Volumes 1-4 box set

Starring: George Sewell, Michael Billington, Ed Bishop & Wanda Ventham
RRP: 49.99
Certificate: PG
Available now

UFO is set in 1980 and centres around a secret military organisation, SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation), which has been set up to counter a growing alien menace. Hidden beneath a film studio near London, SHADO believes that a race of aliens, dying from some sort of genetic failure, is visiting Earth to harvest human organs for transplant. Often with gruesome results.

The DVD release of the first batch of episodes of UFO continues the excellent standard set by the restoration work on both Stingray and Captain Scarlet. Crystal clear images and hiss-free audio combine with excellent packaging and animated menus to make this four disc set nothing short of excellent. Congratulations to Carlton for its sterling commitment to the legacy of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

Even the extras are special - not lest the extended and cut scenes from the pilot episode, Identified. There is also a commentary from Gerry for the inaugural episode and a vast array of images, many previously unseen. Even the text-based material, which can sometimes be little more than a cheap pretence at extra material, is of the highest standard. Full marks all round.

The only place where the discs fall down is in the actual dramatic content of some of the stories. Episodes like Close Up and the Square Triangle are flat and flaccid and even the best of the bunch are marred by some very wooden acting - often delivered by Peter Gordeno, a professional dancer whose acting ability is severely limited.

That aside, this set of discs puts most similar packages in the shade and more importantly, it's an essential addition to the collection of any fan of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. If only every company took the care with its back catalogue material that Carlton does.

UFO volumes 1 to 4 deserve top marks with the one proviso - some episodes fail to deliver the punch and drama that the show's format is capable of providing.

Anthony Clark

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