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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

UFO: Ordeal UFO

TV episode
Teleplay by: Tony Barwick
Directed by: Ken Turner


Colonel Foster is abducted by the aliens.


Read the story summary at SHADOpedia




"Ordeal" is placed some time in 1982, under the assumption that SHADO personnel would be required to undergo a physical examination about once a year, as Foster is called in for here, having graduated from SHADO training in March of 1981 in "Training". I am basing this on the UFO timeline at SHADOpedia.


Foster remarks that he spent "weeks" aboard Skydiver, which he is leaving as this episode begins. Freeman comments later that Foster was on Skydiver for two months.




I suspect this episode was intended to subtly imply that Foster had taken some kind of drug at the party. Though we only see him drinking Scotch, there's a lot of the party we don't see and his vivid dream which makes up the majority of the episode seems more like a drug trip than an alcohol dream. And this was shot in the '60s, after all.


Various sources refer to the SHADAIR vehicle seen in this episode as a SHADAIR Kingfisher Helicopter (SHADOpedia and

SHADO Kingfisher




The song playing at the party attended by Foster is "Get Back" (1969) by The Beatles.


During the opening party scenes showing dancing female bodies, there are a couple of instances where the pink panties of the girl in the short silver skirt are visible. Later, the hostess of the party shows hers off as she flops onto the couch with Foster. I've almost got to believe the film editor picked these shots intentionally!


At 5:00 on the DVD, a number of alcohol bottles are seen on the countertop. I've been unable to confirm Justina as an actual brand of the time, though there is a St. Justina wine. Grove Gin is another I've been unable to confirm as a real brand, though there are Old Grove and Oak Grove gins. A bottle of Squires Gin is also seen; this is a real world brand.


The alarm clock seen at 6:57 on the DVD that awakens Foster is a Presta brand. This was a real world brand of clock at the time the episode was made, but I can find no evidence that the company is still in business.


The morning after the party, Foster checks in at the SHADO Research Center for a required 2-week-long check-up and physical. He meets with the head of the center, Dr. Harris. I suspect some names got mixed up in this script because the actor seen playing "Dr. Harris" here (Basil Moss) plays Dr. Frazer in several other episodes! And a character called Dr. Harris at SHADO HQ in "Identified" is played by another actor (Matthew Robertson)! And, at one point in this episode, Straker asks Lt. Ford to get Dr. Frazer at the research center on the radio (not Dr. Harris).


During Foster's flashback at 11:13 on the DVD, we see Han Solo dancing at the party.

Han Solo 


This episode is the first appearance of what I call the Type 2 alien spacesuit. The Type 1 suits seen in earlier episodes have a red collar and a chain-like cross-hatch on the torso. The Type 2 have a black collar and a solid silver stripe and a larger faceplate on the helmet.
Type 1 alien spacesuit Type 2 alien spacesuit
Type 1 alien spacesuit Type 2 alien spacesuit


At 26:12 on the DVD, when Captain Waterman slides down the chute to Sky 1, it can be seen that his descent stops while his head is still visible in the chute!


The aliens wear lenses over their eyes to protect them from the liquid-breathing mixture in their spacesuits. But Foster is not given any lenses, so would his eyes, or his sight while immersed in the fluid, be hindered? Of course, since this all turns out to be just Foster's nightmare, it doesn't really matter.


At 29:46 on the DVD, we see that the chute that leads the pilot to Sky 1 also delivers the pilot back up to the control room of Skydiver when he returns.


At 35:05 on the DVD, something appears to be fluttering on the right-hand side of the Moonmobile (left side of screen). It may be meant to be seen as venting gas or smoke.


As the UFO comes in for a crash landing on the Moon at 36:30 on the DVD, notice that it comes down almost on top of Lt. Drake's Moonmobile (sitting on the Moon's surface on the right of the screen).


While discussing how to safely remove the recovered Foster from the liquid-breathing environment of the alien spacesuit, Dr. Jackson remarks that when they've done it before with captured aliens, none have survived more than a few hours afterward. Since this is part of Foster's nightmare, we don't know how much truth is in this statement, but it does seem to fit with what we've seen in other episodes.


Straker remarks (again, within Foster's dream) that Foster is an expert skin diver.


Dr. Jackson remarks that Foster is being injected with petrocol to try to ease the transition to air when they remove his liquid-filled helmet. As far as I can tell, petrocol is a fictional drug.


Though not seen previously, at 43:07 on the DVD, there is suddenly a blobby scratch mark on the side of the alien helmet worn by Foster.


When Foster's helmet is removed and the green fluid drains out, his face isn't stained green like that of the aliens. Of course (again!), this is just a dream.


All of the scenes through the moment Foster falls asleep in the sauna are real. The scenes afterward (until he wakes up again at 44:17 on the DVD) are from Foster's dream.


As Foster goes into the sauna for the second time at the end of the episode, he sings "Beautiful Dreamer" from 1864, written by the "father of American music," Stephen Foster. Of course, the "dreamer" part of the song is a reference to his own previous spell of dreaming in the sauna. In addition, it's possible Colonel Foster has an affinity for Stephen Foster's work because they share the same last name or maybe the colonel is a descendent of the songwriter? 




see you in the fun palace.wav

a giggle a nanosecond.wav

Control to Skydiver.wav

press the button.wav

what gentle means of persuasion.wav

Beautiful Dreamer.wav 


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