Judge David Johnson's impossible mission: rubbing his stomach counterclockwise and tapping his head.
Our reviews of Mission: Impossible: The First TV Season (published December 13th, 2006), Mission: Impossible '89 Season (published February 28th, 2012), Mission: Impossible: The Second TV Season (published July 18th, 2007), Mission: Impossible: The Sixth TV Season (published May 6th, 2009), and Mission: Impossible: The Third TV Season (published December 5th, 2007) are also available.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it…
My crack Internet research skills tell me that the 1988 Fall TV season was besieged by a writer's strike, forcing the highers-up to seek their small-screen entertainment from the most economical sources possible.
Enter this brainstorm: Recycle established scripts from the old Mission: Impossible series, update them to fit into the new decade, recast with several attractive actors, bring back Peter Graves, and call it a day.
The end result is a transparently low-cost set of episodes that is rich with '80s atmosphere (and visual effects) that somehow managed to make a huge impact on a small group of teenager girls from Plymouth, NH.
See, my wife loved this show. And she had friends who loved it as well. When the DVD set appeared on the assignment list, she nearly keeled over with delight; it was the 1988 version of Mission: Impossible!!!!!!
I wish I could share her enthusiasm. The show eluded me when it was first aired, so this is my first time getting a taste of the worldwide sensations (literally worldwide, as the series was the one of the first to be filmed in Australia to save money). The short of it? Mission: Impossible '88 is very much like most every overdone action show from the era, heavy on shoulder pads and Aquanet, and light on storytelling and compelling action.
My favorite element of this optical time capsule is the Impossible Mission Force technology. The writers opted to go bananas with the gadgets, allowing the IMF and tech wizard Grant Collier (Phil Morris, Smallville) to produce scientific advancements not even seen today. You get the trusty standby, the perfect human mask, as well as some sweet proto-laptop usage. But as the booze and caffeine pills no doubt flowed freely in the writers room, holograms and lasers made appearances. In fact, that was the IMF's primary weapon of defeating the bad guys: screwing with their heads using special effects. Hey, if it works, it works.
Mission: Impossible '88 gives us 19 episodes on five discs, transferred with very little fanfare in their original full frame aspect ratio, supplemented by a 2.0 stereo mix. No extras.
While I'd just as soon use these discs as coasters for my flagons of Sierra Mist, what kind of husband would I be to not to let my wife, who cherishes this show, get in the last word…
Mission Impossible: The Forgotten Years. How could one of the best shows of my childhood be unknown to the entire population, excluding me and my neighborhood friends? We loved the show!
Who doesn't love a spy show starring attractive people set in exotic locales, taking down bad guys on the sly? There were five of us neighborhood kids of junior high age who loved it, probably because it went hand in hand with "Top Secret," a role playing game similar to Mission: Impossible that we played for hours on end. (Hey—we lived in a tiny town without cable—we had to actually use our imaginations for our entertainment!)
This show was on for two seasons, so I'm not sure why no one I mention it to knows what I'm talking about; maybe everyone else lived somewhere that ABC wasn't the only TV station that came in well and there was something better on another channel? I still say they missed out. Upon re-watching, I will admit that it's a tad on the slow side, and of course some episodes are better than others…but I will never renounce the show—I loved it then, and it still has a very special place in my heart.
Carey Johnson, 2011
Your mission, should you decide to except it, is find something else to do
with your time.
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