Home > Reviews > MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE Reviews: “The Diamond”/”The Legend”

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE Reviews: “The Diamond”/”The Legend”

“The Diamond”: Good grief, this show had boring episode titles most of the time. At least we get the occasional cool title like “A Spool There Was” and “The Reluctant Dragon.” But this is “The Diamond.” Whee.

This is one of those weeks where Dan has to give somebody a code phrase to get the briefing tape. The tape is the standard small reel-to-reel player, in a rare-book shop. The mission: A brutal (white) dictator of a small African country has stolen the world’s largest diamond from the Africans who found it, and intends to sell it and use the funds to conquer and oppress more of Africa. So the goal is to swipe his diamond (and return it to its rightful owners). The scheme is to convince him that the team has a method for creating exact duplicates of diamonds, so he’ll be greedy enough to entrust his huge uncut diamond to the machine, since duplicating cut stones would give away the secret. Much of the scheme is convincing him this is for real, and as is often the case, they do it by pretending to hide the information but dropping clues so he’ll figure it out himself. Oddly, this is another episode where the characters use their real names.

The dictator has brought a “small” cut sample of the diamond, only about two inches across, for the bidders at an auction in London. To pull off the trick, the team must photograph the diamond, get an expert to duplicate it in paste (somehow well enough to fool an expert), then switch the fake for the real one without them knowing, so that they can then pass the real one off as the duplicate. The switcheroo was the highlight of the episode. Barney and Willy got the hotel room next to the guy with the diamond, used knockout gas to put the occupants to sleep, then removed the wall outlets to gain access and used a really long pole with a cable-controlled claw at the end to swipe and replace the diamond. Which was going fine until the bad guy’s Siamese cat Josephine came into the room and started playing with the claw and the fake diamond before they could put it back! Wheee! Kitty wanna play! I can haz dyemund? Now, I could’ve watched that for the whole 50 minutes, but they used the gas to knock the kitty out and complete the switch.

But then, with the fake duplicating machine, the bad guy placed the diamond in the machine himself. It was out of his sight while it was in there. So why didn’t they just do the switch there instead of going to all the trouble with the claw the night before? The cat sequence was fun, but kind of unnecessary.

Also, the diamond forger working with the team said it’d take him a couple of days to duplicate the diamond from the photos, but then he seemed to have it within a few hours.

Anyway, once they convince the guy to take them to his country, set their machine up, and entrust his huge 7-pound rock to it, the team has Barney hidden inside to steal the diamond and pass it to Willy in a truck through a hole in the wall, and then they fake an overload of the machine and have Dan and Rollin slip out while a tape recording plays of them struggling to fix the machine from the rear. Inexplicably, even though the machine is clearly on the verge of exploding, the bad guys just stand there staring for over a minute and implicitly get killed in the blast. Which is kind of a “Huh?” ending. Just taking the diamond would’ve been enough to ruin the guy, and it doesn’t make sense that he would’ve been stupid enough to just stand there and wait to die. It’s an unnecessarily and illogically violent conclusion.

——

“The Legend”: The tape is hidden in the panel of an “out of service” elevator (which has the problem of many TV elevators in that you can see the floor is continuous with the hallway outside). It purports to self-destruct in 10 seconds (possibly the first time the phrase “This tape will self-destruct” has been spoken on this show), but then goes up no more than 3 seconds later.

The mission: Nazis again! For the second time this year, it’s up to the IMF to prevent the rise of the Fourth Reich. This time it’s not the sons of Hitler’s advisors, but actual veterans of the Reich, assembled by Rudd (Gunnar Hellstrom) on behalf of an unnamed “Commandant” who will spearhead the new Nazi Party. Dan uses age makeup to impersonate one of them, with Cinnamon as his daughter. (And the 1967 Steven Hill in old-age makeup doesn’t look much like Adam Schiff, though more than Captain Kirk in “The Deadly Years” looked like Denny Crane.) They’re shocked to discover that the Commandant is none other than Martin Bormann, Hitler’s secretary and right hand. In real life, Bormann was often suspected of having survived and gone into hiding in South America, and this story builds on that belief. (This was made before his remains were found, and well before they were genetically confirmed to be his.)

While the other team members stage distractions, Dan tries to break in and assassinate the invalid Bormann, hidden behind curtains in his sickbed — only to discover that it’s just a dummy and a set of tape recordings in Rudd’s own processed voice. Which would’ve worked better if “Bormann” hadn’t obviously been a dummy from the moment we first saw him. I assume the intent was to hide that revelation from the audience until Dan found out, in which case the makers of the episode failed miserably. That failure badly undermines the first half of the episode.

So Rudd is using the legend of Bormann to set himself up as the rightful heir to, uh, Fuhrerdom. In a way, he’s emulating the real Bormann, who gained great power by controlling access to Hitler, becoming, in some historians’ view, the de facto leader of Germany. Rudd is controlling access to his fake Bormann, but he has things all set up for “Bormann” to pass the reins on to him.

Plan B is to discredit Rudd, but security is too good to expose the dummy, I guess. So they bring in Rollin to impersonate Bormann, using Rudd’s own plot against him. The others are fooled, so when Rudd tries denouncing “Bormann” as an imposter, he undermines his credibility.

Meanwhile, Cinnamon has been trying to win Rudd’s trust to set him up. She tries seducing him in a cool, no-nonsense, Nazi-ish kind of way, but he proves to be totally immune to her charms. That and his Smithers-like devotion to the illusory Bormann kind of make me wonder if the writer intended to imply something about his sexual orientation, but maybe I’m reading too modern a notion into the story.

Anyway, she slips him a gun with blanks so he can “kill” Rollin-as-Bormann, and the team departs, leaving Rudd to the mercies of the other Nazis. Hellstrom gives an effective performance in his final scene as the others close on him and he, broken and weeping, pleads pathetically for them to “Let me be your Fuhrer.” It’s left unclear what then happens with those Nazis. Do they still pose a threat, or did the authorities nab them?

It’s an odd incongruity about this show — all their contemporary politics is either anonymous or pseudonymous, with real-life hostile powers almost never mentioned by name, but then we get episodes dealing with real Nazi figures like Bormann and overt references to Hitler, right down to actual newsreel footage of Hitler in this one. Of course it’s understandable, since the Nazis were no longer a contemporary threat and thus fair game; but it still seems kind of weird for M:I to be such an alternate geopolitical universe in most respects yet still include Hitler and Bormann and their ilk. (It’s also noteworthy in that this is presumably the only instance where Rollin Hand portrays someone who really existed.)

But that’s not a criticism, just an idle musing. I’m more critical of the fact that they did two Nazi episodes in one season. It would’ve been better to pace them more.

On the other hand, it’s nice to imagine that maybe Dan Briggs, like the actor portraying him, was Jewish and took great satisfaction in bringing down neo-Nazis.

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  1. Christy
    December 8, 2011 at 1:18 am

    So, I had no idea that Martin Bormann was a real historical figure. Shows how much I know about Nazis. But that dummy was so horrifically fake it couldn’t have fooled a blind and deaf kitten.

  2. Gary Peterson
    July 26, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Excellent reviews both. I just re-watched “The Diamond” and enjoyed it all over again. John Van Dreelen was outstanding–maybe too much so, because I fell under his charm and grew to sympathize with him. He did a couple MAN FROM UNCLE’s with Anne Francis where the same thing happened. This episode was a treat for TWILIGHT ZONE fans as it reunited Landau and Van Dreelen, stars of “The Jeopardy Room.” On “The Legend,” Nazi-themed shows were a Sixties staple (even STAR TREK had one!). This episode made me a lifelong fan of actor Bill Fletcher, who played Brucker with evil aplomb.

  1. May 17, 2010 at 8:13 pm

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