Sunday, September 3, 2017

Mission: Impossible -- Episode 34: The Sands of Seth

To Watch: Click Here

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
Selim, the head of an Egyptian museum, is killing Egypt's moderate leaders in the hopes of proclaiming himself Pharaoh and returning Egypt to the glory of its ancient past.  He worships Seth, an Egyptian god of chaos and death.  Jim and Shannon get close to Selim by pretending to be a father-daughter archaeology team on the verge of a big discovery and with Max playing the part of the aggrieved subordinate.

Memorable Quote:
The Pharaohs are not dead.  They are only sleeping.  ~Selim

The set design was impressive, as was the temple destruction at the end.

The premise of a museum curator wanting to become ruler and take the country back 3000 years was ridiculous enough, but it was made worse by the actor playing him with a cartoonish, unmodulated rage.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • No one ever explains how the mummy strangler in the opening is able to withstand bullets being fired into his body. 
  • Is this the first time that the disk narrator in the beginning says "good afternoon" instead of "good morning?"
  • If Selim is a museum curator whose life's passion is Ancient Egypt, wouldn't he be able to tell that the scroll was created in one minute on a color printer?
  • If the team's end goal was just to take out Selim, they could have tranquilized him at any time and removed him from the country.
  • I wasn't clear as to how Jim, Grant, and Shannon get the rays of light to shine brightly in the temple for the first time ever, according to Grant.  Is it just because Jim and Shannon polished the reflector?
  • The devotees of Seth sure turn on Selim with haste at the end. 

Final Analysis:
Our last episode!  I was I could say we were going out with a bang, but it's more like a whimper.  I liked the setting, but overall the episode was a chore to get through and had a heavy dose of ridiculousness.  Ranking it 26 out of 34.

So that brings me to the end of the series.  I didn't know what to expect going into it since I had only seen the episodes once when I was young, and overall I was disappointed.  There was little to no character development in the series, and that might have been ok if the plots compensated with a high degree of action or cleverness, but largely they did not.

I thought the actors were fine -- sometimes Penghlis overacted and Markwell (Casey) was not very charismatic, and Graves often had the energy of a pencil -- but they were still likable and worked well as a team.  The set designs and explosive work was impressive (perhaps due to filming in Australia and saving money), and the crew did a good job of convincingly creating the look of many different locales.  The second season was at least slowly moving in the right direction, and maybe the series could have been saved with a more favorable time slot. Neverthless, I'm glad I tackled the project, and next up I'll review MI 3, 4, and 5.


  1. This was one I had fun with going back to when I was a kid and still enjoy. Obviously the plot is gonzo but that's true of just about all "Mission: Impossible" episodes. I've always been a fan of the "human sacrifice cult" plotline which is why I was so enamored with "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and didn't hate the season 1 "M:I" episode "The Devils" as much as you, even though I felt this one was better done. I also didn't understand why the "mummy" in the opening was bulletproof. The temple looked like it was from the same location where they shot "The Lions" from season 1 but was utilized to better effect here. It's such a cool and unusual location in the first place and the collapsing columns they were able to pull off in the end was spectacular for episodic television. Presumably the sun had never shined before because of the flimsy sand roof constructed above the Seth statue apparently held steady for generations and also managed to keep the temple hidden. Well okay then! Hilarious how mechanical Jim and Grant were when Shannon got swallowed into the sand. And they never really showed how Grant managed to get down from the eyes of the Seth statue to the feet. Still, this one had a fun story and cool atmosphere to the point that I'm ranking it #4 between "Target Earth" and "The Gunslinger". Nostalgia's a pretty big factor here too as this one blew my mind back when I was 12 years old.

    For some background, this final episode of "Mission: Impossible" originally aired on February 24, 1990, and was succeeded in the Saturday death slot with a paramedic show called "H.E.L.P." that lasted six episodes, followed by a cop show called "Sunset Beat" which was canceled after two episodes, and then ABC burned off the last few episodes of its show "Elvis" in the slot in May. On Memorial Day weekend 1990, ABC brought "Mission: Impossible" back for summer reruns for a whopping three weeks (I'm sure ABC was just cutting its losses by reairing some of these expensive productions and getting more ad revenue for it) because it was replaced by game shows "Super Jeopardy!" and "Monopoly" starting in mid-June, where they stayed the rest of the summer. "Mission: Impossible" ranked 79th out of 96 shows in the 1989-90 season, down quite a bit from season 1 despite a pretty good consensus that season 2 was better than season 1.

  2. My overall impression of the series is divided. I enjoyed watching season 2 when I was in sixth grade and got the DVD set three years ago, which I enjoyed revisiting. I hadn't seen most of season 1 from before and only got to see most of those episodes for the first time these past few months. I was quite disappointed with many of them as the show really took some time to find its footing and a lot of the episodes just came across as half-baked. The series was it was overall....a fun but formulaic action hour filled with plot holes you could drive a truck through and very little character development. It seemed as though they deliberately left the characters as robotic as possible and nixed the idea of any kind of emotional connection for the characters, and it felt like the show suffered for it as everybody just seemed stiff and interchangeable. The special effects and production values were hit or miss too....with some of the best production I've ever seen on network television one week and some of the most amateurish production the next week. Overall though, the exotic Australian location worked greatly for the show, authenticating the settings in a way that no other series has been capable of and also giving the production crew very expansive creative boundaries. I'd love to see what a show with the writing of "MacGyver" could do if given a season or two to work with the production locations that the "Mission: Impossible" crew was able to work. Like you, I thought it was a fun and worthwhile revisit of the series....but with that said, the 35-episode experience was a tick disappointing.

    1. Well put. Thanks again as always for rewatching along and your comments.