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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

"Flight Path"

TV episode
Teleplay by: Ian Scott Stewart
Directed by: Ken Turner


A SHADO technician leaks information to the aliens.


Read the episode transcription at the SHADO Library




Straker first refers to the futuristic-looking automobile driven by him (and others working for SHADO) as a SHADOcar in this episode.


A few brief mentions of Roper appear in UFO-2, the novelization of episodes "Computer Affair", "The Dalotek Affair", and "Survival".




The opening scene of a landed UFO in the woods is a reuse of the scene at the beginning of "Identified".


When the lunar module blasts off from Moonbase near the beginning of the episode, the smoke all blows to the left of screen. But being that there's no atmosphere on the Moon and, thus, no wind, the smoke should dissipate evenly in a radius around the launch pad.


At 4:25 on the DVD, we see that Roper's watch is a Timex.


Notice that Paul Roper and his wife seem to have separate beds. When the series was shot in 1969, network standards and practices was starting to loosen up about showing married couples sleeping in the same bed, but the prudish practice of depicting separate beds had not been entirely eliminated.


The clock seen on the Ropers' dresser is made by Secticon. Secticon was a company in the 1950s and '60s that made clocks and watches designed by Angelo Mangiarotti (1921-2012), an Italian architect and industrial designer. The same clock model later appears in "Survival". Another Secticon clock is seen as an installed piece in Skydiver 1 in "Reflections in the Water".


The phone Roper answers in his house at 8:08 on the DVD appears to be the same model seen a few minutes earlier installed in his car! The same type of phone unit is also later seen on Moonbase. I guess SHADO got a deal on the model!


The scene of Roper pulling into the grounds of Harlington-Straker Studios at 10:23 on the DVD is the same as that of Straker driving in in "Exposed". Conveniently, Roper and Straker drive the same bronze color SHADOcar. In fact, the two cars have the same license plate number (A21-384)!


After a night out, Roper's wife tells him not to drive so fast, joking she's not Cinderella and doesn't have to be home by midnight. In many versions of the classic folk tale of Cinderella, the young woman by that name must be home by midnight when the magically created ballroom gown she wears for the evening will turn back into her native rags. Ironically, Paul Roper is speeding home because he must deliver sensitive SHADO information to an alien contact at midnight that night to prevent any harm from coming to his wife.


At 18:01 on the DVD, notice that the button to open the door of the SHADOcar is way down at the bottom of the door! Not very convenient!


At 18:31 on the DVD, notice that, oddly, there is a clock mounted above the garage door of Roper's home! Of course, it reads midnight.


At 21:21, the video monitor screen in the SHADO interrogation room is a Prowest brand. Other Prowest monitors are seen throughout the series. Prowest was an actual manufacturer of color and black-and-white monitors in the UK at the time the TV series was in production (thanks to Rick C. for finding a reference to the existence of Prowest).


At 25:52 on the DVD, we see that Straker is using a slide-rule for his calculations on the meaning of the mysterious coordinates given by Roper to his alien contact.


At 26:25 on the DVD, the first SHADO Mobile is labeled as SHADO Control and the second as SHADO 1.


Straker tells Captain Carlin in Sky 1 that Roper is heading east on Route 4. Since SHADO headquarters is near London, "Route 4" may refer to the M4 motorway which heads east from London to South Wales. However, the road Roper is seen on in various scenes looks more like a country highway than the larger motorway type of road.


Chased by a UFO, Roper crashes his car into a gas station with signs that say "Albion Autos Service-Repairs" and "Vibrant". "Albion Autos" may refer to Albion Automotive, a Scottish vehicle manufacturer from 1899-1980. "Vibrant" is a fictional gas station name, as far as I can tell.


At 29:50 on the DVD, one of the gas pumps at the station starts to tip over before Roper's car has hit anything!


At 32:00 on the DVD, we see a lavender-colored SHADOcar driving along the rode, but the close-up of the passengers in the next shot shows the vehicle as bronze! A later shot of the lavender car at 33:18 shows it to have the same license plate number as Foster's car (A4-215)!


At 32:07 on the DVD, Roper's wife picks up a couple of magazines from the bed. The top one may be an issue of Life, judging by the white-on-red logo in the top left corner, but it's not seen fully. I'm unable to make out the title of the second magazine; it looks like it might say "Jane" and something else.


At 32:28 on the DVD, the two SHADO security personnel report they've just passed the Rapperton(?) flyover. "Flyover" is a term used by most of the British Commonwealth for a road overpass. I've been unable to locate a Rapperton (or Repperton?) flyover in the real world.


At 32:35 on the DVD, a high-pitched squeaking noise disturbs Mrs. Roper as she attempts to read her magazine. But what was the origin of the sound? It doesn't seem to have been caused by the intruder attempting to open the door to the house. Was it an animal outside just coincidentally making noise as the intruder (the alien-collaborator Dawson) was about to enter her house? Listen: strange sound. It is suspiciously similar to the sound heard by Liz and Cass as an alien approaches in the later episode "The Square Triangle". Besides collaborator Dawson, was there an actual alien waiting for Roper outside the house? Is this the sound of an alien voice?


At 35:11 on the DVD, we see that Straker has a three-dimensional astrolabe of the Earth-Moon-Sun for determining positions of these spheres at different times.


At 40:46 on the DVD, we can see that the plastic case of bazooka charges Roper carries with him on the Moon's surface says "Hudson". Is it a brand name? The name of the person who normally uses it?


At 42:38 on the DVD, Roper is wearing a Certina DS-2 Super PH 500M watch on his spacesuit glove. This was a diver's watch introduced in 1968. The "500M" notation means it was certified down to 500 meters depth. We also see in this shot that the date is the 24th.


After the UFO is shot down by Roper, it crashes and explodes on the Moon's surface and we see the burning inferno of its wreckage. But fire only burns in an oxygen environment, and there is no oxygen on the Moon's surface.


It's not explained how Roper damaged his spacesuit. Presumably it was hit by a piece of debris from the exploding UFO or possibly he tore it on a rock after the recoil of the bazooka blast. 




Why send only one man out on the Moon's surface to attempt to destroy the UFO with a bazooka? If there had been several men, each could have quickly got off a shot in succession at the craft. As it is, Roper has to fumble around after the first shot to reload the bazooka and then spot the craft again. 




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