Monday, January 12, 2009

When Art Imitates Life

Those rare occasions pop up when I wonder if I should try my hand at reviewing movies. Unfortunately, the only movie I could probably review would be "U.F.O." After that, my cinematic analysis abilities would quickly deteriorate and the world would be a worse place because of my attempts, so I'll leave movie critiques and TV show history to those who do what they do very well. That brings me to Canadian writer Mark Phillips.

In 2002, I received an e-mail from Mark, who was in the process of researching a lengthy piece he would write for the magazine, TV Zone. His project concerned the old British TV series, "UFO," a fictional sci-fi serial which had nothing whatsoever to do with the 1956 documentary movie you've read about here.

In 1973 I had written a letter, published in TV Guide, very critical of the TV show, and though my letter's existence had been long forgotten in the cobwebs of my mind, here it was, almost 30 years later, and Mr. Phillips not only had retrieved this antiquity during his research, but managed to locate me as well for a few comments to add to his excellent article, eventually printed in issue no. 154 of TV Zone (2002).

During our initial e-mailing, Mark and I also realized we were both fans of the old U.S. TV show, The Invaders, starring Roy Thinnes. For my part, I was always intrigued especially because Thinnes' character ("David Vincent"), though fictional, reflected a very significant part of real UFO history -- the representation of a UFO witness who couldn't get an uncaring and/or unwilling public and various officials to hear his warnings or pleas for help and understanding. The TV series traveled a rocky road before its ultimate cancellation, but remember -- this was a program whose theme of man vs. ignorance about UFOs appeared long before the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which was all about what we might call the two-ton elephant in the living room that nobody wants us to see or even know about.

Mark Phillips continued researching The Invaders and I'm happy to report that his comprehensive article and super visuals appear in the new issue of Starlog for March, 2009 (no. 373). His piece is entitled "Secrets of 'The Invaders,'" and the issue's cover is shown here.

Of considerable interest to me is a passage where Phillips quotes an Invaders associate who notes that the series failed with viewers over age 50 because, "The show scared the hell out of them." Hmm. Maybe it's true, if adults can't deal with TV tube fantasy, maybe some circles felt that we really can't handle the truth about UFOs, either. Did the U.S. government take a tip from The Invaders in keeping UFO evidence under the public radar?