Search: The Complete Series
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Hugh O'Brian, Doug McClure and Tony Franciosa rotate leads as elite high tech espionage operatives for Probe Division of World Securities Corporation in this spy-sensational SF-flavored actioner from Leslie Stevens (creator, The Outer Limits) and Robert Justman (one of the guiding lights for both Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation as a show producer). Each agent, dubbed a "Probe", is wired up for worldwide surveillance thanks to their Scanners (miniature video cams) and dental/ ear implants. Tracking their telemetry and giving real-time mission advice is the team of specialists gathered together at Probe Control under the direction of the brilliant, irascible V.C.R. Cameron (Burgess Meredith). O'Brian plays Lockwood, Probe One, ex-astronaut and lead agent, McClure plays CR Grover, Standby Probe, brilliant beachcomber goofball and Franciosa plays Nick Bianco, Omega Probe, street savvy ex-NYC cop tasked with organized crime capers. The Probes hunt for stolen moonrocks, missing agents, a deadly Probe division defector and more alongside special guest luminaries the likes of Stefanie Powers, Bill Bixby, Mary Ann Mobley, Sebastian Cabot, Barbara Feldon, Mel Ferrer and Joanna Cameron. Three very different agents, one very out-of-this-world show.
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Top customer reviews
The leading characters were played by a fine group of actors, namely Burgess Meredith (The Penguin in the Batman TV series of the 60's) who controlled things from Probe Control,and the agents (called Probes) were Hugh O'Brian (who was in many western series' and in Bruce Lee's film Game of Death), Doug McClure (Trampas in The Virginian TV series) and Tony Franciosa - each of the agents appearing in their own individual episodes.
The probes each carried a scanner - a very small video camera which could be attached to a ring or pendant, which was monitored by Burgess and his team and could be used to check the probe's heart, blood pressure etc, and had infra-red detection etc and could even detect if someone else was hiding in the room by picking up life signs.
They also had dental/ear implants so they had two way communication with Probe Control. The series also had some great guests including Stefanie Powers and Bill Bixby to name but two.
If you are looking for a bit of 70's nostalgia and pure escapism, this is a show you should check out.
You won't be disappointed.
Despite everything I've said (and the stuff I decided wasn't important enough to include here), I just can't bring myself to give this series a bad score. I LOVED this show the first time around, despite its flaws. And now I own every single episode; I can watch them any time I feel like it. They can prove my memories wrong, but they can't take that away from me.
This pilot used to appear on TV from time to time in the UK, the last time back in the 1980s. A ‘Search’ chat group I belong finally convinced Warner Bros to include it in the special archive release, helped a little by people there who remembered seeing it themselves when young. ‘PROBE’ had charm, humour, good casting and an intelligent plot combined with probably the best theme music ever by Dominic Frontiere. You can find a copy of the music on UTube if you need convincing. It turns out that we weren’t the only ones who remembered the show because it became a massive seller for Warner’s and convinced them to release the 23 episode series ‘Search’ that followed. If those of you in the UK remember it being called ‘Search Control’, the name change here was because there was a documentary series out around the same time so it couldn’t be called that. Said name is still used on IMDb, although I suspect that has more to do with the problem with just putting the word “Search” into search engines.
As a series, ‘Search’ used the format of ‘The Name Of The Game’ (another series Leslie Stevens formatted) of having three rotating leads because actor Hugh O’Brian, having back problems, didn’t want to do a weekly recording turnover. In many respects, this was a healthy move for the show. I mean why would any organisation have a single investigator succeed at everything. This way, you got the feel of a working organisation doing their job. So, next to PROBE One, Hugh Lockwood, there was also Omega PROBE Nick Bianco (actor Tony Franciosa) who dealt with more police like-cases and stand-by PROBE C.R. Grover (actor Doug McClure), not exactly an apprentice but still finding his feet with his boss. Throughout all of this, the team back at PROBE Control is led by V.C.R. Cameron (actor Burgess Meredith). For those with keen eyes, Griffin is played by Albert Popwell, who amongst who claims to fame was in ‘Dirty Harry’ as the first person who nearly made Harry Callahan’s day and was consequently in each of the film series in different parts. Angel Tompkins as Gloria Harding also reprised her role chiefly with the Lockwood stories.
The title of the show might be a giveaway as to the content. PROBEs (the initials standing for Programmed Retrieval Operations with the ‘BE’ being top secret as stated in the pilot ‘PROBE’) are there to find things or missing people using hi-tech to get things done. Its panache made it stand out because it brought an edge of comedy to the proceedings to balance the bite it occasionally had. Uniquely, I haven’t seen any of the plots used like it since. The closest relative to ‘Ends Of The Earth’ is ITV ‘The Avengers’ story ‘Bizarre’ and even that is superficial elements. The MO of telemetric communication to headquarters was one of a kind which meant it couldn’t be written like any other show. Anyone could ring their bosses but to have constant communication and relay live action by satellite, that as new and why it held an attraction to those of us who watched back in the 70s. It’s only in recent years we discovered that Hugh O’Brian and Tony Franciosa thought that the telemetrics gave them too much of an edge and hadn’t realised the significance of the show for doing just that.
‘Search’ really had its own style. I mean with ‘Moonrock’ with Lockwood in pursuit of a stolen giant diamond and no other aeroplane available, charters a 747 on his credit card with Cameron authorising the funds from his end. Even the prospect of the PROBEs getting the woman at the end was turned on its head with Cameron getting the odd date instead. Everything was up for grabs and not always predictable. The cast list was a who’s who of good actors at the time including Jeff Corey, Stefanie Powers, Bill Bixby and Barbara Feldon.
Picking out favourite stories is difficult, especially as I don’t want to give away too much about the endings. For Lockwood, it has to be ‘Moonrock’, ‘The Gold Machine’,’The Bullet’, ‘Suffer My Child’, ‘The Adonis File’ and ‘Flight To Nowhere’ (this one for the stunt double jumping over the edge of a building and smashing through a window). For Bianco, ‘Operation Iceman’ and ‘Let Us Prey’. For Grover, ‘Short Circuit’ and ‘The Packagers’. ‘Moment Of Madness’ put Burgess Meredith onto the centre stage with a marvellous performance. I hate picking favourites but those were exceptional.
Why has the series been hidden in the vaults so long? Creator Leslie Stevens (who alsos formulated ‘The Outer Limits’), having gotten ‘Search’ started and contributed a few scripts was also in the process of creating a different series for another studio which royally pissed off the Warner Bros executives at the time. So much so, he was effectively booted off his own show and certain changes were made to PROBE Control, with fewer people there and done in a white and brightly lit set compared to the darkness of the earlier episodes. At least that way you can tell the difference with the changes. It also had a repercussions for actress Angel Tompkins who had been promised full pay for when she had more involvement in stories than the equivalent day’s wages for working in Control and was fired and blacklisted by Warner’s for ten years after having to fight for her wages in ‘The Gold Machine’. The wrath also ensured that the series only had one airing around the world and got hidden away. No longer! That’s all history now and we’ll never know if they could have kept up this unique aspect of the show to a second series.
If your DVD player is multi-regional, then ‘Search’ should certainly be on your list to watch. It’s already doing big business in the USA and if you’ve ever wondered what this editor always got inspired by and kept his interest in over 32 years, you might want to take a look. If you already bought ‘PROBE’ then ‘Search’ will be the one series you’ll be wondering how you missed it when young.
Most recent customer reviews
Even with only a one-year run and a long time off the air, it has not lost it's luster (even with it's 70's style).Read more
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