on 22 March 2002
At last, UFO as it was always meant to be seen - as a vision of the future it may be fatally flawed (why put the delectable Gabrielle Drake in a purple wig?!), but it was (and remains) a thought-provoking adult sci fi prog. It is difficult to believe that this masterpiece was the creation of the same man as the execrable 'Terrahawks'.
The transfer to DVD is nothing short of miraculous - probably the best TV to DVD release I have ever seen. The original masters must have been used - there is no drop out, no fading, it is as though it was made last week, using a retro 60s look. In fact, given the poor technical state of TV when this was first released, no one will ever have seen this series looking so polished. If there is an award for restoration of TV programmes, the people responsible for this release should win it. And no, I'm not related to them. Buy it! JG
on 1 May 2006
It's great to see what some of the fellow British reviewers have said about this show. UFO, in my opinion, does rank as the best British sci-fi televsion series to date. These earlier episodes are sometimes a little slower than the later ones but in no account to they suffer for it as they do tend to study more character driven plotlines with a nice balance to some great action set pieces. This especially applies to Commander Straker in episodes such as 'A Question of Priorities' which is compelling viewing. The imagination here is also stunning. Much has been written about the purple wigs and who cares why they have them; they look awesome as do the girls that wear them but that's another story! The design work on the show including it's vehicles and special effects is also of the same high standard including SID, the talking satellite with a cool, polished voice.
In reading some of the american reviews I was stunned to see some people attacking this show for it so so-called 'low budget special effects' or 'Thunderbirds-style special effects'. The show was indeed produced by the very same team that produced Thunderbirds and the effects are stunning. Even when Thunderbirds and Stingray were made in the mid 60's let alone UFO, the effects the shows demonstrated were way ahead of their time, especially considering they were made often made on a low budget and for television.
One other factor I must agree on is the standard of re-mastering. All 26 episodes in both box sets are stunning both on the visuals and the audio and are a real credit to the team at Carlton Visual Entertainment.
To finish with, I highly recommend this set. Its great television on most fronts and is a worthy rival to some of the best of Star Trek.
on 8 July 2002
I will admit that I am more of a Supermarionation fan. Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, and the Secret Service were always my favorites. But I made the decision to buy UFO on DVD, and I am so glad that I did. The hour-long episodes come out in great quality and the content itself is hardly dated after thirty years. The show isn't flawless - the disappearances of supporting characters can be rather annoying and strange, as it always goes completely unexplained - and the special features are sparse (I was hoping for more deleted scenes, but I will admit that the production stills, character bios, and machinery details are interesting). However, it features a priceless commentary from creator Gerry Anderson itself that I only discovered a few days ago. As soon as I'm ready to waste more of my money on thirty-year-old sci-fi shows, I'm buying part 2. I give it my highest recommendation!
on 15 May 2002
Arguably Gerry Anderson's television masterpiece, UFO receives a superb spit-and-polish in the shiny shape of this 13-episode digipack. Made between 1969 and 1970 and set, laughably, in the eighties, the series concerned the efforts of a secret military organisation to repel sinister visitations from a distant planet. It was Anderson's first live-action series following a succession of family-friendly puppet shows. The themes and plotlines were noticably adult in content, a fact that goes some way to explaining the difficulties TV schedulers had with it at the time.
Uniformly attractive characters inhabit a bizarre world of string vests and purple wigs - the programme may have had a unique look but occupied no reality known to mankind. Suspend your disbelief, however, and there is much to enjoy here: mostly excellent stories, great hardware, Derek Meddings' fabulous miniatures and far-out Hammond-organ jazz! The tone is often jaw-droppingly pessimistic - surprising after the fun-filled antics of Thunderbirds - and in Ed Bishop, we had a charismatic, no-nonsense lead, even if wardrobe did undermine much of his authoritative work by squeezing him into romper suits.
The extras have been studiously assembled, if you like squinting through pages of tiny text, but at least they include a cherishably honest director's commentary from Gerry Anderson on the opening episode, and plenty of insightful behind-the-scenes stills and info. The animated menus are nice, too - full marks to Carlton, once again. The main reason to buy these, however, is the digital remastering. The crisp images, especially the studio scenes, look as though they could have been shot yesterday. Indeed, you can even see how the make-up's been applied.
Interceptors, immediate launch!
on 16 April 2002
This set is a blast! I didn't think it possible for a show which started filming in 1969 to look this good. The picture quality is incredible - it must have been shot on 35mm film to look so fresh this far on - and the transfers must have come from original masters because these prints are flawless. The images are sharp and the colours are vivid and natural (although the fleshtones are a little pink - but that may be something to do with the foundation with which everyone is plastered). In fact, one of the few drawbacks is the picture is SO good the heavy makeup really shows - check out the multiple false eyelashes on many of the women.
But that is a minor criticism - for once this is an intelligent, adult slice of TV sci-fi which doesn't talk down to its audience. It is so rare to have a protagonist/leader who is bad-tempered, difficult, obstinate and a pain to work for. Admittedly the show does creak plotwise - there are a few gaping holes (why do the aliens bother coming all the way to Earth to steal some internal organs?) and the pace is very slow - but compared with other shows of the period that's nothing unusual. And it's still scary - the noise of the spinning-top UFOs still spooks me out every time I hear it.
Other pluses - one of the sexiest men in TV (Michael Billington - yummy) and some wild costuming - string vests? as a uniform? and Peter Gordeno's trousers redefine tight...- and I always liked the purple wigs. And later episodes (in the next set) become deliriously surreal - I remember one where Straker hallucinates that he really is a film producer and that Shado is just a film - we get to see the sets AS sets.
As for the packaging - the slipcase is a pain and not rigid enough but the onscreen stuff is great. The menu screens are all lifted from the show's set design and are constantly doing something - repeated viewing becomes a little irritating. There is a lot of background information in the form of stills and text and also a very informative if slightly bemused commentary by the man himself on Episode 1. He mentions that the sets were designed by the guy who did them for his puppet shows - which explains why these look so much like them - just full scale. The production information in the booklet has some interesting things to say about early cast casualties (and even more interesting things implied about Sylvia Anderson if you read between the lines...).
Everything everyone else said is true - chuck those old tapes out and get this instead.
on 20 March 2002
Buy it ! Buy it ! Buy it !
Just don't miss this one. The DVD quality is astounding, I would say, as close to perfection (for most episodes) as it could get! You can see details you could never imagine they were there when broadcast. Image quality is perfect, so is sound, the special effects seen with so much quality, just leave you breathless, and the extras are incredible: a very long Gerry Anderson interview covering all most important subjects of the UFO production, plus lots of other information and pictures.
But mostly again, it is the quality of this DVD that is incredible, and the UFO series is really a TV classic that is there to stay.
This set is really the collector's dream.
I would buy this one immediately now that it's available, you can never say for how long it will be (the previous release of video cassettes quickly disappeared from sale). You won't regret this purchase, I grant you. And if you're a UFO series fan, you will sorely regret this item if you let it go! But I bet this release will please also science fiction lovers that don't know the series.
on 6 June 2002
This 4 disc set is absolutely brilliant. The re-masters of each show are flawless, the scenes look like they have only just been shot. The speacial features are fantastic including original out-takes not previously aired. The package itself is really posh with a very nice front screen based on the moonbase inteceptors launch site to each of the segments. Nearly every scene has someone smoking which definately dates the show, but the scripts and acting were way ahead of their time. Thanks for the hard effort Carlton.
on 18 July 2008
In THIS 1980's, aliens have begun visiting Earth and abducting people. Some of the bodies are found mutilated and missing organs, and in Britain, government leaders wish to consult with a certain US Air Force officer apparently stationed in the UK about what has been found out about the issue. I am going to guess that this leap came about because at the time, the US Air Force was conducting Project Blue Book, which investigated UFO reports, interviewing various eye witnesses, and so on, and Britain has US Air Force stationed here, so it was a convenient plot point to have the British government just ask for shared intel rather than start a new task force. The aliens however, have wind of this meeting, and set out to stop it from happening by flying a saucer and firing laser beams to kill the officer and the government official. That was a huge mistake on their part, for they put the wind up the sails of the world's governments who got to read the report anyway and realised that no one was safe from whomever it was that came from the stars.
So it was that this officer, one Colonel Straker, was given free reign to build a moon base to detect the UFOS as well as a command centre in England. The command centre was rather groovily disguised as a working movie studio and its lots, with the actual command centre being below ground. Straker posed as the mogul who approved scripts for actual films to be made there (perhaps helping bankroll the operation in an indirect way), and who could access his REAL job as commander of SHADO ('Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organization' ) by way of his office turning into a huge lift that would drop down into the complex.
The manned moon base served to house SID, ('Space Intruder Detector' ), which basically appeared to be a satellite based sort of thing linked up to screens and such. Staff would monitor the screens once SID noted an apparent incursion, and if any saucers appeared to enter our system, interceptors would be scrambled to try and destroy it with a single well placed missile shot. Of course, if they always succeeded, there would not be much drama, nor call for the fabulous inclusion of their sea to air Sky One, an aircraft that launches from beneath the sea from a high tech submarine, nor for their super duper armoured tank like units to find any that managed to land.
If you love pulp sci fi, or are an Anderson fan, this is a definite must see. Ed Bishop, the voice of Captain Blue in Captain Scarlet, is the dedicated Col. Straker, who literally sacrifices all to keep the world safe, and remains forever haunted by that which he has lost. Bishop gives a particularly fine and uncompromising performance, and with his piercing blue eyes and those ultra blond short mod locks, this should have catapulted him to the heights of stardom, an opportunity sadly missed by simple miscommunication and the resulting scheduling fiasco.
George Sewell, of Special Branch fame, here played Colonel Alec Freeman, Straker's apparent best friend and right hand man. He took what so easily could have been a cardboard cut out role, and added depth and personality. Skydiver Captain Peter Carlin was portrayed by Peter Gordeno. Gordeno was Burmese, and helped add to the international flavour of the task force immensely. More than just a token character, he was given important parts to play in several of the story lines, often being a pivotal character, and though better known for his choreographic work elsewhere, does a very fine job in his role. Lieutenant Gay Ellis, of Moonbase, is rather underused, being seen mostly as to function and no real deep examination of her character, sadly. Anderson had intended for the series to run for more seasons, and based on the other storylines, I am certain that along the line the more than capable Gabrielle Drake would have been given a meatier role as time went along. Altogether a fine ensemble cast was presented, and with the quality of the darkly quirky scripts, help make this the cult classic it truly is.
As befits an early 70's era cult sci fi series, the music is fabulously spot on, and has that undeniable late 60's to early 70's vibe full on. No mere canned lift music here or lame keyboard sounds, but fully realised musical scores wisely utilised, including a signature tune by long time Anderson collaborator Barry Gray. Speaking of sound, the sound effects here are simply FABULOUS! I simply adore the ever so retro whirring and bleeping and buzzing sounds here, and unless we are talking classic Trek, they have never been so well used! Accompanied by classic Anderson effects using miniatures, it simple adds up to one seriously cool retro dream of a show. Of course, these effects would be ill chosen if not so uniquely suited to the Anderson visual special effects. This excellent use of miniatures was a well known trademark of his previous series, and here they are used to quite good effect, though admittedly somewhat dated by current methods. Still, who can resist a spinning salt shaker of a flying saucer making those outta sight sounds as the cryptic aliens zoom in on our planet? I can't, that's for sure.
While no modern masterpiece a la BSG's reimagining or Stargate, its pure pulp sci fi fun for grown ups, and has that groovy feel you only get from TV of that era. It makes it unmissable.
on 20 February 2002
Every available superlative could be used to describe this Gerry Anderson series. Set in the then futuristic year of 1980 when earth was being attacked from space by a race of humanoid aliens. Travelling to earth they aimed to steal human organs to replace parts of their failing bodies. The 'Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation' or SHADO for short is based beneath a working movie studio where Commander Ed Straker also takes the role of movie executive.
With an array of Anderson style futuristic vehicles on the ground, in the air, in space and beneath the sea, sets and clothing bringing the illusion to life. Thankfully the fashions never caught on in reality! As for the purple anti-static wigs and silver uniforms worn by the female SHADO operatives on Moon Base you'll have to decide for yourself.
Gerry Anderson had always wanted to produce a 'live action' series and with the UFO series Lew Grade gave him his well deserved opportunity. Boy did Gerry Anderson take his chance with both hands. Not that the puppet series of Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Stingray were poor by any standards but UFO took the genre to a whole new level.
Now a cult series with many fan clubs around the globe, this is a must have collectors item that no UFO or Gerry Anderson fan can afford to miss. The effects were ground breaking at the time as were the techniques used to create such great illusion.
Great performances from Ed Bishop as the ice cool Commander Ed Straker, Michael Billington as the action hero Col Paul Foster, George Sewell as Straker's sidekick Col Alec Freeman and of course Gabrielle Drake as Lt Gay Ellis to name just four of the main cast.
on 9 February 2006
I have very fond memories of UFO from when it was first televised in the ealy seventies. In fact, such was its impact that "assination-of-Kennedy" style, I still remember where I was when I caught my first glimpse of the show.
That was a long time ago, so has it stood the test of time? Well, by-and-large, yes... UFO has certainly not dated as badly as many other TV programmes of its era, and still retains much of its original excitement and charm. Some of the characters can be a little one-dimensional, and some of the storylines a little slow in pace, but on the whole it remains a hugely attractive and enjoyable programme.
For me, the special effects (meaning the models) were always the highlight of the show and whilst these are much more convincing than those of Gerry Anderson's earlier shows, such as Thunderbirds, they still have a slightly toy-like quality. For me, this is part of their charm. Watching the entire series, though, it becomes evident that special effects footage was widely reused throughout the series, and this does detract from the enjoyment a little. Still, in all this is a minor criticism.
The extras are a little disappointing, though Gerry Anderson's commentary of the first episode is fascinating and charming.
Although the programme shows its age a little, it's sexy, exciting, a little bleak in places, but always looks great. For me, this boxed set well worth the money.