Since I’ve been talking about beloved 1980s television, do you think there’s a chance I’ll ever see a DVD set of Probe? It’s best known (if at all) today for being co-created by Isaac Asimov, but I quite enjoyed this short-run TV mystery series. There was a two-hour pilot movie, followed by six hour-long episodes. (Judging by the comments there, some people are still bitter it’s gone.)
Parker Stevenson co-starred as genius Austin James, who lived in a computer-controlled warehouse kind of like a mad scientist Batcave. This was back in 1988, so “computer-controlled” meant something a bit different than that does now, when you can pop down to Lowe’s and pick up a home kit. Although, come to think of it, I’m reminded of the sheriff’s house on Eureka.
Wacky secretary Mickey Castle (Ashley Crow, who I’ve never seen anywhere else but is apparently now appearing on Heroes) balanced his arrogance with clumsy humanity. The mysteries had a strong science fiction twist to them (as with the computer that tried to kill people by turning both direction’s traffic lights green at the same time, an image I don’t think I’m ever going to forget due to its blend of normality and morbid imagination), lightened with humor.
Why’d I like it? Because Austin James was one of the very few fictional characters I was exposed to who was valued, respected, and feared for being smart. He lived life on his own terms, and he got away with it because of his intelligence. As a kid who only had that going for me, I loved his smart-aleckness and amazing store of knowledge.