Mission: Impossible (1972) – Crack-Up, and The Puppet

Alex McCord guest stars in Crack-Up which sees the IMF going after the mob/Syndicate (again), this time focussing on a hitman, Peter Cordel (McCord). Written by Arthur Weiss from a story by Weiss and Robert and Phyllis White this episode first aired on 9 December, 1972.

Phelps (Peter Graves) and his team, Barney (Greg Morris), Willy (Peter Lupus) and who the hell is Sandy? (Marlyn Mason) are determined to get the evidence they need to prove Cordel is a killer for hire, and learn who his Syndicate employer is.

They plan to do that through some light hypnotism and beating him soundly at his one obsession, chess.

While Phelps pursues him around the chess board, the team works on hunting down evidence, working on pushing Cordel over the edge. Finally when the team has him tucked away in a mental institution, Sandy is able to get the final pieces from Cordel to not only put him away but also a contact to lead them to Cordel’s Syndicate boss.

Sure, they win this round, but how much do you want to bet that the Syndicate will be back once again before the season is over?

While I like the idea of McCord as a hitman, did we have to have yet another mob story? I think the biggest problem I have with these stories is that the IMF moves from being an elite team of super agents to a group of agents pulling off huge convoluted cons to capture criminals.

And I’m pretty sure a lot of the things they do wouldn’t be admissible in court.

The Puppet was written by Leigh Vance and first aired on 22 December, 1972. Surprise, surprise, it’s another organized crime story, but it does have one redeeming feature, it guest starts one of my all-time favorite character actors, Roddy McDowall.

Leo Ostro (McDowall) and his older brother Paul (John Crawford) are running a criminal enterprise, one that needs to be figured out and stopped by the IMF. But as the team investigates they discover that Paul is dead.

It seems he was killed by Leo while on a hunting trip, and replaced with a surrogate, wrapped up as an injured man and Leo has been making all the decisions since. The IMF plans to out Leo by revealing the truth about what’s hidden under the bandages.

Barney goes into the Ostro mansion as the new cook, Casey (Lynda Day George) and the rest take on various roles and work to stop the new criminal outing before it can get underway.

Honestly, at this point in the series, I had no further use for yet another mafia story. But throw McDowall into the mix, and I can’t help but watch it. How does the IMF get the job done? Well through the most convoluted way possible of course.

But it works!

We’re on the final stretch, the end of the series is on the horizon. Paramount Canada’s Mission: Impossible – The Complete Series on blu-ray has been a lot of fun, mafia stories included, and it’s been a great ride.

Let’s see what happens next week!

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