The Story Outline for the UFO Episode "COMPUTER AFFAIR"
Prior to writing a script, the writer submits a story outline to the producers showing what they have in mind. Here is the story outline for the UFO episode COMPUTER AFFAIR. Please note that this was written during series pre-production, and many changes were made to this episode and the series in general before filming began.
This story outline was first published in the 1992 Fanderson "Project Straker" convention booklet, and was provided to Fanderson by UFO director Alan Perry. It is reproduced here with permission from Fanderson.
"THE COMPUTER AFFAIR"
Story Outline by Tony Barwick
In the control room on SHADO's Moonbase, the Lunar-Earth clock registers 11.00 Moonday 7 underneath the Earth equivalent, the 10th of July. The year is 1985.
The atmosphere is tense. Paula Harris, one of the space trackers, calls out the progress of a UFO. Three of Moonbase's Interceptors close in on the alien craft. Jon Karlin, the base commander, and Alex Freeman watch as the three men fly towards the unknown danger. The computers flash and spew out data. Then, after a brief countdown, the Interceptors fire their atomic warheads. After a few long moments, Paula announces a miss - the UFO continues on course, the now unarmed and vulnerable Interceptors directly in its path. Karlin gives the command for the astronauts to break formation. Paula relays the orders. Karlin reacts - the standard procedure is not being followed - but, after some confusion, the Interceptors disperse offering the UFO three targets as opposed to one.
On the illuminated space map, the Moonbase personnel watch helplessly as the UFO, moving at SOL 8, closes in on the nearest Interceptor. We catch a quick glimpse of the doomed astronaut before he merges with the UFO. The Interceptor is destroyed.
Accusing eyes turn to Paula. Freeman watches closely - was it human error? Karlin breaks the silence. The Earth must be warned that a UFO is through the outer defence system.
Freeman is back on Earth. Straeker tells him the UFO was tracked but contact was lost and it is presumed to have landed in a remote area of Canada. What Straeker demands to know is how the hell it got past the Moonbase defenses. What happened up there? Freeman is at first evasive, but finally admits it had crossed his mind that the error was human. Straeker tells him to get the personnel concerned - Paula Harris and the two surviving astronauts from the Interceptors - back to Earth immediately.
The search for the UFO is organised. Captain Desica, commander of Skydiver, is alerted. All available men and aircraft are thrown into the difficult task.
The two astronauts, Mark Bradley, a negro, and Ken Matthews travel to Earth with Paula Harris. As they glide into the lower levels of the atmosphere after rendezvous with the winged space bus, they discuss all that has happened. Matthews half blames Paula, who offers no defence. Mark Bradley says little, lucky to be alive - his Interceptor would almost certainly have been the one destroyed if the standard procedure had been followed.
The long slog of the search for the UFO continues, but the area is vast and uninhabited, the rugged terrain causing many radar blindspots, and low cloud and ground mist is hampering aerial reconnaissance. It could take weeks.
Paula, Mark Bradley and Matthews are grilled by Straeker in SHADO HQ. They are all highly trained specialists. Straeker is not interested in what happened but why. Why did someone take a decision apparently based on emotion and not computer data and logic. No-one can give him a satisfactory answer.
Straeker decides. All three will be put through a series of tests, psychological, physiological - the works. They were all hand-picked after weeks of such tests. What has happened since then? Straeker wants to know.
In the cold wastes of Northern Canada, we see the UFO. It has been damaged. The Interceptor's atomic warheads exploded a little closer to the mark than realised. But as the music stings, the UFO starts up and slowly takes off. A craft from somewhere in outer space is at large on Earth.
Using advanced techniques backed by a sophisticated computer, Dr Shroeder leads the investigation of the Moonbase personnel. Matthews is soon cleared, and the tests concentrate on Paula and Mark. They are elaborate and searching.
Emergency. The UFO has been spotted flying at reduced speed and altitude. Captain Desica is given the red alert and Sky Diver takes off to attack.
In an exciting sequence, the attack is pressed home. The UFO receives further damage and is forced back down in Northern Canada. This time SHADO have a more exact fix on its position. The net is closing.
Freeman confronts Paula and Mark with the results of the tests. The computer concludes an emotional attachment between them which made Paula - subconsciously perhaps - change the standard procedure and order Mark away from the danger. To put it simply, the computer detects an embryo mutual love between them.
Paula and Mark are indignant. Both ridicule the idea. Freeman finally agrees, saying he'll back human instinct rather than any computer. A team of SHADO technicians will leave for Canada immediately. Mark and Paula volunteer and Freeman quickly accepts their offer.
In the cold bleak terrain of Northern Canada, the crippled UFO's exact position has now been fixed. Three groups - A, B and C - are closing in. Group A is led by Mark Bradley. Paula and Freeman are in a mobile command control unit in Canada. Straeker monitors and overlords the operation from SHADO HQ in England.
As the hunters close in, the heat is building up in the UFO as it decomposes in Earth's atmosphere. Finally, in a suspense sequence, the hatch opens and the two occupants emerge. Their movements are slow and clumsy. We see their white negroid features through the translucent liquid that fills their clear helmets.
The rest of their bodies are covered in a paper thin, plastic-like material which apparently offers little protection against the stark coldness of their surroundings, but in fact it is an advanced material giving perfect insulation.
The three groups are closing in and have visual contact with the UFO. One will make the final assault. Straeker wants the UFO men taken alive - it could be a highly dangerous operation.
In the mobile command unit, Freeman tells Paula to order one of the groups in. When Paula asks which group, Freeman demonstrates his trust and tells her the decision is hers - standard procedure. He watches her closely.
Paula hesitated a moment, then tells Group A to close in - the one led by Mark Bradley. Mark and his group move cautiously forward. Around their craft, the UFO men make little effort to move. The heat in their space-vehicle is still building up.
The men creep forward, through the bare trees and patches of snow. In mobile command, Freeman paces the floor. In SHADO HQ, Straeker sits glued to his monitor, after ten years of work and sweat a little nearer to achieving something positive.
Group A spot the UFO men. Mark orders his unit to close in. One UFO man senses something and moves quickly towards the space craft. Before Mark can stop him, a man at his side aims and fires and a UFO man's helmet is shattered. As blood mixes with the liquid from the helmet, he staggers towards the UFO and collapses near it. The other panics and moves off like a hunted animal. The men break cover and after a short chase, he is caught.
The group turn to a violent explosion. The UFO has reached the critical temperature and destroyed itself. It will keep its secrets.
The mobile unit is moving out. Paula and Mark find themselves alone. "Why did you send my group in? The other two were both nearer and in better positions," Mark asks.
Paula, searching her soul, replies, "Maybe I'm prejudiced." A long pause. A firm black hand touches and holds Paula's. An emotional gesture.
In SHADO HQ, Straeker gets little sleep. Their captive is alive and well. Two weeks of tests have told the doctors a great deal. He is about 25 years old - biologically, he is as man himself is predicted to develop 1,000 years in the future. In the UFO he lived and breathed in a liquid environment to enable him to fly longer and faster in space. But now he has been transferred back to breathing air. He has uttered no sound, nor betrayed any emotion. Straeker decides it is time for interrogation.
This sequence underlines the different personalities of the two men. For Freeman the interrogation is brutal. Straeker is determined to make the UFO man talk. After preliminary questioning, electrodes are attached to his arms and, despite Freeman's protests, increasingly high voltage shots are applied. Freeman explodes. The UFO man could be incapable of speech. Maybe he doesn't understand...Straeker ignores him and, peering into the captive's milky eyes, demands that he speaks, answers his questions. Again the voltage is increased. Freeman protests more violently. Maybe they communicate by an entirely different system. Thought patterns for example. "Increase the voltage," Straeker orders.
Although the voltage is high, the amperage is very low and would not harm an ordinary man. But this last shock is the end. A Doctor announces the UFO man is dead...
In Straeker's office, Freeman finally gives way to his pent up emotions - sickened by all he has seen. He calls Straeker all the bastards under the sun. Straeker lets him burn himself out and then coldly replies, "No, Freeman, you're the bastard." He explains..."the alien could understand English. Anyone who can fly across space must be able to monitor our transmissions and be intelligent enough to learn the language. You're the bastard because your emotions placed one life before thirty billion lives on Earth. You're the bastard because your conscience lets you sleep nights and leave the hard decisions to people like me." Straeker goes on. "All the computers predicted he could speak and I've learned never to distrust a computer."
Freeman laughs cynically. "How about Paula and Mark? The computer was wrong there."
"Was it?", Straeker says.
"Yes, it was," Freeman says. He relates how Paula had a choice and sent Mark's group in for the final assault on the UFO, fully realising the danger. "Over-compensating for her emotional involvement," Straeker replies. "Swinging too far the other way to appear impartial."
Freeman scorns, "How the hell do you know that? Power's gone to your head." Two men, temperamentally so different, but somehow needing each other, glare hard across the desk.
We see that Straeker and the computer were right. In a short montage sequence, Paula and Mark finally admit what they both have come to realise is true. An impulse detected by the solid state electronics of a computer has awakened into love.