December 16, 2010

From time to time over the past few years, hoping through the Sky Channels late at night I’ve found back episodes of series such as Sharpe and UFO. A few months back I indulged myself via the Amazon account and got the full boxed sets of both. The Sharpe set goes with my Hornblower collection and the space I am reserving for Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey/Maturin series when someone gets their act together and films it. I don’t count Master and Commander there which was a travesty, a betrayal and a disgrace. It needs to be 21 or 22 (if we can find a sympathetic writer to complete the series truncated by O’Brian’s death in 2000) two hour films, the format which worked so well for Sharpe & Hornblower. The contrast between the professionalism of the British Navy and the rank (sic) amateurism of the British Army during the Napoleonic period has always fascinated me. The one being a form of licensed privateer and the latter a gentleman’s club. We also have the tension with civil unrest in the UK at the time finally leading to the Great Reform Act in 1832, where one could argue a ommon cause with revolutionary France.

UFO of course is a product of the late sixties and seventies. The plot is based on an Alien race from a dying planet who are seeking the harvest the human race for body parts to create a form of immortality. Each episode started off with an advanced computer printing off the title sequence with an IBM Golfball (remember those?). The UFOs of the title conveniently arrived one by one and were generally shot down by Moon Base interceptors commanded by the truly wonderful (Well I was 16) Gabrielle Drake as Lieutenant Gay Eillis pictured above. Now Anderson is better known for supermarionation via Thunderbirds, Stingray and the like but I think UFO and Space 1999 are much better. Adult themes, believable characters, for the time good science and some really inventive costumes!. I realised that I have never seen the US funded second series, which I should get to in a week or so indignation levels may or may not rise at that point.

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