EPFC | September 12th, 2016

guest curator: Jennifer Juniper Stratford

Continuing with the theme of “Behind The Scenes” I present an episode of UFO called Mindbender

UFO was Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s first live action television program. Stepping away from Supermarination, UFO was geared towards adults and took on themes like death, adultery, divorce, and drug use.

UFO’s basic premise is that in a alternate universe 1980 Earth is being visited and attacked by aliens from a dying planet and humans are being covertly harvested for their organs. The show’s main cast of characters are members of a secret, high-technology international agency called SHADO (an acronym for Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defence Organisation) established to defend Earth and humanity against the mysterious aliens and to learn more about them. Their headquarters are hidden beneath the Harlington-Straker movie studio where the agents both protect the Earth against aliens as well as produce entertainment programs.

In the 25th episode in the series the creators decided to mess with the idea of the suspension of disbelief. Half way through the episode, the camera pulls back to reveal that SHADO HQ is nothing more than a film set and Straker is actually Howard Byrne, the leading actor. A dazed Straker exits onto the studio grounds and makes his way over to Theatre 7, where the rough-cut of his “show” is being screened.

This episode not only breaks the 4th wall, it also addresses the idea that movie makers could steal someones life and memories and “put them up on the screen” for the entertainment of others. It uses the actual movie studio (Pinewood) in which the TV show was filmed and stirs up reality enough for one character to scream out “Let’s get back to realities,” to which another character replies “CUT PRINT!”