Mission Impossible: The ’88 TV Season 1 (DVD review).

Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, an old saying derived from British maritime history, is an appropriate expression to use when describing the ‘Mission: Impossible’ TV series remake which was set in Australia and dates from 1988. The original American version ran for seven seasons, yes, a massive seven seasons, but by the time it was coming to an end, the show had run out of steam. Later, we were exposed to the movies with Tom Cruise in the leading role but, sandwiched between, we have this oddity which has now been released in the UK market by Revelation. This is the first season, comprising 19 episodes with a total viewing time of about 900 min, enough to keep you occupied through the winter snow.

I actually do not recall watching this on British TV but it likely has appeared at some time or another on one of the obscure channels, probably on satellite TV. It’s rather puzzling why it was ever made in the first place because some of the episodes are remakes from the original series and though updated with new scenes, they don’t really add much that we haven’t seen before. It would be like someone making a remake of the original ‘Star Trek’, perhaps with some of the actors but with less of the atmosphere and charisma that once existed. It just isn’t the same as you will obviously see but when you get over this fact and take it for a show in its own right, it gains its own identity. Had this been made without the original having ever existed, it would undoubtedly have been much more successful.

We still have Peter Graves, the silver grey-haired Jim Phelps who is the leader of the Mission Impossible gang and also some of the other original cast members from time to time. Additionally, we’ve got more advanced technology. Gone are the 60s devices to be replaced by late 20th century technology which, of course, still appears rather dated to what we have today. That’s one of the problems with movies and TV series of all kinds in that technology becomes outdated very quickly (unless you’ve watched ‘2001’ which seems to be far in advance of its time). I mean, think of how quickly your own PC becomes redundant? Put that into movies and in a period of 10 years you’ll be saying, ho-hum, that’s a bit out-of-date, isn’t it? The same applies to ‘Mission: Impossible’, even this later remake.

However, it isn’t all that bad. In fact, many of the location shots are done outside and not in a studio. Despite the fact it was shot in Australia and not all the locations around the world where the scenes were purported to originate from, everything looks surprisingly life-like. This was an improvement from the original series which really never went beyond the American studio set. You always get good performances from Peter Graves. This was his show and it always will be, despite the imposters that appeared in the movies.

Some of the action isn’t that bad neither. In many respects, it’s better than the original series but it still remains trapped somewhere in the middle, somewhere that time forgot. You will be able to pick up this package for under £20 which represents about one pound per episode, which isn’t too expensive. There’s lots more up-to-date stuff on TV today but you won’t find ‘Mission: Impossible’ as presented here. If you like Jim Phelps and the clever tricks he conjures up, this could be a good purchase.

Rod MacDonald

(region 2 DVD: pub: Revelation Films REV037. 4 DVDs 772 minutes 19 * 48 minute episodes and extras. Price: £15.00 (UK))
cast: Peter Graves, Phil Morris, Thaao Penghlis and Jane Badler
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