Mission: Impossible (1969) – Robot, and The Double Circle

Barney (Greg Morris) shows a talent for robotics, Leonard Nimoy gets to wear a number of disguises and prosthetics, not only as Paris, but other characters, Lee Meriwether continues her work with the IMF as Tracey, and Larry Linville makes another appearance as a baddie in The Robot.

Written by Howard Berk, this episode debuted on 30 November, 1969. Phelps (Peter Graves) and his team have to take down a Deputy Premier of an Eastern Bloc country, Kamirov (Malachi Throne) who has covered up the death of Premier Zagov (Nimoy in heavy makeup) and hired an actor to replace him to endorse his plan for assuming the leadership.

The IMF team slips into the country posing as a potential competition for another leader and they are using a robot constructed to look like Zagov.

As the plan proceeds they trick Kamirov, get the imposter on board, and work to continue to bring democracy to the free world!

Nimoy gets to do a lot in various roles, whether its the actor as Zagov, or the robot as Zagov, or any of the other disguises he indulges in throughout the episode. It’s a fairly enjoyable episode, though the robotics seem more in line with Nimoy’s Trek than it does with Mission: Impossible. That being said, I think this episode has the most he’s done so far in the series, or at least the heaviest prosthetics to date.

I do like how the episode plays out, with imposters, twists, cons, and the eventual toppling of Kamirov in front of those he is seeking support from.

The Double Circle sees Anne Francis joining the IMF team in this episode written by Jerrold L. Ludwig, and first airing on 7 December, 1969.

The team go after an art collector, Victor Laszlo (James Patterson), who has somehow gotten his hands on a missile’s fuel formula – he stole it. They are hoping to convince him to trade for it, by offering a one of a kind statue, the Peking Buddha, which Patterson insists doesn’t exist.

Phelps rolls out an additional plan, to convince Laszlo’s partner, Ray Dunson (Jason Evers), that Laszlo is going to double cross him over the formula, and works to drive a wedge between the two while Barney does his best to run a tech game that includes getting the team into an unbreakable safe (with help from Willy (Peter Lupus) )that contains the formula, while also getting into the disguise game himself.

There’s a lot of tech work in this one, false projections, tampered elevators, and of course the usual bevy of IMF necessities, face masks, disguises, and plans within plans.

Not quite as incredible as life like looking robots, it still delightfully strains credulity, and in fact, we see a couple of gambits that show up in the film series (the use of elevators and imposters to make people believe they are interacting with someone they aren’t).

The assignments from season four keep coming next week as I explore more of Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-ray, now available from Paramount Pictures!

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