US tv series (1988). MCA Television for ABC-TV. Created by Isaac Asimov and William Link. Executive Producer: Michael I Wagner. Directors included Rob Bowman, Robert Iscove, Vincent McEveety and Virgil W Vogel. Writers included Asimov, Wagner, James L Novack and Michael Piller. Cast includes Ashley Crow, Jon Cypher, Clive Revill and Parker Stevenson. Two-hour pilot film plus six 45-minute episodes. Colour.
Reclusive, socially awkward scientific genius Austin James (Stevenson) has founded Serendip, a think tank applying science to solve world problems, but leaves the actual operation of this organization to Howard Millhouse (Cypher). James prefers to work on his own experiments, but needs a secretary to help him with day-to-day dealings with the world in general; after trying several who cannot stand his eccentricities, James finds Michelle "Mickey" Castle (Crow), who, being somewhat eccentric herself, tolerates his often misanthropic behaviour. The two help solve various mysteries, including occasional offbeat murders, at the request of police. Cases include a murder apparently committed by an ape Uplifted to near-human intelligence, and a murder victim found inside a nuclear reactor. One of the most bizarre instances involves a science fiction author contacted by a seeming Alien composed of electricity, in what ultimately proves to be an extortion scheme. In the last two episodes broadcast, Graham McKinley (Revill) apparently took over as director of the Serendip organization.
The almost-forgotten Probe was as much mystery as sf, though with many sf plot elements. ABC may have hoped to profit from the recognition value of Asimov's name. Nevertheless the series was soon cancelled and has not been released to the home video market, though some episodes are available online. It should not be confused with Probe (1972), the pilot film for Search (1972-1973). [GFi]
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