Few things in life are as reassuring as hearing Lalo Schifrin’s iconic theme to television’s long-running “Mission: Impossible” as that wick sparks to an explosive end in the show’s opening credits. You’ll get that pleasure 23 times on “Mission: Impossible: The Fifth TV Season.”
The six-disc set may not represent the series’ best season, but there’s no denying the espionage franchise is a bundle of early-Seventies fun. It was also a season of change, being the last for Leonard Nimoy as the IMF’s resident master of disguise, and the first and only for a young and beautiful Lesley Ann Warren, assuming the female lead abandoned by Barbara Bain. Veteran actor Sam Elliott appears off and on as a doctor, as well.
But the core of “M:I” was and is its leader, Jim Phelps, as played to perfection by Peter Graves. Each episode, he receives his instructions from that self-destructing tape, and the IMF team is off on its latest spy adventure. In season five, however, most — but not all — of their globetrotting is limited to our shores, as they take on a serial killer, a drug dealer, a rogue agent, a hit man, an arms dealer and various gangland figures and corrupt politicians.
I love the more heist-oriented hours, and those with complex plots allow the supporting players to contribute each of their designated expertise. It’s kind of like a template for the “Ocean’s Eleven” capers, but played totally straight. There are no extras in the set, but this is one of those cult shows that deserves its rep. —Rod Lott