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"Mission: Impossible" Hunted (1970)

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Superior Fifth Season Outing that Made Good Use of a Contemporary Subject

9/10
Author: 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was one of the few shows that seemed not to age, unlike the many Iron Curtain and banana republic episodes that seemed outdated as soon as the series ended.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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