Mission: Impossible (1968) – The Condemned, and The Counterfeiter

Laurence Heath sends the boys of the IMF team on a personal mission with his script for The Condemned which first aired on 28 January, 1968, and is the first assignment this week as I delve into another two episodes of Paramount Pictures’ Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-ray.

Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) learns of a friend, David Webster (Kevin Hagan), is being held on death row in a Latin America country. He comes to Rollin (Martin Landau), Barney (Greg Morris) and Willy (Peter Lupus) to ask for their help in getting him out and proving his innocence in the murder he has been accused of and sentenced for.

The adventure leads them to Arthur Warner (Peter Donat – who would later play Fox Mulder’s father) and the lovely Louisa Rojas (Marianna Hills) and rumours of a stolen crown.

The team has their work cut out for them, including recovering the lost crown, and they are more than ready for the task. Rollin gets to don some disguises, he and Willy help create a false wall in Webster’s cell, and Phelps is front and centre throughout the adventure doing his best to save his friend.

You just have to wonder how Phelps is going to justify the expenses of the mission to headquarters. I mean it’s a personal mission and they are definitely using IMF material.

It’s fun, entertaining, with my favourite moments being Rollin gettin to create his masks, the false wall, and any time Barney gets to act cool on camera.

The Counterfeiter first debuted on 4 February, 1968 and was written by William Read Woodfield and Allan Balter. This time, the team is after another counterfeiter, but not money. Raymond Halder (Edmond O’Brien) runs a number of clinics, but his real business is counterfeiting medical drugs and taking in the profits.

The team comes up with a complex plan involving Rollin and Phelps posing as corruptible federal agents, Cinnamon (Barbara Bain) posing as a pharmaceutical employee, and Barney developing some tech to make Halder feel as if he’s falling ill.

All of it combines into a plan that is designed to make Halder confess to his crime. Something they know they can make him do if he feels his life is at risk.

This is a fairly fast-paced episode, and it seems that Woodfield and Balter are going to be the torchbearers for the series, writing a mass of the episodes, and incorporating all the tropes that would become hallmarks of the series. The only thing really missing from this episode is some mask work for the team.

This mission is simple and clear cut, get the baddie to confess, and bring him down. And, of course, Phelps and his team is more than up to the task.

More assignments next week as I continue to explore Paramount Canada’s Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series, available now on blu-ray!

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