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With the divisive vietnam war much too hot a topic to deal with in mid-'60s prime time, executive producer Bruce Geller came up with a savvy, have-it-both-ways proposition in Mission: Impossible (FX, weekdays, 8-9 a.m.): an outfit of high-level government agents (who weren't military agents) embarking weekly on life-threatening excursions (that weren't uniformed incursions). Cerebral, action-packed, and uncontroversial, the CBS series ran for seven mostly successful seasons (1966-73) with a number of cast permutations. But the classic ensemble consisted of Peter Graves as Jim Phelps, the leader of the IMF (Impossible Mission Force -- clever, huh?); Martin Landau as master of disguises Rollin Hand; Greg Morris as Barney Collier, the unit's electronics whiz; Barbara Bain as the beauteous bait used to lure their quarry; and Peter Lupus as Willy Armitage, the muscle. Essentially an espionage-driven con game, each plot would find Phelps presenting the group with dossiers on that week's baddies, at which point they'd put their heads together to concoct an invariably circuitous, high-tech plan to infiltrate the enemies' turf and put the grab on them. Just as invariably, it makes for preposterous, fast-paced fun...that is, should you decide to accept it.

Originally posted Jun 12, 1998 Published in issue #436 Jun 12, 1998 Order article reprints
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