Mission Impossible – tape 2316

To cash in on the release of Tom Cruise’s big movie reboot, Channel 4 started reshowing the original TV version of Mission Impossible.

It’s always difficult to watch old TV shows and not think how slow, or naive they are. And a show like Mission Impossible does tend to demonstrate how much these programmes depend on the current level of technology. In one of these episodes, Jim Phelps has to doctor the surveillance system of a bank, and it’s a complicated reel-to-reel recorder. Which he has to doctor with scissors.

video editing in the 1960s

There’s a few episodes of M:I here.

In The Survivors, a couple of scientists and their wives have been kidnapped by ‘enemy spies’ because they hold part of a super secret scientific formula. Phelps poses as another scientist who holds the last part of the formula, and contrives to get kidnapped so that he can rescue the other scientists. Which the team contrive to do by simulating an earthquake in the villains’ underground lair, making them think the whole city has been paralyzed by the quake, and contriving to get the baddies to crawl to ‘safety’ through a narrow shaft while Phelps leads the scientists to safety.

Before the next episode, there’s the end credits from Happy Days.

In The Bank the team infiltrate a bank in an enemy country whose manager was taking money from refugees, promising them an escape from the country, but actually leading them to fall to their death in a tunnel inside the bank’s vault. The team pose as a security team, and also a team of bank robbers, in an elaborate plot to incriminate the bank’s managers.

In The Slave part 1, the team has to put a stop to the slave trade in a near-eastern nation.

After the third episode, recording switches to BBC1. There’s a trailer for Omnibus.

Then, there’s the Queen’s live tribute to Princess Diana, broadcast on BBC1 on the 5th September 1997, followed by the 6 O’Clock News for that day, focusing entirely on the death of Princess Diana, the police investigation, and preparations for the funeral.

Towards the end of the news, recording stops, and underneath we get a bit of The Waltons. Then the tape stops.

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3 comments

  1. One of the very, very, very, VERY few areas where the ’80s “Mission: Impossible” improved over the original recipe was the way Jim Phelps received his missions – goodbye tape recorders that anyone could find and start, hello disc players that can only be opened with Jim’s thumbprint and a special three-digit code. On the other hand, the revival led to a really cringemakingly bad Granada Minus (er, Plus)* promo with Peter Graves putting up the kind of cards you see in telephone booths… you know the ones I mean (“For all the excitement you can handle!”). Bruce Geller must have been wincing in the afterlife.

    That said, I’d still rather watch the revival than the movies (the first one was rubbish, I’ve never seen all of the second, the third was better but played more like an episode of “Alias,” and the fourth wasn’t bad – but none of them match the originals).

    *They did have a tendency to show cut versions a lot, like their airings of “Cannon.”

    1. I don’t think I ever saw the revival – which wouldn’t surprise me if it was only ever shown on Granada Plus, not a channel I looked at much. I like the movies myself, although number 2 is truly awful, and number 1 commits the unforgivable sin of making Phelps the bad guy. 3 and 4 are a lot of fun, though.

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