Mission: Impossible (1969) – The Glass Cage, and Doomsday

There’s a lot going on in The Glass Cage, the first episode up this week as I continue my journey through Mission Impossible: The Complete Series. Written by Paul Playdon from a story by Alf Harris, the episode first debuted on 2 February, 1969.

I was absolutely delighted to see that it also featued Larry Linville, who would go on to play Frank Burns in the M*A*S*H television series was featured in this story.

Phelps (Peter Graves) and his IMF team infiltrate a prison behind the Iron Curtain to free a resistance leader being held in a glass prison, Anton Reisner (Richard Garland). Phelps, and Rollin (Martin Landau) assume the roles of menacing officers, while Cinnamon (Barbara Bain) takes on the role of a neurotic bureaucrat. Willy (Peter Lupus) and Barney (Greg Morris) are slipped in as prisoners, whose escape attempt is meant to be foiled.

All to distract those running the prison, and to convince the prison guards and officers that Reisner is an imposter. Allowing the team to exfiltrate Reisner out of the prison and on to freedom.

It’s a complicated episode with tons of things going on, but it’s a lot of fun! I love Barney and Willy’s escape plan, and all the activity that the team puts into place to make it look like the real deal, and the layering of story and background that they put into Cinnamon’s cover.

And on a meta note, I love that in M*A*S*H Frank constantly wants to be left in charge of the camp, to make it his own, and this episode ends with Linville’s character being put in charge of the prison, despite the fact that he’s been fooled into it.

Doomsday was written by Laurnce Heath and first aired on 16 February, 1969. It seems a rich industrialist, Carl Vandaam (Alf Kjellin) claims to have access to a hydrogen bomb, and in true capitalist nature is offering it up for auction to international powers.

If it falls into the wrong hands, it could spell doomsday for the whole world, so the team has to get into Vandaam Industries, bluff their way into the auction, while Barney does his tech and tunning crawling thing, to slip in a dummy piece of equipment to render the bomb useless.

While Barney does that, climbing up and down an elevator shaft for most of the episode, the rest of the team infiltrates the company, posing as very knowledgable buyers.

As Barney changes out pieces in the device, it’s Cinnamon’s job to highlight these changes, suggesting that Vandaam is a liar and up to no good, interested in making a fast buck, and may not actually be able to deliver on the weapon he has promised.

Of course, the team pulls of the mission, ruining Vandaam’s ‘good’ name, and they drive away successfuly, ready for another pair of missions next week as I explore more of Mission: Impossible: The Complete Series on blu-ray, now available from Paramount Canada!

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