UFO watch (Episode 12 – Court Martial)

12 - court martialWritten by Tony Barwick
Directed by Ron Appleton

Court Martial certainly has an arresting opening.  Colonel Foster has been found guilty of espionage and is sentenced to death.  We then travel back to find out exactly what has happened to put him in this predicament.

Coded messages for both Skydiver and Moonbase have been leaked to the press and Foster is the only one who had access.  A Court Martial is convened, with General Henderson presiding.  As we’ve seen, Henderson has no love for SHADO in general and Straker in particular, so there’s some fun and games as the two of them lock horns.

Prosecuting Foster is Jackson (Vladek Sheybal) who seems, in this episode, to be working for Henderson rather than SHADO.  Sheybal’s always an actor that’s worth watching and his cross-examinations are one of the highlights of the episode.

The main problem with Court Martial is that it’s impossible to believe that Foster is guilty.  He’s been a regular too long for it to be that likely that he would sell out SHADO and the evidence, whilst apparently damming, is pretty circumstantial.

The eventual solution (an industrial spy bugged Foster’s apartment for movie scoops and happened on the SHADO stuff by accident) does strain credibility a little.  Surely Foster shouldn’t be taking top secret information home to work on?

Of course, after being sentenced to death he has to break out to try and clear his name.  This gives us the somewhat incongruous sight of Foster being hunted down by several armed SHADO operatives in a quarry.  Given that it’s a top secret organisation, shouldn’t they be a little more discreet?

If you like UFO for the UFO’s then this might be one to skip as there’s not even a whiff of the aliens.  It’s not a bad episode, mainly due to Sheybal’s performance, but it have would have played better with a non-regular as the suspected mole – that way there would have been much more tension generated by wondering if they were innocent or guilty.

As it is, you know that things will work out alright for Foster in the end and he’ll probably be sharing a joke with Straker just before the end credits.

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