On Sunday nights in the 1960s, if we were lucky, we'd get home from church by 9:00 pm, just in time to see a brawny hand strike a match to light a fuse, which sizzled into a fast montage of action scenes set to a jazzy score. Mission: Impossible.
By the way, the hand belonged to series producer Bruce Geller, and the score was by Lalo Schifrin.
When you're starved for beefcake in a cold Midwestern winter, even a hand is evocative.
Before 1969, my brother and I weren't allowed to stay up past 9:00, and by the 1970s it had moved to Saturday nights, when we usually had something else to do (no way to record programs back then), so I have only seen three years of episodes.
Mission: Impossible belonged to the 1960s spy craze, along with Wild Wild West, Get Smart, Hogan's Heroes, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The plots: the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) engaged in Cold War espionage, usually involving wearing disguises to trick a communist leader into signing a peace treaty or prevent a communist general from taking over a "peace loving" country. An occasional Mafia don or master-criminal thrown in.
Not a lot of bonding. In fact, two of the team members, Rollin Hand (Martin Landau) and Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain) specialized in seducing opposite-sex targets. But Barney Collier (Greg Morris), the electronics whiz, and Willie Armitage (Peter Lupus), the weightlifter, rarely expressed any interest in girls.
And Peter Lupus was not shy about displaying his physique. A frequent model for muscle magazines, he was a Playgirl centerfold.in 1974.