Mission: Impossible Episode Reviews

S02E20 -- “The Counterfeiter”

Original air date: February 4, 1968
Director: Lee H. Katzin; Producer: Joseph Gantman; Writers: William Read Woodfield & Allan Balter; Music: Stock
Guest Stars: Edmond O'Brien, Frank Campanella, Noah Keen.


Jim walks through a rock garden in a park to a red fire box on a pole (rock garden sequence is a location shot; fire box is conspicuously a studio shot). On his way he passes a sign which reads "Riding of Bicycles Forbidden. Keep out of Planted Area -- No Fishing or Wading" and something about "Dogs." Inside the fire box is a small tape recorder, with a switch on the vertical front and a red button on the right front; tape and machine is destroyed with smoke. (Susan Walters)

Good afternoon, Mr. Phelps. Raymond Halder, owner of a chain of clinics, is also the head of the largest drug counterfeiting ring in the U.S. He is behind the sale of millions of dollars' worth of drugs that not only are useless, but often kill. A new drug, Dilatrin, developed by Gant Pharmaceuticals, which could have saved thousands of victims of primary vascular disease, has been ineffective because Halder has flooded the market with worthless fakes. Gant is about to reissue the drug in a different form in an attempt to beat the counterfeit problem. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to stop Halder before the new Dilatrin is put on the market. As always, should you or any of your IM Force be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim.


Jim, Rollin, Barney, Cinnamon, Willy, and laser surgeon Dr. J.R. McConnell (Noah Keen)


The IMF uses a gizmo producing ultrasonic waves which "penetrate to the inner ear" and induce "temporary vertigo, one of the symptoms of primary vascular disease," something which the Dilatrin pills are supposed to stop. They also use a laser device which "will pass through [a person's] skin and rupture the subdermal blood vessel" without causing any damage other than "a simple bruise or nosebleed." As well, the IMF creates a pair of horn-rimmed glasses similar to those Halder wears where the prescription is a bit off, designed to produce headaches. And they make modifications to a monitor in the black bag owned by Halder, a trained physician who lost his license, which will produce off-the-wall results when checking blood pressure.


Phelps, from the "Federal Drug Control," and Rollin and Willy posing as cops from the local police force raid a factory where bogus medicine is being made. This is actually Halder's pill manufacturing operation, and Halder is there, but he pretends it is someone else's company, and he is just visiting to buy cheap medicine, totally unaware of the illegality of the products. He thanks the cops for keeping him out of trouble, and they let him go. (This doesn't make any sense, it is Halder's place!) Halder's glasses get knocked off during the raid, and the IMF guys take the opportunity to switch them with the out-of-focus pair they have made.

Halder attends a briefing at Gant Pharmaceuticals where plans to fight counterfeiting of their Dilatrin pills are unveiled by Cinnamon, posing as Miss Katherine Borden of the company's "drug security section." These plans include changing the color and identifying trademark of the pills every 30 days. On behalf of the clinics which are his legitimate business (in quotes), Halder attends this meeting and expresses annoyance at losing money on "millions" of pills which he has already bought from the company.

Cinnamon later sucks up to Halder, offering to work for him to determine which of the pills he is "purchasing" are counterfeit, even though she figures he "couldn't afford" her. He offers to double her salary if she comes to work for him, but she is hesitant to leave her current job. Halder invites Cinnamon to dinner that evening.

In the afternoon, Phelps talks to Halder and suggests that he can be bought off. He tells Halder that the other two cops will also have to be compensated. He uses this as an excuse to get Halder to look out the window of his office to the street below where Rollin is waiting. Willy is across the street with the ultrasonic gizmo which he uses to zap Halder, who reacts in pain.

During the dinner with Cinnamon that evening at Halder's, Rollin and Phelps keep up the pressure by dropping in for a visit. Cinnamon is set up to look like she is in possession of a large bag of amphetamines which are soon found in a bus station locker, thanks to a key which is planted in her pocket. When Rollin suggests she can be bought off for $5,000 (which she does not have), Halder offers to give her this cash, the deal being that she will have to come and work for him. Halder wants her to give him the dope (no pun intended) on the way the product will be changed every month so he can match the color of his counterfeit pills. Cinnamon accepts this proposal reluctantly.

Back at the factory warehouse, the production of phony pills is ramped up with information supplied by Cinnamon. However, Willy is in the rafters of the place with devices which Barney and Dr. J.R. McConnell put there earlier. Halder is bombarded again with ultrasonic and laser rays and when he checks his blood pressure with the Tycos monitor which Barney has already modified, the stats (250 over 100) suggest his life is in peril. He is taken to one of his own clinics nearby where, as part of his treatment, he is offered one of his own phony Dilatrin pills which he recognizes by the way it crumbles in his hand.

Halder freaks out, saying he wants the real pills, and confesses that he produced tons of phony pills. This confession is taped and Phelps tells Halder that he is going to put away for a very long time.


Halder is played by veteran character actor Edmond O'Brien, who acts convicingly that he is being messed up by all of the devices which the IMF point in his direction. According to Patrick J. White's book, O'Brien was very ill during the production of the show, but this is not to his detriment because his character is supposed to be becoming sicker and sicker. O'Brien looks truly wretched, and a suggestion that he is going to get chummy with Cinnamon is pathetic!

Martin Landau does a very good job playing the sleazy and cocky cop as does Frank Campanella (older brother of Joseph, who appeared on Mannix) as Halder's stooge Eddie Burke.


When Halder brings Cinnamon to his place for dinner, Barney is outside, three cars behind where Halder's limousine parks. Barney uses a shop roller to go under the three cars in front of him (!), and then Halder's limousine. This is totally stupid.

First, is there enough space under these cars to manoeuver around? Surely there is a good chance that someone would see Barney rolling between the cars! When he gets under the limousine, Barney, who has been going forward head first under the cars, then turns himself around completely so his head is under the limo's trunk. I think this would be difficult to do without detection, since Greg Morris (Barney) was over six foot two tall.

While he is under Halder's limo (a Lincoln Continental), Barney unscrews a small panel in the floor of the car's trunk in order to reach up and feel inside Halder's doctor bag which is above. First, are panels like this normal in the floor of a car's trunk (I don't think so) and how did Barney know the black bag was in the trunk and in exactly a certain place? He grabs the blood pressure monitor from inside the bag, pulls it down under the car (where there is hardly enough room to move) and makes adjustments in it by replacing what look like some springs (I thought at first these were worms, not springs, by the way they were vibrating).

Some cop who doesn't know what is going on tells Halder's chauffeur to move the car out of its "no parking" zone, which might be very bad for Barney's health in more than one way, but Rollin, who is on his way to Halder's place to hassle Cinnamon tells the cop to leave the car alone.

Barney puts the monitor back in the black bag and screws the panel back on to the floor of the car above him and manages to roll away just as the busted Cinnamon and Halder are taken to the bus depot.

The business at the end where Halder is tormented in his factory with ultrasonic and laser rays to the point where he thinks he is dying is ridiculous. (There are closeups of horrible grimaces of Halder's face.) Willy is hiding on a level above the main floor of the warehouse, totally oblivious to anyone there. Geez, anybody can see Willy, who is peeking between boxes and pointing his laser device in Halder's direction! At one point, Halder sort of snaps backwards, you would think he would see where Willy is! Talk about dumb.

When Halder is taken to his own clinic which the IMF has pre-arranged with a doctor working there, the episode's guest character, Dr. J.R. McConnell, is one of two doctors treating him; the other is Barney. But McConnell is a celebrated character whose picture is seen in the newspaper at the beginning of the show. Isn't there a possibility that Halder might recognize him?