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Probe / Search (1972-1973)
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 6:00 pm    Post subject: Probe / Search (1972-1973) Reply with quote

___________


Pilot episode for a brief but exciting TV series called "Search", starring Hugh O'Brian, Angel Tompkins, and Burgess Meredith (Doug McClure and Anthoy Franciosa were added for the series).

The shows had a nifty gimmick; as a detective employed by a hi-tech investigative agency, O'Brian wears a miniature TV camera and microphone so that a group of technicians (lead by Meredith) can monitor his actions from a mission-control-type room.



__________


An implanted earpiece allows Merrideth and crew to talk to O'Brian without anyone else overhearing, and they used this to provide him with valuable information from a variety of sources (computer banks, satellite hook-up, you name it). O'Brian can dazzle the unsuspecting folks around him by seeming know everything -- a walking library, thanks to the secret assistance of the technicians that support him through the audio-video link.

When O'Brian is captured by the bad guys, Merridith calls the cops to rescue him -- unbeknownst to the bad guys!



______


The pilot episode involves O'Brian's search for a missing jewel collection. Elke Sommer and John Gielgud co-star. Look for Jaclyn Smith in a small role. Directed by Russ Mayberry.

One odd thing about the series: in this pilot and the first dozen episodes, the control room occupied by Merrideth and crew was kept dark, which accented the big, bright screen on which they monitored O'Brian's mini-camera.

It also gave the viewer the eerie feeling that the control room and its occupants were inside O'Brian's head, a group of microscopic people who shared his eyes and ears. But later in the season the producers of "Search" decided to light up the control room.

When I watched the series during it initial airing, I thought the change in the control room's was a bad idea. But a few years ago I purchased the box set, and I realized that the control had been expanded and handsomely dressed up with more high-tech equipment.

More recently I became an ardent fan of "Person of Interest", and it took me a while to realize that it was in many ways a modern version of "Search". The main character, John Reese, wears an earpiece and stays in constant communication with his high-tech older partner, Harold Finch, who sits in a dimly lit abandoned library, using a bank of computers to instantly provide John with any info he needs to perform his missions.

If your a fan of "Person of Interest" I highly recommend you invest in the DVD of "Probe" and the box set of "Search".



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Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?
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Rocky Jones
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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess in '72 the earphone-to-tech-guy-back-at-base concept was an innovative thing. Nowadays it's kind of the norm, whether Person of Interest, The Flash, Nikita and many others. I think modern TV writers don't know how to write this kind of series without the constant contact thing going. I thought it was funny that even on Agent Carter, set in the 1940s they did it a time or so.

I was discussing the series Gotham with a friend awhile back and he believed, based on the automobiles seen, that it might be set in the 1980s. I reminded him that they frequently pull out pocket size cell phones (though not iPhone-style ones). That series seems to aim for a sort of Burtonesque alternate universe mix of recent decades in some ways, though for the most part it seems to be set in our current time.

I never watched Probe or Search for some reason. Maybe I'll catch it sometime.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

The change in the control room lighting I mention in the initial post seems to have been interpreted differently by the author of the Wikipedia article.

I think the dark room in the first half of the season looks smaller and more intimate than the lighted control room in the second half. It looks larger because we can see more hi-tech equipment in the background areas that have become lit.

However, this is what the Wikipedia article says.
________________________________

Early in the series the Probe Control set was placed in a darkened isolated space, alluding to a large-scale operations center. By the middle of the season, the control room was scaled down and relocated to a well-lit but smaller "bunker" room.




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Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?
~ The Space Children (1958)


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Krel
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't seen the series since it was first on the air. I read on a site on the show, that there were actually three Control Rooms. They got smaller as the show went on, and the budget got smaller.

David.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Krel wrote:
I haven't seen the series since it was first on the air. I read on a site on the show, that there were actually three Control Rooms. They got smaller as the show went on, and the budget got smaller.

David.

That doesn't seem consistent with the fact that the dark control room (on the left) was used in the first fifteen episodes (out of twenty-three total), and it looks smaller than the lit one on the right, which only appeared in the last eight episodes.





Besides, I don't quite see how making the control room smaller would help a shrinking budget. Once it's been built, changing the set would cost more money instead of saving it. And I'm pretty sure the dark control room and the bright one are the same room, just lit differently because the producers thought it looked better that way.

In fact, they added electronic stuff in the background once they lit it up. That would indicate expansion rather than reduction.

Admittedly the change in the "dark" control room did reduce the number of technicians from five to two, which means they removed three work stations. The picture below is the only version of the entire control room I've found, and it shows the three work stations at the front which were removed.






Perhaps that's was what the article you read meant when it said the control room got smaller.

But notice in the two-image picture which shows the lighted control room, we can see three technicians in the far background manning those new electronic components at the back of the room.

However, extras in nonspeaking roles cost less than actors with dialog and closeups. So, configuring the active control room area so that it was just Burgess and two technicians, with a few extras moving around in the background, was undoubtedly cheaper.
Very Happy
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Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?
~ The Space Children (1958)


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Pow
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember watching this series & thinking how cool the concept was with their covert miniaturized electronic audio/visual device.

The consoles where the support staff sat had an interesting looking design to them.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

When I got my DVD set I was surprised to learn that the big screen at the front of the control room was never shown in any shots from the back of the control room, as it would look from the rear of the room.

In other words, the screen (which is red in episodes 1 - 15, and blue in episodes 16 - 23) is not really part of full-sized set! I suspect it's just a miniature shown in close-ups from time to time. Very Happy




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Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?
~ The Space Children (1958)


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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pow wrote:
I remember watching this series & thinking how cool the concept was with their covert miniaturized electronic audio/visual device.

The consoles where the support staff sat had an interesting looking design to them.

The thumbnail for this Youtube video is a good picture of the control consoles you mentioned, Pow.

I also love the way the technicians let the audience know what they're doing at the consoles by delivering dialog which describes the procedures. Very Happy
__________________________________


_____ Search: The Complete Series (Preview Clip)


__________

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Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?
~ The Space Children (1958)


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Krel
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember two episodes. One where someone invented a bomb that caused electrical systems to explode.

The second one was a twist on what was once a common storyline in shows from the 50s to the 80s. Cameron (Burgess Meredith) gets kidnaped by Patrick O'Neal and World Securitas Probes have to find him. The problem is while W.S. have files on all their employees, Cameron excluded his information, so they are searching blind. Cameron has been abducted, and placed in a homemade, high-tech torture chamber by Patrick O'Neal, who was under his command when he was in the Military. Cameron sent him on a mission with secret information. What Cameron didn't know is that he was being used by higher ups. They set it up for Patrick O'Neal to be captured, thinking that he would crack, and give the enemy false information. He was captured, and tortured, but didn't break. Now he wants revenge.

This episode was different from any other version I have seen using this storyline. The usual version is that the character is sent out with sensitive information, is captured, breaks and gives up the information. He then, years later goes after the hero, whom he holds responsible for what happened to him. This is the only version I have seen where the aggressor is a misinformed victim.

David.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Having seen that episode after buying the great box set a few years ago, I remember it well.

And you remember just as well as I do, even though it's been far longer for you! I'm impressed . . . Shocked

Yes, that episode is unusually grim for this normally lighthearted series. I was very moved by it. Seeing the kindly Burgess having to endure such cruel treatment was hard to watch.

I really think you'd enjoy the box set of this series. Very Happy

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Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?
~ The Space Children (1958)


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Krel
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bud Brewster wrote:
When I got my DVD set I was surprised to learn that the big screen at the front of the control room was never shown in any shots from the back of the control room, as it would look from the rear of the room.

In other words, the screen (which is red in episodes 1 - 15, and blue in episodes 16 - 23) is not really part of full-sized set! I suspect it's just a miniature shown in close-ups from time to time. Very Happy




I saw a photo from the pilot on the Facebook page with people sitting in front of the monitor and console. It is a set piece, but the screen really isn't that large. If you compare the size of the keyboard to the monitor, you can see that the monitor is just a little larger than a conventional TV of the time.

David.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Hey, I found that picture!

This seems to indicate that the "big screen" was just a work station which they created and then decided to pass off as main view screen at the front of the room by having all the personnel gaze at the wall in front of them (but out of frame). Then they simply showed closeups of the prop, with superimposed images. Rolling Eyes






However, the Search Facebook page has dozens of great photos (one of which is shown below, posted by a fan) who included the following message with it.
____________________________________

To illustrate the substantial size of the Probe Control viewscreen, here it is, re-purposed (and upside-down) as set dressing for the 1975 TV Movie, 'Strange New World.'
____________________________________






Well, now I'm confused! Confused

The prop in the image with the three actors looks similar to the big screen, although it has a few noticeable differences, so maybe the first picture above isn't the prop after all!

The shot of the prop in Brave New World seems to prove they did build a full-sized version of the Probe Control view screen! But why didn't they ever show it at the front of the room in any of the episodes? Shocked

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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

After making the above post, I decided to pull out my box set of Search and pick up where I left off . . . several years ago!



________________


I was pleasantly surprised to discover a sticky note instead the box which told me which disc I'd finished watching back in early 2017 when I decided to take a break and save the rest of the episodes for later. Very Happy

I'd stopped when I was about halfway through the 23 total episodes.

But they're so good (and enough years have passed since I watched the first half), I think I could actually start all over again and enjoy them the whole series!

Most of the shows from the 1970s look seriously dated almost 50 years later, but I'm amazed at how well this series has held up! Very Happy

Why this great series didn't become a huge hit and run for years is yet another tragedy in the history of TV science fiction. Sad

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

The Probe Control Room is impressive, and even though I initially preferred the "dark room with red lighting" version —






— I've grown to appreciate the "bright room with blue lighting", partly because we tend to get better views of the amazing control panels.





The first 15 episodes of this 23-episode series used the dark+red version, and I was delighted by the way it gave the viewer the feeling that these support personnel were figuratively "inside the heads of the agents". Very Happy

I can't find a really ''wide shot" of the control room which allows us to get the Big Picture, so to speak, so I made a reasonably good screen shot from a YouTuble clip that has a brief moment showing the entire dark+red version.






Notice that the "main view screen" is not included in the shot on the right, even though there's a big empty area of floor where is should be locatred.

And we also don't see it in this shot of in the brighter blue-lit version used in episodes 16 through 23.






But I did finally locate a scene with the big screen at the front of the room. In a strange episode which starts with Burgess Meredith being kidnapped while working alone in the control room, we see him sitting at the large console, facing the big screen.

Note how uncharacteristically dark the set is. I actually had to brighten the image!






I noticed that the agents whom Burgess is supposedly talking with (one at a time, give them quick instructions) don't ever reply, and their images are just still photos. It looks like a slide show. In fact, the one shown below is literally a "head shot" of the guy on the screen.

I guess Burgess was supposed to be leaving voice mail messages. Confused






But the shot below is from a later scene in which the Probe personnel are investigating the disappearance of Burgess Meredith, and they call up surveillance footage that shows a time readout from Burgess' console at the moment he was kidnapped.





The footge of the readout in this screen shot is matted onto the big display screen, and this how such shots are down in the other episodes whenever the agents are using their miniature cameras to transmit images to Probe control.

The DVD of the pilot— Probe — and the box set of the complete series is still available on Amazon. Very Happy

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Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?
~ The Space Children (1958)
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Just a random thought I had tonight which came me while I was enjoying episodes of Search — a fabulous series which was cancelled after only 23 episodes. Sad

My question is this; what kind of world permits a witless series like Charlie's Angels to run for 110 episodes from 1976 to 1981 . . . and yet yanks Search off the air after only one brief season? Shocked

Okay, sure . . . Farah was sexy. Rolling Eyes





But I think my ex-wife has her beat! And she's now working as an actress in Atlanta, where a lot of movies are being filmed! Cool


________________


By God, I think I'll run for president and pass a law which makes sure this kind of thing never happens again! Rolling Eyes
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