"Sighting 4026: The Atlantic Queen Incident"
Original air date Jul 5, 1979
Directed by Robert Leeds
Written by Donald L. Gold
Edward Winter as Capt. Ben Ryan
Caskey Swaim as Sgt. Harry Fitz
Peter Brown as XO Steve Rawlins
John Anderson as Captain Berkstad
Jayne Meadows as Marlene Baker
Morey Amsterdam as Ollie Hyers
Donna Douglas as Ellen Ferrell
Project UFO (Feb 1978 to Aug 1979) was a Jack Webb production purporting to dramatize the official Project Blue Book files of reported UFO sightings and the resulting governmental investigations, all of which are kept in the National Archives. The on-line producer, Col. William Coleman was said to be the retired real-life head of Project Blue Book which was disbanded in 1969 with about thirty percent of the cases unexplained as either mistake or fraud.
This case deals with a reported sighting on an ocean liner. Peter plays Steve Rawlins, the executive officer who first spots what appears to be a UFO. At 4 a.m., the radar man and Rawlins see an unexplained object on the radar screen. When Rawlins calls the captain to report, the phone is dead. While the radar man goes to report to the captain in person, Rawlins sees a suspicious object in the sky. One of the ship's entertainers, out walking off a drinking bout, sees something even more suspicious.
After Rawlins makes his report, the parent company calls the government for an investigation. Hence the arrival of our intrepid investigators who are airlifted by helicopter to the ocean liner. The captain lets them know he suspects the ambitious Rawlins of lying to cast aspersions on the captain's record. Rawlins tells the investigators what he saw, including a second sighting while outside on deck.
Ollie comes to the investigators with a story of having seen an alien and reporting same to Rawlins. The captain is still skeptical. Rawlins admits that he's never seen Ollie completely sober.
The flirtatious Marlene calls the investigators over to hear her tale of meeting an alien in the ship's passage. As the investigators take physical inventory of the scene, they check the passageway where Marlene saw the alien disappear. Rawlins tells them there are radioactive isotopes in the hold but that they're well sealed. However, investigation shows that somehow one of the containers has become unsealed. Rawlins wonders if the aliens somehow sensed the radiation. The investigators reckon as how the industrial isotopes didn't pose a short term danger.
Finally the investigators put forth a rather complex explanation for what Rawlins and the others saw. The object on the radar was an atomic sub the Navy admits was in the area. The phone was dead because the ship's electrician thought 4 a.m. was a good time to work on some wiring. The combination of a full moon low on the horizon, fog and a big flock of seagulls accounts for the sighting of the UFO in the sky. The capper is the discovery of a spaceman costume which had been worn by a passenger for the previous nights masquerade. Rawlins declares himself willing to buy their story, although Ryan claims they weren't trying to sell anything.
NiteOwl Review: None of us actually remembered this short-lived series. It wasn't exactly The X-Files. The special effects in this episode (used to illustrate the testimony of the people interviewed) weren't exactly inspiring even by 1979 standards. The fact that Peter has a fairly substantial part is the main reason for us to acquire this episode, same would hold for Morey Amsterdam and Jayne Meadows fans. Donna Douglas' part is only a cameo. It's likely that most episodes have interesting guest stars so some of them would be worth collecting for the same reason Love Boat and Fantasy Island are worth having.
Cast Notes: Star Edward Winter (who replaced William Jordan in the fall of 1978) was recognizable as the paranoid intelligence officer who made several memorable appearances on M.A.S.H. Morey Amsterdam was of course best known for his costarring role on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-66). He had his own show (1948-49) and a few of the oldest of our group remember him telling jokes while playing the cello. Jayne Meadows (wife of Steve Allen) made many comedy appearances alone and with Allen. Donna Douglas was, of course, Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-71).
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