Mission: Impossible (1971) – Underwater, and Invasion

I’m not sure I cared for Underwater. Written by Arthur Weiss it first aired on 6 November, 1971 and features the IMF going after some crooks, their cash, and some stolen diamonds. Unfortunately, a thief has made off with them, and they have to get him to admit where they are and scoop them out from under the baddies noses.

Hoffman (Jeremy Slate) is the master thief who stole the diamonds, blowing up a boat to hide the theft, and tucking them deep at sea. His boss, Berlinger (Fritz Weaver) wants them back and is not above having Hoffman beaten to reveal their location.

Phelps (Peter Graves) and his team have to find a way to recover the diamonds before Berlinger gets his hands on them. Consequently, there are some underwater sequences that I’m sure looked decent on smaller televisions with poor resolutions, but with today’s high-def you can definitely tell they are in an aquarium pool.

The team runs its con, and its mission, and pulls out all the stops to make the recovery and keep the world safe, but this is an episode I just couldn’t get into. And the underwater work could have been a lot stronger than it was.

That being said getting the team out of their usual environment, i.e. stages, and out into the real world makes for some nice visuals, but they could have been a lot stronger. Underwater work is tough, but when done right can be just captivating. Still, working on a time frame and a tight, costly production, you sometimes sacrifice art for necessity.

Invasion was written by James L. Henderson and Samuel Roeca and debuted on 13 November, 1971. It also saw poor Kevin McCarthy dealing with another invasion, though this time it wasn’t body snatchers.

Whitmore Channing has access to classified data which reveals temporary holes in America’s defense network, leaving them open to attack if it was discovered by their enemies.

To find out where the information is hidden, Phelps and his team have to convince Channing that he’s missing twelve hours of his life, and that the invasion has already happened. An invasion that could seem him being executed after dealing with a war tribunal.

An easy enough con for the IMF to pull off, but what they don’t know is that there is a hitman who is infiltrating the site with the intention of killing Channing. This could upset the entire operation, and plunge America into dire straits until they can plug their defensive holes.

There’s a lot I liked about this episode, as a great deal of attention is paid to a number of small details to layer out the reality they are trying to create for Channing, perhaps the most that has been paid in an episode yet.

A solid entry in the series, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else the series has in store as I explore more of Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on Blu-ray, available now from Paramount Canada!

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