I’m not intending a theme here, folks. While researching for last week’s UFO posting I came across a Jack Webb series called Project U.F.O. which seemed like a good balance to last week’s post. Also, it’s a Jack Webb show I hadn’t heard of. The shows I did know was of course Dragnet, Adam 12, and Emergency. All three shows follow a tradition of being based on real life cases from detectives, patrol officers, and paramedic firefighters respectively. So what is this series about?
The 1960-1980s were the height of Unidentified Flying Object sightings or presentations about them. While people still claim today to have seen an alien craft or even been abducted it’s either not as reported as much or doesn’t happen as often. While some of these sightings can easily be explained away there are a few that aren’t. In the 60s the US Air Force created Project: Blue Book, which was supposed to investigate these sightings. The Colton Report looked over numerous investigations and concluded that there were logical explanations to most if not all of the sightings. Joined by a decline in U.F.O. sightings, Project Blue Book was closed down. Odd then that this series appears to take place in the late 1970s, when the show was made, while full records from the investigations didn’t pop up until 1979, just around the time of the show’s second and final season.
Tonight we’ll look at the pilot episode to see what was different about this show from the British series as well as one show it can easily be compared to, The X-Files, minus the paranoia and sexual tension of course. Neither was Webb’s style.
It has the tone of a Jack Webb show, this being his last weekly series before his death in 1982. There’s some banter between the officers, closer to Adam-12 than Dragnet. Also like the cop show over the detective show is that the people show a bit more emotion, ranking between muted and overload, although not as much overload this episode. In the second season William Jordan (who played Major Gatlin) was replaced by Ed Winter as Captain Ben Ryan. There’s also supposed to be a pilot. I don’t know if this is it, but from what I’ve read it sound like I missed a pilot movie somewhere.
Then again some sites claim this show was called Project Blue Book, Wikipedia suggesting that it was to avoid confusion with UFO. However, Christopher Mills of Space: 1979 (guess what show he named his site after) has been unable to find evidence of this, not so much as an intro. He thinks that maybe it’s the result of bad memories since the name, seeing as it was based on the project, comes up often in the show, but others in the comments are determined to prove it. Considering the subject matter of the show and the fact that there are still people demanding the truth (or what they think is the truth) from the Government on the matter of UFOs, it’s oddly fitting.