Encore, written by Harold Livingston, feels like a missed opportunity for the Mission: Impossible series. If it had been done one season earlier it would have been a fantastic reunion because it boasts William Shatner in its guest cast. Can you imagine if he had played a baddie going up against Leonard Nimoy’s Paris?
Instead, it’s the second episode of the fifth season after Nimoy departed.
First airing on 25 September, 1971, Phelps (Peter Graves) and his team have taken on a cold case and intend to prove that one of the murder’s suspects, Thomas Kroll (Shatner) is the guilty party. To do so, the team throws together a team of actors to make Kroll believe he is reliving the day of the murder, 30 June, 1937.
It’s great to see Doug (Sam Elliott) back on the team, signing up along with Willy (Peter Lupus), Barney (Greg Morris), and Lisa (Lynda Day George). It’s just too bad that he’s suffering from the same bouffant 70s hair that Willy has.
Everyone works to get Kroll, who through makeup and touchups looks more like his younger self, to believe he’s back in the 30s, forcing him to relive the day and hopefully help them, unwittingly, to solve the case.
Simple, and silly, this one is still a lot of fun because it lets Shatner be the villain for a change. And of course, as the villain, he gets completely outwitted by the heroes and reveals everything he has to, proving that he and his partner were murderers.
The Tram was penned by James L. Henderson and Samuel Roeca from a story by Paul Playdon. It first aired on 2 October, 1971.
It’s a mobster summit. High atop a mountain, a group of organized crime bosses are planning on meeting to organize a way to launder their money cleanly. They have put fifty million into a single bank account, ready to invest it, legally, once it’s clean.
Phelps and his crew, Barney, Willy, and Lisa go to work on making sure the bosses are stuck atop the mountain, by taking control of the only tram that can ferry people up and down and slowly turning them against one another.
Will they be able to do it in time to get access to the bank account?
I will say this, there is some gorgeous location and aerial photography around the mountain as the tram goes up and down. That’s the only thing that really makes the episode stand out. There’s nothing new to this one, just the late 60s and early 70s styles making themselves felt.
For all that, Barney is still the coolest character in the show, and it seems that he and Willy are being given more to do now that they aren’t sharing with other headlining cast members.
There will be more assignments to come next week as I continue to explore Paramount Canada’s Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on Blu-ray, now available.