Mission: Impossible (1967) – The Widow, and Trek

Season two of Mission: Impossible launched on 10 September, 1967, with The Widow written by Barney Slater. Viewers knew right away that something had changed, Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) was replaced without explanation by Peter Graves, taking command of the IMF team as Jim Phelps, and Martin Landau finds himself in the opening credits, right after Graves.

Phelps’ first mission sees him drawing an assignment of busting up a narcotics drug ring, and the team goes to do it in their unorthodox method. It seems the ring is smuggling heroin in bath salts, and the team is going to go in and take the ring apart, there are gadgets shown off by Rollin (Landau) and Barney (Greg Morris), and Cinnamon (Barbara Bain) poses as a wealthy widow to get inside the ranks of the ring, ruled by Alex Cresnic (William Windom) and Mark Walters (Joe Maross).

No explanation is given for Dan’s departure, so perhaps he’s still out there, and he and Phelps share the same files, and often use the same team? It’s definitely an oversight in continuity, but that wasn’t something they were overly concerned with at the time.

The team heads off to France (through use of stock footage) and bring down the ring. When the team seizes Walters, they fake his death, Cinnamon poses as his widow, all to draw in Cresnic. But, of course, Walters isn’t dead, the team is simply working him from the other angle, keeping him in a ‘hospital’ and running their con on him. Phelps, Willy (Peter Lupus) and Barney set up a ‘lab’ to mess with production.

All of it combines to bring the ring down once and for all. There’s a lot going on in this episode, and it’s a fun entry in the series, letting Graves leap right into the action.

Trek was written by Laurence Heath and first debuted on 17 September, 1967. It features a Trek icon, Mark Lenard as the villainous prison commandant, Cordoza, and Dan O’Herlihy guest stars as Cole.

It seems Cole is the last surviving member of a gang of crooks who made off with an Aztec treasure that is wanted back by its South American country. Cole has been captured, but, unfortunately, he’s being held in Cordoza’s prison, and he is intent on torturing Cole for the location of the treasure himself.

The IMF team go in to the camp, specifically Phelps, in an attempt to prove Cordoza’s treasonous actions, learn the location of the hidden treasure, and swap it out for replacements created by Barney so they can return the real treasure to the country’s rulers.

It has an exotic look to it, shot out in the desert, though there are some recognisable locations (Vasquez Rocks), and honestly, there’s a sense of excitement and action to this episode that felt like it was lacking in the previous season. Phelps is definitely a bit more of a man of action, and the team works really well with him.

By moving them out of the studio for an episode, and putting them outside on location for a good portion of the story opens up the series in a way that hadn’t happened often before.

The assignments for Phelps and the rest continue next week as I explore more of Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-ray, available now from Paramount Canada!

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