Mission: Impossible (1967) – The Astrologer, and Echo of Yesterday

The IMF team takes on more Eastern Bloc baddies in the first episode of Mission: Impossible up this week. Written by James Griffith, this episode first debuted on 3 December, 1967.

Phelps (Peter Graves) organises his team, Willy (Peter Lupus), Barney (Greg Morris), Rollin (Martin Landau) and Cinnamon (Barbara Bain) as they prepare to go after a villainous leaders, Grigov (David Hurst) and Stahl (Steve Ihnat), who have captured an Opposition Leader, Kurzon (Robert Tiedemann), and has microfilm listing the Opposition’s allies.

The team’s mission is to get the opposition leader off Grigov’s plane, replace the microfilm, and take down as many of the baddies as they can. Phelps’ plan sees Cinnamon posing as an astrologer, who is never wrong, and provides Grigov with information, while Barney and Rollin work from the plane’s cargo hold to break into the safe, and replace the microfilm with more incriminating evidence.

This is very much an episode for Barney, Rollin and especially Cinnamon, the three of them are definitely more front and centre than Phelps and Willy, and while it’s funny that anyone would let government decisions be influenced by a star chart, it was the 60s.

And the IMF obviously knew their targets because they pulled it off, and save the day yet again, going so far as to sneak Kurzon off the plane without anyone realising it, replacing him with a lifelike automaton! The team succeeds, revives Kurzon, roll credits, yay democracy and Western spycraft!

Echo of Yesterday was written by Mann Rubin, and first hit the airwaves on 10 December, 1967. It features two familiar faces, Eric Braeden, and Wilfrid Hyde-White (I’ve always loved his voice) and trots out the always ready villains, the Nazis.

The Nazis are preparing to rise again, and Colonel Markus von Frank (Braeden) sees himself as the next Fuhrer. Phelps poses as a member of an American Nazi party who is coming to see von Frank for endorsement and support, even as von Frank continues to lay his own plans, working with Otto Kelmann (Hyde-White), and there’s the in for the rest of the team. He lost someone to Hitler once, and this is a memory Cinnamon works on bringing to the fore, by dressing, and looking similar, and easing her way into the old man’s good graces and emotions.

This sets up Kelmann to take down von Frank if the IMF team can just push him far enough, and reenact his memories before his eyes (including having Rollin take a stab at playing Hitler!).

The Nazis, much like the Communist threat of the 50s and 60s, make for ready villains for a series of this nature, them, dirty businessmen and the mob. And while the stories are fun, I definitely hope to see the team begin to take on other villains as well. But the spy world only had so many villains back in the day.

There are more missions next week, so stay tuned as I explore more of Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-ray, now available from Paramount Pictures.

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