minutes. Chequers is a real world country residence in Buckinghamshire, England used by the Prime Minister of the UK.

 

Also during the car ride, the Cabinet minister informs the two military men that the British government has been in constant communication with Paris, Moscow, and Bonn, giving us an early indication that the formation of SHADO is an international effort. Paris and Moscow are the capitals of France and Russia (then the USSR), respectively. Bonn was the capital of West Germany at the time (the current united Germany has its capital in Berlin).

 

When General Henderson tells Colonel Straker to show the Cabinet minister the files in the briefcase, during the car ride, notice that Straker appears apprehensive about doing so, though he does not question the order. Maybe he doesn't trust politicians!

 

As the Cabinet minister looks through the pages of the file in shock, Henderson tells him, "the clincher is at the back", to which Straker adds that it's an enlarged single frame from the film shot by Peter Carlin. After the car is blown off the road and crashes down a hillside following a UFO attack, we see the photo, a blow-up of the landed UFO.

 

The Cabinet minister's death in the car crash is referred to again in a back issue newspaper seen by Paul Foster in "Exposed". General Henderson survived and appears in several later episodes; the flashback story of "Confetti Check A-OK" reveals that he was more severely injured than Straker and took some months to fully recover.

 

   SHADO operates from an underground headquarters beneath Harlington-Straker Film Studios. The episode "Confetti Check A-O.K." reveals the studio is in or near a town called Harlington in England. There are three Harlingtons in England. Evidence in later episodes suggests that it is one that's a suburb of London. This narrows it down to two: Harlington, a village north of London in Bedforshire county, and Harlington, an area in the westernmost borough of London, Hillingdon. A package Straker receives in "E.S.P." is addressed to him at Harlington-Straker Studios, Harlington West, Wessex. There is no Harlington West in England and Wessex is only officially known as a former kingdom in southwest England ruled by the Anglo-Saxons in the 6th-10th Centuries. Wessex is not a recognized county in modern times. Since the package is addressed Harlington West, it seems likely that it refers to the westernmost Harlington of London. It is also possible that the mention of Wessex is intended by the producers to be a nod to the novels of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) in which he placed his stories in the fictional county of Wessex in southwestern England; additionally, he renamed real world cities in that region to suggest a slightly alternate history of his setting, e.g. Oxford becomes Christminster, Dorchester becomes Casterbridge, etc. Harlington could be argued to exist just within the boundaries of Hardy's Wessex, so it may be that Harlington in our world is Harlington West in Hardy's (and UFO's!).

   The main building of Harlington-Straker seen in most episodes of the series is actually part of BBC Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.

 

Notice throughout the TV series that the same daylight shot of the exterior Harlington-Straker sign is often seen, the same shot used over-and-over, as evidenced by the reflection of the clock in the metallic surface...it always shows 11:10!

 

At 6:37 on the DVD, a couple in period dress next to a Model T or similar automobile is seen on the grounds of Harlington-Straker Film Studios. Presumably, it's related to a film being shot there as the cover business of SHADO.

 

The vehicle that passes by the camera at 6:41 on the DVD is a SHADO Jeep. The vehicles were originally designed on the body of British Motor Corporation's Mini Moke vehicles for Gerry Anderson's 1969 theatrical film Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (originally known as Doppelgänger).

 

At 6:56 on the DVD, we can make out that the cover of the file folder being carried by the young woman reads, simply, "Harlington-Straker Productions".

 

The young woman wears the letter "A" on a gold chain around her neck. It probably stands for her first name, Ayshea (Johnson), as revealed in later episodes. She is a SHADO lieutenant.

 

The futuristic-looking vehicle model driven by Straker and many other SHADO employees is referred to as a SHADOcar in "Flight Path". Like the SHADO Jeeps, these cars also were originally built for Journey to the Far Side of the Sun.

 

The cars seen in UFO generally have the steering wheel on the left-hand side and are driven on the right-hand side of the road, despite the fact that most of the Earth-bound scenes take place in England, where autos are built with the steering wheels on the right-hand side and are driven on the left side of the road. I suppose we are meant to presume that the roads have been changed in the 1980 of this series.

 

At 7:16 on the DVD, Straker walks away from his car without closing the door! In later episodes, we see him press a button under the dashboard before walking away to close the door, but here we see Straker walk all the way into the building and the car door is still open.

 

At 7:39 on the DVD, a couple of Shakespearean-dressed men are seen in the lobby. These, again, are presumably actors shooting a film or series for Harlington-Straker Productions.

 

Colonel Alec Freeman is presented as much more of a womanizer (or womanizer-wannabe!) in this episode than he is in any later appearances. It almost seems as if the writers were trying to give him a Bond-esque personality here, but abandoned the idea after this pilot episode. Since SHADO is a new organization still at this point (as suggested later in the episode), maybe Straker came down on Freeman about his womanizing at work, pointing out it could be construed as sexual harrassment, so Freeman stopped!

 

When we see Freeman enter Straker's studio office and give his voiceprint identification at 8:50 on the DVD, he speaks the phrase, "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun." He is quoting a line delivered by Romeo in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

 

The SHADO computer indentifies Freeman's voice, saying, "Voiceprint positive identification, nine-seven, Freeman, Alec E." A brief article about Freeman in the 1970 UFO Annual reveals that 97 is Freeman's operative number in SHADO.

 

Not that any UFO fan doesn't already know this, but at 9:17 on the DVD, the large sign in the underground corridor reveals that SHADO is the acronym of the Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation. "Defence" and "Organisation" are the British spellings of the words as opposed to the American "Defense" and "Organization". Below the SHADO logo is a list of departments in the underground facility: Control Room, Conference Room, Security, Restaurant, Medical Center, Lounge, Reception, Psycho-Analytic Department, Documentation Check, and Computer Room.

 

The uniforms worn by many of the SHADO personnel at the headquarters are similar to the ones worn by the personnel of Moonbase Alpha in the later Gerry and Sylvia Anderson TV series Space: 1999. Sylvia, a fashion designer, designed the costumes in both cases. (SHADO uniform at left, Space: 1999 uniform at right.)

 

The female SHADO employee at 10:15 on the DVD has a pouch or device on her uniform belt that appears to have a sort of stick figure on it. This is seen throughout the series. I guess it must be a variant of the figure in the SHADO logo.

 

When Freeman enters Straker's SHADO office, a large display screen behind his desk presents a constantly swirling image of fog. In later scenes, the screen shows a shifting pattern of colored lights (a similar color-display screen is seen in the Leisure Sphere of Moonbase in this episode). Possibly the screen is an art display that shows different abstract moving images.

 

In this episode, Westbrook Electronics is the maker of the Utronic FTL (Faster-Than-Light) Radar. It's implied here that Westbrook Electronics is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. The firm, and the term "Utronic", appear to be fictional creations for the series.

 

Straker reveals that, at the time of this episode, SHADO's Moonbase and satellites have been operational for only the past few months and there have been a few UFO detections but no interceptions at this point.

 

Notice that most of the characters pronounce the term "UFO" as yoo-fo instead of "U.F.O". One notable exception is SID.

 

In this episode, we are introduced to Shadair, which seems to be SHADO's own air transportation service.

 

At 12:43 on the DVD, Freeman's copilot on the Shadair plane remarks that it must be quite a while since he'd landed an SST. SST stands for supersonic transport.

 

Freeman's copilot here, Bill, appears again in "Computer Affair", but is not seen again after that.

 

Freeman seems to refer to the Shadair supersonic transport he flies in this episode as Seagull X-ray. "Seagull" may be the model or name of the plane and "X-ray" merely an alphabetic designation for this flight or vehicle, using the NATO phonetic alphabet in which the letter X is designation "X-ray".

 

The loudspeaker array in the underground SHADO control room has a shape similar to that of a flying saucer!

 

Quite a bit of cigarette smoking goes on in this series. In the decades when the series was produced, cigarette smoking by television characters was still considered acceptable by most television producers and broadcasters, unlike today, where cigarette smoking is rarely seen.

 

At 13:04 on the DVD, Straker blows a smoke ring while smoking a cigarette. Since CGI was still over a decade in the future, actor Ed Bishop was obviously able to blow the ring himself.

 

Throughout the series, the rank of "lieutenant" seems to be pronounced as lef-TEN-ənt by the British actors and lew-TEN-ənt by the American ones! These are the traditional pronunciations of the two countries.

 

The main body of Moonbase is made up of five spherical structures interconnected by a central rectangular structure referred to as Central Park. From the article "SHADO Defence: Moonbase" in the 1970 UFO Annual, the five spheres are identified as Command Sphere, Sleep Sphere, Leisure Sphere, Reception Sphere, and Reactor Sphere. The Reactor Sphere also houses storage and garages for the moon transporters. Also according to the article, the base is powered by atomic generators and solar panels. TV Action Holiday Special 1972 has a nice cutaway view of Moonbase, with descriptions of the spheres and Central Park; click the image at right to see the full-size image. Moonbase cutaway

 

The purple hair of the female personnel at Moonbase is never explained in the series. It becomes evident that those characters are wearing purple wigs, seemingly as part of their Moonbase uniforms, in later episodes when Lt. Ellis is seen at meetings at SHADO headquarters on Earth with normal brunette hair. Sylvia Anderson, as co-producer and fashion designer of the show, has said she wanted to suggest that the wearing of wigs as a fashion statement had become fairly commonplace in the year 1980. In this episode, the wigs are cut a bit unevenly around the face, but later episodes mostly corrected this.

 

At 15:26 on the DVD, notice that the food tray from which Ken eats at Moonbase looks similar to the tray of paste-like food used by the astronauts on board the spaceship Discovery in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Since this pilot was shot shortly after the release of the film, it may have been an inspiration. Notice also that behind Ken is a wall where one may receive meals of different national varieties: French, American, Russian, Italian, English, and Chinese.

 

At 15:45 on the DVD, Lt. Ellis picks up a copy of Design magazine in the Leisure Sphere. This was a real magazine at the time the series was made.

 

Notice that each division of SHADO (HQ, Moonbase, Skydiver) has a unique uniform. The Skydiver uniforms are probably the oddest in that that the shirts are made mostly of a sort of netting, allowing the torso underneath to be seen quite clearly! This means seeing hairy chests on the men and breasts on the women (though women seem to be shown from a distance and with a bit of flesh-colored fabric obfuscation).

 

During his lecture to Lt. Ford, Straker reveals that HQ is located 80 feet below the film studio.

 

At 18:43 on the DVD (and earlier, at 16:55, but it's not as visible), we see that Captain Carlin has a photo of his missing sister hanging above the bunk in his cabin on Skydiver 1. (In the novelization, he also has a picture of her in the cockpit of Sky 1).

 

At 19:02 on the DVD, notice that the hemispherical sculpture of the moon's surface on the wall of the Moonbase control room is actually an entire spherical globe, half-submerged into the wall, that can be rotated to look at different regions.

 

The nosecone of the Shadair Seagull is capable of rotating into a straight, streamlined position for supersonic flight or angled position for better ground view during landings, just like the famed commercial airliner, the Concorde. However, the nosecone here is referred to as a "heat shield" and is lowered when the plane drops speed down to 600 knots.

 

At 22:00 on the DVD, Colonel Virginia Lake is reading a Daily Express newspaper with the front page headline "MOONGOLD?" The date on the paper shows 24 August 1980. The Daily Express is a real world tabloid newspaper published in the UK since 1900. The image of the knight in the masthead is similar, but not exact, to the mascot used by the corporation. Since it is a UK paper and the Colonel has just been picked up in the U.S., the paper was probably already on board the plane as reading material for passengers; the date may or may not be that day's actual date, but is likely within a day or so, helping us place the episode in our chronology.

   The headline here (and the photo of the moon below it) is seemingly meant to suggest that gold may have been found on the moon. The arrow in the newspaper photo looks as if if may be pointing to Albategnius crater, located at lunar coordinates 11.2°S 4.1°E. At the time the series was made, it was not generally believed that there could be much, if any, gold on the moon due to it's lack of water, necessary for the formation of gold during magma processes. But the results of the NASA LCROSS probe in 2009 showed there was water ice in a permanently shadowed crater (Cabeus) at the moon's south pole, so some speculation has been made recently that there may actually be some gold on the moon.

 

This episode reveals that a Utronic beam (used in the new sensors developed for SHADO by Westbrook Electronics) travels almost instantaneously, making it capable of detecting a UFO even when it is travelling at many times the speed of light in deep space. However, the Utronic equipment has only just been perfected and not yet deployed (as later confirmed by Freeman when he tells Straker the Utronic system will be fitted and operational at the tracker stations within a week), so how is it that SID is able to detect the approach of a UFO shortly after, which it states is travelling at a velocity of 1.5 million miles a second? That's about 8 times the speed of light!

 

When SID announces the detection of a UFO approaching, the coordinates displayed on the screen at Moonbase include the term "Sol 8". Since we've already determined above that the UFO is approaching at 8 times the speed of light, the term "Sol 8" must stand for "speed of light" times 8.

 

The Interceptor pilots and Sky pilots slide down chutes to access their fighters. This may be a sort of in-joke to chutes used to board the cockpits of craft in the earlier Anderson marionette television productions of Stingray and Thunderbirds.

 

At 31:28 on the DVD, the shot has been reversed, as Captain Carlin's facial scar is on the wrong side of his face! This shot is used repeatedly in later episodes.

 

At 31:02 on the DVD, the wires holding the model of Sky 1 are clearly visible!

 

When the UFO is shot out of the sky by Sky 1, it spews orange smoke for some reason. Does it have to do with the fuel or atmosphere inside the craft?

 

The night shot of the Harlington-Straker sign at 35:47 on the DVD does not show the clock reflection that the daylight shots do; the sign's surface appears to now be a metallic, non-reflective surface. The image looks as if it may be a miniature sign and background rather than on location. Notice also that the blue truck behind the sign has "HS Studios" painted on the side.

 

Freeman is shown in this and other episodes to have a fondness for whiskey, though there is no indication that he is an alcoholic.

 

In this episode, Straker claims he never drinks liquor. However, some later episodes do show him drinking a rare glass of champagne or whisky.

 

An unidentified caller from Mayland Hospital informs Straker that the injured alien has been brought in and will be transported through an underground corridor to SHADO medical center. This seems to suggest that there is underground access to SHADO HQ via a public hospital somewhere in the area of Harlington. As far as I can determine, Mayland Hospital is fictional.

 

At 39:28 on the DVD, the camera focuses on an overhead light in the operating room that has a similar shape to a flying saucer.

 

During his examination of the injured alien, Dr. Schroeder learns that the being is basically humanoid, with a body temperature 3 degrees above human, low blood pressure, and poor muscular development. The novelization also has Dr. Schroeder revealing the alien has a cranium 10% larger than the human norm. And the post-mortem report received by Straker reveals hereditary sterility in at least this individual.

 

Dr. Schroeder believes the green tint of the alien skin to simply be the result of staining from the green fluid it breathed in the spacesuit. He suggests the fluid is bio-achrophyllic since it does not stain the hair on the body. I have not been able to find the term "bio-achrophyllic" in use in the real world, but "bio" means "living", "acro" means "extremity", and phyllic means "leaf-like"; so he may be using the term to refer to a botanical-based (causing the green color) compound that affects living tissue. Human hair, as seen above the surface of the skin, is actually non-living, so that would explain why a bio-achrophyllic compound would not stain it.

 

The alien's fluid-filled suit for breathing, plus the plastic lenses to protect the eyes, are similar to the liquid-breathing apparatus used by the character of Bud Brigman to survive the extreme pressure of diving into a deep ocean trench in the 1989 film The Abyss. Upon learning of the alien's liquid breathing suit, Freeman states that Earth has been experimenting with such concepts for space travel as well; this is true even in the real world, with the idea that liquid breathing suits could ameliorate the effects of G-forces on the human body.

 

In the single-shot scene from 41:24-42:06 on the DVD, a hair appears to be stuck on the camera lens at the bottom center throughout the scene!

 

In this episode Straker suggests the aliens have a technological level several hundred years in advance of Earth.

 

The post-mortem report on the alien indicates it had had five major organs and glands replaced, with the heart replacement being a human one (soon revealed to be that of Leila Carlin).

 

This episode suggests that at least one of the reasons the aliens are coming to Earth and abducting humans is for replacement organs for their dying race. But a civilization as advanced as theirs ought to be able to clone their own organs for such a purpose. And even if they wanted human organs for some unknown reason, they could also clone those once they had a few specimens. The ability to clone humans is even used by the aliens in "Reflections in the Water" to replace SHADO personnel as part of a plot, so it's not as if they don't have cloning technology.

 

The closing credits music is borrowed from Journey to the Far Side of the Sun.

 

Notes from the novelization of "Identified" by Robert Miall, published as UFO in Great Britain and UFO: Flesh Hunters in the USA.

(Roughly speaking, chapters 1, and 6-8 cover the events of "Identified". The page numbers come from the 1st printing, UK paperback edition, published 1971)

 

This book is actually a novelization of several episodes, interwoven into a single story in a way the televised versions are not. It features the plot and characters of "Identified", "Exposed", "Close Up", and "Court Martial". For purposes of this study of "Identified", only the chapters covering this episode will be covered here. The chapters covering others are dealt with in the studies of those episodes.

 

Page 5 refers to "D Notices" as part of the UFO cover-up. D Notices, or Defence Notices (currently referred to as DA Notices for Defence Advisory) have been used in the UK since 1912, as a request, not legally binding, to the news media by the government to not publish or broadcast specified subjects for the good of national security.

 

Also on page 5, a Special Branch man rides next to the chauffer. "Special Branch" refers to any British intelligence unit responsible for national security.

 

On page 7, Straker reflects sardonically on the reality of UFOs, against the drunken hallucinations of a rollicking party-goer, comparing flying saucers and weather balloons. Since the beginning of modern day UFO sightings in 1947, weather balloons have been one of many theories of what witnesses were actually seeing.

 

Straker goes on to reflect on a couple of recent UFO incidents that have occurred, spurring the formation of SHADO: a manned space capsule blew up ten thousand miles from the moon; and a jumbo jet full of passengers was torn apart over the Atlantic Ocean, with the pilot apparently screaming about a UFO over the radio before they all died.

 

The end of Chapter 1 affirms that the reality of UFOs is being kept from the public.

 

On page 41, Freeman thinks of his Romeo and Juliet quote as a "test" for the voice identification system; if he can foul it up, it will give "Louis and his little gang something to fret about." This may be a reference to Louis Graham, a SHADO electrical engineer who appears briefly in a couple of scenes in "Exposed".

 

Page 41 implies that Freeman (depicted as a womanizer, just as in the episode) may have had a failed liaison with a silver-blonde-haired girl who works in the SHADO control room.

 

As Freeman walks into Straker's SHADO office on page 41, Straker is described as wearing a "starkly aluminum uniform", unlike the khaki overall-suit he wears in the televised episode. In the TV episodes, the "aluminum" uniforms are reserved for Moonbase personnel.

 

Also on page 41, Freeman seems to think of Straker as just barely a friend: "Straker was first and foremost a brilliant mathematical device...you didn't make friends, in any real human sense, with a calculating machine..." This may also go towards Freeman's surprise in "Computer Affair" that Straker chooses to keep Lt. Ellis on in SHADO instead of taking the computer's recommendation to relieve her of duty as too emotional for the job.

 

Page 42 implies SHADO has a submarine base at which the Skydiver subs are based.

 

On page 43, Straker remarks that he wants to learn what the aliens are made of and Freeman responds, "Not sugar and spice, that's for sure." This is from the well-known nursery rhyme "What Are Little Boys Made Of?", original versions of which date to  at least the 18th Century. The commonly-known modern version goes:

 

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?

Slugs and snails

And puppy-dogs' tails,

That's what little boys are made of.

 

What are little girls made of?

What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice

And everything nice,

That's what little girls are made of.

 

On page 43, Freeman lands the Shadair Seagull at Stevenson Airbase near Los Angeles to pick up Colonel Virginia Lake. There is no such airbase in the real world.

 

Page 44 suggests that the Seagull is capable of flying at speeds at least up to Mach 4. This is within the supersonic range. If it were to travel at Mach 5 or higher, it would be considered hypersonic.

 

Also on page 44, the Seagull is said to be climbing towards the stratosphere. The stratosphere is the secondary region of the Earth's atmosphere, 6-30 miles above the surface, below the mesosphere and above the troposphere. The stratosphere is where most commercial airliners fly for maximum fuel efficiency.

 

Page 53 mentions Hyde Park. Hyde Park is one of the Royal Parks of London, covering about 350 acres.

 

The novel implies that Freeman is Australian and the original script of "Identified" calls for an actor with an Australian accent, but actor George Sewell was British, and played the character that way; he has indicated in interviews that he was never told to change anything or play Australian. Given all this, it seems more likely that the Australian background was abandoned after the pilot script was written and Freeman is, in fact, British.

 

Page 54 suggests that Straker has a standard bar of liquor bottles in his office instead of the "futuristic" press-button liquor service seen in episodes of the TV series.

 

Page 58 reveals that SHADO scientists had long speculated that the alien UFO pilots might be lapped in a liquid environment in order to survive the devastating speeds with which the craft moved through space and entered Earth's atmosphere.

 

As his alien patient begins to die on page 63, Dr. Schroeder calls for an "H and K unit". I've been unable to find what this may refer to in medical terms. 

 

PopApostle reader David K. made an interesting observation about Sky 1 and Earth's defences in his reading of this novelization:

With regard to the first novelization, “UFO 1: Flesh Hunters”, within the section adapted from “Identified”, Earth defenses are mobilized to attack the inbound UFO that had evaded Moonbase Interceptors. There are quotes of radio traffic that include the commands “Alert Skydiver”, and, notably, “Alert Squadron”. I take those two words to indicate the in-story existence of at least one squadron of combat aircraft that supplement Sky 1 for atmospheric defense. That would be quite logical, for it is a common critique that the series often seemed to imply that Sky 1 was SHADO’s singular combat aircraft, incredibly tasked to defend the entire Earth. Off-camera action by “Squadron” might help explain how Sky 1 seemed to be portrayed as destroying 25 UFOs in the episode “Reflections In The Water”. Then there was "Replacement Sky 1", which was seen in the episodes "Ordeal" and "A Question of Priorities", not as replacement for a destroyed original, but as a substitution aircraft rotated into service.

 

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

 

How were the aliens getting their information regarding Top Secret SHADO activities? In the early minutes of the episode, they somehow know to target Straker's car on the way to the meeting with the British Prime Minister to fully authorize the formation of SHADO. Later, they are aware of the transport jet that is carrying vital Utronic equipment for SHADO and attempt to intercept it. (In the later episode "Flight Path", we do meet a compromised SHADO employee in the Psychoanalysis department, seemingly working for the aliens.) In the novelization, Freeman also wonders how the aliens are getting their information about SHADO activities and muses on the possibility of them having some kind of extrasensory perception; there are intimations of this ability in a couple later episodes.

 

What is the meaning of the squiggly, multi-colored lights the dying alien seems to see in his mind's eye for a few seconds a couple different times? Might it be related to the possibly incorporeal nature of the aliens, as speculated by Dr. Jackson later in "The Cat With Ten Lives"?

 

How do the chutes used by the Interceptor pilots work? The chutes are located in the Leisure Sphere, but from the outside, the sphere does not appears to have any room for chutes to the underground Interceptor hangar.

 

   What is the meaning of the planet that shows up at the end of the closing credits of each episode? The closing credits start with the globe of the Earth almost filling the screen. Then the shot pulls back slowly to reveal first, the moon in orbit behind Earth, farther back to include the glowing orb of the sun, farther back and a dead, pitted celestial body comes into view, while the music turns decidedly more ominous. It doesn't seem likely that it's one of our known planetary neighbors in the solar system because the Earth is still a fairly large, blue globe in space, while our system's planets are far enough apart that Earth would appear only as a small blue star, just as Mars appears to us as a small red one. Is it just a symbolic representation of the aliens' dying world observing us? Or could it be that it is a sister world to our own within our system, somehow masked from detection by the aliens? If so, has it always been there or did it somehow "travel" to our system? On the other hand, it is suggested in the course of the series that the alien homeworld is located light-years away. It is interesting to note that the Andersons' prior project, the 1969 theatrical film Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (originally known as Doppelgänger), is about the discovery of another world, actually another Earth, on the same orbit as our world, but on the far side of the sun, always hidden from view. Another thing to consider, regarding my speculation of an alien world potentially travelling to our system, is the Anderson project which followed UFO, the 1975-77 TV series Space: 1999, in which Earth's moon is blown out of orbit by a nuclear explosion, taking the human inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha on an odyssey across the cosmos.
   Notice also, at about 43 seconds into the closing credits sequence, that a bright pinpoint of light suddenly shoots vertically upwards on the right-hand side of the sun. If you blink, you'll miss it. Was it a spaceship?
Earth Earth and moon
Earth, moon, and sun Earth, moon, sun, and unidentified planet

 

NOTES FROM THE 1970 UFO ANNUAL

 

A photo caption of Peter Carlin on page 48 identifies him as Jon Karlin. This was the character's name in pre-production.

 

The article "SHADO Defence: Skydiver" reveals that Skydiver craft are manned by a crew of just 6 people. The craft is capable of hovering over the sea in "seaskim" mode. The article implies only one Skydiver craft, but various other sources suggest there is more than one; indeed, Skydiver 3 is seen later in "The Psychobombs" (and Colonel Lake also mentions Sky 4). (Thanks to reader David K. for pointing out that I neglected the appearance of Sky 3 and Sky 4 in scenes and dialog of "The Psychobombs" in this article.)

 

The "SHADO Defence: Skydiver" article also reveals that UFOs have been known to operate beneath Earth's ocean, making the submersible capabilities of Skydiver craft indispensible.

 

Page 51 features a breakdown of SID's external apparatus.

 

The "SHADO Moon Craft" article reveals that the moon module ships are atomic-powered.

 

The "SHADO Defence: SHADO Mobiles" article reveals that the vehicles are not only capable of travelling on land, but also on water.

 

The "Shadocars" article reveals that the automobiles driven by many members of SHADO are capable of speeds in excess of 200 mph.

 

MEMORABLE DIALOG

 

UFO hum.wav

doesn't that enflame you with jealousy?.wav

yellow alert.wav

UFO in flight.wav

the victims of UFO incidents.wav

SID.wav

I wish I was flying subsonic aircraft.wav

your equipment is fabulous.wav

you are familiar.wav

red alert.wav

Interceptors, immediate launch.wav

Moonbase to all SHADO stations.wav

a g-string on a belly dancer.wav

maybe drinking needs more self-control.wav

the first confirmed UFO landing.wav

what do we really know about UFOs?.wav

a hundred million, million miles from Earth.wav

a dying race.wav

doomed to extinction.wav

survival.wav 

 

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