The second (and final) season of the revived version of "Mission: Impossible" finally makes it way to DVD. As mentioned by a number of other reviewers, CBS/Paramount have put no effort into ensuring that the picture quality is of a good standard. The results are sadly the same as with the "88 DVD" release. The images are soft and grainy and at times out of focus. What they have included (by way of compensation) are some episode promos and a holiday greeting from the cast. It's nice to get some bonus features which are hard to come by for programs that are more than twenty years old.
Back to the show. ABC decided to renew "M:I" for a second season in 1989. Unfortunately, the network made the decision to take the show out of it's Saturday night timeslot (where it was doing OK) into the super competitive Thursday timeslot opposite NBC's juggernaut "The Cosby Show" which was the number one rated show in the country at the time. The results were nothing short of disasterous. The ratings plummented and ABC then hastily moved the show back to Saturday's but the damaged was already done. The series didn't even complete out the season (only sixteen episodes were made) and "M:I" was cancelled in early 1990.
The errors that were made by the network were sadly compounded by the creative team of "M:I" as the shortcomings in both the scripts and production values became painfully apparent in this season. Nowhere is this more evident than in the two part second season opener "The Golden Serpent". What should have been a home run is marred by some truly horrendous effects that even by the late 80's standards were subpar to say the least. A thrilling action sequence on Sydney Harbour is let down by awful post production work that is quite frankly laughable and ruins the moment it should have created (tense and dramatic) - those who have seen it know what I'm talking about.
Storywise, the scripts really began to stretch the bounds of believability even within the world of "M:I". Episodes like "Target: Earth" where Shannon Reed (Jane Badler) is required to repair a faulty piece of space equipment, is let loose in space, makes her way back to the shuttle, overcomes the bad guy and lands the space craft safely makes the plot to the James Bond film "Moonraker" look completely plausible. "The Fuehrer's Children" has us (as viewers) believe that a bunch of young children who have been systematically brainwashed into Nazi's beliefs and ideals are converted back to reason by the IMF team in the space of one afternoon. Not very likely.
Peter Graves still manages to turn in solid performances as the ever dependable head of the IMF team Jim Phelps. It's his presence that makes the series enjoyable and gives it the depth that it was lacking at times. Thaao Penghlis is entertaining as Nicholas Black (the master of disguise and voices for the group). Penghlis's approach is quite different from Martin Landau in the original series. Penghlis is more grounded in his work and the show benefits from it tremendously. Tony Hamilton is far more visible than his predecessor Peter Lupus and makes the most of his role as the muscleman of the team Max Harte. Phil Morris is excellent as the electronics expert Grant Collier and is able to turn in some emotional performances that pack a punch (especially opposite his real life father, the late Greg Morris in the season opener).
Jane Badler's work this season is more uneven than it was the previous year. While she projects a stronger onscreen presence than Terry Markwell (who she replaced midway through season one), her performances range from cool seductress to campy victim. It's not helped by the fact that writers felt that being the only female member of the IMF team meant that she was the go to character whenever someone in the group found themselves in danger. In fact Shannon hits an alltime high for the amount of times she requires rescuing by her male colleagues. From being shot, abducted, launched into space, getting amnesia and thus promptly her to fall for a bad guy Shannon quite oftens becomes the pretty girl in distress which is a shame because Badler is capable of much more but was never given the chance to really let that side of her show.
If ABC had not moved the show from where it was performing well enough and a more concerted effort was made by the show's creative team to tighten up the scripts and make them more consistent and believable, "M:I" the revived version might have enjoyed a longer life but alas it just wasnt meant to be.
Despite it's obvious flaws, the series is still an entertaining and enjoyable diversion. I still carry fond memories as the show originally aired when I was a young teenager in junior high and was my favourite program. I can't say I would recommend it to a new generation of viewers as many may find it difficult to overcome it's faults but for those who know and appreciate it (warts and all) it's worth buying - even if the picture quality leaves something to be desired.