Mission: Impossible (1966) – Wheels, and The Ransom

You’re mission should you choose to accept it, is to join me as I continue to explore Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-ray, available now from Paramount Canada.

The first episode up this week, Wheels, was written by Laurence Heath and first aired on 29 October, 1966. Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) and his core team of IMF agents, Cinnamon (Barbara Bain), Barney (Greg Morris), Willy (Peter Lupus) and Rollin (Martin Landau) are given a mission that seems eerily familiar…

They are to help stop a dictatorial government from stealing an election. Barney, the tech man, rigs a couple of the election machines, which themselves had already been rigged, while Rollin goes undercover as someone who looks almost just like him, but with blonde hair, Dan poses as various police officials, and Willy, well, he’s around.

When Baney gets shot, the others have to try to carry on without him, though the tech savvy guy (as I mentioned previously, quickly becoming my fave character), does as much of his mission as he can.

It’s a fast-paced episode, and features two guest stars that are familiar faces to Star Trek fans, Mark Lenard plays Felipe Mora, the South American country’s would be ruler, and Percy Rodrigues plays Captain Trez. That alone made the episode worth watching, and it ended up being a pretty solid story on top of that.

So we’re seeing some solid guest stars, pretty fun writing, and some entertaining spy stories; the first season is proving itself solid entertainment from the off.

The Ransom sees Dan and his IMF team in a unique situation, blackmailed into action in order to save a young woman being held hostage. Written by Allan Balter and William Read Woodfield, this episode debuted on 5 November, 1966.

A gangster named Egan (William Smithers) has somehow figured out who Dan is, and what he does. So to force him into action, he has his thugs kidnap Sandy (Cheryl Callaway), the daughter of a friend of his, George Forrester (Lin McCarthy) and threatens to kill her unless Dan and his team deliver a witness being held in protective custody, Augie Gorman (Joe Mantell).

Not only will Dan, Rollin, Cinnamon, Willy and Barney have to figure a way to get Augie away from his police protection, and convince Egan they are going along with his orders while actually finding a way to rescue Sandy and keep Augie safe.

It’s an interesting story, and well done, except for the one oversight… how good a spy is Dan if a gangster knows about him and the IMF? Of course, the fact that Dan keeps using famous people – Cinnamon is a world famous model, Rollin is a renowned actor, and Barney is a tech genius is a little silly as well. Spycraft on television and film was a different thing back in the sixties.

There will be more missions next week, and I’ll choose to accept as I work my way through Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-ray, now available from Paramount Pictures.

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