Saturday, November 20, 2004


TV Guide's choice pick for daytime programming the week of November 14-20, 2004, was the episode "That's My Boy?" of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show':

"Who could blame Rob for fretting over whether he brought home the right newborn? A bumbling nurse and some minor mix-ups could shake any first-time dad. But if a little anxiety was all that occurred in this episode, it might not have been such a gem....

"Rob takes his fear to hilarious extremes, summoning the parents of the child he thinks was switched with Richie."

The episode is famous now for that first encounter, and it's claimed that it has the longest laugh ever recorded by a studio audience. I won't give away why here, (although you'll figure out why reading this essay). It might not seem likely today, but in its way this episode was somewhat ground-breaking.......

"WHO'S WHO" - Barney Collier, 'Mission : Impossible'
"ALIAS" - Mr. Peters, 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'

Because of their line of work, a secret agent usually leads a very lonely life. No close friends outside of their partners, no family to really speak of, no lasting relationships. How could they have those things? Anybody they became close to would be a target for their enemies.

That's why most spies, like James Bond ('Casino Royale'), can be excused for having an endless string of temporary lovers. [Being the prurient moralist that he is, John Drake ('Danger Man') had to abstain even from those fleeting comforts.]

Eventually, some of them do fall in love and, after their romantic partners are vetted by their higher-ups, they even marry and raise a family. Partners Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott ('I Spy') obviously needed more than their own companionship; each of them married and had a child who would later follow in their footsteps. ('I Spy Returns')

But even so, the secret agent would still have to take precautions. He'd have to settle his family in far from his haunts as a "spook"; and perhaps even have them all live under an assumed name as though they were in the witness protection program.

So it was for IMF member Barney Collier. ('Mission : Impossible')

We don't know who his wife was, but he must have set up their househould in New Rochelle, New York. There they lived under the surname of "Peters" - a nice, bland name which probably never raised a blip during surveillance sweeps by agents of KAOS ('Get Smart') or THRUSH ('The Man From UNCLE') or some other nefarious organization.

And at some point around 1955, Barney Collier met Rob Petrie, creating a theoretical link between 'Mission: Impossible' and 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'.

By 1988, Barney Collier's son Grant had followed in Dad's footsteps. ('Mission: Impossible 2') As a technical genius, Grant Collier worked with his Dad's old boss Jim Phelps and even was able to rescue Barney from a foreign prison. (This near-tragedy made them both realize how easily it would be to lose the other. Any gulfs in their relationship as father and son were quickly erased.)

At this time, I have no information on whether or not Grant Collier ever used the alias of "Peters" for old times sake........

By the way, many years later, Barney's former IMF partner Cinnamon Carter met a Dr. Mark Sloan in Los Angeles. ('Diagnosis Murder') Had Barney been around to get involved in that case, he might have noticed a striking resemblance between Dr. Sloan and Rob Petrie.

Then again, maybe not. Although a one-time meeting over thirty years before might not have been that memorable, there's also another factor to consider: For some reason, many people in the TV Universe don't seem to notice when they meet more than one person who looks exactly the same. Otherwise, Dr. 'Frasier' Crane might have said something when a piano tuner showed up in 'Cheers' who looked exactly like his father Martin!


"If you want to know who you are, it's important to know who you've been."
- Jadzia Dax, 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine'

1 comment:

No. 188, 1959 said...

WOW!!! A scholarly blog!!!

(and by that I mean gay)