UFO watch (Episode 02 – Computer Affair)

02 - computer affair

Written by Tony Barwick
Directed by David Lane

After Interceptor 1 is destroyed in a collision with a UFO, Straker calls the relevant personnel back to Earth.  Computer analysis decides that Lt Ellis diverted Interceptor 3 first because of her emotional attachment to its pilot Mark Bradley (Harry Baird) and both are reassigned to new duties.

Computer Affair juggles two plot threads – the investigation into the destruction of Interceptor 1 and the hunt for the UFO – quite deftly.  In the quieter moments of the episode you can play count the cigarette, as it’s amazing how many scenes feature the characters either smoking or handling a cigarette.  Nowadays of course they’d all have to go up to the surface and stand outside the building.

The relationship between Ellis and Bradley never really developed due to Baird leaving the series after filming just four episodes, although he does appear in a few other episodes courtesy of stock shots.  The use of stock footage also occurs in this episode as a few brief shots of Shane Rimmer (who appeared in Identified) crop up.

Straker assigns Freeman to hunt down the UFO and bring the occupants back alive and he in turn includes Ellis and Bradley in the retrieval team.  The scenes of the mobile units hunting the UFO through the Canadian forest, and indeed the whole episode, feature some stunning miniature work.  This was always a feature of Gerry Anderson’s productions, and there’s plenty of fine examples here.

One of the aliens is brought back to SHADO HQ and Straker is desperate to get some answers from it.  In order to do this he injects the alien with drugs to force a response but this only speeds the creature’s demise.  This is an early sign of Straker’s ruthless streak and there will be many more to come.

The amended computer report that confirms Lt Ellis acted correctly in reassigning the Interceptors (had she followed standard procedure then all three would have been destroyed).  This message of the story would therefore seem to be that for all their usefulness, computers are no match for human instinct.

A slower paced story than the opening episode, but not without interest.