Mission: Impossible (1967) – The Legacy, and The Reluctant Dragon

Paramount Pictures’ Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-ray continues to entertain as I explore more of the first season of the iconic season. First up this week is The Legacy, written by William Read Woodfield and Allan Balter, it debuted on 7 January, 1967.

Dan (Steven Hill) and his IMF team, including Rollin (Martin Landau), Cinnamon (Barbara Bain), Barney (Greg Morris) and Willy (Peter Lupus – though I don’t think he even says anything in this episode) are assigned a mission to take on some very recognisable enemies – Nazis.

It seems four young men, sons of prominent, if late, Nazi officials, are determined to meet and recover a rumoured treasure horde which they will use to finance their proposed fourth reich. They don’t know one another, so Dan slips Rollin into the action while the rest of the ream work at getting the information Rollin needs to stay believable within the group, and find the source of the treasure before the Nazis do.

I quite enjoyed this one, it’s a tightly paced story that moves along quickly, and through it all there is a real sense of danger, which culminates in a shoot out in a cemetery – the location of the treasure – which sees Dan get shot, though I’m sure he’ll be fine by the next episode.

Smart, well-crafted, the series continues to surprise me. I went into it with the belief that it was all silly masks and over the top scenarios, but most of the stories are solid Cold War thrillers, which no doubt worked well at the time, and still entertain today.

The Reluctant Dragon features a couple of recognisable guest stars, Joseph Campanella and the amazing John Colicos. Written by Chester Krumholz, this episode first aired on 14 January, 1967.

The IMF is asked to smuggle a scientist, Helmut Cherlotov (Campanella), out from behind the Iron Curtain. Rollin and Barney draw the assignment and, Cherlotov’s wife, Karen (Mala Powers), who previously escaped to the west is on hand to assist.

Rollin goes undercover to find a way to get Cherlotov out, and comes face to face with the villain of the piece, Commissioner Taal Jankowski (Colicos), who proves to be very devious, and his scenes with Rollin are some of my faves in the episode, though I was very happy to see Barney get an action beat or two. Honestly, he is not used enough for my liking.

Once Rollin is in place, he is troubled to learn that Cherlotov no longer wishes to defect. Now, the team has to change their plans, and find a way to convince him to escape, while he is still able. With careful manoeuvring, a plea from his wife, and a confrontation between Rollin and Jankowski, Cherlotov will have to make a decision.

There are more missions to come as next week I take on another pair of assignments from Paramount Canada as I explore Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-ray.

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