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Top 10 Secret Agent Series From The Sixties.

One of the iconic bits of Sixties spy shtick was the weekly-repeated, unforgettable speech of the unseen, unknown voice on the tape recorder: Good morning, Mr. Phelps. Your mission, should you decide to accept it… as though Phelps ever would have refused. The dirty secret of spies, of course, is that they aren’t allowed to refuse. If you refuse, John Drake (of “Danger Man,” etc.) could tell us, they kill you—or worse, they send you somewhere. And their “somewheres” are never pleasant; Villages and gulags of all sorts, and it doesn’t matter whose side you’re on—in the end they’re all the same place. To punctuate this truth, there was that ominous caveat spoken near the end of each of Mission: Impossible’s mission tapes: if you or any of your IM Force are caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions. In other words, you’re on your own, pal, and nice knowin’ ya. And to further emphasize the idea that there would be no witnesses, no paper trail, no trace of a chain of command should Phelps and his team fail: this tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Perhaps Phelps could count on vanishing just as quickly if he decided sometime to say, “no, I’m not takin’ this one.” But of course he never did—Peter Graves was far too reliable, and, yes, wooden, for such dramatic disobedience. So every week he and the faces of his ever-changing group of IMF spies and professionals would take on another corrupt dictator or spirit another willing defector out of the hands of the commies. Cast changes were part and parcel of Mission: Impossible, and the faces changed more than the improbable and occasionally formulaic plots.


The original “team leader,” Dan Briggs, (played by Steven Hill) left after the first season and was replaced by the aforementioned Graves. Then, later, master of disguise Rollin Hand and resident hottie Cinnamon Carter (played by Martin Landau and his wife of the time, Barbara Bain) left, to be replaced by Leonard Nimoy, in his first post-Spock role as “The Great Paris”, and Linda Day George, among a slew of others. Stolid strongman Peter Lupus remained throughout the show’s run, as did Greg Morris. But none of these characters, nor the actors who played them, made the cut of the successful films based on the series (starring the annoying and detestable master scientologist himself, Tom Cruise) though there was a brief TV revival in the Eighties.