1960s: John Frankenheimer directs a spy woman pilot

Sometime in the mid-1960s, CBS had a proposed series starring actress-singer Polly Bergen as a spy for Section Q named Selena.

A 15-minute “presentation” was produced. It consists of several apparently unrelated situations. The director was John Frankenheimer, who by this time already was an accomplished movie director after earlier helming live TV dramas.

Selena works with fellow agent Alex Pierce (James Daly). Selena’s husband had been killed by enemy agents. Selena proves to be an adept operative but refuses to carry a gun. Daly provides narration for the audience.

In the presentation, Selena encounters villainous types played by, among others, Carroll O’Connor (as an assassin disguised as a woman, his voice dubbed for part of the sequence), Albert Paulsen and Reggie Nalder.

At the time, there weren’t many spy shows with such a prominent woman lead aside from The Avengers. You can take a look for yourself below.

Pluto TV starts a Mission: Impossible channel

Pluto TV, a free streaming service (with commercials) started a Mission: Impossible channel today. At 1 p.m. Eastern time, the channel streamed the pilot for the 1966-73 series.

The pilot was written by series creator Bruce Geller. His script won an Emmy. Team leader Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) comes up with a plot to steal two nuclear warheads from a Caribbean nation unfriendly to the United States.

At first glance, it was hard to tell how many M:I episodes Pluto TV will televise.

Regardless, it’s another chance for spy fans to sample to the original show that begat the Tom Cruise film series that has been in production (on and off) since 1996.

UPDATE: Pluto TV appears to be showing the episodes in broadcast order. The second episode was “Memory,” same as the first-season broadcast order.

Rollin Hand (Martin Landau) initially goes in the discard pile when Briggs selects his team. The guest agent is Baresh, played by Albert Paulsen, who normally played villains (and would so in later M:I episodes). But Rollin provides an assist later in the story.

Also, Bruce Geller’s photo (wearing sinister looking sunglasses) also goes in the discard pile.