Returning for 16 episodes (down from 19 the previous year) the second and final season of the revamped Mission:Impossible marks the show's last appearance before the 1996 Tom Cruise film. It's really for the completists, not the casual viewer, and fans of the 1966-73 show should take a look at Mission Impossible 88 [DVD
] before deciding if it's for them.
Focusing on the positive first, it kicks off with The Golden Serpent. A strong two parter that sees a second return for Greg Morris as Barney Collier, it demonstrates how well the show could work with more complex plotting and some genuine surprises. It's not The Falcon, but it's obvious why the story was picked to represent the 1988-89 series as a bonus feature on Mission: Impossible - Complete TV Series [DVD] [1966
After writing two of the better stories the previous year (and co-writing stories of the classic series), Walter Brough contributes the pleasingly tense War Games. Another coup was to get Stephen Kandel, story editor and writer on original season 7: his episode (Target Earth), featuring the hijacking of a space flight, has just the right degree of the outrageous to remain plausible and compelling throughout. Countdown lives up to its name in terms of pace and Cargo Cult gives the whole team something to get their teeth into. However, these are the exceptions.
The Fuehrer's Children and Banshee would be laughable if their subject matter (neo Nazis and Irish sectarianism) weren't so serious, whereas The Gunslinger and The Sands of Seth are pure panto. Why each episode persisted with the corny pre-message conversations with Mr Phelps I'll never know.
Graves looks a lot less frail thanks to improved make up and Jane Badler, who'd joined midway through the previous year, is a welcome addition. Sadly Thaao Penghlis, who'd proved himself a capable character actor across the run, ironically gets less and less to do. Not a glorious finale for the TV Series, it's nevertheless to the credit of the regulars that they never sent it up.