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Binge Watchin' TV Review: Mission Impossible


Welcome to Binge Watchin,’ where we take a look at some of the best TV shows available on streaming or disc that have a great catalogue of seasons to jump into and get sucked into the beautiful bliss of binge watching! From crime, action, comedy, drama, animation, etc., we’ll be evaluating an assortment of shows that will hopefully serve as a gateway to your next binge experience.

Binge Watchin' TV Review, Mission: Impossible, Peter Graves, Thriller, ABC, Drama, Action, Martin Landau, Leonard Nimoy, Espionage, TV, TV Review

Series: Mission: Impossible

Number of Seasons: 7 (171 episodes)

Where to watch: Blu-Ray/DVD Amazon Prime

Binge Watchin' TV Review, Mission: Impossible, Peter Graves, Thriller, ABC, Drama, Action, Martin Landau, Leonard Nimoy, Espionage, TV, TV Review

What’s the show about? 

Following the exploits of the IMF (Impossible Mission Force), led by Jim Phelps and featuring a rotating ast of secret agents, spies, and other masters of dangerous arts. Phelps leads a crew of specialists into the most dangerous situations possible with the aim to stop evil and protect America. Acting independently of the United States government, the IMF is tasked with suicide missions that no other agency can complete. Occassionally, the team completes missions of a more personal nature but always with the aim to protect freedom and defeat those who would undermine it.

Binge Watchin' TV Review, Mission: Impossible, Peter Graves, Thriller, ABC, Drama, Action, Martin Landau, Leonard Nimoy, Espionage, TV, TV Review

Why should I watch it?

Up until the mid-1990s, most people probably had only a passing memory of Mission: Impossible. Airing from 1966-1973 (with a brief revivial in the late 80s), Mission: Impossible ranks with the original Star Trek series as the inspiration for countless copycat franchises that never quite grasp the intensity or originality of the template. Envisioned as a series with a rotating cast of characters, Mission: Impossible is likely best remembered for the performance of Martin Landau as Rollin Hand, a master of disguise. But, the show managed to feature several recognizable stars including Leonard Nimoy, Lesley Ann Warren, Greg Morris, Barbara Bain, and Sam Elliott. All of the cast and characters would later inspire the Tom Cruise series of films which have become synonymous with the title and theme music.

Unlike the Cruise films, the Mission: Impossible TV series kept a very concrete formula through it's seven season run. Every episode would open with the burning fuse and title credits followed by Peter Graves listening to a tape of his team's mission that week. The team would then gather to review the case, plan the heist/job, and then execute it. There was little to no character development over the years and characters came and went with little explanation. Despite this rigid format, each episode felt fresh and dangerous and drew the viewer in to feel almost like a member of the IMF. It also was unique in that the title credits would often feature clips from that same episode, often revealing plot points before the viewer had even watched the episode.

Binge Watchin' TV Review, Mission: Impossible, Peter Graves, Thriller, ABC, Drama, Action, Martin Landau, Leonard Nimoy, Espionage, TV, TV Review

What makes Mission: Impossible such a great show to watch is how much inspiration it has given to the genre of espionage thrillers. Every episode had a mystery to solve and one that the IMF team barely accomplished successfully. But there was never anyone dangling from a skyscraper or a high speed car chase. Sure, the show was realized in a different era of production values but it also relied heavily on the usage of music and snappy dialogue and creative stories to engage the viewer. Over almost 200 episodes, Mission: Impossible rarely duplicated itself and even managed to include some very famous guest stars. It ranked as the longest running espionage TV series for years and remains a classic to this day.

Best season:

The second season of the show is by far the best. Steven Hill, who played IMF leader Dan Briggs, left the show after the first year and was replaced by Peter Graves who went on to play Jim Phelps for the remainder of the show's run and revivlal. Graves' performance is so essential to the success of the series that the original plan was for the actor to reprise his role in the Brian De Palma feature film. But, Graves objected to his character becoming a villain and the role was recast with Jon Voight. Still, Graves joining the cast and Martin Landau bumping up to series regular gave the second season the most consistency out of any year of the show with episode highlights including "Charity" which features the Wayne Manor set from the 1966 Batman series, "Trial by Fury" which featured the set from Hogan's Heroes, and "The Seal" with guest star Darren McGavin.

Final thoughts:

Much like how J.J. Abrams rebooted Star Trek to the disdain of some fans, there will always be a divide between Mission: Impossible film and television viewers. While the feature films are definitely a lot of fun, there is something distinct about the show that can never be replicated. Shows like Mission: Impossible are rarely made any more because they don't have the pace or marketing that some network series have but you can see the imprint the series has left on television in everything from 24 to Inspector Gadget. The mere fact that the theme and opening credits have been copied and spoofed so many times are a testament to the instant classic nature of the show. But, like many people, you probably don't know the episodes or the show itself and that is something that should be rectified. With a large library of episodes to view, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to binge Mission: Impossible as soon as you can. This column will self destruct in ten seconds.




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