UFO watch (Episode 23 – Reflections in the Water)


Written and Directed by David Tomblin

It seems an unwritten law that every science fiction/fantasy series has to have a doppelganger episode – and Reflections in the Water is UFO’s contribution to this genre.  But though it’s a decent run-around, there are some whacking plot holes which are difficult to ignore.

When a freighter in the Mid-Atlantic is destroyed by an underwater UFO, Straker sends Skydiver to investigate.  They discover the aliens have established a substantial underwater base (although why it’s underwater is a bit of a mystery).  Straker and Foster fly out to investigate personally (which is something else that’s difficult to find entirely credible.  Straker’s the head of SHADO, why does he need to endanger himself on a reconnaissance mission?).

Anyway, Straker and Foster pop on some diving suits and go for a swim.  While they can’t find a way into the dome on their first attempt, they are able to see inside and observe Lt Anderson (James Cosmo).  The pair head back to SHADO HQ to interrogate Anderson, which gives us yet another example of how ruthless Straker is.  He has no qualms in authorising Anderson to be injected with drugs in order to establish the truth and interestingly Anderson doesn’t argue about this too much.

Even after the truth drug, Anderson continues to protest his innocence so Straker and Foster go back and manage to infiltrate the dome.  Once inside, Straker and Foster split up and shortly afterwards Straker is attacked by Foster.  But it’s not Foster, it’s a double!

One of the main attractions of a doppelganger story is when the two identical parties meet, but we never see it here.  After Straker defeats the faux-Foster, the real Foster appears and is shown his duplicate.  We linger a little too long on a shot of Foster looking at someone that clearly isn’t him, which makes you wonder why they didn’t use a little split screen filming to have the two of them on screen at the same time.

We now come to the part of the episode which stretches credulity to breaking point. The aliens have recreated SHADO HQ (how?) and recruited look-alikes for all the main SHADO personnel (plastic surgery apparently).  Although the aliens have clearly spent a packet on getting the likenesses spot on, they obviously couldn’t afford a voice coach, so we see the doubles practicing by miming to the real voices of the SHADO staff which have been recorded on tape.

The aliens’ plan is to try and fool Moonbase into thinking this is the real SHADO HQ and then order them not to destroy the massed UFOs which are poised to attack.  It’s clever that the aliens have somehow been able to sample the voices and produce exactly the words they need to say, but what would happen if Moonbase asked a question that wasn’t recorded?  They’d be a little stuck.

A whopping explosion destorys the dome, so there’s just the 25 or so UFOs to worry about.  And via a load of stock footage (Interceptors, Moonbase rocket-launchers, Sky One) they are all dealt with.  This is the last thing that’s difficult to swallow.  We’ve seen SHADO struggle to stop one or two UFOs getting through in plenty of episodes so far, so could they really have shot down all 25?

Although the story makes little sense, it’s still as watchable as most episodes in the series.  It’s just that you have to disengage your critical facilities somewhat before starting.