Project UFO: The Desert Springs Incident

This is the eighth episode in the first season of Project UFO. There are 13 total episodes in season one and 13 more in season two. Yes, this painful drudgery got renewed. And friends, I just don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if I can keep going, even with this awaiting me at the end of season two:

If there’s one lesson I want you to take away from these recaps — and I assure you there is only one — it’s that this show is not very good. I honestly cannot think of a worse way to present what should be a very interesting premise. It’s especially bad because every now and then you get tiny hints of how the show could be, but it quickly veers away.

It’s not well done, it’s not charmingly bad, and it’s not goofy fun. It’s just a slow, boring, uninteresting show. And, grail or no, it’s pretty clear I’ve given it more attention than it deserves. I don’t know that I’ll give it more, we’ll see.

That said, I watched this one and by god I’m not going to let that trial go to waste, so here you go.

Up until now the episodes have threaded two or more stories together, and they often overlap, usually with one adding a predictable “…or was it???” to the other. This one, however, is two completely separate and unrelated stories, and they “wrap up” the first one before moving on to the second.

In the first story we have a Crazy Cat Lady except cats weren’t invented yet, so she has dogs instead, who is old and lonely ever since her husband “disappeared” (walked out on her) several years ago. She and her dogs see a UFO that in no way represents any pent-up sexual frustration on her part.

The tip of the UFO gets thrust into a body of water, clearly heating it up and producing bubbles and steam. Then it pulls out and flies away, not explaining where it’s going or when it will be back.

But her story doesn’t end there! A few days later, two mysterious gentlemen appear at her door:

These guys say they are from the planet Venus and were on the spaceship (the “Venusia”) that evening. They offer to take her with them to see her husband, who is now living on the planet Venus. All she needs to do is hand them a check in Earth dollars (her life savings of $40,000 will suffice) and she’ll be on her way! She is totally up for this.

Major Gatlin and Sergeant Fitz aren’t so sure, and they call up a friend with LAPD’s bunco squad to be there when the money handoff is made. It turns out these guys are just con men looking to grift an old woman out of her money! They get hauled off to the hoosegow and that closes the book on this case!

Except, no attempt whatsoever is even made to explain or even investigate the original UFO. Did these two guys somehow engineer that? How did they even know about it? WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED AT THE RESERVOIR, PROJECT UFO? But no, the guys tasked with investigating UFOs walk away from this UFO sighting without investigating it and I assume still cash their unearned paychecks. Maybe this is a backdoor pilot for Project Bunco or something.

INTERLUDE: Scene at some kind of conference or something where an excitable young man wants to talk to Fitz about sidereal time which serves almost no purpose except to eventually set up a joke about Fitz missing lunch and dinner because he has to listen to this guy. Also, our next protagonists show up.

In the second story, here we have two guys and their beards girlfriends drinking at a ski lodge one night when the place starts shaking. Looking out the window — which has shattered from the vibration — they see a huge spaceship hovering over the lodge.

It shakes the lodge for a bit and then flies off. When the folks flee via the tramway, the UFO stops the tram and flies around them, shining a light before moving off.

Gatlin and Fitz actually decide to investigate this one and go to work. They talk to the bartender, who corroborates the story. They track down the pathetic drunk who runs the tram, who also verifies it. They talk to some Native American who says hokey junk. There’s melted snow, some radiation, and burn marks on the roof of the chalet. The outside of the tram has recently been repainted. The window definitely shows signs of having broken.

HOWEVER: the two guys are screenwriters, see? And they want to make this exciting event into a movie, which they set about announcing right away. Gatlin reads about it in the Hollywood trade magazines! He’s not pleased and he lets them know about it. The guys still insist it was a legit sighting.

Finally Gatlin is ready to present their findings: officially, the conclusion they reach is, “Huh. Who knows?” because there are perfectly legitimate ways to explain everything that happened so who can really say if it was a UFO or not? One of the Hollywood guys says he’s not going to write the movie because they want to turn it into something it wasn’t and he wants to tell the REAL story. Well dude, I just watched the real story and it was pretty damn uninteresting so good luck with that.

If you don’t believe my UFO story, do you at least believe I’m interested in sex with women?

Once again we have to ask, what on Earth are these guys looking for? Why even bother to “investigate” anything short of a living, breathing alien being someone has locked in their attic? What’s the opposite of “sensationalistic” we can use to describe a TV show that makes something interesting as mundane and dull as possible?

I don’t know, and as I say, I don’t know if I want to keep trying to find out.

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