Classic TV shows just donít get any better than MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. Certainly nothing else in the spy/espionage/thriller genre will ever take its place, or achieve its classic stature in television history. Perhaps I am prejudiced because I grew up watching MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE in syndication. The show was always on; it was dependable entertainment that could keep me riveted to my television set for an hour at a time- quite an accomplishment cause I was a fidgety kid.
In its initial 1960s/1970s incarnation, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ran a total of seven seasons on CBS (and briefly revived for two season on ABC during the late 1980s) and remains the high water mark by which spy series will always be judged. The basic premise of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE followed a shadowy U.S. government agency known as the Impossible Mission Force. The I.M. Force would gather intelligence, either by deception and coercion, assist in defections or the escape of political prisoners, help to topple corrupt regimes, take on mobsters that regular law enforcement agencies cannot touch, or even set in motion events that lead to the assassination of a dictator or warmonger.
The season three cast of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE features Peter Graves as team leader Jim Phelps, Martin Landau as master of disguise Rollin Hand, Barbara Bain (in her three time Emmy Award winning role) as fashion model cum seductress Cinnamon Carter, Greg Morris as electronics expert Barney Collier and Peter Lupus as the team's muscle and all around utility guy Willy Armitage. Note: season three mark the final year that Martin Landau and Barbara Bain appeared on the series.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE- THE THIRD TV SEASON ($50) comes to DVD in a seven-disc set that features the twenty-five episodes that were aired during year three. The twenty-five featured episodes are as follows: The Heir Apparent, The Contenders Part 1, The Contenders Part 2, The Mercenaries, The Execution, The Cardinal, The Elixir, The Diplomat, The Play, The Bargain, The Freeze, The Exchange, The Mind Of Stefan Miklos, The Test Case, The System, The Glass Cage, Doomsday, Live Bait, The Bunker Part 1, The Bunker Part 2, Nitro, Nicole, The Vault, Illusion and The Interrogator.
CBS/Paramount Home Entertainment has made all twenty-five episodes that comprise MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE- THE THIRD TV SEASON available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE is another 1960s era television series that is really well served by its re-mastering for DVD. Like the preceding sets, the season three episodes of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE look better here than they have ever looked in the broadcast medium. Again, the disguise makeup tends to stand out more thanks to the higher resolution of DVD and modern displays. Image sharpness and detail are pretty terrific for a four-decade-old television production. Colors prove to be nicely saturated, and the flesh tones have the healthy pallor of the makeup manís kit. Blacks appear pretty accurate, while the whites are crisp. Contrast is just fine for this type of television production. Grain is noticeable, but is not bothersome. Digital compression artifacts remain under the radar.
In keeping with the previous releases, all the episodes contained in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE- THE THIRD TV SEASON come with upgraded Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. Channel separations are pretty decent for what was originally monaural material. The outlying channels see their fair share of activity, but the tracks are not pushed to ridiculous extremes. Not surprisingly, the forward soundstage remains dominant. The surround channels are not aggressively implemented, adding only modest reinforcement. Most signs of age and background hiss have been cleaned up in the mastering process. Fidelity has the expected limitations, but Lalo Schifrinís legendary theme music holds its own. Dialogue is well reproduced and maintains complete intelligibility. No other language tracks or subtitle options have been included on the DVD. No other language tracks or subtitles are present. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features. No supplemental content has been provided.
As I stated above, classic TV shows just donít get any better than MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. CBS/Paramount has done a fine job with the presentations, making the episodes sparkle more than they have in the past. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE- THE THIRD TV SEASON is another must have for the classic TV show collector. Highly recommended.
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