UFOwatch: Survival

written by Tony Barwick / directed by Alan Perry

After an attempt to capture a UFO on the Moon goes wrong, Foster finds himself stranded on the lunar surface.
There’s really very little to this episode. The aliens again hatch a half-baked plan; this time they land on the Moon during a time when they cannot be detected and one of them fires a bullet that pierces a window. Instead of retreating at this point, or firing some more, the aliens seem to hang around for days. So, when Straker turns up to supervise a mission to capture the parked UFO, the alien still seems to be wandering around on the Moon surface. Perhaps he’s looking for Tesco? It’s all curiously uncommitted as if even the actors involved can’t quite work out how concerned they should be looking.

"Please don't take me back to wear that silver suit.."

Paul Foster is again the focus of this episode though writer Tony Barwick gives him as little dialogue as possible with which to convey his feelings so we’re left with a series of pained expressions. Foster’s home life is depicted as seemingly being in a 1970’s university hall of residence with a girlfriend who spends the day reading magazines. Is that all people did in this fictional 1980?

There is some good staging. The sequence where the air is sucked out of the Moonbase recreation room is well executed. The lunar vehicles that hover above the ground are interesting and make a cool noise. And the later lunar sequences manage to convince visually with a generous set to move around. The idea of the Moon sequences seems to be to create an unusual atmosphere and you do
realise how well the series utilises sound effects.

Without any communication the last fifteen minutes become quite boring as Foster and the alien gradually start to help each other for no apparent reason. Having been presumably willing to kill everyone on Moonbase, the alien is now ready to come to Foster’s assistance when he has trouble with his oxygen. Foster, whose been pouting for revenge since his best mate was killed in the attack, is also ready to try and save the alien from being shot by his fellow crew when the couple are finally found. Was there more to the relationship we didn’t see?!

Bizarrely in the midst of all this, we have a left turn when Mark Bradley is offered the Moonbase command- Foster being considered dead at this point- and initially turns it down because he’s worried about racism. It sounds as if there is another plot altogether buried somewhere in Barwick’s head; something about race and the isolation of the moon- that could play equally well when it comes to Foster and the alien. Yet it is frittered away and forgotten. Bradley takes command for a bit and gets to wear a garish silver suit; this undoubtedly is the real reason why he didn’t want the job.

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