Posted on 25 October 2012 by olav

Project U.F.O. was a ground breaking television show shown on NBC television. The series, which lasted two seasons from 1978 to 1979, was based loosely on the real-life Project Blue Book, and was created by Dragnet veteran Jack Webb, who pored through Air Force files looking for episode ideas. On a historic note this was the final show produced by Webb’s Mark VII Limited. The show features two U.S. Air Force investigators charged with investigating UFO sightings on behalf of Project Blue Book. The first season starred William Jordan (as “Maj. Jake Gatlin”) and Caskey Swaim (as “Staff Sgt. Harry Fitz”). Jordan was a rather nondescript leading man, while Swaim (who had never had any significant acting experience before landing the role) added diversity as a Southerner with a pronounced accent. In season two, Jordan was replaced by Edward Winter (as “Capt. Ben Ryan”). Aldine King (“Libby”) was another regular. Dr. Joyce Brothers appeared in several episodes. In the pilot episode, Gatlin informed the newly assigned Fitz that, since it is impossible to prove a negative, their job was to prove that each UFO sighting was real, by researching and disproving possible alternate explanations. Gatlin also told Fitz that he himself had once seen “something I can’t explain” while flying as an Air Force pilot, which led to his interest in Blue Book. In retrospect, Project U.F.O. anticipated many of the themes of the X-Files and other shows which came later, though of course without that show’s romantic subtext or anti-government (or for that matter, anti-alien) paranoia. As with Blue Book, many of the UFO sightings on Project UFO turned out to have conventional explanations, though in the beginning of each episode we see the actual legitimate sighting. Some, however, were left unexplained, and suggestive of alien contact. By the second season, the investigators had themselves experienced a UFO sighting.

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