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Mission: Impossible

The Impossible Mission Force, IMF, represents a modern concept. Each member has a special talent led by a man with no discernible talent of his own. This is the concept of the TV series Mission: Impossible. The movie series turns the concept on its head by killing off the TV series leader, Jim Phelps, and making a team member, played by Tom Cruise, the hero of the first and subsequent movies in the series. I’m focusing here on the original TV program. I never missed an episode growing up.

Mission: Impossible débuted on CBS in 1966 (when Tom Cruise was only four-years-old). The original leader with no special talent was Dan Briggs, played by Steven Hill, but that actor was replaced after the first season (long story). Peter Graves took over starting the second season and Jim Phelps was born.

It seems that Mr. Phelps’ limited talent included handling the self-destructing taped message outlining the mission for that episode. Who was the Secretary who would deny any knowledge if they were killed or captured? No one ever knew. Phelps would then go to his apartment to choose the members of the team from a group of photos. No suspense here. They were always the same people.

The team members had the talent.

  • A mechanical and electronics genius

  • A world record-holding weight lifter

  • A noted actor, makeup artist, escape artist, magician and "man of a million faces."

  • A top fashion model and actress

Greg Morris played the electronic genius and Peter Lupus, the weight lifter for all seven seasons of the show. The remaining roles were filled by rotating actors including Leonard Nimoy and Sam Elliott.

Mission: Impossible influenced my approach in The Code Hunters. An unlikely group of people come together, each with special talents. Some readers see Nicholas Foxe more like Jim Phelps, the guy who facilitates things, but not the lone wolves types like James Bond or Indiana Jones.

Having a team enriches the novel. Each person has their own story to tell. Each person brings conflict and tension with the others team members.

So, thank you Mission: Impossible for influencing my own IMF team.

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