Article written by Clayton Barr,
author and creator of Pop Apostle
Having been born a nerd in 1967, when the series was in its second season, I’ve been watching Star Trek for as long as I can remember. People use that term, “as long I can remember” a lot, but I literally can not remember a time before I had watched that show. It helps that my parents watched it during its original run, so it’s likely that I was there in my parents’ laps for any number of episodes when I was even aware of what that noisy, lit-up box called television was. But at some point I was hooked to televised science-fiction before I even knew it.
As a child growing up, I loved watching Star Trek or any other science-fiction that I could find on TV. I also loved the American space program and even remember watching one of the NASA moon landings live, probably Apollo 17 in December 1972, when I was five years old. At some point, I caught my first glimpse of the British series UFO in US syndication; I don’t remember when, but I remember seeing the backdrop of the moon’s landscape, a relatively young guy with white hair leading SHADO, and beautiful women with purple hair inside a moon base.
It must have been on a weekend, because if it was a weekday after school, I would have made sure to tune in to the same channel day-after-day to see more, when my sister and I were allowed to watch more-or-less what we wanted until 5:00, when Mom finally insisted on changing to the local news broadcast on channel four. I would have watched it consistently on the weekends as well, but Dad often had sports on instead. All I know is that I never did get to watch UFO consistently during my childhood…I saw parts of episodes here-and-there over the years.
Around 1981, I discovered Starlog magazine (and received a gift subscription to it from my aunt shortly after) and that was when I learned that UFO had been produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who had also produced Space: 1999, which I had watched religiously in US syndication from 1975-1977 (my parents enjoyed it, too) and that some of the concepts for that later show had originally been planned for the second season of UFO (which, sadly, never happened). This made me want to catch up on those episodes of UFO I’d missed (and as a teenager then, I really wanted to see those beautiful purple-haired Moonbase women again!), but it was not so easy back then; the series had not even been released on VHS video tape at the time!
The only chance of seeing the series was for a locally available TV station to air them and that just wasn’t happening. It wasn’t until I finally watched the entire series on DVD in the 2000s that I discovered the Moonbase women weren’t beautiful, purple-haired aliens helping Earth…they were just beautiful human women wearing crazy wigs for some reason!
Finally viewing the entire series as an adult, I was struck by the mystery of the aliens and the tragic depth of Commander Ed Straker, who essentially has given up a chance for a family or social life for the lonely burdens of commanding a beyond-top-secret globally active organization. I’ve thought ever since then that this series would be one that could actually benefit from a modern remake with a full storyline mapped out for it, examining the aliens’ motivations and origins, and an in-depth look at the human characters of SHADO and Moonbase (the format of having alternating stories set on Earth or the moon or in space could allow a new series to balance the expense of heavy sci-fi special effects with Earth-based stories of our characters).
Wishing for more UFO after finally watching those 26 episodes, I sought out the comic strip adventures that had been published in the British weekly comic Countdown (later TV Action). By this time, I was already publishing my own studies of various TV and movie series on my website PopApostle.com and decided that UFO would be a perfect addition. I have always enjoyed the extended adventures of my favorite TV or movie series that could often be found in comic books or novels and in my mind often considered these to be “lost seasons” in an otherwise truncated series.
If you love the characters and the actors who portrayed them, you can hear their voices in your head as you read dialog, almost becoming a new episode in your mind’s eye. Some of the Countdown stories are great, fitting nicely within, or expanding upon, the televised episodes, while others fall a bit short. But, either way, I hope you’ll enjoy reading the Countdown adventures if you get the chance. And, while you’re at it, please enjoy my studies of both the UFO TV series and comic strips at: