DVD Review: Mission: Impossible, The ’88 TV Season

No matter what agents think, there’s no retiring from the spy game. Nearly 15 years after he’d watched his final message go up in smoke, Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) was back assembling Impossible Missions Force teams. This was an interesting time for international espionage. The world was just about to change with the impending fall of the Berlin Wall. Phelps found new operatives since his old team would resemble The Golden Girls Undercover. His fresh charges included Barney Collier’s son. The infusion of youth and new surveillance technology allowed Phelps to stay in the game without worrying about his knees. Mission: Impossible, The ’88 TV Season is a fine addition to the series.

Why was the show revived? There was a writers strike and someone had the smart idea to make a new Mission: Impossible using the old scripts. Nowadays a network would make another show about Chef Gordon Ramsay screaming at cooks. The new version of Mission: Impossible wasn’t given the budget it had back in the ‘60s. The show had the same production standards as Friday 13th the Series. They shot it on film, but did all post-production on video to save on special effects like the cutting edge computer screens.The series was made in Australia which explains quite a bit of the look. After faking international locations for seven years, Mission: Impossible had to create the illusion they were in America.

“The Killer” lights the new adventures with a script from the original’s fifth season. The man that replaced Phelps finds himself dosed with a hallucinogenic that makes him think he’s on fire. He throws himself off a building. At the funeral, Phelps dumps retirement to find the killer and the man who ordered the hit. The identity of the killer is easy to make out. John De Lancie (Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation) is the man doing Scorpio’s dirty work for a steep price. Besides Barney’s son, Phelps’ new team involves disguise master Nicholas Black (Thaao Penghlis), muscle Max Harte (Tony Hamilton) and model Casey Randall (Terry Markwell). It’s almost like his old band of spies.

“The Condemned” is a father and son adventure. Barney Collier (Greg Morris) gets grabbed by the cops in Istanbul on a murder charge. It’s up to his old pal Phelps and his son Grant Collier (Phil Morris) to free him. Can they maintain their cool while springing someone in their spy family? Greg and Phil really were father and son. Phil went on to fame as Jackie Chiles on Seinfeld. It’s nice to see a reunion of Barney and Phelps. “The Legacy” renews the script about four men meeting to unveil the secret of hidden Nazi gold. They will use the fortune to bring back Hitler’s dream. “The Wall” lets two Germans run a scam. One smuggles East Germans through the Berlin Wall at a major price. The other scammer busts them. The duo don’t want Berlin Wall to fall since that’d be the end of their racket. “The Haunting” makes Parker Stevenson (The Hardy Boys) a sociopathic killer. He’s a rich kid using his money to escape the law. “The Fixer” stars Richard Romanus as a blackmailing journalist. He was the voice of Harry Canyon, the cabbie in Heavy Metal. “The Devils” combines English nobility and Satanic Rituals. Phelps must prove he’s the ultimate in evil to crack a human sacrifice ring.

Mission: Impossible, The ’88 TV Season is much more entertaining than the string of Tom Cruise films. Peter Graves works well in reviving Phelps since he’s not trying to be an elderly James Bond. He lets the young team members handle all the heavy chasing and fighting while he calls the shots. If you are a fan of the original series, the update will be entertaining. Don’t let it go up in smoke. Accept the mission.

The Episodes
“The Killer,” “The System,” “Holograms,” “The Condemned,” “The Legacy,” “The Wall,” “The Cattle King,” “The Pawn,” “The Haunting,” “The Lions,” “The Greek,” “The Fortune,” “The Fixer,” “Spy,” “The Devils,” “The Plague,” “Reprisal,” “Submarine” and “Bayou.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers reflect the fact that the show was shot on 35mm, but post-produced in standard def video. The details are a little fuzzy which shaves a few years off Peter Graves. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. The start of the episodes even have the old alter that you can hear the show in stereo. The episodes are subtitled.

No bonus features.

Mission: Impossible, The ’88 TV Season is an interesting revival of the iconic series. Peter Graves returns as the leader along with several familiar scripts. They do create new episodes to reflect the changing world of espionage. They even kill off an IMF agent during an episode to show it’s not quite the old series. The new cast works as a crack unit under Graves’ guidance. It’s like old times with new faces.

CBS DVD presents Mission: Impossible, The ’88 TV Season. Starring: Peter Graves, Greg Morris, Thaao Penghlis and Anthony Hamilton. Boxset Contents: 19 episodes on 5 DVDs. Released on DVD: November 29, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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