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Probe (1988 TV series)

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GenreScience fiction
Created by
ComposerSylvester Levay
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8
Executive producers
  • Stephen Caldwell
  • Michael Piller
Running time60 minutes
Production companyMCA Television
Original release
ReleaseMarch 7 (1988-03-07) –
April 14, 1988 (1988-04-14)

Probe is an American science fiction television series, created by veteran television writer Michael Wagner and science fiction author Isaac Asimov as a sort of modern version of Jonny Quest or Tom Swift. It aired on ABC. Michael Wagner wrote the two-hour pilot, and became Executive Producer for the series.[1] The pilot and series starred Parker Stevenson as Austin James, an asocial genius who solved high tech crimes, and Ashley Crow as James' new secretary Mickey Castle.

The show began as a mid-season replacement and was canceled after a two-month run of the pilot and six episodes. Entire episodes have made their way on the Internet through video-sharing sites including YouTube. It has never been officially released on home media, although it did re-air in the mid-1990s on SYFY, when it was still known as the Sci-Fi Channel in its block of short-lived TV series.

Some episodes of the show revolved around Serendip, a company founded by Austin that he has no interest in running. Mickey, his Serendip-appointed secretary, plays Dr. Watson to Austin's Holmes.[2]


  • Austin James (played by Parker Stevenson): A genius-level scientist and inventor with eidetic memory, Austin is constantly thinking, inventing ground-breaking technology and seeking answers to various mysteries and problems. One disadvantage to his vast intellect is that it isolated him from his peers from a very early age. As a result, he is awkward and uncomfortable in normal social situations, and very reclusive. His manner can be at times overly brusque, but he has a deep love of humanity. Austin is occasionally called in by local police to investigate baffling homicides, though he professes to not understand the motivation for murder. He founded the think tank Serendip, but he has no interest in managing its day-to-day affairs, preferring to spend most of his time engaged in a variety of experiments and investigations at his "workshop," a refurbished warehouse which serves as his home and laboratory.
  • Michelle "Mickey" Castle (played by Ashley Crow): Mickey seems an unlikely candidate to serve as Austin James' secretary, as she lacks any background in science and relies more on her instincts instead of logic. Though she initially finds Austin's genius and eccentricities intimidating (and infuriating), Mickey comes to enjoy the adventure of working for him. Similarly, while Austin has fired every other secretary foisted upon him by Serendip, he is soon captivated by Mickey's uncanny knack for providing unique observations that help him in his investigations.
  • Howard Millhouse (played by Jon Cypher): As Serendip's long-suffering director, Howard constantly finds himself at wit's end, managing the company founded by Austin, and bankrolling his various experiments. Howard's attempts to draw Austin out of his warehouse to take a more active interest in his own company have only served to make Austin keep Serendip further at bay.
  • Graham McKinley (played by Clive Revill): Howard's apparent successor at Serendip who also butts heads with Austin from time to time over various projects.


Title Directed by: Written by: Air date
"Probe: Parts 1 & 2"
"Computer Logic: Parts 1 & 2"
Sandor SternMichael WagnerMarch 7, 1988 (1988-03-07)
Pilot episode: New secretary Mickey is assigned to work for company owner Austin James, an eccentric scientist and investigator. The two soon become enmeshed in two mysteries: an eccentric millionaire known for her habit of swimming in near-freezing temperatures is found dead from apparent exposure but her body is colder than the surrounding environment; and an error in Austin's water bill that leads to murders by strange mechanical and electrical malfunctions.
3"Untouched by Human Hands"Kevin HooksS : Howard Brookner, Colman Dekay
T : Lee Sheldon
March 10, 1988 (1988-03-10)
Austin is called in when a reactor built by Serendip malfunctions, and a staff member inside is dead. The body is inaccessible because of the high levels of radiation flooding the chamber.
4"Black Cats Don't Walk Under Ladders (Do They?)"Alan J. LeviLee SheldonMarch 17, 1988 (1988-03-17)
By appealing to his scientific vanity, Mickey manages to lure Austin to a talk show/expose to act as a scientific consultant as host Marty Corrigan tries to discredit a self-proclaimed witch, Sabrina. However, the witch's curse apparently comes true after Marty drinks one of her "potions".
5"Metamorphic Anthropoidic Prototype Over You"Rob BowmanS : Robert Bielak
T : Tim Burns
March 24, 1988 (1988-03-24)
Austin is called in to help with investigating a claim that a "mape" (a Metamorphic Anthropoidic Prototype — i.e., an intelligent ape) is as intelligent as its sponsor, Dr. Hardwork, claims. Josephine, the mape, is indeed incredibly smart, at nearly human levels. However, an animal activist breaks into Austin's warehouse where Josephine is being kept, and is found dead, shot to death. The only suspect appears to be Josephine, as a gun was found in her cage.
6"Now You See It..."Robert IscoveJames NovackMarch 31, 1988 (1988-03-31)
Two businessman die in elevators created by Serendip, putting Austin's future with the company in danger.
7"Plan 10 from Outer Space"Virgil VogelMichael WagnerApril 7, 1988 (1988-04-07)
Mickey manages to lure Austin into visiting the desert home of science fiction author Truman Smith III. He is being plagued with strange electrical apparitions. He claims that the electrical creature is an alien being whose life Truman has been using as the basis for his "fiction", and now the alien wants a share.
8"Quit-It"Vincent McEveetyPhilip ReedApril 14, 1988 (1988-04-14)
Austin and Mickey come to the aid of a young girl who claims everyone in her neighborhood has been replaced by impostors.


  1. ^ "Science Fiction Television Series" (1996) Mark Phillips & Frank Garcia, McFarland & Co., Inc., p. 271.
  2. ^ Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle (1992). The Complete Directory To Prime Time Network TV Shows 1946-Present (5th ed). Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-37792-3.

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