Friday, March 10, 2017

Mission: Impossible -- Episode 15: The Devils

To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
The team heads to an English estate where a House of Lords member is leading secret Satanic rites ceremonies and performing human sacrifices.

Memorable Quote:
What does it prophet a man if he gained the whole world?  ~Nicholas
And lose his immortal soul.  ~Phelps

Shannon's capture and threatened sacrifice adds some gravity to the final scene, not that it was enough to redeem it.

I'm generally fine with Grant's role as an electronic genius and gadget man, but the scene where his contraption saw moving pictures from inside another person's brain was a bridge too far to say the least. In fact, it's one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen on television.

A more minor critique of the scene is that Jim and Grant don't seem at all concerned for the poor guy's welfare as he passes out from the stress of the memories that they induced.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • What in the world was up with the dozens of hippies hanging out on the field outside the manor? Why would Lord Holman put up with them? And when he rides up on his horse and threatens them if they misbehave, wouldn't at least a few of the hippies start spouting off?
  • Speaking of Holman, he looks like Lucius Malfoy crossed with Howard Dean.
  • What's the point of Grant posing as an American policeman?
  • The scene where Jim and Max surprise Holman in his study and pretend to be devils is tremendous.  As in tremendously atrocious.  In any other episode not involving a machine that can take pictures of other people's thoughts, this part would have been the lowlight.  Not only is the whole bit with the red eyes incredibly cheesy, but Holman's blasé reaction kills the scene. Either he should have believed them and been scared to death (which also would have been cheesy, don't get me wrong), or else he should have not believed them at all and defiantly gotten rid of them.  Instead he takes this weird middle ground where he kind of doesn't believe them but then he kind of does, and if he does then shouldn't he be a little more disturbed about the fact that Lucifer himself is standing there talking to him?  Instead he is catatonic for most of the scene.
  • Somehow the whole IMF team is able to walk around this house undetected for most of the episode.
  • Whoa, Grant's dumping kerosene in the stream?!  Call Toberman!
  • Their plan is cutting it pretty close with Shannon at the end.  Once Holman has the knife raised above her, I'd say it's time to move in.

Final Analysis:
My goodness.  It's hard to put into words how bad this one was.  I'll just settle for very, very bad. Ranking it 15 out of 15, and hopefully we won't see any more episodes worse than this one.


  1. Ha! Just watched this one this morning. It was stupid beyond belief for all the reasons you said, but in an entertaining way. I'm certainly not surprised you hated it, but knowing how much you like "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" I guess I'm a little surprised you hated it as much as you did as this was very much a low-rent Indy2 ripoff. Grant's tech was over-the-top absurd throughout the hour, but it's not as if magic stones that turn into hot potatoes in cult leaders' hands passes the believability test either. Overall, I thought the story had a beginning, middle, and end with solid pacing throughout, in contrast to several other episodes of this show such as "The Lions" which was just plain boring.

    I had many of the same thoughts you documented in your bullet points, but I laughed out loud at your spot-on comparison of Holman to Howard Dean. I don't know who Lucius Malfoy is but I'll never be able to look at Howard Dean the same again. I'll always be picturing him with antelope antlers. I think the point of Grant posing as an American cop was recognizing that the cops were likely in Holman's hip pocket and posing as a cop would likely help Grant get closer to the investigation and ferret that out. The presence of the hippies close to the scene was just a stupidly convenient way of justifying Nick and Shannon as the gypsy couple.

    For some historical context, 1988-89 was pretty much the peak year for the Satanic cult fad in popular culture. Geraldo Rivera had this ridiculous but very highly rated special on Satanism that TV season, elevating it to the same footing as the crack epidemic. I was in fifth grade, and there were even rumors of Satanic ceremonies complete with animal sacrifices in an abandoned barn a few miles outside my hometown. I wasn't aware of this episode back in the day but would really have had a great time with it if I had seen it. I'm a little surprised ABC green-lighted this for a 7:00 show back in the day. And believe it or not, there's actually ANOTHER episode about a human sacrifice cult coming in season 2! You'll probably think I've lost my marbles but I'm ranking this #5 out of 15 for fully embracing its insanity in a semi-coherent way unlike just about anything else I've ever seen on "Miami Vice".

    1. Oops, meant to say "unlike just about anything I've ever seen on television" on the end. I typed "Miami Vice" by accident thinking of a couple of that show's nutso stories in season 4 which were comparable.

    2. Whoa, not only #5, but drawing a comparison to Temple of Doom, one of the best movies ever?! We all have choices, as my mom would say. Lucius Malfoy is a Harry Potter character played by Jason Isaacs who was also in "The Patriot." He looks a lot like the guy in this episode (crossed with Howard Dean, of course).

      BTW, amazing looking back on it how crazy it was that "the Dean scream" caused as much media coverage as it did and torpedoed his campaign when you compare that to what el presidente has done.

    3. Pretty much every Presidential candidate faux pas that was deemed irredeemable before Donald Trump now seems comically innocent by comparison.....not only the Dean scream, but Al Gore's debate sigh and George H. W. Bush looking at his watch in a debate.

      I'm not saying this episode was on par with "Temple of Doom" quality, but will you at least acknowledge that this is an obvious ripoff of the Temple of Doom template? In my mind, it was a serviceable one. Were you at all checked into the 1988-89 national obsession with Satanic cults?

    4. I don't see any correlation between this and Temple of Doom, other than that a cult was involved. And I was not aware of the late 80's obsession with Satanic cults.

      For a third opinion on this episode I did some googling and looked at Christopher Bennett's blog (he has reviewed all the MI episodes including the original series) and he called this one "the worst episode of the entire franchise," so you're outvoted 2 to 1!

    5. I was looking for a fourth opinion because I know "DVD Verdict" reviewer David Johnson profiled this series fairly in-depth when the DVD sets came out but apparently "DVD Verdict" has reformatted and old reviews have been snuffed out, sadly including Johnson's "MacGyver" reviews. I don't dispute this episode was dumb as a box of rocks, but amusingly executed at least by reckoning.

      This episode aired the day before "Quantum Leap" premiered. How crazy is it that the "Quantum Leap" premiere was only the second best thing on television on the weekend of March 25, 1989!!!!

    6. You wash your mouth out with soap young man!