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in progress, updated 20 November 2016)
In the UK, Network Distributing released UFO on Blu-ray disc on November 14, 2016.
Worldwide, this is the third high definition release of the UFO television series on Blu-ray disc. The first was in 2012, in Japan. The second was in 2014, in Germany. These two previous releases were largely the same, and 25 of the 26 episodes used the same exact video encode. Based on 2006 film scans of the original 35mm camera negatives, they looked great overall, but fell short of perfection by having a few notable flaws. On the Japan release, all of the sepia-tinted flashbacks in THE LONG SLEEP were incorrectly black & white (later fixed on the German release). On both releases, the aspect ratio on ORDEAL briefly switched 4:3 to 16:9 for about a minute. Many episodes contained a considerable amount of film dirt and grain that had not been digitally cleaned up. A few scenes that were shot "day-for-night" ended up looking like daytime when they should have looked like nighttime. And the color correction on many episodes was lacking, compared to the previous DVD releases. Prior to this new Blu-ray release, Network announced that they would be doing brand new restoration work on these same film scans, to produce the best version yet.
The packaging of this release consists of a sturdy outer box, with a foldout digipak disc holder, and a book (see photos below). Amusingly, the book takes up more space in the box than the discs! The disc holder is designed to look like Ed Straker's briefcase.
The packaging looks good, but falls short on practicality. It's difficult to get the discs in and out of the holder, and while you try to figure it out, the plastic tabs may break off. Also, there is no indication on the discs what the contents of each disc are. The only content listing is hidden beneath the discs and the plastic holders. The book has more pages than I've ever seen come with a video release (620!), but since it's been sized to fit inside a Blu-ray box, it's a short, squat book, and seems a bit difficult to keep open/read.
Network's extensive restoration work has mostly been met with praise, but there has been some criticism. While the previous Blu-ray releases seemed about right in terms of brightness and contrast, this new release is brighter and washed out. Most of the film dirt and grain in the previous Blu-rays are now gone, but a lot of actual image detail has gone with it, leaving the whole thing looking a bit plastic and unnatural. Also, this still has not been properly color-corrected in some episodes, so some scenes have a bit of a beige color cast, which compare poorly with the old color-corrected DVDs. Also, for the episode TIMELASH, there is a slight darkening on the bottom of the screen for much of the episode, which you may or may not notice. In the episode THE LONG SLEEP, they've sepia-tinted a scene that's never been sepia-tinted before. And the opening credits for THE CAT WITH TEN LIVES look worse than it did on the DVDs! To Network's credit, they have fixed the aspect ratio error in ORDEAL, added sepia tinting in THE LONG SLEEP, and the day-for-night shots now look more like night. So it's a kind of mixed bag, and falls short of the amazing restorations that we've seen in the past from Network.
Probably the determining factor in which Blu-ray is "best" for a given individual is how you feel about the digital noise reduction that's been applied here, the brightness of the image, and the known flaws of each release (and it's too soon to say what all of the flaws are for this new release). I've compiled some frame capture comparisons here to demonstrate the difference between this new Blu-ray, the previous Japan Blu-ray, and the old UK DVD. Also, there are more frame captures from this release in the gallery below. Note that in the frame capture comparison, the DVDs consistently show more image information around all 4 sides.
As for the audio, the default choice is the original mono, and there is also a 5.1 audio track. I imagine these are the same as what have been used on previous DVD releases around the world. The mono track sounds good, and was sourced from magnetic tape and presented here in lossless PCM. I'm not a fan of the 5.1 track for UFO, as it sounds like many other 5.1 tracks of old TV shows -- it sounds like you're listening to the show from inside a tunnel, and occasionally there is a loud sound effect far left or far right. It's certainly not as good as the 5.1 audio track for SPACE:1999, but to be fair, there were separate audio elements for SPACE:1999 that apparently do not exist for UFO. I understand that some people actually like the 5.1 track, so it's good that Network has offered a choice.
to be written
Network has posted some of it's screenshots from this release here.
Network has posted a few promotional videos on YouTube:
This set can be purchased online from several sources:
Here are some photos of the packaging, and also some frame captures:
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