Last week, the actress Lynda Day George celebrated her 65th birthday. I commemorated the event by watching "Nerves," a sixth-season episode of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE that teamed Lynda with her late actor husband, Christopher George.
The Georges appeared together many times on television and in films, but "Nerves" was Christopher's only guest appearance on M:I, the series that employed Lynda as a regular for two seasons from 1971 to 1973. It casts Chris as Wendell Moyes, a psychotic mob enforcer who hijacks a canister of nerve gas and threatens to release it in Los Angeles unless his brother Cayman (Paul Stevens) is released from prison. What Moyes doesn't know is that Cayman has just died, leaving General Westerfield (Charles Bateman) unable to comply with Moyes' demands even if he wanted to.
The Impossible Missions Force, facing a tight deadline (the canister is defective and will begin to leak within two days), plants Casey (Lynda) as a prisoner named Lee Collins and stages a jailbreak involving her and Saretta Lane (Tyne Daly), a convicted murderess and Moyes' girlfriend. Saretta takes Casey to the warehouse where Wendell and his henchman Tully (Rafer Johnson) are hanging out. The gas isn't there, however, so IMF members Jim Phelps (Peter Graves), Barney Collier (Greg Morris), and Willy Armitage (Peter Lupus) disguise agent Bill (Peter Kilman) as Cayman with the hope that Wendell will bring the canister to the exchange.
While it's obvious the Georges were in love with one another, Christopher's performance suffers somewhat under the direction of Barry Crane, who was usually more interested in getting the footage shot as quickly and cheaply as possible than making a creative show. George plays the role too far over the top, and his extortion scheme hardly seems worth calling the IMF in. These agents have toppled governments and evil regimes all over the world, and a raving lunatic like Moyes could easily have been handled by the Mod Squad or Ironside.
Crane went to Griffith Park to shoot what looks to be one day of exteriors, including the often-photographed tunnel and the observatory for the guns-a-blazing climax (though the interior of the observatory is hilariously portrayed by a soundstage corridor with a globe in it).