Mission: Impossible (1967) – The Traitor, and The Psychic

We’re coming up on the end of the first season of Paramount Picture’s Mission: Impossible, and the wonderful Eartha Kitt guest stars in the penultimate episode, The Traitor. Written by Edward J. Lasko this IMF assignment first aired on 15 April, 1967.

When an American agent turns traitor and hides out in a foreign embassy, Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) and his team, Rollin (Martin Landau), Cinnamon (Barbara Bain), Willy (Peter Lupus) Barney (Greg Morris) and Tina (Kitt) draw the assignment that sees a stunt-filled plan to break into the embassy and recover top secret documents.

Barney and Tina, who is a bit of a contortionist and gymnast, are responsible for breaking into the embassy. Barney guides the tiny, lithe agent through the ventilation shafts and security systems, while Dan, and the rest run a con on the embassy.

There are gadgets and tricks aplenty in this episode, and this one is very much recognisable as the Mission: Impossible every one thinks of when you mention the show. Its fast-paced, has some great guest stars, and draws the lines very evenly between good and evil,or West and East as the case may be.

And, of course, not everything goes quite to plan so the team has to improvise and stay ahead of the Eastern Bloc, even if it is just one step at a time. The only thing missing is some masks. Landau trots out an accent, Kitt is engaging, Barney has his largest role to date, Willy lifts some things and has a line or two of dialogue, and Cinnamon is beguiling.

This is a great example of the series.

The Psychic ends the season. Written by William Rad Woodfield and Allan Balter, who have penned a large portion of the first season, closed it out on 22 April,1967.

Cinnamon and Rollin get the lion’s share of the work in this episode. It seems an industrialist, Alex Lowell (Barry Sullivan) is getting ready to skip the country with a mass of his patents and sell them to the highest bidder, screwing over his stockholders and the American people. So in goes the IMF to figure out a way to get the patents away from him.

And it’s interesting to say the least. Cinnamon is styled as a psychic who makes a number of predictions for Lowell and his friends, all of which come true (thanks to the IMF), and when Rollin comes swaggering in as a gangster intent on buying Lowell’s holdings from him, Cinnamon convinces him that Lowell will win in a card game against Rollin.

And while he wins at the card game, he gets taken by the IMF, including some great sleight of hand by Barney, and the team drives away with another success under their belt, ready to light the fuse on season two.

Next week, there’s some changes to the series but the assignments keep coming as I explore more of Paramount Canada’s’ Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-ray, available now.

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