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Thread: MIssion: Impossible Blu Ray Review

  1. #1
    Five-O Home Page Author Mr. Mike's Avatar
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    The original Mission: Impossible was reissued on Blu-Ray last December. This is the overview from a review by Martin Liebman, December 2, 2020. He doesn't seem too enthusiastic about the series in some ways. What do you think?

    https://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Missi...275904/#Review

    Official synopsis: 'Mission: Impossible: The Original TV Series' follows the elite covert operations unit I.M.F. as they carry out only the most hazardous of espionage missions. Each an expert in their own field, the group of extraordinary spies was first led by Daniel Briggs (Steven Hill) and later overseen by Jim Phelps (Peter Graves). Each episode featured the now-famous tape-recorded message outlining the latest task for the group to tackle. Popular during the Cold War, the group's missions centered on toppling dictators, shutting down corrupt organizations and exploiting crime lords. The I.M.F. crew include disguise expert Rollin Hand (Martin Landau), charmer Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain), electronics technician Barney Collier (Greg Morris), strong man Willy Armitage (Peter Lupus) and, in later episodes, disguise-master Paris (Leonard Nimoy). Sam Elliot and Lesley Ann Warren also star.

    Mission: Impossible is a very different experience next to its cinema counterparts, which are incessantly energetic, grandiose, and gratifying. They're dazzling displays of cinema wizardry, each of them uniquely crafted and, while each sharing similar character beats and dramatic essentials, are full of individuality and personality. The TV show, on the other hand, is strictly procedural, rarely ever deviating from a carefully constructed formula that hits its bullet points in an orderly fashion from the first second to the fiftieth minute. And much of that, particularly the setup in the opening minutes, is what helped make the show so memorable.

    The episodes begin with the iconic theme music over an opening montage which displays rapid-fire clips from each episode, essentially telegraphing what's to come in bite-sized sneak peaks. It's mostly the covert operations and action sequences but also some character beats, too, a sampling, essentially, of what's to come with the hopes of drawing the audience into the story with enough speed and efficiency to entice a full watch to see it play out in its sum, to see the preview shots develop and resolve as their favorite characters maneuver to triumph over the week's scheme and villainy. That's followed by the equally iconic "mission" moment when Jim (or Dan in season one, or very rarely one of the other characters) recovers the mission tapes and he (and the audience) is introduced to the crime and the criminals perpetrating them. The tape always self-destructs in a puff of smoke and it's then off to a group meeting to expand on the story and set the pieces in motion.

    Each episode builds around one of several premises taking the team to task to deal with people and/or organizations of various levels of criminality, sometimes and, early in the series, frequently with an international reach and in exotic locales and occasionally, often later in the series, more domestic in focus. Not all of the scenarios are so interesting as others, and not all of the assignments are as thoughtfully engaging as they might have been had there been some allowance for deviation and character development, but largely the plot essentials work, which they must lest the show suffer, and painfully, if it's sole focus can't hold serve. But there's a curious electricity about the show that just pulls the viewer in even as it's only into a one dimensional and black and white world. TV today would never dare be so static, but here it does work.

    That familiar structure holds steady in the plot specifics, too. While the villain(s) of the week are different on an episode-by-episode basis (a few two- or three-part episodes not withstanding), as are their crimes (though certainly there's plenty of overlap, often involving drugs and money or corrupt militaries or governments), the essential cadence never strays. The I.M.F. team engages in deception, displays unwavering dedication to mission (often putting them in uncomfortable, dangerous, and even deadly work environments), and makes extensive use of prosthetics and a hodgepodge of spy gear that might be quaint by today's digital standards but add a feel of hands-on authenticity that actually seems to heighten the danger and negate the need for the sort of high end intensity that the movies must add in order to make up for the lack of more practical, and perhaps more vulnerable, mission critical goings-on. Of course failure is not an option, and failure is not a concern for the audience. That eliminates some of the drama but most of the episodes are good enough to keep the focus on the moment by moment progression rather than the end resolution, which is never really in serious question.

    But that is the mark of a good show, and this is a good show. It doesn't ever wear thin while it's unable and unwilling to deviate from its structure. The show is in constant motion like the proverbial well-oiled machine. The grinds and gears crunch and crank in almost hypnotically steady and reliable fashion, delivering a consistent and, daresay, comfortable show. However, it's going to alienate anyone looking not so much for a deviation from the structure but rather for any sort of dramatic advancement from the characters or the world around them. It's shockingly static but then again there's something to be said for a show that is so focused that it actually works so well, and for so long, without finding it necessary to reinvent its wheel when there's not even a vehicle attached to it. The formula doesn't evolve, either. It's just rehash after rehash with different window dressing, but there's something intoxicating to its simplicity and reliability.

    But the stories behind the mission the criminal activities are never quite so interesting as the process to take them down. It is in this basket in which Mission: Impossible puts all of its eggs, so to speak. It doubles down on the interest in the process and to a lesser and related extent, the resultant action. There are often repetitive streaks at play when some of the details overlap, even if mission specifics do not. And with seven seasons and 171 episodes there's bound to be some carryover one to another. Like everything else about the show, though, it works in spite of (and against) the odds. It's something of a curiosity of success and longevity, really, keeping the audience caring and holding interest when there's precious little attachment to characters who are ultimately movers and shakers more so than flesh and blood.

    With no character development -- truly, almost none and certainly nothing of great importance or evolution through the run -- there can only be even greater focus on and attention given to each episode's specifics, which themselves only revolve rather than evolve. The cast is unsurprisingly adept at executing the core performance mandates, particularly since half the work has essentially been cut from the characters. Beyond a few moments of light and very superficial interaction there are no serious stabs at developing characters. They instantly fall into a role and remain in it. There's not even any real effort to explain comings-and-goings. Season one ends with Dan Briggs as the main and season two starts Jim Phelps at the top. There's no questioning, no explaining, it's just business as usual with a new name and face in front.

  2. #2
    We all know the structure of the show. It would be helpful if he actually commented on the Blu-Ray specifics.

    I really want to get this set. I’m a fan of the show but haven’t seen much past the first 3 seasons. This would be the perfect opportunity to scoop this up. Only problem is not enough time to sit down and give it a nice good uninterrupted viewing.

  3. #3
    Five-O Home Page Author Mr. Mike's Avatar
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    Click on the link near the top of my posting, that will show you the entire review which includes comments on the video/audio quality, etc. I only posted the part of the review where the guy was complaining about the structure of the show.

    This set is available from amazon.com for $84.99; amazon.ca's price is around $110 Canadian, which is virtually the same price. Maybe I will get this set too...

  4. #4
    Nice!! I suppose I did expect this to be an excellent Blu-Ray presentation as it doesn’t look like something cobbled together at the last minute. Still, it’s nice to have a confirmation.

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