Ed Bishop, also known as Klaus Hergeshimer in Diamonds are Forever , is Commander Straker, head of an MJ-12 type organisation set up to defeat a secret alien invasion. George Sewell, familiar from every UK cop show ever made, plays Straker's sidekick.
The retro-futuristic look comes from the fact that this was made circa 1970 but is set in 1980.
Flying saucers attack England, machine-gunning bystanders in a forest and bombing a Government limo. One survivor is Commander Ed Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ), in green dress-uniform.
In 1980, Straker controls SHADO - a secret Alien Defence Organisation. It has lots of hi-tech gear (moonbase, flying subs, a cargo-carrying Concorde) and beautiful women in miniskirts or skin-tight cat-suits.
Straker's sidekick, Colonel Alec Freeman (George Sewell), is in charge of security for some hi-tech gear. However, the UFOs try to intercept it.
This is quite an action-packed ep. However, the ending sets the disturbing undertone to the entire series.
Near-future Earth ... well, an early 1970s version of the Near Future. A British test-pilot is witness to a UFO incident. He wakes up from his coma, discovering himself blamed for the crash (and subsequent death of the co-pilot).
A married couple visit their friends' house, and have a seance. But on the way home they save a strange cat - and are abducted by aliens!
The SHADO doc discovers that the aliens are actually abducted humans, medically altered to breathe fluid so they can withstand interstellar travel. But he does not realise that the aliens could also modify other mammals ... like cats!
Space junk, the debris floating in near-Earth orbit, is causing problems for SHADO. Commander Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) is afraid the Aliens are using it.
The problem is, a bureaucrat refuses to help, claiming the budget is too restrictive. Moonbase staff must compile a report on the dangers.
Straker's son is injured in car crash. Only an emergency flight of drugs from the USA can save him.
The aliens attack, and one of them lands off the west coast of Ireland. The only flight handy is the one with the drugs aboard ...
The Aliens send another saucer to Earth. This one is on manual control, and actually lands.
Paul Foster (Michael Billington) commands the ground team that intervenes. He winds up in hospital, and suspects that someone is following him. Is he merely paranoid, or is he developing a psychic sense?
A middle-aged Englishman has developed mind-reading powers, and is stalking the leaders of SHADO with the intent of assassinating them. The most unbelievable bit? He's got hold of a handgun, and knows how to use it!
An Alien encounter puts one of the moonbase ships in peril. Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) has to make a difficult decision.
Colonel Dave and his co-pilot are lost for 16 hours. Luckily the two pilots survive. However, they become antagonistic towards Straker. This escalates to a homicidal level!
This show is not about the aliens, despite the title. It is really a character-driven drama about Straker himself. He is humanity's only line of defence. And that burden weighs heavy upon him.
The Aliens have invented a flying sub, and are using it to abduct sailors and destroy oil tankers. This week Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) and Alec Freeman (George Sewell) join the crew of the SHADO sub, to help hunt it down.
Unfortunately, the sub gets crippled by an alien vessel and left on the sea bed with the air slowly running out ... With Straker and the others inside. Straker, a known claustrophobic, has to control both himself and his crew. The tension is ratcheted up, notch by notch. Straker and Freeman, being main characters, will probably survive. But the crew of redshirts are a different matter ...
Straker is an incredibly complex character, an obsessive workaholic haunted by the death of his son, and Bishop handles the part perfectly.
A RN warship shoots down a UFO in the Atlantic. Unfortunately, the MOD photos somehow reach the Press.
It turns out the MOD was dumping barrels of nerve gas into an Atlantic-floor trench. And the Aliens have discovered this, because Stephanie Beecham was their brainwashed spy in the Admiralty.
The final battle between a UFO and the RN destroyer illustrates the importance of using specialist firepower to fight the alien menace. Nice use of stock footage, too.
A UFO lands in England. Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) sends a ground-patrol out to intercept the pilot.
Adrienne Cori is plotting to murder her husband.
The climax gives Straker an uncomfortable choice. But he does not balk at doing what is necessary.
The end scene, wordlessly passing as the credits roll, is quite chilling.
SHADO tests an unmanned spaceship which has a spy-cam that can do close-ups from 500 miles. The aim? To follow a UFO to its homeworld, and see what the Alien world looks like!
Unfortunately, the threat of sabotage exists.
The ending is quite ironic. A bit of a downer, perhaps, but this is a drama rather than action-adventure.
Two men and a woman get supernatural powers. Like The Champions , but eeevil. They are controlled by the Aliens, who have full knowledge of SHADO's security.
A UFO sends psychic signals to the trio, and they drop what they are doing (like in Telefon) to attack pre-determined Installations. Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) and SHADO have been told what the targets are, as in Captain Scarlett . Or even Theatre of Blood, Dr Phibes , etc.
One of the anti-Champs is Mike Pratt (star of Randall and Hopkirk, Deceased , who also played a villainous type on a submarine in the actual Champions show). Another is a beautiful woman, who the Colonel falls in love with in about five minutes!
The Aliens land a sniper on the Moon. Somehow he has infinite oxygen, despite not carrying any cannisters on his back. He walks to within two hundred metres of Moonbase, takes a shot at a window. This causes explosive decompression and the death of one of the pilots. Not only is the guy Foster's best friend, he is also only one day away from a well-earned trip home.
Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) goes to Moonbase to oversee the proceedings. Foster (Michael Billington) leads a mission to capture the UFO on the moon's surface. It puts up a fight - yes, with sound effects in vacuum - and Foster is left missing-believed-dead.
Foster himself is kept alive by the alien. You know, like in Enemy Mine . The others assume he is dead, even though they did not find his body. Surely they could have examined the explosion site for any debris. After all, they were able to collect the fragments of window glass after the decompression incident scattered them across several acres. And a search of the explosion site would gain them valuable info about the alien species and their technology.
The date of this mission is given as April 1981. Since the show was filmed ten years earlier, it must have seemed very futuristic. However, there is one major change they do not seem to have predicted. Straker delegates the female staff members simple office jobs like radar operator and coffee gofer. However, in real life the UK had elected Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister two years previously! Perhaps women should have been given more important jobs, such as cannon fodder in Straker's never-ending war against the aliens.
Mark (Harry Baird), the token black guy, is made Foster's replacement. However, he is paranoid about racial prejudice. Hey, this was made in 1970, after all! However, Straker assures him that racism was eliminated five years previously, circa 1976.
A UFO flies close to Moonbase, but mysteriously explodes before it can be shot down. Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) sends out a unit to investigate.
SHADO personnel start to hallucinate. One fellow thinks he is surrounded by Mexican banditos, and tries to shoot his way out!
Straker discovers that he is just an actor on the set of a TV show. An actor pretending to be a man pretending to be a TV Producer! Stuart Damon ( The Champions ) pops up as an actor who complains that the scripts he gets are hackneyed and predictable. Not something that can be said of this episode!
The aliens have used mind-control to subvert humans and use them as spies. This time they pressurise George Cole (Minder) by harrassing his wife.
The aliens' plan is to attack Moonbase. Luckily, SHADO has shoulder-fired rocket-launchers capable of taking down a UFO!
A SHADO astronaut goes MIA after a UFO encounter, and is written off after 48 hours MIA. However, he emerges alive from the jungle.
Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) assigns an officer to keep an eye on the MIA man. Firstly, the Aliens' attacks usually involve mind-f*cking with SHADO personnel. Secondly, the happy smiling MIA fellow once played Number 2 in The Prisoner . Can he be trusted?
A private corporation, Dalotek, sets up an experiment station near Moonbase. Not only does Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) complain about secrecy and the drain on resources, but there is the risk of electronic interference.
The UFOs fly near moonbase, but secrecy is maintained. A strange meteor lands nearby ...
Colonel Foster (Michael Billington) flirts with the female geologist. But their relationship is put under strain when Moonbase suffers from electronic interference, and the Dalotek station seems to be responsible.
The ep starts in the bunker room, where Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) goes crazy and smashes up the machines. However, it turns out that Straker could not have gotten into the Bunker ...
Straker tells the story in flashback. His car was zapped by a UFO, and he found himself trapped in a moment of time. Not unlike the Stephen King TV movie made almost thirty years later, The Langoliers .
The story involves a traitor, corrupted by the Aliens. This has been used before, but works well here. Very off-the-wall, somewhat reminiscent of The Prisoner .
The Special effects, however, are what really make this ep work. The UFOs look like what they are - dated 1970s models - but the effects that simulate a frozen moment are what really impress the viewer.
Colonel Foster (Michael Billington) goes to a health clinic - like James Bond in Thunderball . Although Bond never had flashbacks to terribly dated music and dancing, like something from Austin Powers!
Aliens attack, and capture Foster. Worse, they experiment on him - a weird reverse of the operation the German doc performed on Alien prisoners. They turn him into one of them!
Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) does not hesitate to order the necessary steps. He is a tough man when necessary, and as he points out it would be kinder to kill Foster than let him be tortured to death.
Colonel Foster (Michael Billington) is on trial for espionage. Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) tries to find out what actually happened. The creepy Herr Doktor type is the Prosecutor - yes, he is a lawyer as well as a scientist!
We get to learn a lot more about the workings of SHADO. Also, we get a nice reminder that there is an oversight committee.
A moonbase flight runs foul of the UFOs. An astronaut is killed, and a UFO gets through to Earth. Alec Freeman (George Sewell) tracks the UFO to Canada, while Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) conducts an internal investigation.
The black pilot, Mark (Harry Baird), is having an inter-racial affair with the ground-control officer, Lieutenant Ellis ( Gabrielle Drake ). Heady stuff, considering the time this show was actually made.
The UFO is located in Canada. Mark is sent to attack it. Unfortunately nobody has any woodland camouflage - the Shado men have blue spacesuits, the aliens have Red ones.
When Aliens are surgically converted to breathe Earth atmosphere, they look identical to humans. Unfortunately for Straker, they do not seem to speak English!
A UFO gets past the space patrol, and lands in rural England.
The horse-riding landowners have trouble with a homeless Gyppo type who camps on their land. No Victorian stereotypes here. Move along!
Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) is interviewed by a female journalist. However, she is deceptive ... and thanks to a minor security lapse, she gets a clue to SHADO's existence.
While Straker tracks the woman down, Alec Freeman (George Sewell) is given The Responsibility Seat. A strange radar signal is detected ... something is driving along the moon's surface, directly towards the tiny target of moonbase.
Freeman gets a glimpse of the extreme stress that Straker handles every day. And Straker gets a taste of a normal life.
Unfortunately, Straker (a divorcee) is prone to blackmail if he sleeps with a woman.
A couple of hippies are witness to a UFO landing.
As always, Straker (Ed Bishop - Diamonds are Forever ) must make a difficult decision.
The ending, tinged with bleakness, epitomises the entire series.