Mission: Impossible Franchise Retrospective

Introduced to audiences in September of, 1966, this entertaining espionage franchise was launched as a TV series and aired for seven seasons. It was centered on the missions of a team of secret American agents called the Impossible Mission Force. Led by IMF director Jim Phelps from the second season onward, the show had him and several others tackle countless evil organizations and dictators. Rebooted in the 80s, the series would only return to prominence in the late 90s with a long-running film series starring Tom Cruise in the role of Ethan Hunt. Join WatchMojo.com as we take a look at back at the Mission: Impossible franchise.
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Mission Impossible Franchise Retrospective

This retrospective, should you choose to accept it, will self-destruct in five seconds. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be taking a look at back at the Mission Impossible series.

Introduced to audiences in September of, 1966, this entertaining espionage series was created by Bruce Geller, and originally aired for seven seasons until 1973.

The program was centered on the missions of a team of secret American agents called the Impossible Mission Force. Led by IMF director Jim Phelps from the second season onward, the show had him and several others tackle countless evil organizations and dictators.

While actor Peter Graves appeared from the second season onward in the role of Phelps, his co-stars were usually fresh faces. However, though there were several regulars, including Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy. This was due to specialists being chosen from a dossier before each assignment, due to the requirement of particular experts.

Aside from its iconic musical theme, the most memorable element of the series was its use of a hidden tape recorder to deliver the mission briefs. Always starting with a pleasant personal greeting, the tape not only explained the objective and reminded Phelps that agents would be disavowed of if caught or killed, but it would always self-destruct upon completion.

Due to being one of the most successful and longest running English-language espionage program ever made, its cast returned for an unsuccessful revival attempt in 1983.

Despite this failure, the series was once rebooted in 1988. Interestingly, the show used several scripts from the original series in its early days, due to an ongoing writers strike. In spite of changing the characters and their backgrounds, the producers soon abandoned its reboot premise, retooling the new series as a continuation. It even had the original actor reprise his role of Phelps, along with several of his old colleagues.

Spicing up the dated formula, the new Mission Impossible showcased a much larger agency, complete with other teams and laughably outrageous futuristic technology and was filmed oversees in Australia. Though, that last decision was a financial one due to ballooning shooting costs back in LA.

Due to bland ratings, the series only lasted two years, and there would not be another story in the series until 1996. At that time, director Brian De Palma brought it to the big screen with a blockbuster project starring an entirely new cast and protagonist. This time, the story focused on agent Ethan Hunt, played by then-top Hollywood A-lister Tom Cruise.

The plot was centered on a botch Op, and its mission leader being mistaken for a traitor. An instant classic, the film garnered its place in history for not only rejigging the original theme tune, but its heart-stopping scene involving Cruise hacking a computer while hanging from a cord in a pressure sensitive room.

Despite its success, the franchise’s appeal soon evaporated with the release of its sequel in 2000. Helmed by John Woo, “MI-2” turned off viewers with its focus on style over substance, as well as one too many masked identity swaps. Plot-wise, “MI-2” had Cruise venture to Sydney to destroy a genetically modified disease. While the film did manage to make 400 million worldwide, it would have been a much larger success had Cruise not lost it on Oprah’s couch while out on the campaign trail.

With the actor and the films having lost most of their credibility, J.J Abrams took up the impossible task of rekindling interest in the comatose franchise in 2006.

Successfully delivering a high quality and suspenseful installment, with all the right queues and performances, another sequel arrived in 2011, this time called “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.” In tthis film, the entire IMF agency becomes disavowed by the United States following an attack on the Kremlin. As a result, Ethan Hunt leads an unsanctioned team in a quest to clear its name and save the world from a sinister plot.

Having been both an iconic espionage television series and long-running film series, Mission Impossible remains one of the most iconic and action-packed franchises in the genre. As such, it will undoubtedly continue to excite audiences long after Tom Cruise stops hanging around.
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