In this review I’ll be taking a look at the UFO TV Series 8 Disc DVD Megaset. If you’re a fan of early science fiction TV series, vintage British TV and/or shows by Gerry Anderson you’ve probably heard of this 26 episode series that depicts a secret organization fighting off aliens intent of invading Earth. How does this DVD set stack up and how do the shows hold up after 40 years? Let’s find out…
Review continued below…
I won’t go over the whole backstory of UFO, but the premise of the show was that a high-tech secret organization called SHADO was waging a secret war against alien attackers. Leading the charge were Commander Ed Straker, played by Ed Bishop, and Colonel Paul Foster, played by Michael Billington. The series was set in 1980 and it assumed that human’s had achieved moon colonization by that point and a much more extensive space travel system than we have today. The stories were known for their more adult leaning themes, such as relationship problems encountered by those in important covert jobs and making life and death choices. Some episodes were censored because of dialog and actions that were provocative at the time and would still be considered slightly edgy even today.
UFO was filmed and released in 1969 and 1970 and was the first live action TV show by Gerry Anderson. Anderson was previously known for creating the kid’s Supermarionation series like Thunderbirds. Like many independently produced TV shows in those days, it was on a limited budget. Anderson’s team used this as an advantage by setting a large portion of the series on a movie studio backlot and being extraordinarily creative. Unfortunately, they ended up having a production break that resulted in some key actors leaving the series at the 2/3 point.
Overall, the series is both predictive of the future and silly with 1960’s style. One thing that most people recall about the UFO series are the campy purple wigs worn by Moonbase women and the mod look fashions worn by almost all of the characters. One thing that really places it in the 60’s is the smoking. They were even smoking in space! On the predictive side, they had car phones and cordless phones, spacecraft launched from planes and sophisticated electronic security systems. The series does have a number of plot holes and logical flaws but nothing too terrible.
The quality of these remastered DVD’s is excellent. Often older shows are hastily brought to market with little or no clean up. This isn’t the case with the UFO series DVDs. Not only is the video quality excellent and the sound clear but the extra features like commentary by the producers and actors and photo stills from every episode help round out the package. The street price on the UFO DVD Megaset is about $60-70 although if you’re patient you can often catch half price deals. If you’re a fan of the series or remember watching it when you were a kid in black & white, like I did, you’ll really enjoy it. If you haven’t seen the series and enjoy sci-fi TV shows with a dash of camp, UFO will be a treat for you.
I’ve heard that there is a remake film in the works that will have Fringe star Joshua Jackson in the role of Paul Foster. It will be interesting to see if that film will be as good as the original series or go off on some silly 2010’s tangent. Anyway, I highly recommend the UFO TV Series DVD Megaset to all fans of classic sci-fi TV.