Paramount // 1966 // 1119 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // May 6th, 2009
A Force to be Reckoned With
There's got to be an easier way to prove someone is corrupt than by arranging a full-on alien invasion -- easier sure, but not nearly as cool. It's tense. It's smart. It's complicated. It's Mission: Impossible: The Sixth Season.
Jim Phelps (Peter Graves, Airplane!) is back with a leaner IMF dream team. Paris (Leonard Nimoy) is gone and there's no replacement sleight-of-hand man. Dana (Leslie Ann Warren) is also gone and in her place is the sweet, soft-spoken Casey (Lynda Day George, Roots). Barney Collier (Greg Morris) and Willie Armitage (Peter Lupus) are still on board, and with the exception of a short pregnancy leave for George in season seven, this is the crew that takes us on to the finish.
Straying even further away from the politically charged international missions of the earlier seasons, Season Six is mostly about "the syndicate," aka, organized crime. There's also a nod to bio-terrorism, a treasure hunt for stolen diamonds, and a ski resort cable car caper all artfully acted by some of the best TV guest stars of the era.
I've been a Mission: Impossible fan for as long as I can remember, and this season in particular is the one that really stands out in my mind. One reason is because of the addition of Lynda Day George. Lynda appeared in nearly a hundred different TV shows and TV movies from the mid-60s to the mid-80s, but she rarely took on regular roles like this one. Lynda was married to actor Christopher George and they often worked together, including an episode in this season of Mission: Impossible. She stopped acting shortly after Chris died of a heart attack at the age of 54.
As Casey, Lynda brought an intriguing combination of innocent girl next door and Hollywood glamour. When she wasn't playing someone's frightened girlfriend, she handled the masks and make-up, mimicked voices, and she had fabulous hair. Yeah, I have a girl crush on Lynda Day George. I don't attempt to hide it.
I also have a crush on Sam Elliott. He makes his last appearance as Doctor Doug in the second episode, "Encore." I always wished they had used him more; alas, it was not to be.
Moving on to the second reason this season is so memorable -- it's the guest stars. Half a dozen of my favorites show up here appearing in stories that I remember to this day. Top of the list? William Shatner in "Encore," Jack Cassidy in "Casino," and Christopher George (sensing a theme here?) in "Nerves."
Here's a quick look at all of the episodes on this DVD set.
* "Blind" -- Sadly, a complex, slow-moving episode starts the season. Phelps is surgically blinded in a difficult-to-follow story about protecting the cover of a government agent working for the mob. Tom Bosley guests.
* "Encore" -- William Shatner is the mark in what is one of the most talked about episodes of the series that has the IMF team sending the mobster back to 1937 (complete with de-aging make-up) in hopes of getting to the bottom of an unsolved murder.
* "The Tram" -- The story on this one isn't the best. Mostly it was an excuse to use the Palm Springs Mountain Tram over and over in the story. Nice scenery, but not such a winner other wise.
* "Mindbend" -- It's shades of Manchurian Candidate when guest Leonard Frey reprograms Barney, turning him into a cold blooded killer.
* "Shape-Up" -- Gerald S O'Laughlin is the mark in this story that uses a fake haunting in order to get the mark to confess to murder. Love the moment when this one comes together.
* "The Miracle" -- This one has Joe Don Baker as a flamboyant hitman who just isn't himself after a fake heart transplant. Billy Dee Williams also guest stars.
* "Encounter" -- Lynda Day George becomes Elizabeth Ashley for most of this episode that revolves around a mob wife telling secrets when she goes into an alcohol rehab program.
* "Underwater" -- This episode has the team on an underwater hunt for a briefcase of jewels.
* "Invasion" -- Kevin McCarthy stars in this complicated charade that has Los Angeles under the rule of a fake communist military regime. It's all a plot to keep a microfilm marking the spots where the US early warning detection system has gone down out of enemy hands. A couple of unexpected bumps in the plan keeps this one quite interesting.
* "Blues" -- Barney is singing the blues in this episode about a supposed murder caught on tape used to trap a corrupt record producer. William Windom guest stars.
* "The Visitors" -- Steve Forrest renounces his syndicate ties when he's offered immortality by some very familiar looking aliens.
* "Nerves" -- This is my favorite episode of the season because it stars Lynda's husband Christopher George (Rat Patrol) as a homegrown terrorist who threatens to open a can of nerve gas if his brother isn't released from jail. One problem, he doesn't know that the canister has a leak, making it a virtual ticking time bomb.
* "Run For the Money" -- it's off to the races because, as my friend says, every show has to have a boxing episode and a horse race episode. Boring.
* "The Connection" -- The IMF recreate an entire island for this plot to trap a heroin dealer.
* "The Bride" -- Casey is a drug-addicted, mail order bride in this story that has James Gregory playing a syndicate accountant who needs a new way to ship his cash overseas. Love the reveal on this one.
* "Stone Pillow" -- Bradford Dillman plays the mark who has the bright idea of blackmailing a mob boss. Smooth move.
* "Image" -- Warren Stevens guests in this story that uses a fake psychic and tarot cards to get a list of corrupt officials. Tricky.
* "Committed" -- Lynda is Susan Howard in this clever story about a syndicate boss trying to drive a woman insane so she can't testify, but is that woman THE woman, or is it really Casey in disguise?
* "Bag Woman" -- Casey takes the place of a syndicate bagwoman but what she doesn't know is that her latest delivery is rigged to explode. Yikes.
* "Double Dead" -- My second favorite episode of the season is an unusual one in that Willy is captured by the bad guys right off the bat, so the team has to work on rescuing him while trying to shut down a dangerous loan sharking operation.
* "Casino" -- The wonderful Jack Cassidy is the mark in this episode that uses the old bait and switch in order to get a casino mob boss in trouble with his boss, leaving him no option but to turn states evidence against his former colleagues.
* "Trapped" -- Game show icon Bert Convy guest stars in this episode where Jim gets amnesia in the middle of a mission.
The DVD itself is nicely put together with great box art and clear navigation screens. There are no chapter sub-menus and on a complex show like this, that would have been nice. The video quality is very good, clear and bright with only the occasional artifact. The audio is low in spots but it does the job.
Paramount! Would it have killed you to add on a couple of special features? Seriously, what's up with that?
Mission: Impossible is one of those rare TV shows that you can jump in during any season and still enjoy the ride. This season in particular is a good choice, if you've never seen the show. The plots fit a little better into today's viewing habits, more about the mob and less about the Cold War and many of the guest faces will be familiar to the average TV viewer.
It is a true TV classic, a show that has been copied and parodied over and over again. So your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to pick up Mission: Impossible: The Sixth Season and enjoy every puzzling minute of it. Good luck.
This court finds Mission: Impossible: The Sixth Season not guilty. This verdict will self-destruct in five seconds.
Review content copyright © 2009 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
Running Time: 1119 Minutes
Release Year: 1966
MPAA Rating: Not Rated