UFOwatch: E.S.P.

written by Alan Fennell
directed by Ken Turner

When a wayward UFO crash lands into the house of a psychic it brings unexpected problems for SHADO.

After a run of dull stories, `ESP` liven things up with the interesting premise of a man with ESP who can tell what people are going to say before they say it. Played by John Stratton with a nervousness that looks close to terrified John Croxley is not only haunted by his gift but then suffers when a UFO crashes into his house killing his wife. Perhaps stung into action by SHADO’s less than compassionate response he puts all he knows about the organisation into a screenplay delivered to the studio in a ploy to lure Straker and Freeman to their deaths.

Another terrified actor is informed he has a part in UFO.

Once again the heartless side of SHADO is seen in full effect. The scene amidst the wreckage of Croxley’s house where Straker offers only the most basic condolence and Freeman seems hardly bothered at what has happened underlines just how single minded they are. This makes them difficult characters to like which maybe was always Gerry Anderson’s intent. Mind you with a health regime that almost kills people it’s not too big a surprise. A previous `victim` Paul Foster again finds himself at the pointy end; this time nearly killed when the UFO explodes moments after crashing. He really should sue them unless he is simply the unluckiest man in Britain.

The plot is a little hazy as to how and indeed when Croxley’s abilities are enhanced by the aliens. It seems to infer that the reason the UFO is on such a wobbly course is because it is homing in on his powers; perhaps they can read his mind or transfer their minds to his or something? Also there is the suggestion Foster picks up some of ESP of his own illustrated by a great shot of a face watching him in a mirror. Like all matters alien, the series dodges a definitive answer on these things which you can either read as being enigmatic or they don’t really know! Perhaps it’s a ploy to keep people watching.

What is undeniable is how improved the series is with the inclusion of proper jeopardy and threat. Sequences where the UFO is proceeding to Earth are handled with gravity while Croxley’s condition adds strangeness. There are some excellent model effects notably the crash while tight editing gives the episode an energy lacking in recent weeks. 

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