Mission: Impossible (original series)...

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Warped9, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Barney is drilling into a safe (or breaking into an office, or...) with an elaborate device that took several minutes to set up, when he hears a guard turning the doorknob and about to catch him! Music sting, Fade out to commercial.

    Fade up from commercial: The door opens! The guard steps in, looks around. We see no one. The guard shrugs and leaves. Cut to Barney and his equipment - he's somehow managed to get into the overhead air duct with everything, without making a sound, in the time it took the guard to turn the knob and open the door.

    :lol:
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But the problem is that there is no real suspense, beyond those fakeout act-break cliffhangers. Even if the characters' only goal in the story is to complete the plan, there should be some jeopardy to the success of that plan. A story is about characters pursuing a goal, but it's not dramatic unless there are obstacles to that goal, unless there's a risk of failure. It doesn't have to be a risk to their lives or their emotions, but the conflict in a story comes from the prospect that the heroes won't achieve their defining goal. In most M:I episodes, there's never any real risk of that. The team is so completely in control of everything that happens that it's all just going through the motions and the outcome is never in doubt. Indeed, sometimes I feel sorry for the bad guys because they're so totally outmatched and trapped into failure from the moment the caper starts.

    There are a lot of movies like Topkapi or The Sting or Ocean's Eleven where the focus of the story is on the execution of a meticulous scam or heist. But in such movies, there's always something that goes wrong with the plan, a reversal of fortune that disrupts the plan and forces the heroes to improvise and snatch a last-minute victory from the jaws of defeat. That creates suspense and makes their success more dramatic and satisfying. Early first-season M:I episodes did the same, with the plan usually going awry and forcing an adaptation. In the pilot, the plan went awry when their safecracker's fingers were crushed. In episode 2, Rollin wasn't even brought in until their original plan failed and the guest agent ended up in prison, requiring them to launch an entirely new plan to rescue him. And so on. Season 5 also routinely had the plans go wrong and require improvisation, as did most of the big 2- and 3-parters they did. And that's a large part of why I found them more interesting than the run-of-the-mill formula episodes where the plans went off without a hitch.
     
  3. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Of course for many of us on this side of the pond we would have watched MI without commericals when it aired on BBC2 @ 18:00 on Wednesday or was it Thursday's?
     
  4. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I watched the first episode on YouTube, and you know, even though as you say it's pure cheese, I found it pretty good 80's action fun.

    It also shows how good an actor John DeLancie really is, with Q it's effectively easy to be a scene stealer, but here he was playing a part that was much more generically written than even the worst Q episode but he still managed to run off with the entire episode and did a hell of a lot with every arched eyebrow.

    Also, considering it was a clearly cheap American show filmed in Australia, it actually didn't do too badly at faking central London, especially if you allow them not cutting down every palm tree in the city they filmed in just for one episode. I think DeLancie may well have been the first character in an American show to go into a "London" phonebox that isn't one of the old big red ones, it even looked as if it had the right BT logo for the time on it (though of course, there are red phone boxes and black cabs and red buses everywhere else, but that is London for you).

    The main failure was having every other extra carry a big John Steed umbrella despite the great (almost Australian) weather London seems to be having and even if they're wearing a denim jacket and a baseball cap.

    On the regular series: I thought the first two parter was a bit drawn out myself, with less endless shots of the female guest agent of the week twirling about on her trapeze in a skimpy costume they could have probably done it in an hour.

    Fantastically poor doubling for Landau when he's trying to escape from the prison made up for it though.

    Just watched the Ransom episode, a nice tense variation from the formula that felt like Hill had found his groove a bit more. Nice to see Mr. Lesley on the team as well (I think he was also in the pilot), doing some fantastic non-speaking extra emphatic nodding.

    I think, allowing that I don't think they let you have a good look at his Briggs face in the first episode (and he still had Landau's voice in his brief speaking bit) that this was the first time the man of a 1000 faces has successfully impersonated a real person who isn't someone who by amazing coincidence looks like Martin Landau in a wig and make up.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Even though it was a remake of a 1970 episode of the original series.


    Oh, but those are the best parts!


    Given that his role in "The Ransom" was literally to be a stand-in, and that his name wasn't spoken in dialogue, I like to think that Eddie Paskey was playing himself there. Although he was given a different name in the script.


    Actually they gave up the conceit of Landau only impersonating near-lookalikes after about episode 7. From then on, he and Paris and anyone else who wore a mask was able to perfectly impersonate anyone of the same general body type and sometimes even a quite distinct one. The pilot was more realistic in that Rollin in the Briggs mask hid his eyes and used his own voice; in a few shots it was actually Steven Hill with Landau's voice dubbed over, but in a few others it was actually Landau in a Hill mask. But the realism suffers because when the mask is removed, it's a complete face mask complete with rubber eyes and mouth.

    Although on three different occasions, they cast Paul Stevens, who looks a lot like Landau, to play characters that Rollin had to impersonate. And once or twice they used Leonard Nimoy's stand-in Frank Vinci as someone Paris switched identities with.
     
  6. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Mary Anne Mobley? I could watch her on that trapeze all day! DAMN she was pretty!
     
  7. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It'll be interesting when I get that far to see how close it is to the original, which I gather isn't set in London. If it's a The Child situation it presumably could well be quite heavily reworked despite the strike.



    Well, now we know what you two were watching for!

    I really like that Eddie Paskey idea, it absolutely tickles me.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It was set in a US city -- I think it was either LA or NYC.


    The strike was actually resolved early enough in pre-production that they were able to do rewrites, change character names, and so forth. That's also true of "The Child." Reusing old scripts really just streamlined the initial development/outline process, so that by the time the strike ended, they had ready-made stories to put into the scripting/revision phase, rather than needing to start from scratch with new proposals and lose a lot of time.
     
  9. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Slowly working through the first season, and I have to say I think the episode with Lloyd Bridges was the best yet, mainly thanks to a really good performance from the main guest star.

    The episode with George Takei was pretty good as well, but perhaps had a bit much going on in it with the virus as well, you could have done an entire episode about the fake western town for spy training in and of itself (as indeed Danger Man did do a couple of years earlier with it's proto-Prisoner episode).

    Even though I don't even think I'm halfway through the season at this point, I've got the worrying feeling that the number of episodes where Briggs is either sidelined or just in a supporting role are starting to outnumber the ones where he's front and centre as the main character.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    By my count, there are 20 episodes where Dan is part of the mission team, 7 where he just briefs/supervises the team from home, and one where he's completely absent. The latest episode you mention having seen, the Lloyd Bridges episode ("Fakeout"), is episode 12 in broadcast/DVD order; of the remaining 16 after that, Dan is on the team in 11. I'm not sure how central he is in those, though. There is one episode ("Shock") where he's the central team member but spends most of the episode in a mask and is therefore played by James Daly instead of Arthur Hill.
     
  11. Green Shirt

    Green Shirt Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    My favorite bit in that episode was Rollin Hand going around the room returning all the items he lifted from the team, including Barney's wallet twice. :techman: