We're moving Forums to the Community pages. Click here for more information and updates.

Mission: Impossible

Season 1 Episode 4

Old Man Out (1)

Aired Saturday 9:00 PM Oct 08, 1966 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
44 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


The IMF team goes in as a circus team to rescue Anton Cardinal Vossek, who is being held in the impregnable Seravno Prison. Vossek is the leader of the country's freedom movement, in rebellion against Colonel Scutari, and is awaiting a fake trial before execution. With the aid of circus acrobat Crystal Walker, the team must get Vossek out. To do so, Rollin fakes being a pickpocket so as to be arrested. Once inside Servano, he has to sneak through the prison and get Vossek out of his cell as a test run for the next day...only for the guards to interrupt at an inopportune moment.


Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • Mary Ann Mobley on the trapeze

    Was she a beautiful woman. Her presence in this episode helps keep this viewer watching. The plot is good but as other reviewers have mentioned, scenes are both drawn out and repetitive. The old cardinal moves slowly but what do you expect from a 80-year-old man, Ben Johnson?
  • I have to give it a 9 if for no other reason, the original calliope music, written specifically for this episode. I was 13 when I heard it on the air, and the tunes have remained burned into my memory since 1966!moreless

    Although the pace is slow by today's programming standards, the audience of the day preferred to have their plots unfold clearly. Remember, the vast majority of TVs back then were fuzzy black & white sets with snowy, 17-inch pictures from rooftop antennas, and sometimes the signal would fade away for a dozen or so seconds, so the major plot points were routinely repeated, lest the viewers get confused.

    This was a defining episode that showed the strengths of the MI team members, and how they combined forces to shape the mission in their favor. More than any early episode, the writers showcased how a group of actors and entertainers couldmake the impossible mission become possible. Storylines such as this one gave the American viewing public a ray of hope during the hottest part of the Cold War, leading them to believe that the fearsome Iron Curtain Communists were after all, people, and could be dealt with successfully.

    I have to give it a 9 if for no other reason, the original calliope music, written specifically for this episode. I was 13 when I heard it on the air, and the tunes have remained burned into my memory since 1966!

    The acting was on par for the era, but the story treatment was much better than most of what FCC Chairman Newton Minnow had called "The Vast Wasteland," when asked what he thought of television. Outside of a steady stream of Westerns and a couple emerging sitcoms, there was little else of lasting value on the air. The "spy shows" of the day were insipid parodies of the James Bond movies, or World War II spy stories rewritten to the '50s and '60s Cold War meme.

    The writing of the series took a turn for the better in this episode, and set the pace for the rest of the series. Viewing it through the lens of the era, it goes down as a great story, well told (by 1966 TV standards, anyway!)

  • The pacing is slow and the circus scenes get really repetitive, but Mission: Impossible's first 2-part story really puts into perspective the clockwork precision used by the IMF to complete their objectives.moreless

    So we've come to the series' first 2-parter, and in a title that's very ironically on the nose, a Cardinal is in trouble and the IMF have to get the 'Old Man Out' from an unbreakable prison. Piece of cake, right?

    By the time you finish watching part 1, you'll be sick of the organ music that Rollin uses to keep time while in prison, you'll be sick of watching him run and skulk along endless prison corridors, and you'll be sick of watching the (admittedly hot) guest agent Crystal perform her trapeze set. Repetition is a huge part of this episode, as most of it is Rollin familiarizing himself with his surroundings and timing his actions while the rest of the team acts as a diversion. To this you may think "Is it really necessary to go through the motions again and again? Did the writers not have any better ideas for their first multi-part story? Can that old man move any slower?"

    Suck it up, because this episode presents an important building block to the Mission: Impossible story structure, and that is to prove nothing happens by chance. All those later seasons where the team inexplicably know where to be at the right time, or trigger a reaction from a guard at just the right moment? There were hours upon hours of painstaking setup that happened offscreen, much like it happens here. Crystal and Cinnamon's staged bickering is a great example of slowly drawing a target to an expected and controlled reaction. This episode hammers out the details so that others down the line have more leeway in glossing over them.

    There is also some great interaction between Dan and Crystal in the beginning, with not-so-subtle hints that the two have a shared history. All due respect to Gellar for wanting to minimize character development, but I could use more bits like these. They're fun and give the team members depth without turning their life into soap operas. Not the most gripping M:I episode ever, but a crucial one. And we haven't even gotten into part 2 yet..moreless
Barbara Bain

Barbara Bain

Cinnamon Carter

Greg Morris

Greg Morris

Barney Collier

Peter Lupus

Peter Lupus

Willy Armitage

Martin Landau

Martin Landau

Rollin Hand

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson

IMF Voice on Tape (uncredited)

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

Daniel Briggs

Cyril Delevanti

Cyril Delevanti

Anton Cardinal Vossek

Guest Star

Joseph Ruskin

Joseph Ruskin

Colonel Jovann Scutari

Guest Star

Oscar Beregi

Oscar Beregi


Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Trivia: This is the first time the reel-to-reel tape was used in the opening segment. Dan disposes of it in a nearby ash tray, where it combusts on contact.

    • When the team is going through their performance the second time around, you can hear a distinct wolf whistle. Not for Crystal on her trapeze, and not for Cinnamon in her elegant red outfit. For Willy.

  • QUOTES (10)

    • (Willie is practicing weight-lifting)
      Crystal: That's not theatrical enough, Willy. Give it more strain; it doesn't look heavy. You, you want more weight?
      Willy: No, I don't.
      Crystal: You've got to make it look difficult.
      Willy: Well, I'm in the habit of making things look easier.
      Crystal: Look, Willie, bare your teeth, breathe harder. Try to make it look like you can't make it.
      Willy: Would you, uh, like to show me how?
      Crystal: Go on.

    • Dan: Better spend more time rehearsing your trapeze act.
      Crystal: Why? I've done it eight a week for two years.
      Dan: Not without a net.

    • Barney: What is that thing?
      Cinnamon: Eyelash curler.
      Barney: That's the most diabolical looking piece of equipment I've ever seen.
      Cinnamon: You speaking professionally, as an engineer?
      Barney: No, I'm just a big eyelash man.

    • Cinnamon: (to Barney) I think I know why Dan cast you as a clown. It's the real you.

    • Tosk: What do you do?
      Cinnamon: I read minds.
      Tosk: Oh, come on, I don't believe in that. It's some kind of a trick. Nobody can read minds.
      Cinnamon: No? Want me to tell you what you're thinking right now?
      Tosk: That doesn't take a mind reader.
      Cinnamon: No, it doesn't. But don't you wish you could read my mind?
      Tosk: Who knows? Maybe I can.

    • Rollin: Are you good, Your Eminence?
      Vossek: Thank you. But while I'm in my underwear, I think I would prefer Anton.

    • Rollin: Come with me, and I'll prove to you I can get you out of this place.
      Vossek: Why should I believe you?
      Rollin: Faith, sir.
      Vossek: How can a prince of the church argue with that?

    • Vossek: (as the guards check on him) Cardinal Vossek, he is not at home. However, he is expected shortly.

    • Scutari: Where do you come from?
      Dan: Where does any circus troupe come from? Wherever it was yesterday.

    • (after Cinnamon and Crystal stage an argument about a guard)
      Dan: I make that a very good round.
      Crystal: Umm. If I have to fight, I'd rather it was over you.

  • NOTES (1)