Mission Impossible - Season 7
Halfway through its seventh and final season on CBS, Mission: Impossible moved from its 10:00 p.m. Saturday-night slot to an earlier berth on Friday evening. Nor was this the only change implemented during the series' terminal year on the air. Having sent the Impossible Missions Force all over the world to thwart a variety of evil dictators, international drug lords, and other such exotic vermin, the series' producers spent most of season seven in the United States, where the IMF team focused on the minions of organized crime -- a reflection, perhaps, of the popularity of the theatrical feature The Godfather. Also, the series' familiar, ritualistic opening sequence, in which IMF leader Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) would receive his instructions via a self-destructing tape recorder, then methodically thumb through a stack of photos to pick the team members best suited for the job at hand, was by now a relic of the past. Most of the seventh-season episodes begin with a "teaser," usually violent in nature, which sets up the premise before the IMF team has even entered the scene. Of the cast members, only Greg Morris as electronics whiz Barney Collier and Peter Lupus as all-purpose muscleman Willie Armitage have been with the series from its very first season in 1966. Peter Graves is now in his sixth season as Jim Phelps, while Lynda Day George is only two years into her portrayal of the IMF's female member, Lisa Casey. As it turned out, George would be unavailable for a number of episodes this seasons, obliging the producers to bring in Barbara Anderson, late of Ironside, as Lisa's off-and-on replacement Mimi Davis. Although the series' final episodes are not quite of the same caliber as its earlier installments, a handful of seventh-season episodes are still well worth having. Highlights include "Break!, in which Phelps relies upon Barney's electronic knowhow to pose as a pool hustler and infiltrate a vicious gambling ring headed by guest star Robert Conrad; "Leona, with singer Robert Goulet cast against type as a cuckolded mob boss; "Encore, offering the equally unorthodox casting of William Shatner as a cocaine dealer; and the series finale, "Imitation, with Barbara McNair as a sleek jewel thief who falls in love with Barney.