20 January 2007 | Thomas_Veil
A few flaws, but still an exciting update of the classic series
Apparently not all Mission Impossible fans are happy with the 1988 remake. As someone who IS old enough to remember the original, I can tell you that it's actually a pretty good show, and a damn sight better than the movies! The new and old casts are comparable. Let's face it, you don't get to flex a lot of acting muscles on a show like this, so in terms of thespic efforts, I'd say the '88 cast matches the classic cast (Landau/Bain/et.al.) pretty well, and had its own charisma.
Yes, some of the plots are recycled -- a necessity because of a writers' strike at the time. That's the only reason this show got remade in the first place. We're lucky it didn't get yanked after only ONE season when the writers went back to work. But ABC had some modest success with this, and we got an extra year out of it.
Critics have correctly pointed out that one difference between the Missions is that the original was more cagey regarding the information it gave to the audience. For instance, you might see Barney with an electronic device, and Cinnamon and Rollin discussing some bit of trickery, without them explaining what the purpose behind them was. You just had to wait to see the show play out to find out where these things fit into the plot. The newer show, however, had a tendency to want to explain more: "Okay, now we're gonna use these projectors and mirrors to make Mr. Badguy think someone's trying to assassinate him." Another flaw was that some episodes got a little outlandish. Jane Badler in space comes to mind. And the writers had this unnatural love for overlaying supernatural themes on their espionage missions. More than a few plots revolved around spooking some international thug by means of "ghosts" and other hauntings. It was a bit much to believe that so many dictators and terrorists were superstitious enough to fall for this stuff. And one last carp: sometimes the IMF's technology was a bit TOO sci-fi. In one episode, for example, they "un-erased" a videotape while double-talking about some "infrared" layer underneath that could be recovered. That's scientifically illiterate. You'd have as much luck trying to unscramble an egg.
Yet despite these flaws, the show was a delight. The tape recorder sequences were wonderfully updated with a miniature DVD device. The "cons" were still exciting. And the music was just as good as you remembered it...maybe even better. Just the opening title sequence alone was worth tuning in. While it didn't change from week to week as the old show's did, it was very high-tech and very well-cut, like a good music video, and gave the show a welcome face-lift.
And of course it was nice to see Jim Phelps again every week. Even if he had a different supporting cast. Tom Cruise can screw up the franchise all he wants. Mr. Phelps will always be our hero.