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Mission: Impossible (1966 - 1973)
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Pow
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2021 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the Patrick J. White Mission: Impossible book.

By the time Mission began filming, a personality conflict had already developed between William Read Woodfield & Mission creator Bruce Geller.

Woodfield was surprised by Geller's aloofness & began to suspect that Bruce had no idea where the show was going.

There was always an antipathy between Bruce & Bill. You hear the word genius bantered about, some felt that both Bruce & Bill were geniuses. What's gonna happen when you have two geniuses with tremendous egos? Some also felt that Bruce didn't have an appreciation for Balter & Woodfield.

Geller would acknowledge the pair in press interviews but face-to-face, he remained curiously silent. This conflict would come to a boil two seasons later, with near-disastrous results.

Note from me from here on: What a shame that Geller would not recognize Balter & Woodfield's invaluable contributions to his creation. Personality clash? Jealousy? Who knows exactly?

I've read that Gene Roddenberry had a different problem with writers regarding Star Trek. He would take ALL the credit for anything on his series. Writer/Story Editor Gene Coon significantly contributed concepts to the show that are now iconic. He was as important as Roddenberry to the show's development.

Writer Dorthy Fontana greatly expanded the Mr. Spock character and the Vulcan race. At one point in the first season of Trek, Leonard Nimoy approached Roddenberry due to the Spock character not really being fleshed out to the fullest.

People that knew the situation would observe that Roddenberry would have fans praise him for aspects for the series that others had created. Gene would smile and thank them, never giving credit where it was due.

I guess it is ego with some of these creators. They've managed to conceive some fantastic idea for a series. But then others come in after the fact and also add marvelous ideas to the show that the creator didn't think of at the time.

I think that they feel that since they created a show that anyone who helps it along came late to the party. The creator did the hard work of coming up with the premise in the first place. Now others arrive to "improve" upon the creator's original concepts.

Perhaps they fear that others will steal undeserved credit, perhaps they are envious that they, the creator, did not come up with the wonderful ideas that others did?

Maybe it's a case of insecurity, as though they were not clever enough to create facets of their show that become popular? Kinda like the series is their child and now some folks have come along to tell me how to raise my kid?

A shame they cannot all play nice in the sandbox, eh?
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rodenberry was the "face and cheerleader" of Trek much the same way Stan Lee was for Marvel Comics. Lots of good reasons why at the time (for both men) . . . it "uncomplicated" the story expressed for public distribution and consumption .

The last thing in both men's minds at the time was an accurate reporting of "facts".

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Pow
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2021 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Patrick j. White's Mission: Impossible Book.

Mission caught on in a big way during its third season (1968~1969). Creator Bruce Geller was amused by the sudden popularity. He found that the things people used to damn the show for, they now praised it.

Douglas S. Cramer was hired by Paramount Television and his job was to control costs on the three shows then on the air.

Cramer found the people doing Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry and his people, were open to conversations about budgets and weren't impractical. Mannix was not as complicated a series, and the producers on it knew how to do the show. Bruce Geller paid no attention to Mission's budget at all.

Bruce Geller's initial reaction to Cramer was to ignore him. Eventually, confrontations arose. Studio pressure made Geller angrier and more intractable.

Script Consultants William Read Woodfield & Alan Balter were appointed as producers for season three of Mission.It was met with mixed results.

They were two of the best writers that the show would ever have, but they were considered terrible producers.

The Mission staff could talk to them as writers, but as producers they became too dictatorial and it became a clash of temperaments down the line. Thepair had little trouble with the writers and the cast, who loved them. They did have trouble with the crew, and were far less amiable with Bruce Geller.
Woodfield's resentment of Geller, which stemmed from year one, had intensified, and apparently Alan Balter agreed with his partner that Geller should retire from the series and leave Mission to them.

How many TV shows that I blissfully watched and enjoyed greatly, like Mission, never knowing any details---or anything at all---regarding feuds & fights involving creators, the studio, the network, the producers, script writers directors, casts, and crews. It is amazing how these shows did not often reflect any of the background battles going on with their weekly episodes that were so great.

As fascinating as these kind of books are about a TV series production like Patrick J. White's can be; it also makes me wonder about any TV series that I am currently enjoying and how are things really going behind the scenes? Could they contribute to the lowering of quality of a show (Sliders), or even the demise of it?



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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2022 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pow wrote:
M:I co~star Martin Landau said that "there were two young actors dominating the scene when I first started acting and they were Marlon Brando & Steven Hill."

According to Landau, Hill's work was nuts, volatile, mad and exciting.

Hill's fiery reputation concerned CBS when it came to casting Steven.

This surprised me, because Hill's acting on Mission: Impossible always seemed very quiet and unemotional. Confused

But I haven't seen those episodes in a long time, so I might be remember it wrong.

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Pow
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2022 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're not wrong in your assessment of Steven Hill's acting on M:I, Bud.

His Dan Briggs was a very calm, cool, almost aloof character. That may have been M:I creator Bruce Geller's intention. An emotional & larger-than-life persona would have been totally at odds with a secret agent who heads a team of professional operatives embarking on highly dangerous assignments.

Both the audience and the team aren't going to have confidence in someone like that, let alone the team leader, who is volatile and over-the-top mentally and emotionally.

Given Mr. Hill's intense theater background and training perhaps the role was a difficult one for him to inhabit. Briggs is almost a stoic character into which we get very little insight to. He has to perform as a leader and the brains of the operation, so he has to play a very remote, calm, cool and collected individual much of the time.

Maybe that kind of part is a death sentence to a colorful and intense actor such as Hill?

Martin Landau, as you may well know, was offered the role of Mr. Spock on Star Trek by creator Gene Roddenberry before Leonard Nimoy was.

Landau, like Hill, was a graduate of NYC's prestigious Actor's Studio School lead by famed instructor Lee Strasberg.
And Martin had done many, many stage roles just as Hill had done.

Landau turned down the role of the Vulcan science officer on board the star ship Enterprise. He said that he recoiled at the role when he read the character profile for Spock.

To repress all emotion and not show it was the total opposite of why Landau became any actor he said. To do this part would have been torture to him. He got into acting to express all types of emotion, not suppress it. He felt "Lennie," who was a buddy, was one of the few actors who could have ever successfully pulled off the role of Mr. Spock.

So maybe Hill's role as Briggs was too cold blooded for him and that's why he gave the producers a difficult time during the first season, and why he was ultimately fired.

Now I've never read that anywhere, it's just me hanging out my Sydney Freeman (psychiatrist on M*A*S*H TV series) shingle and taking a stab at it.
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Pow
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2022 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thought it might be fun to read TV Guide critic Cleveland Armory's November 12, 1966 TVG Review for Mission: Impossible.

Quite a team it is in Mission: Impossible. First of all, there's the boss, Agent Briggs (Steven Hill). He's very businesslike, but his business, remember, is to make each Impossible: Mission not only possible, but also probable.

Second, there is Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain), the kind of girl who, when asked by the man she is with if she can attract the attention of the guards away from him says quietly, "If they look at you, I'll resign from the sisterhood of women."

Third, there is Barney Collier (Greg Morris), the wizard of odds and ends. He can sabotage the TV system of an entire Latin American country without anybody thinking he is anything except an exterminator.

Fourth, there is Willy Armitage (Peter Lupus). He never says anything, but you can just know if he did, he'd mean every word of it. Once, when he was asked if he could carry 400 pounds, he let loose a torrent "Sure," he said.
Besides all these, there are excellently cast guest stars. As you've probably gathered, the missions are very big stuff, there's very little time for small talk. What there is is left pretty much to Cinnamon —who's also responsible for pretty much all the humor. It's quite a burden, but she shoulders it womanfully. And the fact is the very quiet of Mission: Impossible adds greatly to its suspense.

One week the team has to oust a Balkan dictator. "As usual," Briggs tells them, "Assassination is out as a matter of policy."

Another week, masquerading as a carnival group, they have to smuggle a cardinal (Cyril Delavanti) out of prison. Here the carnival music in the background was alone worth the price of admission. On top of it all, the show was a two-parter. And, we promise you, it was so exciting that all week long, between those two parts, we could still hear that faint carnival music.

And we never thought of Secret Agent.
Sidebar: I should explain that last sentence by Amory. In the beginning of his review, which I edited out of my post, he goes on ranting and raving at CBS for canceling the British import espionage TV show Secret Agent starring Patrick McGoohan.

So, his praise for Mission: Impossible is flattering to the series.
Amory could be a cranky fellow about TV shows. He didn't hand compliments out easily or often. But I loved reading his reviews, even if they were negative about a TV series I was a fan of. His wit & snark are hilarious to read. Something of a lost art regarding TV reviewers today.

The one's we have now pretty much describe the show that they're writing about, then they give a yah or nay to it. They rarely go for the funny bone, wit, or even snark. So, they're not as much of a hoot to read.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2022 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

__________________________________________________

Mike, that's an excellent contribution to All Sci-Fi — and God knows we need it! Rolling Eyes

I enjoyed being reminded of the by-gone days of TV Guide and the great reviews like the one in you posted. I used to love checking our TV Guide's list of movies to see what was coming on the late. shows.

Hell, some of the cover art, like the ones by Amsel, were worth the price of the issue!



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2022 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Always loved Amsel's artwork, thanks for the great photos of it, Bruce.

Interesting that Cleveland Amory did not mention in his review at all, Martin Landau's role as Rollin Hand as part of the IMF. Of course, Marty was listed as "Special Appearances by" in the credits. So Amory may not have known just how many times Marty was going to pop on Mission episodes throughout the season?

Still, Rollin does play a crucial role in the episodes that Amory was able to review, you'd think Landau deserved a sentence in the review. The carny music did.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2022 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pow wrote:
Marty was listed as "Special Appearances by" in the credits. So Amory may not have known just how many times Marty was going to pop on Mission episodes throughout the season?

I thought Landau was a regular cast member. Did he ever graduate to that status?
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2022 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin Landau did sign onto M:I as a regular cast member, Bruce, for its second season (1967~1968) but only for one year.

Mission: Impossible creator Bruce Geller never had any doubts as to who he would have play agent Rollin Hand on the show.

Geller had known Landau for years. They first met when Bruce was a young writer who wanted to learn about actors. Marty had been accepted into N.Y.C.'s prestigious Actors Studio where he not only was a student but became a teacher.

Geller took a classes from Marty in order to find out about actors skills and mindset. Geller was fascinated by Landau's dexterity with accents and characters, and wrote the Rollin Hand role specifically for him.

Landau signed on to appear in the pilot for the show, but turned down a series option deal to be regular cast member. Martin didn't want to be tied down because he felt it would hurt his motion picture career. Determined to have him in the pilot, Geller hired Landau as a recurring role without signing him for the series, Landau would be listed as "Special Appearances by" during the first season.

Martin Landau was so satisfied with year one that he signed on as an official series regular for its second year — but only for one season.

Marty signed on for the third season of Mission, but a clash with the studio and network over salary would end in Landau — and his wife Barbara Bain — exiting the series after its third season ended (1968~1969).

Mission would manage to run four more seasons (1969~1973) without the Landaus. There were those that felt that without Marty & Barbara on the show anymore that it was doomed. They turned out to be wrong.

The Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier.
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