The Story Outline for the UFO Episode "FLIGHT PATH"
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 FLIGHT PATH, which was originally titled THE SUN ALSO RISES. 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 SUN ALSO RISES"
Story Outline by Ian Scott Stewart
The episode opens on Moonbase where rotation personnel are preparing for Earth leave. One of them, Paul Bridges, is being called over the internal loudspeaker system. A friend searches for him - if he doesn't make this rocket trip, he loses his leave. He finds Bridges - fortyfive, slim, a younger Joseph Cotton perhaps - in the Sleep Sphere.
He is sitting on the edge of his inflatable bed, a roll of computer read-out in his hand, memorising the figures on the roll. As the friend approaches, he pushes the read-out under a pile of new, disposable clothing. The friend urges him to hurry - throws in a comment about Bridges' wife Carol, who will be waiting for him on Earth.
We establish Carol through her photograph by the bed. But when the friend tries to help Bridges pack - in particular, when he is about to put the pile of clothing into the hold-all - Bridges reacts violently, telling him to mind his own business.
The friend withdraws, considerably put out. We stay on Paul Bridges - beads of perspiration on his forehead. As soon as the friend is gone he grabs up the read-out from under the clothing, glances at it once more - his lips moving as he mumbles the figures to himself - then shoves the whole read-roll into an automatic disposer unit by the bed. As the loudspeaker repeats the urgent appeal for Paul Bridges, we climax the music.
After titles, a montage of rocketry, orbital linkups and soft landings effect the transfer of the leave personnel from Moon to Earth and we next pick up Paul Bridges as he passes through the radiation check at the Earth Reception Centre. He is checked too for any documentation which he might accidentally or otherwise have brought with him. He is clear.
We have heard of Carol, seen her photograph and now expect Bridges to drive straight home. But he doesn't. He stops at a telephone box at a particularly dark and lonely stretch of road, goes in, stands waiting. He looks down at the receiver...checks his watch..looks down again. He starts as it rings. Nervously, he picks up the receiver. We hear only his side of the conversation - to the effect that he will not cooperate, whatever they threaten. And it is clear from Paul's reaction that the threats are against Paul's wife...Carol.
Cut to Carol in bed, asleep. Outside the cottage...a clink. She wakes, lifts one arm, frowns. She gets up, goes downstairs calling her husband's name. No answer. Then the dog at her feet gives a long, frightened howl.
At the door she listens...again the sound. She stands still for a moment in the darkened hall - then decides. Quietly, she eases back the bolts on the door, then opens it an inch or two only, peering through the gap.
Close on her face as she reacts in horror, reels back. The door swings open as we take in her eyeline. Blocking the doorway, a rapid almost subliminal glimpse of a UFO man, his strange, glazed expressionless eyes glinting through the visor of his liquid-filled helmet.
The visit (which in fact leaves Carol unharmed) is a final warning to Paul Bridges to co-operate with the UFO man. She, of course, knows nothing about them, and nothing specific about her husband's job. But she suspects a connection - and his behaviour seems to confirm it. She begs him to co-operate in whatever is required of him...becomes hysterical. Paul agrees.
The next day, Paul Bridges arrives at SHADO for the customary debriefing session after a tour of duty on the Moon. He is wired up to play a complex game of electronic chess in which 'decision stress' is recorded on an oscillating scope attached to the subject's respiratory/circulatory system.
To Freeman's dismay (Bridges is an old friend) and Straeker's alarm, the results show Bridges to be emotionally unfit to hold down the sort of job he has. At the same time, there is every indication that he is currently involved in a major traumatic situation. What is it? Freeman protests that of all people, Bridges must be beyond suspicion. But Straeker is adamant - tests indicate his security risk potential. "Check him".
It is night. Bridges' car travels a stretch of country road. Up ahead, we recognise the telephone box. Bridges' car pulls up outside. Bridges enters the booth...stands waiting. After a moment the phone rings. He picks it up. Again we hear only Bridges' side of the conversation - he'll co-operate, give them the information. He begins to reel off figures as we...
Cut to Freeman, several hundreds of yards away, operating a radio mike, an instrument capable of making audible a conversation up to half a mile away.
At the beginning of Act Two, Bridges is being interrogated by Straeker, a very hard approach, reluctant to believe anybody who has spied on the organisation once. Freeman makes some effort to mitigate the force of Straeker's attack but Straeker shrugs him off and blasts ahead until Bridges breaks down completely. But the information Bridges is able to give is itself baffling - a series of figures and formulae which seem to represent a navigational course of some sort, like directions for a yacht entering a particularly rocky and hazardous bay.
To Freeman, Straeker proposes that Paul Bridges should be used as bait to capture a UFO man and discover the significance of the information handed over to them. Freeman objects that there is no guarantee that Bridges will be contacted again - after all they appear to have all the information they wanted. Straeker looks for some time at Freeman, tells him to arrange an effective guard for Carol Bridges, and then to release her husband. Freeman shrugs - O.K. We are aware that Straeker has something in mind. But at the moment, we have no idea what.
Stay now on Straeker as he sits alone in his office before a rotating model of Earth, Moon and Sun. In radio contact with Moonbase, he begins a minute check of Paul Bridges' data, and it seems at first that they might be getting somewhere. The mathematical data could relate to relative positions of the Moon, Earth and Sun in three days time, but the strange zig-zag track remains unexplained. We end the scene on Straeker alone, nagging, worrying the problem. Then as he gives up and leaves for home, the camera stays on the model. We are telling the audience that somewhere here is the answer to Straeker's problem.
Meanwhile, Paul Bridges is astounded when he is told he is clear to go home. He knows nothing, of course, of Straeker's decision to use him as bait. He gets into his car, begins to drive home. Only now, as Bridges' car travels the quiet country roads, do we see what Straeker intended. If the UFO men have all they want from Bridges it is in their interest to kill him, just in case he is willing and able to crack the mystery of the data he supplied. So when we...
Cut to Straeker alerting Franco for a possible UFO interception, we know that bait really means bait to Straeker.
The anticipated attack takes place while Franco, in Skydiver, is still on his way. We see the UFO dive out of the sky...the shafts of light lap out and crackle in explosions around Paul Bridges' car. Then, as Bridges hurls himself from the driving seat, the car is hit, explodes and hurtles, by now a blazing mass, into a gas station by the roadside.
As the storage tanks explode we cut to Paul Bridges sprawled in a ditch the light and shadow of the flames playing across his unconscious face.
Acts Three/Four opens on Carol. She is making a furtive call. We soon gather from her tone that she is not the quiet, stay-at-home type of wife...her tone of voice to the man on the telephone is far too friendly. We pick up the call as she is complaining about the guard that has been put on the house. They are, of course, the SHADO guard ordered by Straeker, but Carol has been told simply that they are plain clothes policemen, protection against a possible second visit from the 'intruder'.
But the guards are restricting Carol's freedom of movement. She arranges with the man on the phone to give them the slip. He will pick her up in the lane at the end of Bridges' garden.
Paul Bridges has, meanwhile, been brought by ambulance into the SHADO sick bay. When Freeman enters the room, he sees Straeker is already there, and immediately, the basic character difference in the two men is expected. Straeker will sacrifice any individual to the overall objective, whereas to Freeman all worthwhile objectives start with the individual, and he explodes angrily at Straeker's cynical use of Paul Bridges as human bait. At the end of the scene, Straeker walks out on him.
At the cottage, Carol has successfully slipped the guards. She reaches the lane, makes for the car waiting with the engine running. Hurrying forward, she pulls open the door...screams in terror as she sees the driver.
At SHADO, Freeman receives an urgent message to go immediately to Straeker's office. When he arrives at the office, Straeker is sitting in the dark, watching the lightfall from his illuminated model of Sun Earth and Moon. As the model Sun's shadow falls across the Moon, Straeker puts the idea to Freeman that the UFO's plan is to attack Moonbase, appearing (like Second World War fighters) out of the rising sun and protected from radar detection by the fact that the UFO would be flying at nil feet, zig-zagging round the lips of the Moon's craters.
Using this method, the UFO could reach the range of Moonbase and destroy it while virtually invisible. Until protective systems are devised against this form of attack, only a single man out on the Moon's surface could track the UFO and destroy it.
But who, Freeman asks, would do the job? It's virtual suicide. Straeker's face hardens. Paul Bridges? Freeman tells Straeker he doubts if there's a chance... repeats that it's virtual suicide. Straeker flicks a photograph from his desk. Maybe this photo report will change his mind. We zoom in on the photograph - Carol lies dead in the lane.
Throughout this next sequence, we intercut Karlin in the Operations Sphere, and Freeman and Straeker at SHADO on Earth, with the action on the Moon's surface.
Establish Moonbase...the Moon's surface. Then close on Bridges positioned on the edge of a crater. He wears a full space suit, carries a development of a rocket launcher. We see he is jittery, afraid. He checks his watch and his diagrams.
The lunar landscape is illuminated only by the pale Earth light. It is just before dawn. We watch him in long shot as he begins to make his way towards the far horizon where the Sun will rise. Then we close on him and take his eyeline through the polarised visor of his helmet. Distantly, the tip of the Sun appears over the horizon and the Moonscape reddens.
Totally isolated, without even radio contact with Moonbase, Bridges faces the UFO as it moves forward among the craters with the Sun at its back. Then, as it is silhouetted in his launcher sights, he fires, sees the rocket land slightly right of the UFO.
Saving himself with an effort from panic, Bridges uses the lip of the crater for cover as the UFO moves forward. He has by now only one rocket left. In order to make certain of success, he allows the UFO to approach too close. He fires, scores a hit, but is himself engulfed in the showers of exploding metal and flame...
The Sun, now fully up, gleams on one side of Moonbase's aluminium spheres.