From 1952 to 1969, the U.S. Air Force conducted Project Blue Book
, in which they investigated thousands of reported UFO sightings.
In 1978, Jack Webb (of Dragnet
fame) decided to make a TV show about it. The show starred William Jordan and Caskey Swaim as the USAF investigators (Edward Winter replaced Jordan in the show's second half-season - it began in February 1978 and returned in the fall of that year before getting axed mid-season), and ran for 26 episodes.
Notable as a predecessor to The X-Files
(though with no aliens - in keeping with Jack Webb's penchant for keeping it real, the sightings either had thoroughly earthbound explanations or were inconclusive... significantly, the series had a retired USAF general as a producer) and as the final series to come from Webb's Mark VII Ltd.
- Evolving Credits: The second season credit sequence was significantly changed from the first. Justified in part by the recasting of the "lead officer" slot, but the cast members weren't actually shown in the first season credits. The new credits include 40 seconds of spaceship special effects shots plus footage of the leads taking off in an Air Force fighter jet. It's all more suggestive of a science-fiction action-adventure show than a "just the facts" procedural.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: "The ____________ Incident."
- Replaced the Theme Tune: The show used a military-sounding march as the basis for its first season theme song, but switched to a more generic tune that might have fit any number of '70s action-adventure shows. Which was probably intentional, as the second season opening as a whole gives off a (somewhat misleading, as the show was really more of a "military procedural") science-fiction action-adventure vibe.
- Roman à Clef: The stories were based on case files from Project Blue Book, but according to Edward Winter, there was a bit of a twist:
Winter: As I understand the story, the Air Force finally got tired of looking at us, because they said "Anything your writers can dream up, we can find... There are over 12,000 cases in the Blue Book report." So instead of finding it first and then writing about it, they let the writers write it and then they go find one like it!