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31 March 2014 @ 05:30 pm
TV Review: Mission: Impossible  
After getting my mother to watch Torchwood, Doctor Who, and Sherlock, it seemed only fair that she finally hook me into a favorite show of hers. And thus, I began watching the original Mission: Impossible.

The only things I knew about this show were that Peter Graves was in it, tapes tended to self-destruct, at one point Leonard Nimoy was also in it, and the extremely catchy iconic theme song. I was surprised that the show was actually something very different then what I thought it would be.


Over the weekend when I visited my mom, I got through about two seasons worth of episodes. I was shocked to learn that the first season didn't even have Peter Graves (he took over as the leader in season 2). But I was even more shocked to find out that this show really stuck to its super-serious missions. Despite not having seen a real episode until now, I somehow assumed Mission: Impossible would be the same sort of tongue-in-cheek show as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Turns out, I was wrong. There's hardly ever any line devoted to quipping or even character development. In fact, despite watching about 30 episodes, I still know next to nothing about the regular characters which I suppose is the point as they're all spies.

It's rather disconcerting for me that despite not getting any character arcs, I've come to really love the core team. I'm currently almost done with season 2 which leaves me one more season featuring the more or less original cast of Jim Phelps (Peter Graves), Rollin Hand (Martin Landau), Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain - also Landau's then wife), Barney Collier (Greg Morris), and Willy Armitage (Peter Lupus). Landau and Carter will exit after season 3 and I'm already missing them even if I can't really say why because again, I know next to nothing about Rollin or Cinnamon other than they're super competent spies. And not only are there no character arcs but there are almost never any excess scenes of the team just hanging out. It's always about the mission so you only get to know them through their work rather than their personalities. I would have thought that this sort of thing would mean I'd never connect with any character but it had almost the opposite effect where I came to like everyone. And somehow, the cast manages to generate camaraderie even if they never get many scenes to show it. Episodes don't even get the standard wrap up scene at the end with crew talking about a job well done. It's pretty much mission time from start to end.

The missions themselves truly seem impossible. I'm almost never not impressed with some aspect of their plan to take down whatever baddie they must. I also enjoy how the violence is extremely low. Phelps and his team tend to use psychological warfare about 90% of the time which I very much like. Generally, I have to accept a few things that seem improbable with the show, the foremost being Rollin's disguises but other than that, the plot really does hang on logic and clever espionage. Again, not really what I was expecting but great fun nonetheless.


Random fun trivia: While watching the first two seasons, I noted that Martin Landau had the look to be a good Vulcan. Turns out, Gene Roddenberry agreed with me as he was the first choice to play Spock. Landau turned it down to be on this show instead. Later, after Landau left Mission: Impossible, Leonard Nimoy got cast to replace him. Small world.
 
 
 
The Writer They Call Tay: CP: Brillant!awanderingbard on March 31st, 2014 10:46 pm (UTC)
My only knowledge of the show comes from having seen the movies, and being an avid watcher of Get Smart reruns when I was little, which I think was sort of a take off on it. It sounds a bit like the old The Avengers show, though. I rented the first few series of that from Zip and was amazed how tense and good it was, despite the low budget and black and white film. I was expecting something very similar to the old Doctor Who, but I was actually really involved in the plot. You never get to know too much about the main characters on that show, either. But quipping was very much part of the deal.

I think I have this idea that older television shows were all a bit camp, but even before slick camera work and CGI, there was a lot of good stuff out there. It wasn't all Shatner and Styrofoam sets.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on March 31st, 2014 10:54 pm (UTC)
It wasn't all Shatner and Styrofoam sets.

I am all for Shatner and Styrofoam but it's always nice to see a straightforward good show that would probably do well even today.

I'd seen the Tom Cruise film versions which might be why I assumed the show would be similar in the violence arena but the team spends way more time building sets and rigging rooms than punching or shooting people.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on March 31st, 2014 10:58 pm (UTC)
I could not get into the OS Star Trek because of the cringiness of it. My second-hand embarrassment was too great. I was a TNG and DS9 girl.

I am immensely fond of the latest two Mission: Impossible films, but my favourite parts of those are definitely when they're using their gadgets and brains. I think that's why I enjoyed Lie to Me so much, as well. There was no running around with guns, just people being clever.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on March 31st, 2014 11:03 pm (UTC)
I could not get into the OS Star Trek because of the cringiness of it.

Understandable. I grew up with it so as a kid I didn't really know what bad acting was and now I feel nostalgic watching OS even as I totally see how embarrassing it is.

I really liked the last MI film. Having now seen the original Jim Phelps, I totally see why my mother was so upset watching the first MI film and what they did to that character.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on March 31st, 2014 11:15 pm (UTC)
I grew up with it so as a kid I didn't really know what bad acting was and now I feel nostalgic watching OS even as I totally see how embarrassing it is.

This is how I feel about The Adventures of Sinbad. It is only as an adult that I realized how truly, truly awful a show it was. But I regret nothing!

I don't even remember much about MI 1. I watched the films in a weird order. 3, 1, 2, 4 I think. I liked 3 and 4. I see they're making a 5, now. You cash in on that cow, people!

Looks like we get a new Bond film next year, as well. *excited face*
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on March 31st, 2014 11:19 pm (UTC)
I see they're making a 5, now. You cash in on that cow, people!

Looks like we get a new Bond film next year, as well. *excited face*


They're also doing a film remake of The Man From U.N.C.L.E which I'm both excited for and afraid of.

So much spying, so little time!
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on March 31st, 2014 11:25 pm (UTC)
I know nothing about The Man From U.N.C.L.E I'm ashamed to say, except that the guy who plays Ducky on NCIS was on it, because my mum used to point that out when we used to watch NCIS. Mum was a big fan of all those shows. My retro TV knowledge is a bit lacking. Except for The Golden Girls, and, like, two episodes of Bonanza I saw on vacation once. And M*A*S*H.


So much spying, so little time!


Are spies the new vampires?
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on March 31st, 2014 11:29 pm (UTC)
I know nothing about The Man From U.N.C.L.E I'm ashamed to say, except that the guy who plays Ducky on NCIS was on it, because my mum used to point that out when we used to watch NCIS.

Indeed, David McCallum! During his time as Illya Kuryakin, he generated more fanmail at the studios than any actor ever in the same period of time. He may still hold the record.

It also stars Robert Vaughn as the titular man from U.N.C.L.E although technically McCallum was also a man from U.N.C.L.E.

The first season was a bit more serious but by season 2 they'd gone the way of lightly making fun of themselves and the entire genre, although never as much as Get Smart.

I LOVED Golden Girls as a kid.

Are spies the new vampires?

As I find them more interesting than vampires, I hope so.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on March 31st, 2014 11:34 pm (UTC)
I don't think we have as many options for retro TV in Canada as there is in the States. Or not on channels I received as a kid, anyway. Get Smart and Batman used to be on YTV when I was little, and The Avengers was on...Bravo or Showcase about 14 years ago or so. Space sometimes shows the old Sci Fi stuff, and the History channel shows M*A*S*H. There are more stations now, up in the higher numbers. I've never seen an episode of I Love Lucy, and I understand that's pretty much impossible.

TVtropolis still shows Golden Girls and it makes me very happy.

As I find them more interesting than vampires, I hope so.

Amen.
MoonPuppy: ADD_markersmoonpupy on April 1st, 2014 03:03 am (UTC)
I *loved* the original M.I. As much for the make-up (a perfectly fitting mask that looked exactly like the bad guy? OMG!), and how Barney always had everything figured out and handled, and how ::rowr:: Willy was. What I really loved was, at the end of the con, the bad guy would stumble out of the set, or out of the car, and the team would be getting into a car, plane, whatever, and just leave. Ba dump ump. The end. We're through here. You got screwed. We're gone. Loved. It.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 1st, 2014 03:30 pm (UTC)
I love how this show can just make masks on the fly and it looks like a perfect duplicate of the bad guy's face. Sure! Why not?