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Project UFO

Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

US tv series (1978-1979; vt Project Blue Book). A Mark VIII Ltd Production/NBC. Executive producer Jack Webb; created Harold Jack Bloom; produced by Col. William T Coleman. Cast includes William Jordan as Major Jake Gatlin, Caskey Swaim as Sgt Harry Fisk, Aldine King as Libby Virdon, Edward Winter (season 2) as Capt Ben Ryan. Directors included Richard Quine, Dennis Donnelly, Robert Leeds, John Patterson, Rich Greer. Writers included Harold Jack Bloom, Donald L Gold, Robert Blees. Two seasons, 26 50-minute numbered episodes. Colour.

In terms of the size of viewing audience, this was in its day the most successful US sf television series ever made. The premise is that US Air Force investigators belonging to a special unit code-named Project Blue Book (the name of the actual systematic UFO study conducted by the USAF from 1959 to 1970) each week look into a supposed UFO (i.e., flying-saucer) sighting. Some of the cases prove to be hoaxes, some misunderstandings of other phenomena; but most turn out to be genuine despite the real Project Blue Book's conclusion that "There was no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as 'unidentified' were extraterrestrial vehicles." Project UFO, which assumed the air of drama-documentary, was tabloid Television at its most naked, aimed directly and cynically at a credible audience greedy for wonders. Thus Aliens regularly appear; there are also extraterrestrial Robots and such regular UFO-mythos tropes as solemn warnings to Earth (eg. against Pollution) and the ineffectuality of human Weapons against the visitors.

Given the overall similarity of the plot-lines, it is astonishing that two seasons were wrung from it. Executive producer Webb is remembered by older viewers as the gravel-voiced presenter of the police-procedural Dragnet (1951-1959; 1967-1970). [PN/DRL]

see also: Paranoia.


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