Mission Impossible: The Complete First TV Season (Paramount)

Video and DVD

Mission Impossible: The Complete First TV Season

1966, Not Rate By Steve Rosen

Now here's something worth getting excited about — a Mission: Impossible DVD that's not one of the soulless Tom Cruise movies but rather the entire 28-episode first season of the classy, stylish and enormously appealing TV series on which those movies are nominally based. Watching these 1966 episodes in order from the pilot (with Wally Cox as one of the government "impossible missions force" undercover-spy team, which gets its instructions via a self-destructing phonograph record rather than a tape), one can see television responding to the pop-cultural sensation of the James Bond movies. (Just as The Monkees also responded to The Beatles at the same time.) This is escapist entertainment, but it's got an adult edge — especially Barbara Bain's sexy femme fatale, Cinnamon Carter. There are also fascinating disguises worn by Martin Landau as Rollin Hand, which were highly advanced for their time. The crew's straightforward leader Daniel Briggs (Steven Hill, with a touch of Jack Webb persona in his manner) was later replaced by Peter Graves. Other cast members include Greg Morris and Peter Lupus. (Steve Rosen) Grade: A