Mission: Impossible (1968) – The Diplomat, and The Play

Cinnamon (Barbara Bain) is missing from the first assignment this week as Phelps (Peter Graves) takes his IMF team back undercover to run a mission to make genuine U.S. defense information is actual erronous and fake.

The Diplomat was penned by Jerrold L. Ludwig, and had an original airdate of 1 December, 1968. To make the foreign government believe what is going on, a long con is put into play involving a diplomat’s wife, Susan Buchanan (Lee Grant), watched over by Rollin (Martin Landau) and a doctor (Russ Conway), who will work to keep her safe, even as her life is in danger. They use her to further the disinformation ploy.

Willy (Peter Lupus) and Barney (Greg Morris), as always seemingly, run their tech game in the background, placing things to pay off, entrap, and advance.

This one feels a little bit more in line with traditional spycraft than some of the stories, and it’s actually very well-crafted. There are no real splashy tricks, everything feels very restrained, and it works really well. This is a real spy thriller.

Everything plays out just as the team plans, but there are risks throughout as the team works with the enemy and non-professionals to make sure that things go just as the should. It feels a little more realistic than some of the stories that have been concocted for the series (not that i’m complaining at all, it was just cool to see something a little more grounded).

The episode features the iconic Sid Haig as a heavy.

The Play boasts a guest appearance by the amazing John Colicos! The episode was penned by Lou Shaw, and aired on 8 December, 1968. Colicos plays Milos Kuro, the Minister of Culture for a country referred to as the UCR, tucked behind the Iron Curtain.

Kuros, intent on undermining the western leaning philosophies of his country’s premier, constantly delivers a deluge of anti-American propaganda to his people. It’s the IMF’s job to get into the country and discredit Kuros… in the name of Democracy!!

Cinnamon poses as a playwright who has penned a controversial two-hand play that has some anti-American leanings, and Kuros wants a chance to produce it in his country. The team comes with Cinammon to the UCR as actors and crew, and while Kuros can’t wait to deliver the production, the IMF works on subtly changing the text of the play just in time for the performance.

Of course Kuros ends up with egg on his face by the end of the episode, and the team gets away again – man they never seem to have any border problems even with all this travel through the Iron Curtain.

There are so many more assignments and guest stars yet to come, as I continue my Mission: Impossible of exploring The Complete Series on blu-ray, now available from Paramount Canada!

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