John Croxley is a tormented man. Having been “afflicted” with extra sensory perception most of his life he finds that he is losing his mind. He consults a psychiatrist to help alleviate the symptoms which seemingly have grown worse in the previous 12 months and has driven his marriage to the breaking point. However he believes that nothing is helping and refuses to go back for a further appointment. Croxley has the uncanny ability to see future events albeit in a fuzzy way when he alludes to his psychiatrist that his wife is expecting a visitor.
This opening scene starts the UFO episode “E.S.P.” Although filmed as the 15th episode in October/November 1969 it eventually aired in October 1970 as the sixth episode in the series. It was one of the more “psychological” stories rather than a straight “action/adventure” episode (i.e. lots of explosions which Gerry Anderson was famous for).
After a UFO crashes into Croxley’s house killing his wife, the UFO explodes seriously injuring Paul Foster and killing his co-driver who were waiting in a SHADO mobile. While Ed Straker and Paul Freeman survey the damaged house Croxley arrives and is offered condolences by Straker. Little do they know that Croxley, under the influence of the Aliens, is reading their minds and has gathered information on the SHADO organization.
The rest of the episode deals with Croxley’s attempts at killing Foster who is recuperating in hospital and sending a detailed outline of SHADO to Straker. After Straker and Freeman visit the psychiatrist and learn of Croxley’s ESP abilities they are told to go to the destroyed house later that evening. Croxley believes Straker and SHADO are responsible for the death of his wife and sets them up to kill them. Croxley is eventually killed by Foster who, displaying symptoms of PTSD, returns to the house just in time to prevent the deaths of Straker and Freeman.
Although the episode has some interesting plot points sadly it is a rather bland and stilted story. Some expository information about the Aliens is gleaned from the episode through Croxley who channels their “voice” saying their world is dying and they wish to come to Earth. They say they mean no harm, but it is never followed up in subsequent episodes. A nice touch was to have Croxley relive to a childhood memory where he was bullied for his ESP.
John Stratton does a decent job as Croxley and gives the viewer some insight into his mental state right from the beginning of the episode. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast fall rather flat and do little with the lines they’re given. After 30 days of hospitalization one would think Paul Foster would have more injuries than just a bandage wrapped around his chest.
I would rate this episode a 6 out of 10 mostly for Croxley dealing with the mental strain of his ESP but also the loss of his wife.
Reviewed by Dean King