Classic Mission: Impossible and 1988 Sequel Series...

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Joel_Kirk, May 7, 2014.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I figured they would've mostly just given his material to Rollin. Landau, despite being only a "special guest star," was effectively the series lead by the end of the season. The only reason it didn't stay that way was because he didn't want to commit to the series for more than a season at a time, so the producers brought in a new lead rather than just promoting Landau to the lead.

    I recently rewatched the M:I movies (upon finishing the revival series), and it struck me how the so-called "Jim Phelps" that Jon Voight played in the movie was really more like Dan Briggs. Not only did he have a stern, aloof quality that was more like Briggs, but he supervised his team from the safe house rather than actually joining them on the operation, much like Briggs did in the later-filmed episodes.


    The DVDs are in broadcast order. Maybe they developed the script before they'd decided to bring in a new lead rather than making Landau the star, or before they'd cast the new lead.


    Not to mention a score by TOS composer Gerald Fried.


    Oh, absolutely. As I often say, M:I was really a con-artist/heist show rather than a spy show; the spy stuff was just an excuse for the con artists and thieves to be the good guys.
     
  2. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I thought the slave two parter was very odd. Not so much for most (all?) of the arabs being played by white actors made up (it's not a pleasant practice but of its time and one you just role with when watching globe trotting 60/70's shows, Danger Man was probably the only show of the period to really try and consistently cast actors of roughly the right ethnicity and even them muslims would usually be Alf Garnett in boot polish) but for the treatment of the Prince and especially his wife by the team.

    I mean, these were people who were sympathetic to their cause who would have helped bring the slave trade to light regardless, and around the halfway point of the first episode Barney has the photographic proof they need that there are slaves in the palace.

    So kidnapping the wife and forcing her into thinking she has been grabbed by slavers (complete with drugging, roughing up and psychological torment) is completely and utterly pointless, and leaves rather a bad taste in the mouth. Very odd.

    I think Barney may well be my favourite character. In a series that isn't really character driven a lot of how much the leads work will be down to the actors, and despite spending a lot of time staring at bits of machinery he manages to ooze cool in pretty much everything he does.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I wondered the same thing myself. As I said in my review, "It would’ve worked better if they’d established that Fasar was either too devoted to his brother to even consider the possibility that he was evil (a frequent M:I plot device) or too self-absorbed or dissolute to be bothered to care about the slave trade until he had a personal stake in the matter."


    I think the same goes for his son. I once walked past Phil Morris at New York Comic-Con while he was fiddling with his name badge and trying to get it clipped onto his shirt correctly, and I thought he made even that look cool.
     
  4. Kronos

    Kronos Admiral Admiral

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  5. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Just past the boxing two parter in season 3 now...

    I'm really enjoying Peter Graves' performance, considering he doesn't have a lot to work with in terms of character (I can see why the show had such a high cast turn over, it must have wound up fairly frustrating for actors to have that little back story to work with), but much like Morris he really knows how to make it work.

    By this stage, after three or four of them, I'm not really convinced this show does two part stories very well, they've all felt overly padded in some way and the first season prison one was the only one thus far that didn't wind up feeling as dull as dishwater.

    The time spent training up Barney in the boxing one (where they fight the evil of fight rigging by... fight rigging) felt especially daft as the team already had someone on it who looks like he could handle himself in a fight in Willy. True, they needed someone who could impersonate an ex-boxer, but considering in past shows they've done things like turn Cinnamon into a world famous psychic for the week would it really have been that hard to create a fake boxing past for him?

    I agree with Christopher's fun reviews on his site (anyone doing a rewatch of the show could do worse than read along with the link he provided up thread) that The Town was the best episode of season 2, nice and tense stuff and with Landau looking more interested than he had for a while.

    I was surprised though how similar to the Avengers episode Murdersville it was though, even down to the double bluff phone conversation (interesting that Cinnamon caught onto why she suddenly has a spouse and children faster than Steed does in that episode).

    Not sure which came first and of course it could well be a massive coincidence (though as Emmy rivals both shows would have been aware of each other, Mission Impossible was only broadcast sporadicly in the UK until the 70's, but as The Avengers was to all intents and purposes an American show-ITV didn't actually commision any episodes after the black and white Rigg season, after that American ABC is responsible for the show's continuation- by that point I can see a willy old fox like Clemens getting sent copies of all their genre rivals from the states) but it was fun to spot.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh, "Old Man Out" was very padded. Why did Rollin have to do a dry run of the breakout before actually breaking the guy out? He already had him out of his cell and on the roof -- why not get him out then and there? And the amount of time devoted to the circus performances was pretty much padding as well. The main thing that kept it from being dull was Mary Ann Mobley gyrating in that skimpy outfit.

    Of course, the real padding in an M:I 2-parter came in the recap at the start of part 2, which typically ran 6-8 minutes. Even the 2-part episode of the 1988-9 revival had a recap that was close to 5 minutes long.


    Well, I can hardly fault a 1960s TV show for designing a 2-part story to focus on its black cast member rather than one of the white ones. Wasn't the premise that Barney had to impersonate a specific boxer? So they had to use someone who was the same ethnicity as the guy he was impersonating.

    What I love about that one, though, is that the guy who trains Barney is played by Robert Conrad, who was a boxer in real life, and he's called "Bobby." So maybe Conrad was playing himself!


    I appreciate the plug!


    Oh, that trope was already quite well-established long before either episode was made. It probably goes back centuries at least. Unfortunately I can't find that many older examples on TV Tropes, since it tends to be biased toward more modern works, but they have a few including examples from Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew books.
     
  7. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    True, but if they wanted to do a big Barney episode they could have structured it around his actual talents with technology and gadgets.

    Willy, at this point, is pretty much still the regular who has had the least to do, by the end of season three I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd still had less lines than Dan Briggs managed across just the one season. A boxing story would have really fitted his physical role in the show (and probably wouldn't have taxed his more limited than his co-stars acting talents), and after all, the boxer they swapped could have just been written to look like him.

    At the start of season 4, one less regular seems to have ramped up his contribution to proceedings, in the Controllers two parter he got more to do than I think he had in any two episodes prior. So hopefully that will continue.

    Mind, from what I understand he was nearly written out entirely this year (and was replaced by another character for several episodes) and was only saved from the chop because it turned out the younger fans really liked him. If you're playing Mission Impossible at school it's a lot more fun to be the strong guy that the guy who stares intently at something he's building whilst sweating slightly.

    I really loved the Joan Collins episode, very nicely done. Though she needs to learn to keep away from men named Jim, it's a death trap for her.

    Season 4 is shaping up nicely thus far, the first four episodes were at the very least fun and the two parter was the first double length episode that really worked.

    Though considering what a big part of the show Landau was, it's amazing there's no attempt to ease Nimoy in with a decent introduction. I can see why they wouldn't necessarily have explained where Landau went or given his replacement a "Joins the team" episode, but I would have expected them to make sure the first one that went out really sold the character as hard as possible.

    Instead, I suspect if you were a casual viewer who didn't really pay any attention to these things, you'd be hard pressed to notice they'd changed actors.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Maybe Greg Morris wanted to do something different, to show he could do more than just crawl around in tunnels and fiddle with tools. Or, heck, maybe the network thought female viewers wanted to see him take his shirt off more.


    Maybe -- and female viewers would certainly have wanted to see him take his shirt off more. But maybe the producers didn't feel he could carry a lead role like that.



    That was in season 5, not 4. They pretty much alternated between Willy and a young Sam Elliott as Dr. Doug Roberts, with two episodes in which both appeared. But Elliott at that age wasn't that much better an actor than Lupus, and was absolutely awful at doing foreign accents, even by M:I's standards.


    It was '60s TV. There was no guarantee that the first episode shot would be the first episode aired. They had to be made so that they could air in any order. (Although when Barbara Anderson temporarily replaced Lynda Day George in season 7, they did give her an intro episode. But it was the mid-70s by then and TV was starting to get a touch more continuity-based. Season 7 is not just the only one -- until 1988 -- that bothers to give a new character an origin story, but the only one that actually has callbacks to earlier episodes.)


    Which was probably exactly what they were counting on.
     
  9. EnriqueH

    EnriqueH Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I started watching Mission: Impossible some months back as a kind of casual, lazy thing to watch.

    I've always been curious because it was my grandfather's (RIP) favorite show.

    I'm still not quite done with Season 1, but I found the premise quite interesting and I'm enjoying it.

    "Discovering" Martin Landau in the show has been a big plus, because I really like his character. Steven Hill is enjoyable. After a while, it gets repetitive that Hill keeps choosing the same IMF agents for every mission. But I do like the case photo for the guest star IMF agents.

    I'm actually quite curious to see Leonard Nimoy in the show. Nimoy said in his autobiography that he sometimes forgets he was even in the show. I guess he found it too easy or something.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The team composition actually varies a lot more in season 1 than in later seasons. They actually dropped the dossier scenes in season 3 since the cast was locked in by that point, but then brought them back in season 4 when they had a different female agent every week.


    His first season wasn't too challenging, beyond being a chance to show off the various accents and character parts he could do. But his second -- the fifth -- gave him more characterization and emotion to work with, since there was more exploration of the team's real personalities that year. But I guess it wasn't enough for him. Anyway, he wasn't quite as good in the role as Landau had been.


    Hey, I just had an idea. If they ever reboot M:I for television, you know who should play the master-of-disguise role? Tatiana Maslany. Nobody could do it better.
     
  11. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    And similar to the plug I made in the Superman thread, this might be a good place to mention that M:I is returning to Me-TV...Sunday nights at 11.
     
  12. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just as an aside, over my recent holiday, I read Secrets of the FBI which is problematic in part in how it glosses over various problems in the Organisation *but* many chapters and references are made to "TacOps" who are effectively the real life Mission Impossible team who spent their time (in the US and also overseas) attempting undetected entries into the homes, cars and businesses of targets.

    All sorts of interesting details about how this stuff is actually done - How they deal with noisy neighbours, dogs, security systems and so on. Moreover, some insights into their equipment - for example, the teams have bags of dust on them to replace dust they displace, they have a machine that instantly mixes a fast-drying paint that can match any colour they need and so on. There are also some very funny stories about how things happen like two drunks getting onto a bus they were using to co-ordinate and cover an entry into a property.
     
  13. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Interestingly his opinion of how his two seasons worked out is almost the opposite of yours. IIRC on one of the Trek DVD's when he's talking about his career in general he says he really enjoyed doing his first year simply because it required a completely different approach to Spock (rather than really developing a character in-depth it's about taking a cypher and hanging quick characterisations on it), but he quickly got bored in season 5 as he felt he was just going through all the same disguises he'd done the previous year with nothing new in it to challenge him.

    Having now been through season 4, I have to say I'm not all that impressed with Nimoy. I don't know if the Spock style acting suited him better, or he was beginning to get fatigued with TV (he mentions in the same documentary he took a bit of a break from acting afterwards to study photography) or personal problems were staring to affect him (he was quite a heavy drinker at one point wasn't he?) but his performance often feels lazy and rather half arsed as if he can't really be bothered.

    Annoyingly, the episode about a stamp that a pub in my town is named after (as Roland Hill was born here) lost any sense of added excitement from the local connection thanks to his utterly insanly bad English(?) accent. What's scary about that is he was clearly dubbed the entire time he did the accent, suggesting that his attempt on set was even worse.

    What's strange is how it's already feeling very much like a 70's show, I was expecting a more gradual transition but the fashions, hair, slang and just general look of the series all feels 70iesish almost immediately. I've seen the first episode of season 5 and some wah wah guitar even manages to get on the soundtrack.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yet he also claimed he worked with Lesley Ann Warren in his first season rather than his second, so I don't think he was remembering the order of events accurately.
     
  15. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I've noticed that about most of the 60s shows I've rewatched that went on into the 70s. I'm on season 6 of Mannix right now, and... wow. Lapels, leisure suits, man-perms, funky mustaches. LA apartments are all split-level with a dry bar in the foreground, and everyone is always dressed formally and well-coiffed 24/7. Even production styles get "70s standard" - flat lighting, no creative photography, long takes - establishing, 2-shot, over-the-shoulder, over-the-shoulder, two-shot, /scene. Hawaii 5-0 was the same too. And some popular themes I remember from the 70s creep in like a character who may or may not be precognitive, and the Miss Marple-type guest star. Teenagers on drugs; runaway daughters; religious cults...

    Maybe we should be glad TOS stopped when it did! :lol:
     
  16. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The second episode even has a nightclub scene that can only be described as "funky".

    The attempts by the show to be more Down With Da Kids (which seemed to start in ernest with the last episode of season 4 and it's endless rendition of The Times They Are A Changing and the attempt to present Nimoy as the face of teen rebellion) does feel a bit embarrassing in places, as is so often the case with TV and film it comes across as a bunch of middle aged middle class guys not really managing to understand the characters they're writing about.

    Either way he really seems not to have enjoyed his second year, so it'll be interesting to see if that shows.

    Speaking of Warren, knowing she only did one year I wasn't expecting much from her character but, thus far, she's actually been good fun, full of energy and enthusiasm and seems to be really throwing herself into it.

    From a completely shallow perspective, she's kind of cute as well.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Oh, good grief, yes, the season 4 finale was an embarrassment on many levels.
     
  18. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Kinda cute? Kinda cute? I would have run away from home and crawled on my knees all the way to Hollywood if she'd asked me to back then. OH those eyes.
     
  19. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yeah, as well as trying to say Nimoy could pass for 25, the idea that Jim could have raised him since he was a child of five was just completely ludicrous (or at least the idea anyone would fall for it was). I've no idea of the real age difference between the actors, but if it was more than a decade I'd be very surprised, unless I'm being very generous to Phelps/unfair to Nimoy.

    Speaking of age, what I'm liking about Warren thus far (having now finished disc 2) is that despite her being visibly so much younger than the other regulars they've not turned her into a kid sidekick constantly getting things wrong and messing up. She's managing to hold her own against more experienced agents/actors pretty well.

    However, the episode set in Japan... Dear God. Who thought having Nimoy pass for Japanese by squinting and doing a funny voice was a good idea? Even the inadvertent hilarity of seeing him dressed up like this and doing a kubuki dance (though in the long shots it looked as if a stand in-proffessional?- was used) couldn't make up for that:

    https://twitter.com/InflatableDalek/status/512504184416251905/photo/1
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Peter Graves was five years and eight days older than Leonard Nimoy.

    But that underlines the flaw in the series' choice to focus on the same team members every week. The original premise in season 1 was that they'd recruit a different team each week, suiting the needs of that particular caper, and have a featured guest agent in most every episode (which was Martin Landau's original role before they decided to make him a regular). So in a case where they needed someone to play a 25-year-old, they would've brought in a guest star of the appropriate age. Or if they needed someone to play a Chinese officer or a Japanese person, they would've brought in someone of the appropriate ethnicity rather than sticking latex epicanthic folds over Nimoy's eyes.

    I can understand the reasons for sticking with the familiar cast, in terms of expense, contracts, and audience loyalty, but it would've worked better conceptually if they'd stuck with the original variable-team premise. Other shows got by with rotating casts, e.g. Maverick and Search. And M:I managed in season 4 without a regular female lead. If anything, the disguise-artist role is the one it makes the most sense to rotate, since the best candidates for disguise are those who already resemble the people they're impersonating.