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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

UFO: Computer Affair UFO
"Computer Affair"

TV episode
Teleplay by: Tony Barwick
Directed by: Dave Lane


Straker suspects human error is responsible when an Interceptor is lost during engagement against a UFO.


Read the story summary at SHADOpedia




I have placed this episode in the year 1985, late in the chronology, due to the scene near the end where Bradley looks at the bottle of champagne he's sharing with Lt. Ellis and remarks on its year of 1984, suggesting that the current year must be something later.




At 1:34 on the DVD, as the Lunar Carrier is lifting off, a string can be seen holding it up at the rear cockpit (the Lunar Module).


This episode seems to indicate that Lt. Ellis is in charge of Moonbase, as she indicates she would like to see spare supply levels 20% higher and Freeman informs her that Commander Straker, in fact, wanted her opinion on that.


As the three UFOs move past at 3:57 on the DVD, a new star suddenly appears and seems to follow the craft...this same scene appears in "Exposed".


At 4:36 on the DVD, notice that Freeman seems to react slightly to Lt. Ellis' remark of "Good luck" to Mark Bradley as he heads for his Interceptor to engage the detected UFO. This seems to indicate that even Freeman has suspicions about an emotional attachment between the two; the novelization confirms that, at this point, Freeman is convinced of the connection between the two.


As the three Interceptors race over the moon's surface and into space, notice at 7:22 on the DVD that something falls diagonally across the starscape as the third Interceptor disappears behind the rock formation.


When Sky 1 launches from Skydiver out of the sea at 10:41 on the DVD to search for the landed UFO in Canada, the novelization reveals that Skydiver was in the Hudson Strait at the time. Hudson Strait links Canada's gigantic Hudson Bay with the Atlantic Ocean. 


At 12:05 on the DVD, we see the crescent moon over Canada. The moon, in the northern hemisphere, is seen from the south, so the crescent seen here is to the east, indicating the last quarter of the moon's phase, thus it is near the end of whichever month this story takes place. Unfortunately, this contradicts the scene earlier in the episode as the Lunar Module approaches a gibbous moon instead. (See also notes in the entry below.) crescent Moon


Immediately after the scene above, a monitor displays an image of a crescent Earth over the surface of the moon. However the phases of the Earth as seen on the moon, would be seen in a more horizontal sequence rather than vertical as depicted in this episode (see comparison to the famous "Earthrise" photo taken by astronaut William Anders during the Apollo 8 mission below). (Note: PopApostle reader Marcus pointed out that the orientation of the Earth's terminator, i.e. the line dividing the day and night side, actually depends on the observer's physical location on the Moon. Near the equator, where Moonbase is located [see "Survival"], it should be seen as a horizontal terminator, but the image could have been transmitted from a camera at the lunar north pole, resulting in the orientation and direction seen in the episode. Another anomaly pointed out by Marcus is that if the Moon is in the "waning crescent moon" phase as seen above, then Earth should be in the "waxing gibbous" phase, with more than half of the disc illuminated by the sun. Thanks for the great observations, Marcus!)
Earthrise monitor "Earthrise" photo by William Anders
Earthrise monitor "Earthrise" photo by William Anders


While Ellis and Waterman exit the Psycho-Analytic Department office, leaving Bradley to be interviewed by the doctor, notice at 16:55, that Bradley winks at Ellis, another indication of their attachment.


At 19:26 on the DVD, the SHADO emblem on Carlin's flight jacket is about to peel off! It must be just a pinned-on badge instead of a part of the overall garment.

Captain Carlin


Straker tells Freeman the UFO has crash-landed near Lexfield Air Base, Canada. This appears to be a fictional air base.


In this episode we see Freeman's office, much smaller and plainer than Straker's.


At 27:10 on the DVD, as the camera pulls out from a close-up on Straker's desk, an object on his desk next to the small monitor screen seems to flash or reflect light off and on a couple times in an unusual way. I'm not sure if it's an intentional effect of some kind of device on the desktop or the unintended reflection of production lighting or something else. The lighting flash occurs again seconds later.


At 27:50 on the DVD, we see the sign for Lexfield Air Base, designating it a base of the Canadian Defense Department. The real world analog is actually known as the Department of National Defence. Note also that Canada uses the British spelling of "defence" with a "c", not an "s" as seen in the sign.


At 31:23 on the DVD, movement on the ground ahead of the mobile SHADO 3 suggests that the vehicle model is being pulled along the miniature set by a string.


At 32:12 on the DVD, some unexplained shadow movement is seen on the miniature set at the left of screen.


At 40:50 on the DVD, as the surgeons attempt to save the life of the captured alien, a device labeled Cyclator is seen. This is a real world medical ventilator designed to keep a patient breathing.


Straker speculates that the reason the aliens have seemed to age almost instantaneously and die after exposure to Earth air is related to the individual's age and that a younger alien might survive in our atmosphere longer.


When the alien patient screams at 45:25 on the DVD, the fillings in the actor's teeth can be seen. I guess aliens get cavities, too! 


Notes from the novelization of "Computer Affair" by Robert Miall, published as UFO-2 in Great Britain and UFO: Sporting Blood in the USA.

(Roughly speaking, chapters 1-4 cover the events of "Computer Affair". The page numbers come from the 1st printing, UK paperback edition, published 1971)


This book is actually a novelization of several episodes, interwoven into a single story in a way the televised versions are not. It features the plot and characters of "Computer Affair", "The Dalotek Affair", and "Survival". For purposes of this study of "Computer Affair", only the chapters covering this episode will be covered here. The chapters covering others are dealt with in the studies of those episodes.


Page 7 reveals that Colonel Freeman had nominated Joan Harrington for her position on Moonbase.


Page 9 reveals that Mark Bradley is from the West Indies.


On page 14, Freeman refers to Lt. Ellis as the base commander in his ruminations. And, on page 19, after he has returned to Earth and reports to Straker on the loss of the Interceptor and pilot Matthews, and Straker orders Ellis and the two surviving pilots to SHADO Control for debriefing on the incident, Freeman recommends Paul Foster for temporary command of Moonbase to give him some experience. This, of course, plays havoc with the TV series timeline in many ways. As pointed out earlier in studies of the UFO-1 book, Robert Miall's adaptations of the episodes are rearranged and modified for the convenience of telling a single, larger story in novel form.


Page 17 mentions that Harlington-Straker Studios is currently shooting a 3D movie which somehow manages to fit Ulysses, Queen Victoria, and Romeo and Juliet into the same story. Ulysses (also known as Odysseus) was the possibly fictional, possibly real king of Ithaca in Homer's epic poem The Odyssey, written circa the 8th Century BC. Queen Victoria was the ruler of the United Kingdom from 1837-1901. Romeo and Juliet are the infamous young lovers from William Shakespeare's 1597 play.


In the novel, Dr. Shroeder is described as wearing glasses. In the TV episodes, he does not.


In the novel, Freeman expresses the psycho-tronic test results on Lt. Ellis and Bradley as stating that the two have an embryonic relationship that could develop into love between the two. The two deny any current relationship. But the TV episode seems to suggest a bit more substance to the attraction between them.


The alien rifles are described as shooting something like a blast of flame. But in the TV episodes, the alien weapons seem to fire projectiles similar to bullets; only the UFOs are seen firing laser-like weapons. (Though many of the comic strip stories do depict a more laser-like aspect to the alien firearms.)


On page 36, Bradley seems to be aware of the circumstances of Carlin's sister's disappearance/death and chalks up the alien he's just dispatched as "another one to balance out what happened to Leila."


The novel reveals that the doctor who works on the survivor alien is named Dr. Murray. (The end credits of the episode also reveal this.)


On page 38, Straker remarks to Freeman about the survivor alien, "We had a chance at one of them before, remember?" This is intended as a reference to the events of "Identified".


On page 41, Straker remarks to Freeman, in reference to command position, "I'm the guy in the responsibility seat." This is a subtle reference to the TV episode "The Responsibility Seat".




Why did the captured alien die? He did not undergo rapid aging after exposure to Earth atmosphere as seen by the one in "Identified". Was it a result of the truth drug administered to him? Was he able to trigger his own death in order to prevent himself from giving away information?





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