Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This Just In: UFO The Movie...

(poster design for the upcoming remake release)
Now, I don't know how this bit of news eluded me, BUT there is a remake of the television series UFO that has been in the works for several years now. When looking up articles about the production, I found them dated as far back as 2009.  I am both thrilled and scared.  UFO is one of my favorite series, and has been since it first aired.  Those that either know me, or have read certain entries on my blog, know that on some things I am a bit of a purist.  Movies and TV series sit quite high on my purity list.  Some series could do with a bit of re-vamping, but "UFO"...okay, I do think that the original is brilliant. Stylistically, brilliant.  Yes, the computers and such are out of date by today's standards, but I think for the time they were ahead of the mark.  The fact that during the opening credits it says "THE FUTURE...1980"...brilliant!



(The original series intro credits)

Produced in 1970, it was the first live action television series from Gerry Anderson the 'puppet master'.  He was the mastermind behind "Stingray", "Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons", and the puppet acted series he is probably most known for the "Thunderbirds".

(Thunderbirds)
Over the years, I have met more people acquainted with Anderson's second live action space series, "Space 1999" (which is apparently in development for a remake), than with "UFO".  With this new feature I hope for two things:  a) that it doesn't suck, and b) that it causes people unfamiliar with the original to make the sagacious move to go back and give it a look.

In the role of director is Matthew Gratzner.  Other than a short film and a commercial, Gratzner has a laundry list of effects supervisor credits.  There hasn't been a whole lot written about the production, but what little I have seen in the way of statements by Gratzner leads me to believe that he is taking the fans of the original to heart.  It appears that care is being taken in getting the details correct.  How refreshing...I am tired of 'reboots' being terrible.  Like Jonathan Frakes' live action feature of the "Thunderbirds".  It was horrible. (Frakes' admission that he had never seen an episode of the 'T-Birds' might have had something to do with it...)  To all the producers out there wanting to remake things, do me a HUGE favor.  Look for stuff that was terrible to begin with and make it better.  There have been plenty of shows with a great premise, but bad execution.  Pick on those...onto casting.

There isn't a lot out there about casting choices.  I have only been able to find info about two actors that have supposedly signed on:

COLONEL PAUL FOSTER
(Left:  Michael Billington; Right:  Joshua Jackson)

COLONEL VIRGINIA LAKE
(Left:  Wanda Ventham; Right:  Ali Larter)
I know there are a lot of Joshua Jackson fans out there, whether it's from "Dawson's Creek" or "Fringe".  My jury is still out.  For me Michael Billington IS Paul Foster...but then I am a fan of the original.  I don't know if "Pacey" is going to cut it for me.  Billington had the face and the bod.  (A bit of trivia:  Billington was screen tested to play James Bond more than any other actor.  If Roger Moore hadn't been available for "For Your Eyes Only", Billington was the first choice.)  It was the 1970's when men had chest hair, and Michael showed us his in the Foster driven episode "Ordeal".  I found the episode on YouTube, but it's broken into four parts.  I have posted them at the end of this blog post. There is a great party scene at the beginning.  If you just want to check out his bod, go about 4 minutes in on part 2...
(Michael Billington from "The Ordeal")

As for Larter in the role of Colonel Lake, that character was just kind of "there".  She showed up later in the run, and just seemed to be a bit of set dressing.  The character of Lake has one episode that comes to mind where she is a featured player along with Commander Ed Straker.  The episode is called "Timelash", and is told through a series of flashbacks...good episode.   

That's it.  Those are the only cast members I've found.  Who knows, maybe they have been replaced for whatever reason.  By the lack of over all production information on the official site for the movie, it appears they are keeping a lot of the details under wraps. My curiosity is definitely peaked.

As for the original series, I can't recommend it enough.  Hardcore science fiction fans will have seen it (if you haven't, shame on you), but for those that haven't it is well worth the watch.  The writing is a bit dated and has its chuckle worthy moments, but the over all plot lines for the time are great.

(Alien)
(Foster going under the
green liquid)
SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organization) has been created to defend the earth from aliens and their spacecrafts.  The aliens are humanoids in orange space suits who "breath" green liquid.  (In the "Ordeal" episode posted below, it deals with Colonel Foster being abducted and put in one of the alien space suits.) SHADO Control is in an earth base below ground with a movie studio above it as a front.  Commander Ed Straker is in the drivers seat of the organization. In addition to the earth base, there is a base on the moon operated by purple wigged, silver lame mini-skirt wearing women.  The oceans are patrolled by a submarine called Skydiver, which has a plane called Sky 1 docked on its nose.  In certain cases, Skydiver launches Sky 1 out of the water to fly the sometimes not-so friendly skies.  The operators of Skydiver wear beige mesh shirts.  The mens' shirts clearly have nothing underneath, but I don't think censors would have allowed the women to go without an undershirt.  I'm sure there were plenty of male viewers who studied that subject quite closely though.  Other vehicles include the Earth Mobile Units, the Moonbase Interceptors, and the Moonbase communication satelite known as S.I.D. (Space Intruder Detector).

(Clockwise from the top:  Moonbase, Interceptor, S.I.D., Skydiver,
Sky 1, Mobile Unit)

Who will be playing Straker in the new film?  Who will play Lieutenant Ellis? Why is Gilligan on Moonbase?  (Hah...came across the picture and posted it because of Gilligan...in space.  Wait!  It's been done.  "Far-Out Spacenuts". Boy, that was a bad Syd & Marty Kroft Show.  But I digress...)  

The official site says that the projected release date is for sometime in 2013. For the first time in a long while I am actually looking forward to a remake.  I think it stems from the fact that the director of the film has mentioned they are taking the original to heart when getting into the details.  I'm sure they will revamp the designs, which is fine as long as I can see the nod to the original designs.  The 1970 series is so special, I don't want them to water it down to much.

While I was surfing around reading up on my new discovery, I learned that Michael Billington passed away in 2005. I was sad to learn that. Rest in peace, Michael.
Now for your viewing pleasure: "Ordeal", Episode 19







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