UFOwatch: Flight Path

Flight Path
written by Ian Scott Stewart / directed by Ken Turner

SHADO operative Paul Roper is coerced into giving the aliens vital information that could threaten the organisation- but what did he tell them and why?
Honestly, I’m making it sound more exciting than it is. A promising idea is filleted by some very odd sequences and an ultimately simplistic resolution that never quite matches the resourceful organisation SHADO is purported to be. A youngish George Cole is Roper and does his best despite having far less dialogue than he should have. There is a pleasing focus on his background though, unlike last week’s episode, so we learn a little about Roper, his country mansion (with absolutely no security despite his important job) and his much younger wife, who seems to live in one room of the very large house.

"We're being attacked by a disco!"

Last week’s lemon smocked psychologist is back with his incomprehensible tests which seem to prove nothing much at all. We can tell how tense these tests are making Roper feel though because every time the camera goes back to him another layer of sweat has been applied to his forehead, presumably with a mop. After he’s let go, in an attempt to draw out an undercover agent within, his car is flipped over into an exploding garage by a UFO yet remarkably just the next day he is back on duty or so it seems. Having established how unbalanced he is and taking into account his trauma after the crash he is still sent onto the Moon surface because only standing there can he destroy the approaching UFO. Presumably the Interceptor crew are all on a cigarette break.

Not that the aliens’ plan is up to much. They have captured another operative, inserted something into his head to make him threaten Roper’s wife so her husband will co-operate in order to send flight path co-ordinates to the aliens. This turns out to be so they can attack the Moonbase when the Sun rises, because obviously they could not do this without a flight path! After all the trouble they go to, the aliens only send the one UFO anyway.
Despite the flaws, there is some tension to the episode, a real sense of menace in the opening scenes (even though they are clearly shot day for night) and also where Mrs Roper is threatened. The model work during the action set pieces is well realised, especially on the Moon which includes an excellent shot of the UFO against the Sun through binoculars.

Somehow the dialogue people are speaking does not always match the scenario the characters are involved in but some of the plot developments do provide surprises. Generally it is Alec Freeman who offers a more emotional counterpoint to Straker’s steely logic (or perhaps he’s been at the mini bar). This strand, though,  is pushed to the back in favour of a focus on Straker trying to work out the code that’s been transmitted which despite all the available tech he does with a slide rule and some bits of paper. Generally the episode seems to demonstrate that SHADO is not very efficient, security conscious or concerned about its staff’s problems.

When we discover about Mrs Roper’s demise, Straker opts not to tell Roper before he undertakes his Moon mission. “Maybe we won’t need to tell him” suggests Freeman.. Some mate he turns out to be having already put Roper in danger by releasing him early.  As for the less than believable climax with Roper out on the lunar surface brandishing a missile launcher; the way he’s been treated it’s a wonder he doesn’t turn around and point it at the Moonbase!


1 comment:

  1. It's not a strong episode - with a UFO heading for Moonbase they send only one guy out (they should all have gone) to intercept it - and he's someone suspected of being a traitor!