Mission: Impossible (1969) – The Test Case, and The System

Rollin (Martin Landau) puts his life on the line, when the IMF accepts a mission in an Eastern Bloc country, in order to stop a scientist from weaponising a deadly virus. The Test Case was written by Laurence Heath, and first debuted on 19 January, 1969.

Phelps (Peter Graves), Barney (Greg Morris), Cinnamon (Barbara Bain) and Willy (Peter Lupus) are also in play; Cinnamon poses as an American journalist, Phelps and Willy sneak into the base to pose as officers, while Barney sneaks around setting up all the tech the team will need.

Rollin replaces a political prisoner, and Dr. Oswald Beck (David Hurst) is going to use him as a test case for his virus. If it works, Rollin will be dead in ten minutes; Barney has worked to make sure that all the tech is in place to keep Rollin safe, but make it look like the virus works, and Cinnamon presents a deal to Beck to buy the virus for the American government.

As Phelps works to convince Captain Onli (Noah Keen) that Beck is going to take the deal and, the clock is ticking.

I like Heath’s scripts, he works to make them real spy thrillers, including the expected tricks and tech, and even throwing in the occasional action beat. I still don’t think Barney gets enough moments to shine, but at least in this one we get to see him sneaking around a lot, and placing things in just the right spot to make sure the plan comes off, and, in this case, keeps Rollin safe.

The System was written by Robert Hamner, and sees the team, once again, taking on the mob. This episode first debuted on 26 January, 1969, and sees the IMF working to convince a mob figure, a casino manager named Johnny Costa (James Patterson) is going to be hit by his friend, and boss, Mr. V (Val Avery).

After a key witness in Mr. V’s trial ends up dead, the only person left alive who knows everything about him, is Johnny Costa. If the IMF can convince Costa that Victor has put a hit out on him, they may be able to convince him to turn state’s evidence against him, and sew up the case once and for all.

Cinnamon poses as a young gambler working the casino with a system, Phelps does the same, but more professionally and plants the idea of a hit man in the area gunning for Costa, while Rollin handles the impersonations.

Willy gets a line or two, and Barney gets to do some infiltrating and using the tech… he’s too damned cool for this team.

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

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