Mission: Impossible (1968) – A Game of Chess, and The Emerald

The IMF team takes on yet another corrupt member of some unnamed Soviet Bloc country in A Game of Chess. Written by Richard M. Sakal, this episode was first broadcast on 14 January, 1968.

Phelps (Peter Graves) and his team take on Nicholas Groat (Don Francks), a chess grandmaster who is also organising a theft of gold from his opposition. Phelps sends Rollin (Martin Landau) in as an amateur chess player who is aided by a computer, overseen by Barney (Greg Morris), a computer that can beat Groat.

All of that is just the tip of the spear as the rest of the team figure a way to get the gold away from Groat and his competition. To do so, they have to appear to take Groat into their confidence, break into a time lock safe and seem to have an outbreak of typhoid!

Rollin poses not only as a chess player, but as a doctor, as the plan unfurls, while Cinnamon (Barbara Bain) poses as a nurse and Phelps wife and Willy (Peter Lupus) is left with almost nothing to do or say.

The plan, of course, goes off without a hitch, and the team makes off with the gold, ensures Groat gets his just desserts, and somehow makes it safely out of an Eastern Bloc country to pull off another mission on another day.

It’s fun, and entertaining, and while Barney barely gets used in this episode (he remains my favourite character), Rollin gets to do a lot, and pulls off both of his characters delightfully.

The Emerald sees the team slipping onto a cruise ship to reclaim a stolen gem that has confidential security information embedded in it in this episode penned by William Read Woodfield and Allan Balter. It first debuted on 21 January, 1968.

With the creation of a high stakes poker game, the team with Rolin’s sleight of hand, and Barney’s tech, works to get the gem, and stop their competition.

It seems a wealthy businessman of questionable means, Victor Tomar (William Smithers) has come into possession of the gem, and the team has to get it back, but they aren’t the only ones who want it. Rollin is sent to run interference with Yorgi Petrosian (Michael Strong) who has his eyes set on the gem and taking Tomar down.

While Barney feeds the team information, Cinnamon and Phelps both pose as cruise ship passengers who get involved in the poker game. Cinnamon is used to draw Tomar in, with her beauty and her losses at cards.

Everything is done to set up the big game, as well as Tomar… but that may just be the beginning of the mission as the team works to control all aspects of the mission and render justice.

This one is a fun adventure, features disguises, masks, tech, and pulling a fast one on the baddies, all the tropes you expect to find in Mission: Impossible, and there will be more assignments next week as I continue to explore The Complete Series on blu-ray, available now from Paramount Canada!

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