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HTF DVD REVIEW: Mission Impossible: The Fifth TV Season

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#1 of 17 Matt Hough

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Posted October 07 2008 - 03:04 PM


Mission Impossible: The Fifth TV Season
Directed by Barry Crane et al

Studio: Paramount
Year: 1970-1971
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 1155 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English ; 2.0 mono English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese
MSRP: $ 54.99

Release Date: October 7, 2008
Review Date: October 7, 2008


The Series

3.5/5

By the 1970-1971 season, Mission Impossible had begun to lose its luster. Once the most innovative and exciting of series, by season five, the plots had begun to lose their spark, the cast seemed more robotic, and in an effort to juice up the proceedings and get the ratings back into the Nielsen top ten, stories were varied a bit, some to the point of not even being about impossible missions at all. It did no good. Though the show was ultimately to last two more seasons, it never regained its Nielsen dominance from earlier in its run.

Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) is still the leader of the IM force, and electronics expert Barney Collier (Greg Morris) and team muscle Willy Armitage (Peter Lupus) are also still performing their duties with their customary expertise. (When a person with medical expertise is needed for the team, Sam Elliott’s Doug Robert is drafted for service often in place of Willy.) Leonard Nimoy was in the second year of his two season run on the show as master of disguise Paris. Joining the show this year as resident woman-of-many-faces is Lesley Warren (having dropped her middle name “Ann” in an effort to break away from her Disneyfied ingénue roles) as Dana Lambert. Warren is a game actress and tries everything the writers throw at her, but at this stage of her career, she didn’t possess the innate sophistication or suavity to pass muster as a Jill-of-all-trades. (She always seems like a young girl playing dress up.) Though the network went all out giving her a massive publicity buildup prior to the season premiere, her work was not applauded, and she left at the end of the season.

While most of the episodes still revolved around Phelps receiving a tape recorded message in an isolated location describing his potentially hazardous mission, there were some one-shots that didn’t involve instructions from a recorded voice. One involved a murder mystery in Jim’s hometown. Another involved Paris’ abduction with a device implanted in his skull that turned him into a killing machine. Sometimes, the stories begin in the middle of a mission we know nothing about, but due to a foul-up, one of the team is captured or injured requiring a change in plan to rescue that individual. Though these unique episodes did vary the scenarios, it was the premise’s formula that always generated the best episodes of the season. And the show’s reputation still guaranteed it a stellar list of guest stars. Among the great ones who made appearances this season were Robert Conrad, Sal Mineo, Robert Alda, Larry Linville, Chris Connelly, Loretta Swit, Sharon Acker, Mark Rickman, Jill Haworth, James Shigeta, Benson Fong, Anthony Zerbe, Mark Lenard, Albert Paulsen, Lou Antonio, Ken Swofford, Lloyd Bochner, Abbey Lincoln, John Beck, Denny Miller, Henry Darrow, John Vernon, Andrew Duggan, Marion Ross, William Smith, Antoinette Bower, and George Sanders.

Here is the list of the season’s 23 episodes contained on six discs in the set:

1 - The Killer
2 - Flip Side
3 - The Innocent
4 - Homecoming
5 - Flight
6 - My Friend, My Enemy
7 - Butterfly
8 - Decoy
9 - The Amateur
10 - Hunted
11 - The Rebel
12 - Squeeze Play
13 - The Hostage (my favorite episode of the season)
14 - Takeover
15 - Cat’s Paw
16 - The Missile
17 - The Field
18 - Blast
19 - The Catafalque
20 - Kitara
21 - A Ghost Story
22 - The Party
23 - The Merchant (a very Casino Royale-like episode)


Video Quality

4/5

The series’ original 1.33:1 aspect ratio is delivered faithfully in these DVD transfers. Most of the episodes are surprisingly sharp and feature wonderfully saturated color. Yes, there are the occasional dust specks, but the encoding is very solid otherwise featuring none of the usual shimmer or aliasing that usually afflicts nonanamorphic transfers. All of the studio photography is so vivid that freckles are easily glimpsed, and the makeup on the actors’ faces is often garishly obvious. Some location work sometimes is softer than studio-shot scenes, and occasionally soft focus photography is used on certain actors, but only infrequently is the contrast between sharpness and soft focus a problem. The episodes have been divided into 6 chapters.

Audio Quality

3.5/5

The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono tracks are solid audio mixes of the period. I listened to most of the episodes using the repurposed Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Naturally, the sound is very front centric with only the occasional ambient sound effects channeled to the rears. Still, it’s nice to have the soundfield opened up a bit and thoughtful to be given the option of two English language tracks.


Special Features

0/5

Apart from previews of other Paramount classic titles like Perry Mason, Mannix, and I Love Lucy, there are no bonus features in the set.


In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)

Mission Impossible chugged along fairly predictably during its fifth year despite some additions to the cast, but the writing was on the wall; the series was running out of steam. Still, this box set features many beautiful transfers of vintage material and an audio track that’s a nice upgrade to the standard mono of the time which is also included for purists.



Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 17 Bill Thomann

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Posted October 09 2008 - 08:01 AM

Great review. Can't wait to get mine from Amazon. It left Jacksonville Monday morning at 1am (according to tracking info) & I expected it Wednesday (nope), okay Thursday (nope again). It better get here on Friday. 4 days to make a 5 hour drive. I think Amazon must've strapped it to the back of a donkey & pointed it south.

#3 of 17 Harry-N

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Posted October 09 2008 - 08:09 AM

I grabbed one the other day and had a chance to watch an episode or so at this point.

So far, it looks great, and I've detected no substitutions on the soundtrack.

After THE FUGITIVE debacle, I wasn't so sure I'd buy this, but with four clean seasons so far, and a flawless MANNIX release, I decided I'd pull the trigger on this one. I'm favorably impressed.

THE KILLER is truly one of the great episodes of this series.

Harry
My DVD Collection

A fugitive moves on, through anguished tunnels of time, down dim streets, into dark corners. And each new day offers fear and frustration, tastes of honey and hemlock. But if there is a hazard, there is also hope. - Closing narration to THE FUGITIVE, "Death Is The Door Prize".

#4 of 17 Carabimero

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Posted October 09 2008 - 08:20 PM

Harry, I'm glad to hear it. I want this but am gun shy after M3S.

#5 of 17 Harry-N

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Posted October 09 2008 - 11:14 PM

Me too, but the price was right, the history of MI so far has been unblemished, so I took the chance.

I enjoyed the use of Shifrin's other themes in "The Killer" that had first appeared on the record album of the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE soundtrack.

During this fifth season, the actual theme music was changed to what I supposed they thought was a more modern-sounding version of it. Several episodes were done with the old theme and then the switch was made. I suppose running order was changed by the network, so it bounces around a bit from one episode to the next early on in Season 5.

The fifth season also saw the change in the show's formatics, with a situational teaser opening each episode, followed by a later scene of Phelps getting his instructions for the mission, and then it cuts to the opening credits sequence. The dossier scene is gone altogether, going right to the apartment scene following the credits.

While I understand the resistance some have for Leonard Nimoy, I remember finding his presence in the series somehow comforting. STAR TREK had been canceled, yet I still got to watch Mr. Nimoy display his talents in another of my favorite series.

I wasn't crazy about the Lesley Ann Warren choice, but went with the flow, and ultimately found her acceptable at least.

Love the ever-shaggier hair styles!

Harry
My DVD Collection

A fugitive moves on, through anguished tunnels of time, down dim streets, into dark corners. And each new day offers fear and frustration, tastes of honey and hemlock. But if there is a hazard, there is also hope. - Closing narration to THE FUGITIVE, "Death Is The Door Prize".

#6 of 17 Bill Thomann

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Posted October 10 2008 - 11:25 AM

The burro carrying my MIS5 set finally arrived after 4 days (& a 300 mile trip). Looks great to me again. I always really liked Lesley Ann Warren & enjoyed her in the show. I can't wait now for Seasons 6, 7 & the ABC years.

#7 of 17 WaveCrest

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Posted October 11 2008 - 04:44 AM

My copy should be coming from Deep Discount DVD probably the week after next (depending on customs delays). I have a couple of questions about the set:

1.) Does the packaging consist of a cardboard outer case and slipcases inside, or have CBS/Paramount done what they have done with the following boxsets...

The Invaders: Season 1
Hawaii Five-O: Season 4
Friday the 13th: Season 1
Mannix: Season 1
Dynasty: Seasons 2 & 3

..with the packaging being a slimmer case with all the discs inside? If so it seems to be a trend both in the US and UK where DVD distributors/manufacturers are saving money by releasing TV shows in slimmer cases. I liked the design of the first four seasons of Mission: Impossible. One thing I liked were the couple of pictures from one or two episodes on the back of each of the slipcases.

2.) About the change in M:I's theme tune in Season 5. I've still yet to hear it. "The Killer" must have had the old version. I've also heard one Season 5 episode's end credits music. That was the old version.

3.) Was there more on location shooting in Season 5? In the Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier book it said there were more episodes shot on the studio sets/indoors and lots than on location.

4.) Do they still have the general pictures used during the end credits?

5.) Do the end credits end with the CBS/Paramount logo shown in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen (this started during the last few episodes of the Season 2 DVD boxset or at the start of the Season 3 DVD boxset), or do they end with the Paramount logo? I was hoping they might go back to using the old Paramount logo.

#8 of 17 Harry-N

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Posted October 11 2008 - 05:34 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by WaveCrest
My copy should be coming from Deep Discount DVD probably the week after next (depending on customs delays). I have a couple of questions about the set:

1.) Does the packaging consist of a cardboard outer case and slipcases inside, or have CBS/Paramount done what they have done with the following boxsets...

The Invaders: Season 1
Hawaii Five-O: Season 4
Friday the 13th: Season 1
Mannix: Season 1
Dynasty: Seasons 2 & 3

..with the packaging being a slimmer case with all the discs inside? If so it seems to be a trend both in the US and UK where DVD distributors/manufacturers are saving money by releasing TV shows in slimmer cases. I liked the design of the first four seasons of Mission: Impossible. One thing I liked were the couple of pictures from one or two episodes on the back of each of the slipcases.

2.) About the change in M:I's theme tune in Season 5. I've still yet to hear it. "The Killer" must have had the old version. I've also heard one Season 5 episode's end credits music. That was the old version.

3.) Was there more on location shooting in Season 5? In the Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier book it said there were more episodes shot on the studio sets/indoors and lots than on location.

4.) Do they still have the general pictures used during the end credits?

5.) Do the end credits end with the CBS/Paramount logo shown in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen (this started during the last few episodes of the Season 2 DVD boxset or at the start of the Season 3 DVD boxset), or do they end with the Paramount logo? I was hoping they might go back to using the old Paramount logo.

1.) The set has the standard foil-textured outer cardboard case (purplish in color) with three slimline cases inside housing the six discs. It matches the other sets issued thus far, except that with only six discs, it's a little slimmer.

2.) "The Killer" still used the old theme, as did episode 2 "Flip Side" and episode 4, "Homecoming". The new version of the theme appears for the first time on episode 3, "The Innocent."

3.) I'm only a few eps in, so I couldn't say.

4.) All of the end credits I've seen (Disc One) use just the standard hand with match lighting the fuse as the background picture.

5.) The episodes end with the new CBS/Paramount logo and music, not with the old Paramount logo.

I might further add that this set is not exactly in line with the older sets in that they've gone to the standard CBS grey/silver discs rather than the picture discs issued previously.

Harry
My DVD Collection

A fugitive moves on, through anguished tunnels of time, down dim streets, into dark corners. And each new day offers fear and frustration, tastes of honey and hemlock. But if there is a hazard, there is also hope. - Closing narration to THE FUGITIVE, "Death Is The Door Prize".

#9 of 17 Carabimero

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Posted October 11 2008 - 10:20 AM

Realy disappointed to hear the color discs are gone. Are the episode titles listed on the discs? Please say yes, as I trash all boxes now and use DVD wallets (boxes for 4000+) DVDs were taking over my house!)

#10 of 17 Harry-N

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Posted October 11 2008 - 01:12 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carabimero
Realy disappointed to hear the color discs are gone. Are the episode titles listed on the discs? Please say yes, as I trash all boxes now and use DVD wallets (boxes for 4000+) DVDs were taking over my house!)

There are no episode titles on the discs. Just the plain gray/silver discs like on the recent sets from THE INVADERS, THE FUGITIVE, and MANNIX. I presume that others in the CBS/Paramount family have switched to these too.

Harry
My DVD Collection

A fugitive moves on, through anguished tunnels of time, down dim streets, into dark corners. And each new day offers fear and frustration, tastes of honey and hemlock. But if there is a hazard, there is also hope. - Closing narration to THE FUGITIVE, "Death Is The Door Prize".

#11 of 17 Kenneth V

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Posted October 11 2008 - 02:39 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry-N
There are no episode titles on the discs. Just the plain gray/silver discs like on the recent sets from THE INVADERS, THE FUGITIVE, and MANNIX. I presume that others in the CBS/Paramount family have switched to these too.

Harry


Hawaii Five-0 and Gunsmoke both have the silver discs too. Posted Image

#12 of 17 Carabimero

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Posted October 11 2008 - 07:11 PM

Funny how a little thing like changing the disc art can irk me....I've always felt that if you start a series with a certain template, you should be consistent and finish it that way. Kinda put me off getting it, actually. But I'm a strange bird. And it doesn't take much for CBS/Par to send my blood pressure over the top these days. Cheapening the MI sets was all it took.

#13 of 17 Anthony D

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Posted October 13 2008 - 11:55 AM

Yes - it irks me too that companies (or is it only CBS?) are moving away from disc cover art and/or using flippers! YIKES! Those two things are irksome to say the least!

#14 of 17 Steve...O

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Posted October 13 2008 - 02:00 PM

CBS has not used any flippers that I am aware of.

I am ok with losing the disc art if it helps keep costs down which in turns keeps releases coming. As has been said on this forum, sales of subsequent seasons drop off by half from the previous seasons so the margins that the studios have to work with are fairly small.
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#15 of 17 Charles Ellis

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Posted October 14 2008 - 02:23 AM

Okay, let's bring on Lynda Day George as 'Casey!' I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt that Ms. Warren seemed a bit too young for the show (though her acting over the years has improved tremendously!). It's a shame that the producers and/or CBS chose her over Lee Merriwether's 'Tracey' as the Season Five female regular.
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#16 of 17 Corey3rd

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Posted October 14 2008 - 02:59 AM

it'll be nice if they can wrap up the final two seasons before Summer '09.
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#17 of 17 cajunhillbilly

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Posted January 11 2009 - 04:03 AM

any news for the next season?





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