Season two of Mission: Impossible found a new man at the helm of the top-secret Impossible Missions Force: Peter Graves as Jim Phelps, replacing the first season's Steven Hill, who played Dan Briggs. At the time, there was much speculation in the industry over the reason for Hill's departure, with some sources citing creative differences between ...
Season two of Mission: Impossible found a new man at the helm of the top-secret Impossible Missions Force: Peter Graves as Jim Phelps, replacing the first season's Steven Hill, who played Dan Briggs. At the time, there was much speculation in the industry over the reason for Hill's departure, with some sources citing creative differences between the actor and the production staff. The most widely accepted theory was that Hill, an Orthodox Jew, refused to work on the set between sundown on Friday and sundown on Saturday. (Over two decades later, Steven Hill became an audience favorite all over again in a role that never required him to work on weekends: District Attorney Adam Schiff on the long-running Law & Order. Otherwise, the rest of the familiar IMF crew remains the same as in season one: sultry Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain), master of disguise Rollin Hand (Martin Landau), electronics whiz Barney Collier (Greg Morris), and all-around athlete and muscleman Willie Armitage (Peter Lupus). Beginning with the season opener, "The Widow," wherein the IMF team pools its talents to force the customers of a vicious heroin dealer to do away with the man, this year's "impossible missions," like the previous year's quota, rely heavily upon labyrinthine schemes, elaborate facial makeup, state-of-the-art gadgetry, and an acute understanding of human nature ("bad" human nature, that is) to mete out just desserts to a dizzying array of international villains. Among the season's best episodes are the two-part "The Slave," in which the team utilizes kidnapping and subterfuge to destroy a vast Middle Eastern slavery ring; another two-parter, "The Council," wherein Rollin poses as a Mafia don to prevent the collapse of the American banking system; "The Photographer," featuring Anthony Zerbe as a madman bent on spreading bubonic plague throughout the world, who is thwarted when the IMFers convince him that a nuclear war has begun; "The Killing," in which Cinnamon tricks a band of assassins into "killing" Phelps as part of a scheme to get them to confess all their past misdeeds; "The Money Machine," comprised of a "sting" operation to hoist an African counterfeiter on his own petard; and "The Town," in which a vacationing Phelps must prevent a political assassination all by himself. Mission: Impossible's move from Saturday to Sunday evenings for its second season proved to be extremely beneficial to the series' ratings, though it would not be until season three that the show would finally crack the Top 10. In other developments, series regular Barbara Bain won her second Emmy award in a role for her ongoing portrayal of Cinnamon Carter, and the show once again won the award for Outstanding Dramatic Series. Additionally, the series' legendary theme song, written by Lalo Schifrin, enjoyed 14 weeks on Billboard magazine's Top 100 charts when it was released as a single. Hal Erickson, Rovi