4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Superior Fifth Season Outing that Made Good Use of a Contemporary Subject
Aldanoli from Ukiah, California
9 November 2008
Like the previous season's "Terror," "Hunted" was a rare episode of
"Mission: Impossible" that seemed to take place in the real world.
Although the name of the country was fictional, the episode could have
been about then-real life apartheid Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) or South
Africa. For many years after this episode was aired, it was one of the
few shows that seemed not to age, unlike the many Iron Curtain and
banana republic episodes that seemed outdated as soon as the series
ended. Ironically, events have outrun "Hunted," too, as majoritarian
rule has taken over in this part of Africa -- though with sometimes
tragic results, as in Zimbabwe.
This show has a number of things to recommend it. For once, the teaser
simply begins with Jim Phelps getting his taped mission; too often, the
teaser was wasted film, as the audience was shown something that then
was described on the tape. Bruce Geller's insight had been that by
using a taped message to explain the mission, the writers could
eliminate an entire act that would have been necessary to provide the
same information but the use of the teaser during the last three
seasons of the series was an unnecessary change in format.
Like the previous season's "Death Squad," this episode also focuses on
Barney; ironically, the mission itself is accomplished without much
effort, and the show becomes a rescue story and not a typical example
of Mission derring-do (although there are still some touches of the
usual disguises, local costuming, and the like). Paris is also given a
larger task here than in some of the other fifth season outings, and he
gets more than he bargained for as he tries to act as a decoy drawing
the police away from where Barney is hiding.
Unlike the other, more personal "Barney story" in the previous season's
"Death Squad," Greg Morris doesn't get a chance to show off any of
Barney's usual technical wizardry. Most of his scenes are quiet,
character-driven moments with the lovely actress Ta-Tanisha as the deaf
seamstress Maryana. Morris' quiet underplaying serves those scenes as
well as it usually did his cool, unflappable secret agent, and his
scenes with the young actress are some of his best work in the series.
This episode is also largely Dana-free (a good thing any time that that
happens this season), and for once Doug's presence as a doctor serves
well as the surrogate Willy, whose character was being considered for
elimination from the series (something that, thankfully, wasn't done).
Mention also should be made of some good performances by the supporting
players, especially Ivor Barry as Chief Inspector Banco (an
unreconstructed supporter of white rule) and Herbert Jefferson as
Maryana's scheming cousin, who's happy to turn in the fugitive for the
reward. There's also a brief appearance by a *very* young Joe Morton
(his first credited role) as a clerk in a pharmacy (identified,
correctly, as a "chemist" shop on the window) who assists Paris, whom
he believes has helped free an anti-apartheid leader. In sum, "Hunted"
is both a rare good fifth season show and one of the best at that.
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