Mission: Impossible is the American television series which aired on the CBS network from September 1966 to March 1973. It returned to television on ABC from 1988 to 1990, and then as the movie series staring Tom Cruise beginning in 1996. The theme music for the show was written by Lalo Schifrin and is one of the most widely recognized television themes of all time.
Mission: Impossible, originally created by Bruce Geller, is about the missions of a team of secret agents employed by the United States government known as the Impossible Missions Force, or IMF. In the early seasons they are sent on covert missions to combat evil organizations, and in later episodes, crime lords. Occasionally they conduct unsanctioned private missions on bequest of one of their members.
While leader of the IMF in the first season was Dan Briggs; played by Steven Hill, the second and subsequent seasons it was led by Jim Phelps; played by Peter Graves. Phelps was the only full-time member of the IMF and was charged with putting together the appropriate team of part-time agents. These usually were fashion model and actress Cinnamon Rollin; played by Barbara Bain, world record-holding weightlifter Willy Armitage; played by Peter Lupus, mechanical and electronics genius Barney Collier; played by Greg Morris, and actor, makeup artist, escape artist, and magician, Rollin Hand; played by Martin Landau.
Another iconic device that was used in the Mission: Impossible series was the self-destructing recording device. At the beginning of each episode, Phelps would arrive at some public place. After obtaining the playback device; many times a small reel-to-reel tape recorder, Phelps would get his instructions. At the end, some version of "Your mission should you decide to accept it…" would let him know that this mission is optional and "…disavow any knowledge of your actions" would let him know that it was also unauthorized, and he and his team were on their own. Then the device would self-destruct, usually into a cloud of smoke.
Mission: Impossible: The Third TV Season is the show at its peak. Containing seven DVDs with 25 episodes covering 1254 minutes of run time, it has the series running on all cylinders. Season three began on September 29, 1968 and ran to April 20, 1969. There is one outstanding show after another during a season in which there was a behind the scenes power struggle between the original writers and Bruce Geller. It saw the loss of writers William Reed Woodfield and Alan Balter and the rise of Paul Playdon; a young writer in his early 20's.
There are really no bad episodes in this season and some of them are just downright superb. My favorites are: "The Execution" in which an exact replica of a gas chamber is built in order to get an assassin think he is going to be executed unless he starts naming names. "The Glass Cage" has a prisoner locked in a glass cage 24 hours a day watched by guards, television monitors, etc. "The Bunker" (Part 1 & 2) where Jim and his team must get to a nuclear scientist being held in an underground laboratory.
Another episode which many think is one of the finest moments in television history "The Mind of Stefan Miklos" where Phelps has to outwit a brilliant enemy intelligence officer. This episode has no real action and no gadgetry. It is purely cerebral. While the plot in many MI episodes are harder to follow than in most shows of the day; Note: this should read, you have to pay attention while watching, this one is downright complex. In my opinion, this reaches a highpoint in the show and is worth buying the season just for this episode.
There are no added features to Mission: Impossible: The Third TV Season which is a shame since I would like to know more about what went on behind the scenes of this great show. One thing to note, it is listed on this set that "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions." I cannot detect where or in which episodes this may have occurred, but I just have to take them on their word that something was changed. This is also the final season with Martin Landau and Barbara Bain.
This is not the Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible, this is the original and much superior version. If you are looking; or wishing for, some great classic television, then you owe it to your self to get Mission: Impossible: The Third TV Season