Mission: Impossible

Season 1 Episode 1

Pilot

2
Aired Saturday 9:00 PM Sep 17, 1966 on CBS
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

8.5
out of 10
Average
68 votes
  • The ground-breaking pilot for Mission: Impossible stands as one of the series' best and after 7 seasons is the episode against which all others should be compared to.

    10
    Mission: Impossible really hit the ground running with this pilot, which is probably my favourite episode of the entire series. Yeah, it's that good. It doesn't mean everything after the pilot is sub-par, but rather few of them manage to pack the mixture of story and raw intensity on display here.

    From the get-go this episode is packed with little details, a must given that again, this is the pilot from which all the series conventions will be established. The dossier selection scene shows how team leader Dan Briggs picks his agents from all walks of life, featuring magazine covers, newspaper clippings, and in the case of guest star Wally Cox, a police record. The latter especially implies so much about a character that will never again appear on the series, and makes you wonder what he did to end up on the IMF roster. We also see the first of Rollin's many disguise jobs throughout the series, and in a scene we'll never see again, he brings along a film reel of the target so he can practice his mannerisms while the others are setting things in motion. Yeah it would get seriously redundant to see this every episode, but for the pilot it does wonders to establish his skills and credibility.

    And why does the impersonation work so well? Because Martin Landau also plays the target. Yeah, call me dense but I seriously did not catch this the first time around, because I wasn't looking for it. Having watched other M:I episodes first where they usually get the guest actor to play Rollin impersonating the guest, I was caught off guard by the fact it was actually Landau in a dual role. And again it's so necessary for the pilot, because to see Rollin actually tear off the latex onscreen sells the concept to us for future moments when the series will have to depend on camera tricks and suspension of disbelief (like the end, when Rollin impersonates Dan Briggs to get into the vault). Something else the pilot does well? The plot actually twists and turns. You may laugh, but by the middle of seasons 3 and 4, the series had fallen into a rut where the IMF were duping the bad guys left and right, and any cliffhangers were momentary annoyances that seldom put any real disruption in the plan. Season 5 shook things up again, but here the pilot show the team making decisions on the fly, as Terry's hands are broken and Dan must go into the vault himself. Which provides an absolutely tension-filled scene in which he must crack the code on the case holding the nuclear warheads.

    And really, that cinematic sense and grittiness is what puts the final polish on the pilot episode. You just won't ever see the series play out like this again, from Barbara Bain's femme fatale attitude and slinking around in a towel to the team blasting their way through a blockade and escaping via plane under a hail of gunfire. This is a spy story straight off the big screen adapted for 1960's television with little lost in translation. It's quite a feat.

    If you can convince someone to watch only one Mission: Impossible episode, make it this one.
  • A great way to start the series

    10
    I cannot say enough good things about the premiere episode of Mission: Impossible. It set the stage for all the great elements of the series.

    In particular, it really set the stage for the first season episodes that had a lot more raw violence and a lot more serious threats, e.g. WMD attacks on American soil.

    You can find the opening montage for this episode on YouTube. There's so many very good episodes that it's hard to say if this one is the best. However, I do believe that this first episode had the best opening montage of all of the episodes. In particular, watch the last two clips in the montage, and how they are perfectly timed with the music. OUTSTANDING editing work.

    Wally Cox was great even though he was cast against type. Fun fact...watch the episode frame-by-frame, and when Wally Cox's character gets his fingers crushed in the door, you can see Wally Cox holding a fake set of hands in the doorway.
  • And now it begins....

    10
    A wonderful trip down memory lane. Just LOOK at the sets, the clothing, the hair styles! I gave this show a "10" for the nostalgia factor and the fact that, for the time, it was very imaginative and - well, AHEAD of its time, actually. I find the music SO uplifting that I can easily overlook some of the awkwardness of the old fashioned sets then as compared to the modern sets of today.

    This show sets the scene for the adventures that are to follow. And young Steven Hill! His character, Dan Briggs, speaks in a monotone that makes one giggle. But who cares! It's MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, after all. Not for the new viewer, perhaps, but a wonderful reminisce for forever fans of the show.
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