Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > TV > British > UFO MegaSet (British TV series/A&E DVD Set)

U.F.O. MegaSet (British Television Series)


Picture: B-     Sound: C     Extras: C+     Episodes: B+



U.F.O. is a TV series that has always had an interesting history, and its DVD release will add to any oddness.  When the show was first issued on DVD by A&E, it was done in two translucent, hard plastic cases at four DVDs each.  Now, they have issued an eight DVD MegaSet, but it is not quite the same repackaging they always do so well.


When the first set was issued, it was remixed for 2.0 Stereo, which was not bad, but has a slight harshness and some marginal volume shifts that was tolerable for the fuller sound we got otherwise.  However, fans and people inside A&E (and likely both Carlton and Anderson camps) did not like this, so the second set came out monophonic.  That set is covered elsewhere on this site and we intended to have someone other than this critic cover Set One, since said critic covered it previously for another outfit.  When the MegaSet was announced, we would leave the whole set would be covered by that alternate writer instead.  Then, A&E did something they never did before: redid the sound on the first four DVDs!


Now the entire set was monophonic, so half the box was suddenly a second edition, so a comparison to the first set was necessary, so that leads us to this review.  For one thing, a comparison of the sound on both versions could only be done by someone who covered the first stereo set, and how would this change affect the picture?


Well, the full-screen picture is at least as good as it was from Set One, while the DVDs are exactly the same as the Set Two review elsewhere on this site.  The color is rich and images still on the clear side, but some slight detail hazing is noticed from what are likely PAL transfers.  Also, even with the audio change, the slightly poorer, noticeable picture quality drop on DVD 4 remains.  Otherwise, this is among the best full screen, color transfers on DVD, even with its flaws.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is adequate, but even at A&E/New Video’s higher 384 kilobits-per-second rate, average.  Too bad they could not have found a new way to redo the stereo versions or even include both on all 8 DVDs, as they have with some other Gerry Anderson titles.  However, purists get to have it there way and Set One becomes a collector’s item, though it is unclear if that set is going monophonic after its initial printing, which we do not know as of presstime.


The series, once again, focuses on S.H.A.D.O. (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organization) and its anti-invasion activities in detecting and stopping UFOs from reaching earth, tucked away underneath a successful movie studio.  Ed Bishop is Commander Ed Straker, who poses as the head of the studio, which is amusing since studios rarely have one person running them so personally nowadays.  This is also supposed to show what a good, smart guy he can be, as he deals very well with creative talent.  Perhaps it is a nod to Gerry Anderson.


Other main characters include George Sewell as Colonel Alec Freeman, Michael Billington as Colonel Paul Foster, Grant Taylor as General James Henderson, Wanda Ventham as Colonel Virginia Lake and Gabrielle Drake as Lieutenant Gay Ellis.  That is only the tip of the iceberg too.  Now, we’ll list the shows in order, with a # indicating key shows:


Identified [#]

Computer Affair

Flight Path


Survival [#]

Conflict [#]

The Dalotek Affair

A Question of Priorities

Ordeal [#]

The Square Triangle [#]

Court Martial

Close Up [#]

Confetti Check A-O.K.

The Responsibility Seat

E.S.P. [#]

Kill Straker!

Sub Smash [#]

The Sound of Silence

The Cat with Ten Lives

Destruction [#]

The Man Who Came Back

The Psychobombs [#]

Reflections in the Water [#]

Timelash [#]


The Long Sleep [#]


This is not to say the other shows are awful, but to say that those marked episodes offer the series at its best, cancelled too soon (worth noting yet again) so Gerry and Sylvia Anderson could do Space: 1999.  Extras include stills accompanying all episodes on the DVDs for which they appear, alternate clips for “Identified” and a commentary track on that show are on Disc One, Disc Two has alternate clips from “Exposed”. Disc Three has audio of the SID computer voice, Disc Four has a biography of Gerry Anderson, Disc Five has three takes from the "Kill Straker!" episode from three different angles.  This is not a multi-angle section, but three different takes of the same conversation between the three principal actors as well as a fine audio commentary with Alan Perry & Mike Billington on the same show, Disc Seven offers the voice of the HAL-9000-like SID computer singing “Home On The Range” as a gag unused in any episode, and Disc Eight offers two extras clips for the great “Timelash” show, one that shows the before and after of the day-for-night work in an early scene, the other a clapperboard piece.  The episode also has an exceptional commentary by Sylvia Anderson & Wanda Ventham.  There is also a piece on “The Long Sleep” show that shows the Special Visual Effects and music sting sounds.


All in all, this is a great set, and also an alternate one.  If you want the harder plastic storage and potential stereo versions of the first four DVDs, get those separate sets, but if the monophonic sound and eight alpha-paks holding each DVD individually in a paperboard slipcase are not an issue for you, then you could get the MegaSet.  Either way, you will land up with one of the greatest short-run TV shows ever made.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com