Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Choose To Accept It

Good news--Season 2 of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is coming to DVD this summer. June 5, to be exact, so sales of Season 1 must have been acceptable to CBS/Paramount. While the chance of all seven seasons eventually getting box sets is not excellent, I must admit I was worried that Season 1, the only one without the series' most recognizable star, Peter Graves, might not fly off the shelves fast enough. Steven Hill, an extremely respected stage and film actor later to become best known as District Attorney Adam Schiff on LAW & ORDER, was the original head of the Impossible Missions Force, Dan Briggs, but left/was fired at the end of his first season. Hill was a very good actor, but not a typical television leading man. CBS never liked him to begin with, so when Hill began causing production delays and friction with other actors, not even his biggest booster, creator and executive producer Bruce Geller, could prevent his sacking.

Hill contributed to some excellent episodes, but it's doubtful MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE would have lasted seven seasons with him at the helm. Graves, who moved seamlessly into the role of Jim Phelps at the beginning of Season 2, was a familiar face who had worked in films and television for well over a decade. With his white hair and deep voice, he stood out perfectly among an ensemble.

Season 2, as a whole, is probably even better than Season 1. Among the more interesting episodes were "The Seal," in which the IMF, with the help of a trained pussy, boosts Darren McGavin's jade right from under his nose; "The Photographer," in which the IMF convinces baddie Anthony Zerbe that World War III has occurred right outside his bomb shelter; "The Town," an unusual yarn about a typical American small town populated by Communist agents; and "The Money Machine," in which the IMF produces a preposterous cash duplicator that easily fools counterfeiter Brock Peters (one of M:I's few black villains).

Backed by Lalo Schifrin's innovative scores (even the music composed by others is closely based on Schifrin's themes) and '60s TV's highest production values (thanks to Geller's penchant for going over schedule and over budget), Season 2 of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is remarkably entertaining television and will likely look and sound as sharp as CBS/Paramount's Season 1 box. Although none are yet announced, let's hope the studio puts some care into creating supplemental features for the set, as all of M:I's regular cast (besides Greg Morris, who died of brain cancer in 1996) are still alive and very likely, from what I understand, willing to participate.

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