Tuesday, December 27, 2011

M:I-4


I'm a fan of Mission: Impossible, that crazy TV show from the late '60s/early '70s. Some of you may remember it.

I watched it whenever I got a chance as a kid, which wasn't nearly what I would've hoped. I don't know what the syndication situation was with it, but I only saw it rarely and without any seeming consistency. I did regularly watch The Revival Series, although not as much as I would have in years before or years afterward. My last two years of high school were simply not the best time to be keeping up with the schedule for any show that I can think of.

I started watching the DVD sets a few years ago, and loving them to death, but for some reason I ended up stopped at The Third Season, for reasons that elude my memory.

The thing that's most frustrating to me, among many, about the movie series of the same name, is that it neglects the "team of experts" quality that defines the series, and is the greatest joy of watching it.

The first movie, by Brian De Palma, stripped that away. In fairness to it, it's playing on the audiences expectation of a "team of experts" and stripping that away from us and our confidence in how this will be done as well as to its hero and what he is used to relying on. Whatever one feels about the ultimate result, that is, in itself, an interesting approach for a single movie.

But increasingly formulaic sequels seemed to simply build off that format to become nothing like what a fan of the series might hope for. I'm told that with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, director Brad Bird and co-creators return it to the proper M:I format. This means instead of seeing it never, as is the plan for Mission: Impossible III, I may see it... eventually.

For now, I'm just tipping my toe in with The Fourth Season. This is fortuitous for me, actually. While I mostly remember that when I'd run into it as a kid, it was from the seasons with Leonard Nimoy, I've seen next to none of it since. It also helps, as this show, like all spy shows - such as Burn Notice - are hard sells for Kimberly Rae, who apparently has a block there.

Luckily, Nimoy trumps the block, but only barely. I had previously tried noting that the format is derived from the heist movies and not James Bond movies or whatever other Austin Powers inspiration may be turning her away from espionage drama. But that argument doesn't really make sense until you've seen it, then it makes perfect sense.

Nimoy was the trump card. We'll see if the show itself can sell her, but this has the foot in the door and we're giving it a chance.

I was disappointed to learn from Marty McKee, who is a much more dedicated "Mission: Impossible" fan than I am, and has written a number of great "Mission: Impossible" posts, that Nimoy was dissatisfied with his tenure on the show.

Most likely that information can be found in I Am Not Spock or I Am Spock, both of which I read many a moon ago, but it managed to sneak out of my mind.

The fact is that following up as Paris, the successor to Martin Landau's "master of disguise" Rollin Hand, was a smart choice as a antidote to the stone-faced Spock character he was already stereotyped as. I'll have to watch to see if I think they failed to give him good enough material, or perhaps it was just a matter of the wrong project at the wrong time.

For now, I'm going to enjoy it for what it is, and enjoy it quite a bit, thank you.


UPDATE: Does M:I 4 make a peace offering to fans of the TV show?

This article confirms what I've heard about this movie, confirming the possibility that I'll see it... eventually. Especially considering my enormous affection for The Iron Giant.


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