UFO watch (Episode 01 – Identified)

01 - identified

Written by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson with Tony Barwick
Directed by Gerry Anderson

The first notable thing about this episode is that it opens with a graphic murder – as we see a woman’s bullet-ridden body slump to the ground. The next is that, like all ITC shows, they would never shell out the extra money for night-time shooting, so we have the usual unconvincing day-for-night filter.  It will happen again throughout the series so be prepared. The third is that when Peter Carlin and his sister are being pursued through the undergrowth, Barry Gray’s score certainly favours the drums.  I don’t know who the drummer was, but he gave his all!

Our first shot of Alec Freeman (George Sewell) shows him attempting to use all of his masculine charm on Straker’s secretary, Miss Ealand (Norma Ronald), but with a notable lack of success. Never mind, as soon as he ventures into SHADO’s underground base there’s plenty of other women he can charm.  And In case you missed Freeman’s subtle approach, Barry Gray drops some slinky saxophone onto the soundtrack to hammer the point home.

The episode has a lot of ground to cover in order to introduce all the key players, so after our first look at SHADO control it’s off to Moonbase.  Gabrielle Drake’s performance in UFO continues to attract a certain amount of attention, and it’s not difficult to understand why.

A trip to Skydiver lets us know that Carlin (seen at the start of the episode ten years earlier, fleeing with his sister from the UFO attack) is now the pilot of Sky 1 although he remains unaware of his sister’s fate, Straker gets to berate one of his team, which handily allows a large info-dump about how SHADO works, and Freeman tangles with the cool Colonel Virginia Lake (Wanda Ventham)

After a tense tussle between Sky 1 and a UFO, SHADO are able to capture the alien occupant. They are unable to save the alien’s life, but an autopsy provides the chilling proof that they are harvesting human organs for their own ends. This strikes close to home when it’s discovered that the alien had the heart of Carlin’s sister, who vanished following the UFO attack seen at the start of the episode.  A bleak ending to the episode then, which makes it clear that there’s a long battle ahead.

Identified had to do a lot within 49 minutes – introduce SHADO and the reason for the alien attacks – but it managed it successfully and produced a well-paced episode that never flagged. An impressive opening.

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