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Also known as Project Blue Book in the USA, this series was not so much science fiction as a docudrama type series, rather like Dragnet of the previous decade (also produced by Jack Webb I might add). Whereas Dragnet was based on actual case files of the Los Angeles police department of the time, Project U.F.O. was based upon the actual investigations of the U.S. Air Force's Project Blue Book. The real Project Blue Book was the last of the publicly acknowledged systematic investigations into reported U.F.O. phenomena, and ran from 1952 to 1970. It investigated reports handed in by members of the military as well as the general public, and people could actually phone a published phone number to make a report. At it's close, the project had sifted through a record 12,618 reports. Interestingly, while the majority were formally identified as misidentified weather phenomena, including ball lightning and even swamp gas, and conventional aircraft along with a few actual hoaxes, about 701 remain classified as "unkown".
The series followed various members of the Air Force assigned to Project Blue Book, each rotated to the duty for only a handful of episodes. They would respond to a report of a possible sighting or encounter, interview witnesses, and investigate thoroughly, then issue their report. The Air Force took this task quite seriously, and the members of the task force team always acted very professional and open minded. Very much a product of its time, with public interest in UFOs still at an all time high, Project Blue Book itself was rather controversial. many persons claimed that the Air Force was trying to indulge in cover ups, and yet others felt it had continued to investigate in secret after ending officially. Regardless of the truth, the fact remains that the programme was squarely on the side of the Air Force, much the same way that Dragnet was very pro towards the side of law and order.
Very much ahead of its time as to theme, the show never wandered deep into X-Files type drama, but rather stayed close to the reality of the true investigations. While it makes for more of a dry feel than the excitement and intrigue of the X Files, it also provides a fascinating yet entertaining insight into the 50's and 60's as it dealt with members of the public and the reports. We can see the post WW II shift of suspicion and post MacCarthy era paranoia seeking its new target, with people seeing aliens in the most mundane of things, and the actual unexplained phenomena nearly always being strangely benign in nature. It opens questions as to tolerance, as well as belief, never presuming to have the answers ready to hand. This means that as they investigate, we encounter the same assumptions and prejudices the officers encounter in those they interview, and feel the official political brick walls they occasionally encounter along the way. We go along as silent observers, until the conclusion for the report is reached.
Fascinating despite the slight dating of the style, this series is rarely shown on repeats on TV today and has not yet been released onto DVD. The actual Project Blue Book investigations are freely available to the public however, under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, albeit with names and other identifying personal information removed. Individuals wishing to see this little gem's two seasons released onto DVD can vote for it under the Project U.F.O. title on the TVShowsOnDVD.com website.