Mission: Impossible (1988-1990) - Disc Scenes and Episode Reviews

According to Patrick J. White's 1991 book The Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier, in the years after the classic M:I show went off the airwaves in 1973 after seven seasons, Paramount wanted to bring it back either as a TV or a theatrical movie. Neither of these efforts came to fruition.

In 1988, a Writers' Guild strike paralyzed the TV industry, and ABC Entertainment signed with Paramount to remake thirteen of the best M:I scripts. This revival was to be filmed in Australia with a cast of characters which had the same names as those in the original series: Rollin Hand, Barney Collier, Willy Armitage and Cinnamon Carter.

In the end, only four scripts were chosen for the remake based on the original shows, though there were other episodes which were similar to classic episodes. The new show was retooled to be a sequel to the original, with Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) still leader of the Impossible Mission Force (IMF). The other characters were Nicholas Black (Thaao Penghlis), a drama teacher specializing in disguise, languages and acting; Casey Randall (Terry Markwell), a designer who took revenge on terrorists who murdered her husband; Max Harte (Tony Hamilton), a beefy guy who rescued his brother from a POW camp in Vietnam; and MIT-educated electronics genius Grant Collier, son of Barney from the original series (played by Phil Morris, son of Greg, the original Barney).

In this "reboot," Phelps now takes his instructions for each mission via what looks like a mini-CD player which, as in the old show, self-destructs after five seconds. It's disturbing how many of these devices are left around for someone to find, despite the destruction ... not to mention the number of people that Phelps exchanges banalities with prior to finding the players. There are a wide variety of electronic gizmos used in the new show, some of which are just plain silly, but others that predated recent "inventions" like Google glasses.

The famous theme by Lalo Schifrin reappeared in a modern, hyped-up arrangement, and Schifrin himself scored three of the early episodes. The other composers were Ron Jones (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Duck Tales and The Family Guy) and John E. Davis (T.J. Hooker, Beverly Hills 90210 and Hotel), both of whom incorporated some of Schifrin's familiar motifs into action sequences like in the original show.

While I watched some of the original M:I shows in the mid-1990s when I was creating my Hawaii Five-O Home Page, my WWW interest in the show was restricted to the locales for the tape scenes which were not covered in White's book (the dialogue from the tape scenes was). Over the years, along with the help of two other people, I was able to complete this list.

I was totally oblivious to the 1988 remake of M:I until I came across DVDs of it at the local library. Since I already have an interest in the remake of Five-O, my interest in M:I (1988) was piqued to see how good or bad this rehash of a classic show was.

For some reason, other than writing about the production history of the remake, White devotes little space to it in his book, which, aside from this omission, is one of the best books ever written about a TV series. Rather than give a single chapter to each show like he did for the classic series, aside from a page of production credits, White devotes only three pages to each of the new show's two seasons, with bare minimum details like the date first aired, writer, director, composer, guest cast and the mission summed up in one sentence. Perhaps White thought the new show (which went off the air only a year before his book was published) was not worthy of his attention, or maybe the publisher told him there were only so many pages available to him.

Considering the omissions from White's book, I knew my mission had to be at least creating pages with the location of the disc (formerly tape) scenes and the complete recorded instructions for Phelps for each episode. From there, I killed multiple birds with one stone by also writing short "turgid anal-ysis" with additional facts and trivia in the style of my Five-O site.

WARNING: In my reviews of the episodes via the links below, there are plenty of spoilers, and the plots are totally given away.

If you have any comments, please send me some e-mail by clicking on this link.

SEASON ONE (1988-1989)

SEASON TWO (1989-1990)



Mission Impossible (1988-1990) -- Main Page
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