Friday, February 6, 2009

The Flu and UFOs

I'm currently fighting the flu and a cough from hell, and James Lileks is the one who gets to see a strange light in the sky. How unfair is that?

Even Lileks doesn't seem to know what he actually say, but it did spur him to post this little gem from our collective past:

That's the opening sequence to Gerry Anderson's UFO, the series he did between those "Supermarionation" puppet shows in the 1960s, like Thunderbirds, and Space:1999.

Man, did I love UFO. I was six or seven when it aired here in America, and that was a dry time for television science fiction, at least where I lived. Those were the days when that wondrous new invention, something called cable, meant that not only could you actually receive 13 channels, eight of them might actually have something on them.

Until UFO, the only choice I'd had for TV sci-fi was between repeats of Star Trek (broadcast from some small station out of Wheeling, West Virginia) and repeats of all those old Irwin Allen shows, like Lost in Space. So UFO was a gift from the heavens to a young and geeky boy. At the time, it was Obama-level cool, at least to me.

Sure, the dogfights between the Earth interceptors and the UFOs were basically groups of three flying in a straight line toward each other. To really see a zero-gravity dogfight that didn't break the laws of physics, Id have to wait for Babylon 5. But at six or seven years of age, I didn't really care. The women on the secret moonbase wore these awesome silver boots and purple wigs, after all. And Ed Straker, the head of SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organistion) posed as the head of a movie studio. How cool is that?

But wait, it gets better. Because Ed Straker didn't just have a secret elevator from his studio office to his secret underground complex. His entire office was the secret elevator.

Yeah, it really was just that awesome...

Even though the series has been out on DVD for a while now, I've held off buying it. I'm deathly afraid that it won't be what I remember, that it just won't hold up when I see it as a 43-year-old man rather than a young kid. I've had a string of disappointments like that over the last two years. So I think I'll just stick with that YouTube clip of the opening sequence. At least for now.

I don't know what you saw, either, James. But if it means you'll dig up more lost gems from our mutual childhood, I hope you see more of them.