Mission: Impossible The Complete First Season

Featuring the gadgetry of James Bond, the "band of renegades” theme popularised by The A-Team and the wily cunning of, say, MacGyver, Mission: Impossible set the precedent for any hour-long action/adventure television program way back in 1966, becoming yet another TV milestone. Hell, even Inspector Gadget’s "this message will self-destruct” is an outright homage. Featuring an elite group of specialists (the strong man, the electronics know-it-all, the master of disguise, the crafty beauty, etc.) known as the Impossible Missions Force, this tricky troupe traipses around the globe freeing the wrongly imprisoned, capturing baddies and just generally saving the world from underground terror, all in their own inconspicuous manner. As each "impossible mission” is assigned, the team leader handpicks the specialists he will need to complete the assignment, steps into the lion’s den, faces the inevitable setback and gets them out by the skin of his teeth. It’s the original cloak-and-dagger, pseudo-military operations program. A packed offering at seven discs featuring the chronological progression of Mission: Impossible from pilot episode to season’s end, this set boasts hours of amusing, white-knuckled spy versus spy fun. So what if most of the stunts, gimmicks and technological wizardry are hokey by today’s standards? There’s no denying that this was a sincere effort that resulted in a strong name brand. Even watching the series go through some minor growing pains in this inaugural season, it’s still no wonder that the show lasted so long, thanks to solid scripts, witty twists and superb acting from the likes of Marin Landau, Dan Briggs and Barney Collier. In fact, the only shame regarding Mission: Impossible is that such timeless genius has been marred by Tom Cruise’s silver screen "adaptations.” (Paramount)