UFO-The Complete Shado File: Incidents 1-26 (1970)
Audio Commentary-6 separate ones
Alternate Audio-raw audio
Additional Footage-extended versions of various scenes
Alternate Ending-alternate endings for Identified, Square Triangle
Audio Interview-Cast-interview with Ed Bishop
Booklet-reproduction of original ITC press release brochure
DVD-ROM Extras-plenty of PDF content including scripts, brochures, articles
Episode Introductions-a couple of episodes are introduced by guest stars (audio)
Featurette-Making Of-Timelash - Day for Night
Gallery-Photo-Many photo galleries
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Outtakes-SID voice tests, and other audio outtakes
Scene Selection Audio
Notes-on the reverse of each cover slick
Bonus Episode-Invasion UFO movie
|Year Of Production||1970|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (8)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
UFO was the first "live action" series from Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who had already been hugely successful with their many puppet based Scifi series including Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlett, Fireball XL5 and Joe 90. UFO was essentially the story of SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation), and its ongoing battle to protect the Earth from hostile aliens from a nearby planet. SHADO, a secret organisation headed by Commander Ed Straker, was based both under a film studio in England, as well as on the moon. There were 26 episodes made from 1969-1970 and the series was quite successful in its home market as well as Australia, USA and even Japan, Germany and Italy where there are still very loyal fanbases devoted to the show. In Australia it was shown on TV in repeat screening throughout the 70s and 80s, and I even remember it being on Foxtel in 1996 or so.
For me, UFO wasn't just about the action involved with tracking and intercepting alien spacecraft, but was really a lot more. The relationships between the main characters, the music, the costumes and, most importantly, the storylines were completely different to any previous show in the genre. The stories were often of a more adult nature, including subject matter as diverse as infidelity, seduction, racism, corruption, and brutal violence, but always with the threat of the aliens as the central theme. Occasionally, and just very slightly, some plots or subplots strayed towards the territory of melodrama, but somehow this just added to what made UFO different to any other sci-fi show before or since as I felt it got the balance just right.
In addition to the often unusual stories, the strong characters are what stayed in my memory, especially the blond-wigged highly authoritative and often dictatorial Ed Straker, played superbly by American born Ed Bishop. But there was also the macho, Paul Foster (Michael Billington), the more thoughtful Alec Freeman (George Sewell), and of course the very attractive Virginia Lake (Wanda Ventham). Then of course there were the purple-wigged silver suited women of Moonbase, and the crew of Skydiver, exploring the depths of the oceans clad in fishnet costumes, both the men and women!
The special effects, by Derek Meddings who later went on to do much work on major movies including some in the 007 franchise, is fantastic. This show was made well before the days of CGI and virtually all effects were optical or miniature. The model work and the associated camera work in most instances really stands the test of time and hold up well today, even if the occasional strings could be seen holding up the models... which is perhaps more than could be said of the Andersons' later series, Space:1999, in which the strings holding up the flimsy plots were also visible!
While most of the storylines hold up very well, and the restoration work has been exemplary, UFO does look dated in some aspects. These include the set decoration, costumes and also the dialogue delivery and editing. This show harks from an era in which viewers were presented with long scenes, lengthy pauses between dialog, extended shots and plenty of long meaningful looks from characters. This is in sharp contrast to more modern approaches of cramming the maximum amount of action and snappy dialog into each scene, and just adds to UFO's charm.
This 8-disk box set, wonderfully put together by Umbrella Entertainment, is the pinnacle of the numerous worldwide releases to date. The treasure chest of extras alone are worth buying this set for, let alone the beautifully restored 26 episodes of this great series. The 8 disks are packed in 4 dual disk boxes and presented in a slipcase. Each box and the artwork on the accompanying disks features one of the 4 main characters, Straker, Foster, Freeman and Lake, although in the box with Freeman's picture, one of the two disks features Dolores Mantez rather than George Sewell.
In this release, the 26 episodes are presented in the order originally recommended by ITC. The episodes are:
Disk 1 - Identified
Disk 2- Conflict
A Question of Priorities
The Square Triangle
Disk 3- Ordeal
Disk 4- Confetti Check A-ok
Disk 5- The Dalotek Affair
The Responsibility Seat
Disk 6- The Cat with Ten Lives
The Sound of Silence
The Man Who Came Back
Disk 7- The Psychobombs
Reflections in the Water
Disk 8- The Long Sleep
Synopses for these episodes can be found on numerous guides on the internet, such as the one on Marc Martin's fantastic UFO website: here
An absolutely superb remastering was done in 2002. This release uses the same digitally remastered video, and that's nothing to be complained about! For a TV show that was made in 1969-1970, the video quality as presented on these disks is really very good. No doubt it was helped somewhat by the original being shot on 35mm film, but it is still clear that the remastering team did painstaking work on every aspect of restoration, and the results have been spectacular.
The video is presented in its original aspect ratio of 4:3.
The picture is reasonably sharp, considering the age of the original material. However there are occasional instances where the picture is slightly soft.
Colour is quite vibrant throughout, bringing out the lurid 1970s colour schemes very well! There are occasional scenes in which colours threaten to be oversaturated, such as the bright red chairs in the hospital scene in "A question of priorities". However there is no visible colour bleed. Despite the extensive digital work done in the restoration, there are the occasional examples of colour mismatch, especially between different scenes with greenery in the background.
Shadow detail is pretty good, considering the age of the source material, once again attesting to the great restoration work. There is no visible low level noise.
Grain is visible in some of the shots, but is never particularly a worry.
There were no subtitles available.
The disks are dual layered, but the layer change points are placed in between episodes so they do not cause any visible interruptions.
The audio is presented in its original mono but has been digitally remastered to maximise its quality.
The audio commentary tracks are presented in stereo.
There are no issues with audio sync and dialogue is clear at all times.
The music, by Barry Gray, a long time collaborator of Gerry Anderson's, is a key part of the success of UFO. The instantly recognisable and very catchy opening theme is used quite often, in various forms during the episodes, but never enough that one gets sick of it. There are other musical cues used, at times lending some episodes quite a bit of 'weight', making them feel like a late 1960s English dramatic movie, rather than a sci-fi TV series. Gray also brings in occasional excerpts from some of his previous soundtracks, including Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlett.
Being a mono soundtrack, the rear surround speakers are never used. Even the front left and right speakers are only used during the audio commentary tracks.
The subwoofer is not fed its own LFE channel, but does support the music and some effects if you have your decoder setup appropriately.
|Surround Channel Use|
This package has a huge, huge amount of extras, every single one of them worthwhile.
The four cover slicks feature detailed well researched notes, written by Grant Taylor at Umbrella Entertainment. These notes cover the background to the making of UFO, casting and production of the series, the filming of the second 'block' at Pinewood Studios, and the music and fashions used in the series.
Each of the 8 disks has its own themed menu and submenus, complete with different music from the show, as well as excerpts of dialog. I also like being able to skip past the intro screens using chapter-skip button and get quickly to the menu.
Audio Commentary by Gerry Anderson on the episode "Identified". Slightly dry, but packed with information and with very few gaps in the commentary.
Alternate footage -
Extended and more violent opening scenes for "Identified"
Extended closing sequence for "Identified"
Outtakes of SID (Space Intruder Detector) singing
2 scenes from "Exposed" which have been added back into the episode but with subtitles as the original audio was lost.
self-advancing gallery of still photos taken during the filming. Plenty of behind the scenes shots.
Alternate footage - End sequence for "The Square Triangle" but without the actual credits overlaid.
SID Computer voice trials
Interview with Ed Bishop (runtime 7:31) and ISOSHADO (Italian UFO Fan Club) in 2002. This is set to the background of photos. This brief interview is fascinating as it focuses on his role, his relationship with cast and crew and even the wig!
Photo gallery - photos taken on set during the filming of Conflict, Question of Priorities, and The Square Triangle.
Audio commentary by George Sewell on ESP. The moderator is a little lame with plenty of 'yeahs' and 'mmhmms'. The commentary itself is not terrible scene-specific but very entertaining and packed with trivia.
DVD ROM content - PDF scans of the original ITC Pressbook which has plenty of details about the premise of the show, as well as each character. Amusing to read the language used in the late 1960s.
Scans of the original scripts for Conflict, ESP and Court Martial, made especially poignant as you can see the handwriting on these scripts which were actually used in the filming of these episodes.
Photo gallery (runtime 4:16) - photos taken during the making of Ordeal, ESP, Closeup and Court Martial.
Audio commentary by the late, great Ed Bishop on the Sub Smash episode. He comes across as enthusiastic and reasonably exciting, although there are plenty of gaps in the commentary.
Audio commentary on Kill Straker! by actor Mike Billington and episode director Alan Perry. Their commentary track is quite scene specific, with Perry doing more of the talking.
Raw audio from Kill Straker! (6:15)
Featurette - Restoration Example (4:54). Fantastic short piece showing 'before and after' versions of various scenes from various episodes so you can clearly see the difference made by the digital restoration. It might have been further improved with some commentary by one of the restoration team, although it's fairly self explanatory and does also have brief onscreen notes in some sequences.
DVDROM content - detailed article on the restoration work written by one of the key members of the restoration team.
Photo Gallery (3:11) - photos taken during Confetti Check A-ok, Kill Straker!, and Sub Smash.
Voice introduction to The Responsibility Seat by guest star, Jane Merrow
Alternate footage - Textless end titles (1:18). The end titles used on almost all episodes, but without the actual text overlays, just the spooky music and the flyby of the planets.
Photo Gallery (4:16)
Voice introduction to "The Man Who Came Back" by guest star, Derren Nesbitt.
Photo Galleries - Memorabilia - Cards and Stickers (13:41)
Comics, Books and Magazines (4:06)
Jigsaws and Toys (4:51)
Cinefilms (0:36) which includes a number of scenes from the old 3D Viewmaster slides!
ITC Promotional Material (0:51)
DVDROM Content - ITC Story - information for each episode
Press information for the Invasion:UFO movie, including dialogue continuity script.
Photo Gallery (2:06) - stills from The Cat with Ten Lives, The Sound of Silence, Destruction, and The Man Who Came Back
Documentary - Fanderson (59:24). A long documentary produced by the UK based UFO fan organisation in 1993 for its members. A great documentary that I actually bought on VHS many years ago, but looks great on DVD. Plenty of scenes from the series and interviews with Gerry Anderson, Derek Meddings, Ed Bishop, Dolores Mantez and a number of other cast members.
Audio commentary on The Psychobombs by guest actress Deborah Grant. This commentary was moderated by Jonathon Wood, one of the members of the restoration team. Both speakers are interesting and quite scene specific, with Woods' commentary actually being more informative and enthusiastic.
Photo Gallery (2:31) - photos taken during the filming of The Psychobombs, Mindbender and Reflections in the Water
Bonus movie - Invasion:UFO (93:50). A feature length movie, released in 1980, featuring the cast of the TV series! But don't get too excited, because it was made up of scenes from various episodes ('Identified', 'Computer Affair' and 'Reflections in the Water' and others) with absolutely no new material, except for the credits! It's obvious that this feature didn't enjoy the same restoration that was provided to the actual episodes, and looks somewhat 'dated' as a result. However, it is still a good print, considering the age of the source material.
Alternative ending - The Long Sleep (1:04)
Documentary - Timelash - Day for Night example (1:51)
Interesting look at how they filmed night scenes during the day and then 'treated' the film to look like night. Curiously there's a 10-second bit of unrelated footage at the end, which itself ends abruptly. Perhaps some form of Easter Egg?
Documentary - Tomorrow Today (2:54). An interview with Sylvia Anderson focusing on the fashions used in UFO. This looks like it was done around 1970 and includes a rather funny sequence of one of the Moonbase girls 'modelling' the silver costume in different locations!
Trailer (1:01) - for the Invasion:UFO movie.
Audio commentary on Timelash by Wanda Ventham and Sylvia Anderson. It's quite entertaining to hear them both talk, often about the fashions, makeup and how 'good looking' the male cast were!
Photo gallery (13:36). Photos from The Long Sleep, Timelash and Invasion:UFO
There have been previous releases in R1, R2 and Japan, Italy, Germany. Whilst all the releases should share the same great remastering of episodes, some of these sets have been more comprehensive than others on the extras front.
However, from what I've seen (and read), none of the other releases can hope to compete with this recent Australian region-free release in terms of sheer volume and quality of extras. I'd recommend purchasing this particular set even if you already owned the previously released R1 or R2 sets, just for the extra commentary tracks, documentaries, and DVD ROM content.
UFO never focused just on aliens and fantastic equipment, but was more about strong characters, unusual storylines, the music and of course the costumes! Being able to see a series that I loved from childhood, that has been restored so wonderfully, is fantastic! And to top it all off, the vast quantity of extras has made this my favourite DVD release of all time!
I really think Grant Taylor and his team at Umbrella Entertainment took on this challenge of producing the very best release of UFO more as labour of love than anything, and this is reflected in the end product. The release was delayed by about 2 years, but this gave them more time to compile additional commentary tracks and other extras, and I think it has been well worth waiting for. Even if you already purchased either the UK or US sets when they were released, it would be worthwhile considering this latest release, just for the massive amount of extras, especially the audio commentary tracks and DVD-ROM content. I found it particularly poignant when listening to the commentary tracks from Ed Bishop, Mike Billington and George Sewell, recorded just before their deaths in the last few years.
The picture and sound quality is superb, given that the original series was made in 1969-1970, and attests to the great digital restoration work undertaken. If it's at all possible though, I think the extras on this set almost outshine the actual episodes! There is just a massive amount of good quality material including the Invasion UFO 'movie', the hour-long UFO documentary, deleted scenes, alternate footage, audio commentary tracks, massive photo galleries, and DVD-ROM content such as original scripts for some episodes. Not to mention the detailed liner notes on each box, as well as the printed copy of the original ITC publicity brochure. Even the manner in which the whole set has been 'authored' or assembled, with themed disks and menus is wonderful.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output|
|Display||Sony KV-XA34M31 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Main: Mission 753; Centre: Mission m7c2; rear: Mission 77DS; Sub: JBL PB10|