UFOcast – 09 – Ordeal

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Is this actually the worst episode of UFO? Is it an Ordeal to sit through? Tune in to find out.

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7 thoughts on “UFOcast – 09 – Ordeal

  1. On rewatching UFO in Covid-19 lockdown I realised that Ordeal was the first episode I saw on ATV in 1971 when I was five years old. This was the first episode broadcast when ATV moved its slot from 8pm on Wednesdays, after Corrie (when I was tucked up in bed) to 5.15pm on Saturdays after World of Sport. The drowning and undrowning scenes were strong stuff and had a big effect on me, even on a black and white set. I watched every episode shown after that and became an instant fan, drawing SHADO vehicles every day at infants school. Eventually ATV repeated the series on Sunday lunchtimes, before Star Soccer, so I got to watch the rest of it before long. (But I don’t think I can have seen the final sex-and-drugs episodes until I got the DVD.)


  2. I think Gerry and his team should have combined elements of both ‘Ordeal’ and ‘Close-Up’ together and come up with an extended, possibly more interesting episode. As an example, at the end of ‘Ordeal’, a hirsute Paul Foster goes back to his singing in the sauna and then there’s a cut to the end credits. What they could have done was slowly start to zoom-in on Michael Billington’s chest and then cut to Ed Straker talking with Kelly in ‘Close-Up’, specifically where Straker says “but I think you’re looking the wrong way, Kelly. Space, that’s where you should turn your talent.” ‘Close-Up’ then continues as per usual until just before the scene where Gabrielle Drake shows off her inner thigh. A microscopic view of Paul Foster’s chest could have been used instead, and then Kelly’s camera shots zoom out to reveal the fur covered pectorals of our favourite Colonel.
    This seamless joining of two episodes could have helped viewers better appreciate these two below par instalments and also make them realise the importance of keeping chest hair clean in order to avoid the build-up of bugs, bacteria and the after effects of wearing 60s styled medallions. A more educational message than seeing Gabrielle Drake’s inner thigh at the very least.


  3. Just reseen ‘Ordeal’ on Forces TV.

    If the dream sequence is accurate to real life, well the real life world of ‘UFO’, then the green liquid is in the helmet only. Foster’s gauntlets are taken off to give him an injection, which Jackson said would help, and no liquid is seen. It is all in the helmet for breathing purposes only. Therefore, that explains why in the previous episode the defecting alien had a green face, but not green hands.


  4. I share Michael and Luke’s negative take on the dream concept. There’s a great deal to enjoy in this episode, but why throw out so much of it for the sake of a plot twist like that? When filmmakers opt for a clever switcheroo ending, I think they usually lose far more than they gain. The snickering of our hosts aside, I was heartened by Waterman’s decision not to fire on the UFO and the bond of friendship it implied between Waterman and Foster. If it’s all been merely a dream, then we lose this very special moment.

    I was recently enjoying a film with Nicholas Cage called “Matchstick Men”. You spend the first hour or so exploring some moving character development as the protagonist confronts his fears with a caring psychologist and embraces a teenage daughter he never knew he had only to learn in the end that–SURPRISE, both psychologist and daughter are plants employed in an elaborate scheme to rob the Cage character. Very clever, but this development obviated all the meaningful scenes and character development I’d just invested an hour in embracing. I went from thoroughly enjoying the film to rejecting it entirely as an utter failure.



    Ordeal would be one of the best UFO episodes if it had a conventional ending. This is not a case like Captain Scarlet’s Attack On Cloudbase, where the whole series was effectively ended by the conclusion of the episode and required a reset button. SIDENOTE – The first Scarlet compilation movie, that includes Attack On Cloudbase. actually handled the ending of the story better than the TV episode did.

    As it is, in Ordeal we get a cop out wrap up for no good purpose whatsoever, and I am forever left wondering if the Kingfisher tilt rotor (that we see in this episode and this episode only) actually exists in SHADO’s flight inventory or not. Michael Billington hated singing that damned song at the end, and I hate hearing it. Big hairy chested sweaty b***h. 🙂

    Unless you belong to the Church of Scientology, you will not find very much support for the idea that sweating profusely for an extended period in a sauna is actually all that good for you. It is largely a myth that it improves health, and can often be very harmful. It is certainly next to useless for eliminating toxins, that contrary to quack beliefs do not tend to lodge in body tissue for very long. What weight you sweat off you replace when you drink water, too. Doubly useless.

    Joe Franklin is clearly obese…how he manages to pass SHADO physicals beats me, and how he was allowed to get that fat to start with without being made to tone up is also a mystery. Not fat-shaming, just being realistic in terms of the military set up we are given in UFO. Franklin is the only overweight SHADO member.

    Gabrielle Drake is very sensual in this episode.

    This episode is the only one to show a truly beautiful shot of an airborne UFO from below as Foster is abducted. It appears to have been shot in the open air, and is just stunning on a technical level. The fact that is only two or three flash clips adds to the impact.

    This episode shows with devastating clarity why 95% of white people should never ever dance at parties. Get Back is one of my favourite Beatles songs, which makes it all the more tragic.

    Why would Foster get completely ****-faced the night before he knew he had a big physical exam scheduled?

    What happened to the real UFO that was spotted at the start, by the way?


    1. Some good points there, Jeff. However, it might be worth re-examining your observations on the minimal, if at all, health benefits of taking saunas, as medical studies demonstrate that most toxins can be eliminated through the skin [through sweating], relieving the burden on the kidneys and liver. Agreed re Gabrielle Drake very much.


    2. You’re not the only one to notice that flash cut UFO model shot against real sky (and a bit of miniature foliage right of frame) and I always wondered why they did it that way rather than the usual indoor studio sky backing. The only other candidate for this method may be the Naval Captain’s view of the Sky One launch through binoculars in ‘Destruction’.
      I agree with the sentiments that it was a big mistake to frame the events as a fever dream as it robbed Foster of an opportunity for interesting character development based on his trauma and what he learned of the UFO interior (scant though it may be).
      The episode as a whole feels excessively padded yet there are memorably disturbing sequences such as the alien helmet drowning (and later undrowning), and the Kingfisher tilt-fan landing is one of the best pieces of model filming in the series.


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