Probe (1988): Gone But Not Forgotten

In the latest Gone But Not Forgotten episode, Probe TV series actor Parker Stevenson joins us to talk about Isaac Asimov’s lost gem.

When I was in high school, kids wouldn’t shut up about Isaac Asimov, the American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. When he wasn’t molding young minds in the classroom, Asimov was busy becoming one of the “Big Three” science-fiction writers worldwide. Cerebral and scientific, Asimov’s writing teased the brain and tickled the imagination. In 1988, Asimov partnered with Michael Wagner to create the short-lived TV series Probe. Looked upon fondly by those who remember it, Probe lasted for two months before getting yanked from the ABC Network.

In today’s Gone But Not Forgotten, Parker Stevenson joins us to discuss this rare gem of science-fiction entertainment. Stevenson’s presence makes this a special episode of this series, and we thank him for his participation. If you’re a Probe fan, let us know in the comments!

Probe would air on ABC in 1988, with a two-part pilot screening on Monday night, March 7th. The premise was a spin on the Sherlock Holmes dynamic but with a scientific flair and coolness factor, thanks to a hero who knew how to use high tech to help solve the mysteries he encountered.

Probe, 1988, Gone But Not Forgotten, TV series, review

The series followed Austin James, a young, brilliant scientist who was a prodigy. He graduated from college before he was old enough to drive a car or get a learners permit. He’s got an eidetic memory and can calculate multiple problems at once. He’s very much like Batman because he’s wealthy to the point that he doesn’t have to think about money. He’s started the think tank business Serendip but doesn’t give it much thought. He’s got better things to do and mysteries to solve.

Austin doesn’t have friends, and his family is also fairly non-existent. This alienation can happen when someone like Austin, who is super-intelligent and advanced way beyond his years, becomes isolated. He doesn’t really know how to behave per se around people without coming across as unfeeling or, well, kind of a dick.

Austin’s group at Serendip has a new employee named Mickey Castle. Mickey, with her glorious hair and hurt arm, gets assigned as Austin’s secretary, almost like the position is a cruel joke or dare at Serendip. Once Mickey arrives at Austin’s house and solves the unanswerable limerick door code, the duo meet in Austin’s self-made isolation chamber. During the first part of the pilot episode, Mickey tries in vain to get Austin to pay his water bill, which is the reason Mickey is there. After failing to get Austin to comply, Mickey discovers she’s been pulled into an investigation regarding a rich woman who died after freezing to death, even though her body is colder than where she is found. This circumstance is a scientific impossibility. Let’s investigate!

Probe was considered “deep stuff” for television audiences, and they’re not wrong! Still, the show’s outlandishness is part of what makes it so much fun. Probe is the only TV series one of the High Lords of Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov, ever made. Many fans say Probe is way ahead of its time, and ABC canceled it because it was intimidated by the show’s heady subject matter.

We hope you enjoy this look back at Probe, a science-fiction gem that was too good for this planet.

Source: JoBlo

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.