Dec 6, 2011

Upcoming Spy DVDs: Mission Impossible: The '89 TV Season

More good news for Mission: Impossible fans! Presumably timed to coincide with the DVD release of the latest Tom Cruise theatrical film (although that does seem awfully fast, even in this age of ever-decreasing theatrical windows), the second season of the 1988-90 revival series of Mission: Impossible will hit DVD in Februrary! TV Shows On DVD reports that the final season of Mission: Impossible TV episodes containing the final appearances of Peter Graves as the real Jim Phelps will be available on DVD on February 28, 2012. It's hard to believe that the first theatrical Mission (in which Jon Voight played a very different character named Phelps) came just five years after this DVD set leaves off. The two incarnations of the brand seem worlds apart. This 4-disc set (containing all 16 episodes of the revival's final season) represents my own preference. These episodes aren't as good as the Sixties and Seventies ones, but they're still highly enjoyable and, for me, more fun than the movies. I just hope that CBS/Paramount puts a little more effort into remastering this batch of episodes than they did into The '88 TV Season. Some of the episodes in that set look little better than off-air recordings, which is a surprising come-down from the top-notch quality of the original series DVDs. Speaking of that original series, one of its stars, Greg Morris, returns to the revival once more reprising his role as Barney Collier in the two-part season premiere, "The Golden Serpent." (Those episodes, incidentally, are directed by old ITC hand Don Chaffey, who helmed his share of spy fare like The Prisoner, The Avengers, The Baron and more back in the Sixties.) Morris' son, Phil, is a regular on the revival, playing Barney's son Grant. The other regulars this season are Tony Hamilton, Jane Badler and Thaao Penghlis.

Retail on Mission: Impossible: The '89 TV Season is $39.98, but Amazon's already got it available for pre-order at just $27.99. That same day will see the release of a 2-pack, Mission: Impossible: The '88 and '89 TV Seasons, which bundles the entire revival series together for just $69.98 (or $48.99 on Amazon). No extras have been announced, and since none of the Mission: Impossible seasons to date have ever boasted extras, it seems unlikely that any will be, but I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for that 1997 Diagnosis Murder episode "Discards" to truly complete fans' Mission: Impossible TV libraries. Barbara Bain reprised her Cinammon Carter role from Mission's earliest seasons on that, and Phil Morris (confusingly) appeared in a role other than Grant Collier. Ex-spies Robert Culp, Patrick Macnee and Robert Vaughn rounded out the guest cast, making the episode a bit of a Holy Grail for Sixties spy fans. The Diagnosis Murder DVD releases petered out after just a few seasons, so "Discards" remains elusive. Since the episode in which Mike Connors reprised his Mannix role was included (at least in excerpts) as an extra on the first season of that CBS/Paramount series, I was hoping that this one would turn up on a Mission: Impossible release at some point... and this one marks the last chance for that to happen.

Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Seventh TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Sixth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Fifth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Fourth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Third TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Second TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The First TV Season here.


Delmo said...

CBS/Paramount used to add cool extras like that Diagnosis:Murder excerpt in the Mannix S1 set and the "Lucy The Gun Moll" episode of one of Lucille Ball's later sitcoms guest starring Robert Stack and Bruce Gordon on an Untouchables release. Now they no longer make the effort. The "lost" Hawaii 5-O episode "Bored, She Hung Herself" from the second season will remain lost. I was hoping they would include the '96 pilot w/Gary Busey on the 12th/final season release of 5-O but no such luck.

Christopher said...

In the 60's, "Mission Impossible" (along with "Gunsmoke" and "The FBI") was one of my Dad's shows- one of those Prime Time favorites that somehow flew over my 10 year old head.

James Bond and his Astin Martin I could get into, but this show? Despite the coolest opening in TV history, the "good guys" always seemed as stoic as the "bad guys" they were trying to railroad. I tried getting into MI when the show became a rerun stable on Channel 5 in New York but my 14 year old brain would still prefer a gin-soaked Matt Helm over square Jim Phelps.

Your reviews, however have convinced me to see anew. "Mission Impossible" as a intelligent espionage drama? Who know?

Tanner said...

I'm glad I've convinced you, Christopher! I hope you give the show another try now on DVD or Netflix streaming, and that my reviews might be helpful in guiding you to some of the best episodes to start with.

I was hoping for that Busey pilot on the final season of Five-O, too, Delmo. Its absence is a shame. I'm not sure why Mannix and The Untouchables got those extras and other stuff didn't. I don't think it's that CBS/Parmount USED to do good extras, becasue M:I and 5-O both started before Mannix with no frills. For some reason Mannix got singled out for special treatment - but only in that first season set. I contacted Gord Lacy of TV Shows On DVD, and he was good enough to get in touch with Paramount and suggest including the Diagnosis Murder episode on the '89 season of M:I. Unfortunately, the DVDs had already gone to press, so it couldn't be added. Perhaps it really is just a matter of nobody at Paramount realizing that they've got this stuff in their vaults unless fans contact them to say so.

The other possibliity, of course, is that they're saving this stuff for a bonus disc in a Complete Series set to force fans to buy everything all over again, like they did with the Wild Wild West reunion movies... I could definitely see Bored, She Hung Herself turning up as a nice/annoying enticement to shell out all over again...

[On a totally unrelated note, I'm amused that the word verification word I have to type to post this is "bastedo." Thanks to The Champions' Alexandra Bastedo, that seems appropriate for a spy blog!]

Lee Goldberg said...

I'm glad to see the "Discard" episode (which I produced and cast) and the "Mannix" episode (which I co-wrote) held in such high regard. We had so much fun stunt casting those shows. Other favorites of mine was "Murder Blues" (TV Cops), "Malibu Fire" ("Emergency" stars) "Alienation" (TV sf), "Physician Murder Thyself" (TV doctors) and an episode, the title of which escapes me, in which we used stars from all the versions of M*A*S*H.

El Barto said...

These 2 sets of DVD have portuguese subtitles?

Tanner said...

Not on the '88 Season I'm afraid... and I doubt the '89 Season will be much different. Sorry.