Monday, 19 August 2013

Mission: Impossible S4E09 - Robot

Another Mission: Impossible screencapping? This time it's Robot. What can I say? It takes about an evening to do one of these. To do Route 66 takes about four days. Anyway, it's my birthday, so I can do what I like :-)

This is one of those episodes where after a while I lose track of the plot and just watch and marvel at the genius. It has Paris pretending to be a robot, and a man pretending to be another man, and it might actually have a robot in it, but I'm never sure. I just sit back and murmur, 'Fuck me, I have no idea what's going on,' and enjoy it. Actually, having dedicated time to screencapping I'm starting to understand the plot a bit better, so some good has come out of this obsession. Also, this episode has Lee Meriwether in it, who almost everyone wanted to be a regular but didn't end up being one, much to her disappointment. She is wonderful and beautiful, and it's a crime that she didn't end up in every episode.

Before I get to anything else, I have to say what an awesome slide that is in the background! You straddle it, and it's a curve, and the boy on it almost barrels into Jim's feet as he walks past it and he gives him one of those, 'aw, kids,' smiles. I want one of those slides! (Especially if it had Peter Graves at the bottom!)

Jim is looking pleasing in a houndstooth jacket and an open-necked shirt. He must be feeling carefree.

He must really like that jacket, because he's still wearing it as he picks his team, although this time with a white shirt. Wouldn't you like to be with Jim and his oversized bonsai tree on his balcony in the evening? I wonder if he has someone come in and look after his plants for him?

Jacket. Open-necked shirt. Yes.

I am so confused, because they need a robot hand, but they don't need a robot, but they do need a robot. I don't know. Apparently they just need the hand to trick the bad guy. Anyway, there must be some guy underneath the table here pretending to be an exquisitely made robot hand. Gives me flashbacks to The Addams Family (please, the series, not the film.)

(In retrospect, I realise it's because they need to convince the bad guy it's a robot they have and not a real person by showing how the hand works and then removing it. So all they need is a workable arm, and because Barney is effing amazing, that's just what they have.)

Let's have a quick shout out to how damn good everyone looks in this briefing. First, Barney.

Jim, with his, 'What is this voodoo I'm looking at?' expression.

Paris, in his 'do me now in my school jumper, open-necked shirt, and cravat,' look. I bet he never catches a cold with his neck all covered up like that. I suppose the school jumper thing doesn't have the same resonance in places without school uniform.

Tracey, with her 'I'm so gorgeous and suave why on earth didn't they hire me for every episode?' look.

And Willy, with his, 'Damn, I sure can fill a suit,' look.

Oh good lord, when the two of them stand together and simultaneously look so hot!

Barney, who can do absolutely anything, is a 'Stat Telefön' worker. I love the ubiquitous Mission: Impossible Eastern European language. All hail the umlaut!

And look, it's Frank! aka Alexi Silensky, aka Larry Linville. I wonder, did he ever play a character that wasn't weasley? The other guy is Deputy Premier Kamirov, played by Malachi Throne, who deserves a mention just for having such an awesome name. He was also Commodore Mendez in Star Trek's The Menagerie, also Pardek in Star Trek TNG's Unification, and also Korogh in Star Trek: New Voyages. Good Star Trek pedigree!

Here Leonard Nimoy (not Paris) poses as Gemini who is posing as the ailing leader Pavel Zagov, who is actually dead. Not one of his best looks, but it always makes it easier for Paris to imitate someone who is played by Leonard Nimoy. For some reason Zagov/Gemini seems to favour dressing in outdated caravan furniture fabrics.

And here's Vic Perrin, who was Tharn in Star Trek's Mirror, Mirror, and also a voice in a couple of other episodes (not least, the voice of Nomad! Awesome!) It's like a Star Trek reunion today!

Tracey is modelling hot Gestapo chic in her leather coat. Oh my. Do I need to mention that she too was in Star Trek, as Losira in That Which Survives?

This is the trouble when everyone's looking too pretty. Even the damn aeroplane looks pretty as it touches down.

Meanwhile, Jim is doing his cute-geek look, complete with lovely 60s plastic luggage.

Cute, angry geek, with his brawny henchman behind him.

When Tracey turns up in her leather coat and knee high boots it's hard to know where to look.

If this woman came into your place claiming to be working for the Ministry of Information, you'd just let her do whatever she liked, wouldn't you?

Especially since Barney, capable as always, has hacked into the communications system and can send confirmation of her identity at the drop of a hat. If Barney had been around in the internet era nothing would have been safe.

Tracey, because she is marvellous, has planted a video tape of Jim's Mr Mechanico act in the bad guys' files. Jim does a bang-up job as a comical and not-great-actor straight man to his mechanical creation, Mr Mechanico.

This time Tracey is looking rather marvellous in pink, with a tucked in scarf to emulate Paris and his cravats. And those very long cuffs. I love them.

Meanwhile, Paris is in the middle of getting ready... He's looking strangely like Michael Tolan (Terror, The Play, Trial By Fury) here.

Oh my god, Jim. He does suit a uniform.

Paris is about to start gluing rubber to his face so he looks like Frank – or Silensky, as I should call him.

Meanwhile, Leonard-Nimoy-playing-Gemini-playing-Zagov, and modelling another example of caravan fabric chic, is off on his daily drive through the park. There's a trick afoot that I don't entirely understand, but I think it involves Paris pretending to be Silensky while sitting next to an inanimate dummy of Zagov and making Malachi Throne (Kamirov) think Silensky is betraying him. But I don't understand exactly how this works, because we should end up with two cars with two Zagovs driving through the park, and I don't know why we need the visual charade for something that's being picked up through a bug in the car...

I'm not sure it matters exactly what the hell's happening if Jim's going to look like this during it.

I really have no idea what's going on. There's Silensky and fake-Silensky and cars and Nazi-style-man trailing him. But I'm sure Jim is on top of it all, and he's looking pretty amazing.

Actually, I think I'm starting to understand. They need the visual charade so the Nazi-style-guy (Captain Danko, I think) in his hot car has visual confirmation of the supposed Silensky's betrayal.

Could this dummy look any more like a dummy?

Jim momentarily looks straight into the camera, but he's wearing dark glasses so you don't really see it.

After the charade is over, Paris is happy to rip the mask off. He never seems very happy about these masks.

This is a very happy Communist country that makes full use of VW camper vans and ping pong balls. You'd be oppressed, but in a perky way.

Paris has the fun job of being packed in a suitcase. It's a good thing he's not claustrophobic like Barbara Bain.

Squeeze on down, Paris.

Here's our nasty Nazi guy, and Tracey in apparently nothing but a raincoat, and Jim looking befuddled. I love his slightly-befuddled style.

Here, Jim, let me take your glasses off and un-befuddle you.

This is where Willy comes into his own. I'm not sure why they're going in through the jail block, but luckily they are, and Willy is having to bring in not one, but two huge cases with a man in each one. Willy is awesome.

Look! It's Barney-in-a-box! I love how Barney can hide in virtually anything, and Willy can carry him in it too. Barney is about to break Gemini out of his jail cell, because Barney can break anyone out of anywhere.

Jim is playing befuddled to a tee.

I have to have a little more befuddled-Jim in here.

'Well, Mr Lambert. I can't force you – but I can kill you,' Kamirov warns him.

So now Paris is acting as a robot acting as Zagov, and he does a very good job of it. Meanwhile, Barney is cracking Gemini out of his jail cell.

When Jim isn't pretending to be befuddled but is just listening to Kamirov and the nasty Nazi guy as they talk about what to do with Tracey, he looks sharp as a knife (and cute, too).

This is why Tracey was wearing that raincoat. So she can seduce the guards to make sure they don't catch Barney trying to crack Gemini out of his cell.

'I am for you, Captain Danko...'

No, sorry. That was Star Trek, wasn't it? But she promises to be 'more than grateful,' to Danko if he helps her. There's so much implied sex in 60s television.

Wouldn't you just love to prostitute yourself to this man? *shudder* What is amazing about the women in Mission: Impossible is they go through just as much danger as the men, but they also risk and actually court sexual exploitation to do their jobs. Kudos.

Meanwhile, Barney is being incredible. I mean, he's been carried into this place in a box, cut through the cell bars, got into the cell, put the bars back, managed to keep Gemini quiet, and now he's rigging up an inflatable hanged Gemini, which pushes the Gemini/Zagov versions in this episode up to five, I think, if we count the original Zagov (in photos), Gemini-as-Zagov, Paris-as-Gemini-as-Zagov, a dummy-as-Gemini-as-Zagov, and this inflatable.

Even though I know this is Leonard Nimoy it's hard to see it as him. He even looks more thin and frail and gangly.

And they're out! What a strange freeze frame this is!

Meanwhile, Jim is 'reprogramming' Paris.

I love the sigh of relief and slight chuckle from Paris after Kamirov has been duped, and has left. Spock does the same sigh of relief, but not the chuckle - just the twinkle in the eyes.

Oops. Nasty Nazi-guy has sprung them. Nice split screen there for the two Zagovs.

Hi-ya! Nice work, Willy!

And that's what you look like when you've been in a latex mask all day. God that must feel good to take that off. But that hair!

So, Gemini-pretending-to-be-Paris-pretending-to-be-Gemini-pretending-to-be-Zagov has been delivered to the broadcast room, and Jim's job is done. Well done, Jim.

Escape! Paris is happy, too.

Jim gives one look back, and then closes the van doors.

In the broadcast room Gemini has announced free elections and Kamirov comes across as a crazy man when he tries to denounce him as a robot. This scene reminds me a lot of the similar scene in Star Trek's Patterns of Force.

And the team escape through the ping pong ball barrier, in one of those wonderful symbolic everything-has-been-turned-upside-down Mission: Impossible end shots.


  1. I love your running commentaries. They had me laughing out loud.