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Paramount Home Video presents
Mission: Impossible: The Second TV Season (1967)

"Good morning, Mr. Phelps. Details of a plan by an unfriendly country to force devaluation of US currency were concealed by one of our agents in this 41-carat emerald..."
- Voice on Tape (Bob Johnson)

Review By: Ross Johnson   
Published: August 17, 2007

Stars: Peter Graves, Barbara Bain, Martin Landau
Other Stars: Peter Lupus, Greg Morris, Bob Johnson
Director: Max Hodge, Reza Badiyi

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence)
Run Time: 20h:54m:00s
Release Date: June 05, 2007
UPC: 097360709148
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+AA D-

DVD Review

Season Two of Mission: Impossible finds the IMF battling drug cartels, the mob, and all manner of international spies and tieves, recovering ancient artifacts, putting slave traders out of business, and rescuing a freedom fighter from a forgotten prison camp. In other words, precious little has changed for the team since season one, and that's a very good thing. This season does, however, add a new and very familiar face.

With not the slightest hint as to why, season one's team leader Dan Briggs, played by Law & Order's Steven Hill, is replaced by the character who would eventually provide the iconic face and voice of the series: Peter Graves' Jim Phelps. Much like Law & Order, M:I doesn't take much of an interest in the main characters' private lives, or behind-the-scenes mechanics of working for the IMF, so the change in leaders doesn't feel as abrupt as it might on another show. Peter Graves gets quite a bit more screen-time than his predecessor, jumping into many missions as an active member of the team, not just a coordinator. While Steven Hill's more restrained presence added gravity to the show that I liked, it's the more charismatic Peter Graves that fans remember. To many fans, he is Mission: Impossible, and they'll no doubt be pleased to see him take over.

Most everything else is retained from the first season. By this point, it was clear that the high-budget, stylish show had a winning formula that was pulling in viewers and beginning to gather Emmy nominations. The memorable (to say the least) Lalo Schifrin theme music is followed by a teaser of the upcoming mission via elaborately concealed, self-destructing tape (Jim Phelps' finds his first onscreen message inside a set of binoculars at a scenic overlook in the season premiere, The Widow). Shortly thereafter, Jim selects his team, which unsurprisingly consists almost entirely of people whose faces appear in the opening credits, who then gather for a briefing. These set-ups are all perfunctory, but done with such style that you never really notice. That panache is key: even when formulaic, the show is consistently classy, while never being afraid to wink at itself just in time to keep from drowning in self-seriousness.

Though we never see their private lives, the main cast is populated with likeable and talented character actors. Martin Landau continues in his role as master-of-disguise Rollin Hand, and Barbara Bain is Cinnamon Carter (both would leave the show after season three, before being reunited on 70s space oddity Space: 1999. I discussed the groundbreaking nature of Bain's performance in my review of Season One, but it bears repeating: Bain's character is presented as an entirely equal member of the team, at least as capable as the other members and given no slack whatsoever for being a woman. I'm not sure that there was any other show of M:I's era that was treating women with that level of respect. While this second season set has her going undercover as the wife of one international criminal or another in several of the episodes in which she's featured, she's always a key part of the mission. Likewise, black actor Greg Morris' Barney Collier is a business owner and electronics genius. For that matter, there's nothing dumb about muscle-man Willie Armitage (Peter Lupus), securing the character's place in history as a pioneering portrayal of the inordinately beefy.

Of course, there are guest stars as well, big names and small. Star Trek's Mark Lenard shows up as a traitorous South American Colonel in the appropriately named "Trek", along with Trek alumni William Windom, Paul Winfield, Anthony Zerbe, and Brock Peters in other episodes. Vincent Gardenia plays a mob figure in the two-parter The Council, and Darren McGavin plays an antiquities thief. Indeed, part of the fun of a show of this vintage is spotting the sometimes-up-and-coming stars of the big and small screen. That's just icing though. These 25 self-contained episodes play like movies, and the quality is high, almost without exception.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: As with season one, the folks at Paramount have done an excellent job of restoring these episodes. The image is clear and crisp, and the colors are absolutely gorgeous.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.0
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The original mono track is included, but the new 5.1 mix is where it's at. This series is loaded with action, and justly famous for its extensive use of music, so the high-quality track is well-done, and appreciated.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, Portugese with remote access
Packaging: Digipak
Picture Disc
7 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: As with the first season, there are no extras.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

While I'd love to see some extras on one of these collections, there's not much else to complain about with this season two collection. The restored pictures on these 25 episodes are fabulous, as is the quality of the new 5.1 surround mix. Each episode is small, smart action movie, so the attention to quality is very much appreciated. The introduction of Peter Graves makes this the premiere of the IMF in its most iconic configuration, and Paramount should be commended for the high-quality presentation.

 


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