Mission: Impossible (1966–1973)
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The Impossible Missions Force were a team of agents with no emotional attachments who went on secret missions usually against organized crime or rogue nations. They did not go in and use guns or fists to fight a problem-the name of the game was manipulation, deception, trickery, fraud, you name it. The agents were in fact anti-heroes who stooped to the level of the bad guys themselves. But I still loved them for it.
It would be unfair to reveal any of the intricate details of the plots for the series but let's just say they were clever. Mission Impossible was a show that required a viewer's full attention-you simply couldn't switch onto an episode halfway through and expect to know what's going on. Mission Impossible was clever throughout it's entire run. The IMF always had a plan which had to be strictly adhered to for it to be a success. They used every mean trick in the book to bring the bad guys down and they always slipped away at the end without the bad guys ever finding out who they were. In fact, quite a few episodes involved the bad guys falling out with each other after believing the other one was out to get him when in fact it was the IMF who had set it all up.
A clever show indeed-highly recommended.
And the music! Lalo Schifrin's music was excellent!
After all the introduction, the remaining fifty minutes was sometimes an anti-climax. More often, it was very satisfying to see the initial vignettes fitted jigsaw-pattern into the plot. Perhaps towards the very end of the series, the plots became a little stilted or physically impossible; but invariably entertaining.
Like most fans of the original series, I found the over-hyped film of the same name to be an facile and shallow work with no redeeming features. I would die happy seeing a film in which Martin Landau, Peter Graves, Greg Morris et al. emerge creaking from retirement to save the day, and as they so often did, drive off leaving thwarted villains to turn on each other.
1995 (a good 36 years later)...Tom Cruise plays in the movie version of "Mission: Impossible"....WHY? if anyone who is old enough to know about the MI series, the IMF were all a part of a TEAM, each person contributing to the success of the mission...yet "Mr Scientology-who-thinks-psychiatry-isn't-a-science-Tom Cruise" goes it alone and i have read here on the IMDb message boards that Greg Morris (one of the original MI actors) walked off the MI movie set saying to wit "this is a disgrace" --- i agree. and then to have the nerve to follow up with "Mission: Impossible 2"????? wtf? both were duds and should have self-destructed too! "your mission -- should you decide to accept it --- is to pray a box set of the original series can be purchased somewhere and never watch the movie versions of this classic espionage series ever again... if after viewing the classic series any viewer becomes happy and/or highly interested, the Secretary will disavow any of your actions...and Tom Cruise should self-destruct within ten seconds.....good luck...."
What made M:I stand out is that it depended not on gimmicks and special effects but on the talent and believability of the actors. The props and makeup were also believable. I think that's why the movies don't measure up to the original series. Add in the ridiculous plot line that Jim Phelps could ever be the bad guy and they've completely lost it. The second movie would have been alright if it hadn't been a Mission: Impossible knock-off. The writers and producers forgot that there was an M:I team, not a single player.
All in all, Mission: Impossible set the standard for all other series of this sort, and few have come close to the bar, and none have surpassed it.
Although I loved Peter Graves in the show, I think Steven Hill brought an air of mystery to his character. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the original cast of Hill, Landau, Bain, Morris, and Lupus. Bain was ahead of her time, an older woman playing a glamor girl. Lupus, whom I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing a few years ago, played a character of few words - in fact, people used to have contests counting his lines. He was quoted as saying if he ended up in one more tight space with Greg Morris, he was going to wind up engaged! This was a show where the cast changes seemed to work pretty well, Graves, Leonard Nimoy, and Linda Day George especially.
I have so many favorite episodes. One was Cinnamon's involvement with Eric Braedon in the days when he was Hans Gundegast, the psychic one about the bees, the William Shatner back in time episode, the episode with Robert Conrad - there were so many. Later on in the show, the missions would go wrong and Graves or one of the others would have to improvise - that was great.
As far as I'm concerned, the movies had nothing to do with this show. Very disappointing what they did with the Jim Phelps character. He was furious, and I don't blame him. Some things are sacred!
Not so with Mission Impossible. Every episode is just as exciting as I remembered it. Even my grown children, who grew up in the "action every second" generation, love this series. It is indeed a "thinking person's" series.
How are they going to trick the villain? How will they break the person out of prison? How does Dan Briggs/Jim Phelps out think their counter part from the enemy side? This show was about using your brains, not your brawn.
And which red blooded teen wasn't in love with Barbara Bain? Like many young men, I developed a huge crush on her.
When I retire, I know I'll be watching this series over and over many times. I am already doing that now.
If you haven't tried this series, try it. You will enjoy it!
Now on to the show. The quality of the programs is not uniform. Early on, the baddies were mostly communist nations with funny made up names- -and the episodes were amazing. Later, however, the network pushed the folks at Paramount to make shows that were less anti-Soviet and instead they began making episodes involving criminals...which usually were poor compared to the older ones. Still, a poor "Mission: Impossible" is still enjoyable!
Bang-bang, shoot them up action it wasn't. The series showed the "slip in- manipulate, and slip out. JOB DONE role of special covert operations teams and there members, BUT of course our government would never have special covert operations teams like the I.M.F. would they after all the government disavows any knowledge of there actions.
The show took place in the middle of the cold war that was actually heating up at the time and showed how the United States gained access to foreign intelligence.
The technology is vintage late 1960s to early 1970s and those of us who can still remember that time will like take pleasure in seeing items that are only a memory now.
Call for the series to be released to home video, but avoid, and keep everyone else away from, the films at all costs.
How many kids watched this and dreamed of participating in one of these IMF missions when we grew up! They were so were planned. No stone in any possible angle was left unturned. Of course, as a kid, we didn't realize that these were carefully scripted to delight the most complicated recesses of our minds! The IMF teams may have changed a bit through the years, but the utter fascination with their ploys never let up.
Of course, at the center of this was the impossibly wonderful LALO SCHIFRIN theme! Ever since I can remember high school bands have kept this in their repertoire.
It really is kind of sad that the whole IMF thing transformed itself into the Tom Cruise vehicle it has. Sure, it's an homage of sorts. But I challenge any of you to compare the original with the Cruise aberrations (sorry, I meant "franchises"....) One of the finer things about this series was the utter prestige of the guest list who visited us in our homes weekly. Where are there any actors like these nowadays? I dare say they are nowhere. Actors of this caliber are no longer sought after. They can hardly make a living while abominations like Tom Cruise wallow in the wild excesses of the most unimaginable luxuries.
Why do I have anything against Tom Cruise? Probably like everyone else I am rather tired of the guy and his bombastic publicity machine or is it machines? He also practically runs the whole phony cult nowadays doesn't he? Anyway, enough of my rants!
M:I (1966) remains to this day one of the most engaging, intelligent programs every conceived and produced.
The new DVD release is a wonderful, welcome trip back into that fascinating world of espionage and international Cold War politics. I cannot wait for the entire run to be released!
Two other things, however, deserve mention. First, I personally found the first year with Steven Hill to be my favorite. While I liked the Peter Graves episodes, somehow, he will always be "the new guy" in my book. Maybe it's because the entire MI experience is impressed on my memory by context. Namely, I remember how during that first season, following the weekly visit my parents took to see my grandparents, my father would then race back across town just in time for us all to tune in. I seem to remember that was on Saturdays--early. We never had that experience with subsequent years, as, I believe, MI moved to late Sundays in 1967.
Second, there is the issue of the set design and costuming. Granted, this is only something I've become sensitive too since the initial run of the series back in the 1960s. But the studio shoots, the sometimes too artificial set designs, and the generic uniforms used for East bloc guards and soldiers cause the series to suffer a bit, especially in comparison to the exotic locations of the other great American spy drama from the Sixties, I Spy.
Finally, about Bain and Landau. There was a tremendous amount of buzz about this couple while the series aired. Barbara Bain, in particular, exemplified an allure that is timeless. What a disappointment, then, when, after leaving MI, they finally re-appeared together on TV in the dreadful Space: 1999. Both had faded as stars. But worse, both let their reputations suffer by placing themselves under the direction of one of the worst schlock profiteers in TV at the time, Gerry Anderson. Thus, what a joy it is to see them both on DVD editions of Mission Impossible, in their prime, when it seemed they would conquer television as thoroughly as any couple in its, then, relatively short history.
"Mission:Impossible" was the created brainchild of Bruce Geller who was also the executive producer of the series along with producers Barry Crane, Joseph Gantman, Bruce Lansbury, Stanley Kallis, Laurence Heath, Allan Balter along with Robert E. Thompson and William Read Woodfield, that became one of the biggest hits of the mid-1960's and remained on the air as a CBS-TV staple throughout the early-1970's. The series chronicles the missions of a team of secret government agents known as the Impossible Missions Force that went after ruthless dictators, evil organizations in foreign lands and in later episodes taking on organized crime with the strictest attention to detail and timing in order to save the world.
About the cast...out of the 171 episodes of this series only actors Greg Morris(Barney Collier),and Peter Lupus(Willy Armitage)were the only main cast members that were with the series throughout its entire seven-year run. Steven Hill(Dan Briggs)appeared in 28 episodes of Season One only. Steven Hill was replaced by Peter Graves(Jim Phelps)from Seasons 2 through 7 for 143 episodes. Martin Landau(Rollin Hand)was in the first three seasons of the series for 76 episodes. Barbara Bain(Cinnamon Carter) was also in the first three seasons of the series for 78 episodes. Landau and Bain left at the end of the Season 3 and were replaced by Leonard Nimoy(Paris)in Season 4 for 49 episodes of the series. Nimoy left at the end of Season 6. Lesley Anne-Warren(Dana Lambert)came on board in Season 5 for 23 episodes and left at the end of its fifth season. Sam Elliott(Doug Roberts)join the cast in Season 5 for 13 episodes. Other IMF agents were Lynda Day-George(Lisa Casey) in Seasons 6 and 7 for 44 episodes,and Barbara Anderson(Mimi Davis)in seven episodes of Season 6.
The series was produced during the first two seasons by Desilu Productions from September,1966 to January,1968. From January,1968 until March,1973 the series was produced solely through Paramount Television. The original broadcast history of the series aired on CBS-TV from September 17,1966 until March 30,1973 producing 171 episodes all in color. Season 1 was on Saturday nights at the 9:00-10:00 time slot from September 17,1966 until January 7,1967. On January 14,1967 it moved to the 8:30-9:30 time slot until April 22,1967. From Seasons 2 through 4 aired on Sunday nights at the 10:00-11:00 time slot from September 10,1967 until March 29,1970. Season 5 saw the show move back to Saturday nights at the 7:30-8:30 time slot from September 19,1970 until March 17,1971. Season 6 also move the show to a later time slot on Saturday nights at the 10:00-11:00 time slot from September 18,1971 to December 9,1972 and again until February 26,1972 with repeats airing until August 30,1972. The seventh and final season of the series saw the show moved from Saturday nights to Friday nights in an earlier time slot from 8:00-9:00 in prime time from September 16,1972 until the final episode of the series on March 30,1973.
During its run the series was nominated for an impressive 15 Prime-Time Emmys winning 7 of them for Outstanding Acting, Outstanding Direction, and Outstanding Writing and won 3 Golden Globes for Best Television Series,Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series,and Best Actor in a Television Series and won the Edgar Award for Best Episode in a Television Series. "Mission:Impossible" was without a doubt a series with big time writers from Bruce Geller, Allan Balter, Paul Playdon, Kenneth Pettus, Stephen Kandel, Jackson Gillis and top-notch directors from Barry Crane, Paul Krasny, Lee H. Katzin, Leonard Horn, Alexander Singer,Virgil W. Vogel, Joesph Pevney, Marc Daniels,to Leslie H. Martinson, Sutton Roley, Paul Stanley and Alf Kjellin.
Big time guest stars from Ricardo Montalban, Cicely Tyson, William Marshall, Eartha Kitt, Fritz Weaver, Anthony Zerbe, John Vernon, Lloyd Bridges, Pernell Roberts, Lee Meriwether, Joan Collins, Edward Asner, Robert Conrad, Carl Betz, William Shatner, Bradford Dillman, Barbara Luna, to Malachi Throne, Antoinette Bower, William Windom, Wally Cox, Ed Nelson and James Daly just to name a few whose performances were both convincing and enjoyable during the show's seven season run on CBS.
"Mission:Impossible" also saw a remake of the TV-series in the late- 1980's with Peter Graves(that was on ABC from 1988-1990) in the cast and spun a series of seven theatrical films starring Tom Cruise beginning in 1996. Even 50 years later it was one of the best ever conceived for its era.
The series follows the exploits of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF), a small team of secret agents used for covert missions against dictators, evil organizations and (primarily in later episodes) crime lords. On occasion, the IMF also mounts unsanctioned, private missions on behalf of its members.The identities of the organization that oversees the IMF and the government it works for are never revealed. Only rare cryptic bits of information are ever provided during the life of the series, such as in the third season mission "Nicole", where the IMF leader states that his instructions come from "Division Seven"
The TV show was a classic and it should have lasted longer than 7 season had it maintained its format of covert missions against dictators and evil organizations in foreign countries.But instead in the later seasons,it started to focus on gangsters and crime organization.This made the IMF just a regular police team which diminished the show somehow.But nevertheless,it will be one show that will be missed and it is just sad that even the revival of the TV series and Tom Cruise's film does not live up to it despite of the show being dated in terms of the technology used by the IMF.In summary,the original remains the best.