SEARCH


SEARCH is available on DVD! Support Television Obscurities by purchasing the series from Amazon.com using the following link: Probe (Pilot Telefilm) | The Complete Series.

Hugh O’Brian, Tony Franciosa and Doug McClure starred in this drama as agents working for World Securities, a sophisticated, technologically advanced company well-versed in investigating, tracking, and recovery anything from anywhere for anyone. The agents were wired with tiny transmitters that connected them to Probe Control where Burgess Meredith oversaw every mission. The series ran for a single season on NBC from 1972 to 1973.

World Premiere Movie: Probe

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The series that would eventually become SEARCH began as an NBC World Premiere movie called Probe. Production on the telefilm, from Warner Bros. Television and Leslie Stevens Productions, began in November 1971 for an early 1972 broadcast [1]. On November 19th, 1971 Norma Lee Browning reported in her “Hollywood Today” column in The Chicago Tribune that Hugh O’Brian (who starred in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp from 1955 to 1961) would star in Probe [2].

In January 1972, Bob Wiedrich revealed that O’Brian would be playing “an ex-astronaut James Bond type equipped with a nickel-sized radar scanner for super sleuth work” [3]. Also appearing in Probe in a rare television role would be Sir John Gielgud as well as Burgess Meredith, Elke Sommer, Lilia Skala and Angel Tompkins. In a minor role was A Martinez, one of the winners of the 1969 Hugh O’Brian Acting Awards, held annually at UCLA.

Said O’Brian of his character: “He’s not just another cop; he’s a kind of ultra James Bond, if that’s not redundant. But he’s no Superman. What he does is not for mother and country but for bread and broads” [4]. Probe had its “world premiere” on Monday, February 21st, 1972, running from 9-11PM on NBC. The plot revolved around a set of gems stolen by the Germans during World War II.

Image of Hugh O'Brian from an episode of SEARCH - Copyright © 1972, 1973 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Hugh O’Brian as Hugh Lockwood (from SEARCH)
Copyright © 1972, 1973 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Hugh Lockwood, played by Hugh O’Brian, was charged with finding the gems. Helping him were V.C.R. Cameron (Burgess Meredith) and Gloria Harding (Angel Tompkins). Cameron was director of Probe Control, part of the Probe Division of World Securities Corporation, a global investigative service. Gloria was a specialist at Probe Control charged with tracking the health and well-being of operatives, who were known as probes.

I would like to see something on the short lived sci-fi detective series from 1972 titled SEARCH, with Hugh O’Brian (as Lockwood, a high-tech private eye, outfitted with various electronic implants) and Burgess Meredith. Though made over 30 years ago, the series did predict what can be accomplished with miniaturized electronics and world-wide communications.
Steve

Cecil Smith of The Los Angeles Times was critical of the telefilm. He criticized the script for being “so dependent on wild gimmicks that the occasional human contacts seemed false” [5]. That wasn’t all Smith had to say:

O’Brian does not feel his character is a robot but it’s about as close to a mechanical James Bond as you can get with Burgess Meredith at control directing his every move by electronic impulses. Sir John Gielgud wandered bewildered through this electronic jungle and Elke Sommer offered a bit of warm flesh to the stew. Impressive was a jealous wench at headquarters played winningly by Angel Tompkins who measured O’Brian’s blood pressure everytime he met a sexy lass, angrily reporting his reaction to the loudspeaker in his ear. [6]

The telefilm performed well enough in the Nielsen ratings and otherwise impressed NBC executives to land a spot on NBC’s “tentative” schedule for the 1972-1973 season, released in late March. It was given the 10-11PM time slot on Wednesdays following Adam-12 and The NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie [7].

Probe Becomes SEARCH

After the three networks revealed their fall schedules, Clarence Petersen analyzed a variety of extremely competitive time slots where two or more programs would fight for a share of the Nielsen ratings. One such battleground was the Wednesday 10-11PM time slot between Probe on NBC, The Julie Andrews Hour on ABC (also a new show), and Cannon on CBS. Petersen suggested that the three shows would force viewers to make “some difficult choices” [8].

In a May interview with Joyce Haber of The Los Angeles Times, creator/producer Leslie Stevens explained that Probe would have three rotating stars: Hugh O’Brian, Doug McClure and Tony Franciosa. “The concept was there from the beginning. The network requested the three-star idea, which was always an alternative in the project” [9]. The plan was for O’Brian to star in about half the episodes with McClure and Franciosa trading off the remaining half.

Scan of a TV Guide image featuring Hugh O'Brian, Tony Franciosa and Doug McClure
Hugh O’Brian, Tony Franciosa and Doug McClure in SEARCH – September 9th, 1972
Copyright © TV Guide/Triangle Publications, Inc., 1972 [1]

Discussing the high tech gadgetry to be used in Probe, Stevens suggested they weren’t just make believe: “We’re applying methods used with astronauts to earthbound agents. If these devices can measure blood pressure and heartbeats and provide information more than 200,000 miles to the moon, they should be able to do the same across 3,000 miles of earth [10].

The name of the series was changed from Probe to SEARCH during in June or July 1972; The Los Angeles Times reported the new name on July 25th [11]. Later, Norma Lee Browning revealed that “a local news commentator somewhere had a program called Probe” and thus a new name was necessary [12].

The SEARCH For Viewers

NBC rebroadcast the pilot telefilm on Friday, August 4th from 8:30-10PM ET. To prepare viewers for the upcoming premiere of the weekly TV series, the network changed the name of the telefilm from Probe to SEARCH.

At the start of September, with the premiere of SEARCH just weeks away, Clarence Petersen laid out a key difference between the pilot telefilm and the TV series. In Probe, O’Brian’s character “moved around like a chess pawn, remote controlled by the brains back at Probe Control” [13]. Petersen referred to this as “a rather interesting flaw,” explaining that “a TV hero, if he is to appeal to viewers, cannot be a pawn. To have him under external control, sapped of responsibility and initiative, is to render him impotent” [14].

I would like to see something more on the TV show SEARCH (I foolishly thought that I was the only one who remembered that one).
Eric

Petersen also explained the reasoning behind NBC’s Wednesday line-up of Adam-12, The NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie and SEARCH: “NBC hopes that viewers will not be sated with mysteries after the 90-minute show preceding and that the space age gimmick–and lots of sexy girls–will keep them from switching to Cannon on CBS” [15].

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SEARCH premiered on Wednesday, September 13th, 1972 with an episode titled “The Murrow Disappearances,” in which Hugh O’Brian’s character searches for a missing diplomat whose marriage may be on the rocks. Don Page of The Los Angeles Times gave the series a very negative review:

Unquestionably, there is a lot to say for Search, which arrived Wednesday night on NBC. Like contrived, ludicrous, gimmickey [sic] and dull.

[…]

Search looks like something aborted by Star Trek, taking on the appearance of the latter’s control center in comic-book posture.

In the debut, O’Brian, equipped with a television-scanner ring, hidden earphone, microphone medallion and everything but a Capt. Midnight decoder, is assigned to find a government official who is missing in a cloud of mystery.

[…]

Meanwhile, back at the mission control center, Burgess Meredith (How did HE get in here?), sticks out like Pinky Lee in his cartoonish surroundings, while directing the operations. And Angel Tompkins, glued to her TV monitor, is given a string of deadly one-liners to feed to O’Brian on the outside. [16]

Writing in The New York Times, John J. O’Connor was only slightly less negative, stating that “credibility is more ignored than strained” in the series:

Carefully wired for remote-control monitoring and wearing a ring that contains a TV camera, the heroes venture forth on their appointed rounds. A car chase, a fist fight or two, a thoroughly impressed and glamorous woman–and the formula begins to take on a depressingly familiar shape.

For all of the flash electronics, the plots are drably standard. The core of last week’s episode, as Mr. O’Brian employed his fashion-page brand of virility to subdue an international black-mailing operation, provided a rigged poker game. Tonight Mr. Franciosa goes after a hundred-dollar-bill racket that is “threatening the world’s economy.” [17]

Unlike his fellow reviewers, Clarence Petersen didn’t dwell on the negative, writing that in the premiere Hugh O’Brian’s character carried out his assignment “in less than an hour, with time out for wiseacre dialog, space-age gee-whizzery, interesting closeups of blonde Angel Tompkins at the Probe control board, and some very amusing shots of O’Brian seemingly talking to walls, tables and potted palms” [18].

The premiere episode ranked a 39th for the week, out of 65 programs, The Julie Andrews Hour tied for 34th [19]. Not a spectacular outing but not devastating either.

Changes Can’t Help Low Ratings

In the second episode of SEARCH (broadcast September 20th) Tony Franciosa’s character, Nick Bianco, made his debut. The third episode (broadcast September 27th) saw the introduction of Doug McClure’s character, C.R. Grover. Early episodes involved a missing “probe” (an agent), a stolen moon rock, a mysterious assassin and a scientist trying to defect. The Nielsen ratings, which hadn’t started off particularly high, sank. The fourth episode ranked 53rd out of 64 programs [20]; the fifth episode 49th out of 63 programs [21].

Image of Burgess Meredith from an episode of SEARCH - Copyright © 1972, 1973 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Burgess Meredith as V.C.R. Cameron (from SEARCH)
Copyright © 1972, 1973 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

On October 1st, Bob Wiedrich reported that SEARCH would soon be dropping “some of the way-out stuff like two-way radio implants in the noggin in favor of more believable fare” [22]. According to Hugh O’Brian, the November 1st episode was “his best one yet” as well as “the beginning of ‘a new look and direction’ for the series” [23]. The new look wasn’t reflected in the ratings: the November 1st episode ranked 54th out of 66 programs [24]. The series continued to hover around that point.

I have been very impressed with information is presented on this page. I am amazed the detail are provided old television shows. With that said, I am curious to learn more information the 1972-1973 NBC series named Search starring Hugh O’Brian, Tony Franciosa, Doug McClure, and Burgess Meredith. This was an excellent show that was way ahead of it’s time. Where did this gem of a show finish in the Nielsen ratings at the end of the 1972-1973 season? Also, did show have a chance of getting renewed for the 73-74 season? Inquiring minds want to know.”
Chris

Nevertheless, NBC renewed SEARCH for the remainder of the 1972-1973 season in early November [25]. By mid-January 1973, however, NBC had soured on the series. According to Norma Lee Browning, “Warner [Bros. Television] has brought in producer Tony Spinner to see if he can save [the show]. He is revamping the format and changing the heroes from Supermen to more believable human beings” [26].

The Nielsen ratings failed to improve. On February 23rd, The Los Angeles Times called SEARCH one of the shows most likely to be canceled by NBC [27]. NBC officially unveiled its 1973-1974 schedule on April 3rd and SEARCH was not on it [28]. The final first-run episode aired on April 11th. Repeats continued to be seen through the end of August.

During its one season on the air SEARCH broadcast a total of 23 episodes. Guest stars included Mel Ferrer, Julie Adams, Wally Cox, Barbara Feldon, Ann Prentiss, Larry Linville, Mary Ann Mobley and Stefanie Powers. Hugh O’Brian and Tony Franciosa each appeared in eight episodes while Doug McClure starred in seven.

A Beloved Cult Program

A limited amount of memorabilia was released while the series was on the air. Bantam published two tie-in novels in 1973, both written by Robert Weverka. The first was a novelization of the pilot telefilm Probe (confusingly, the novelization was titled SEARCH). The second was a novelization of the episode “Moonrock” featuring Hugh O’Brian. A set of View-master reels drawn from the episode “The Gold Machine” was also released. Film trims/clips cut from actual 16mm film reels were reportedly also sold.

Although SEARCH was never syndicated in the United States following its cancellation, the original pilot telefilm was. However, it aired under the name SEARCH rather than Probe. When the telefilm was released on VHS by Unicorn Video at some point in the 1980s it was called Probe.

Patient fans of SEARCH had to wait more than four decades for the opportunity to rewatch the series. Warner Archive teased them by releasing the pilot telefilm–under its original title–on DVD in May 2011. The complete series wasn’t released on DVD until February 2014.


Works Cited:
1 “‘Probe’ Slated as 2-Hour TV Film.” Los Angeles Times. 13 Nov. 1971: A3.
2 Browning, Norma Lee. “Hollywood Today.” Chicago Tribune. 19 Nov. 1971: C17.
3 Wiedrich, Bob. “Perspective: Tower Ticker.” Chicago Tribune. 20 Jan. 1972: N24.
4 Smith, Cecil. “Sir John, O’Brian Paired in ‘Probe’.” Los Angeles Times. 15 Feb. 1972: F9.
5 Smith, Cecil. “Barbara Rush Is Getting Big Rush.” Los Angeles Times. 1 Mar. 1972: F14.
6 Ibid.
7 MacMinn, Aleene. “Stewart, Garner Out: NBC Sets Tentative Schedule for Fall.” Los Angeles Times. 30 Mar. 1972: G23.
8 Petersen, Clarence. “Looking Over Next Fall’s TV Lineup.” Chicago Tribune. 5 Apr. 1972: D7.
9 Haber, Joyce. “Stevens to Open With a Gimmick.” Los Angeles Times. 22 May 1972: E13.
10 Smith, Cecil. “His Project: Swords Into Plowshares.” Los Angeles Times. 31 Jul. 1972: F1.
11 Page, Don. “Inside TV: New Game Shows to Debut in September.” Los Angeles Times. 25 Jul. 1972: G12.
12 Browning, Norma Lee. “Hollywood Today.” Chicago Tribune. 25 Aug. 1972: B13.
13 Petersen, Clarence. “Hugh O’Brian is Off on a SEARCH.” Chicago Tribune. 1 Sep. 1972: A3.
14 Ibid.
15 Petersen, Clarence. “A Wednesday Night Race for Ratings.” Chicago Tribune. 6 Sep 1972: A9.
16 Page, Don. “Hugh O’Brian Solves Mystery in Search.” Los Angeles Times. 14 Sep. 1972: E23.
17 O’Connor, John J. “TV: N.B.C. Presents Two New Series of Triple-Play Routine.” New York Times. 20 Sep. 1972: 94.
18 Petersen, Clarence. “Can a Series Cut It on Mere Quality?” Chicago Tribune. 14 Sep. 1972: B15.
19 Petersen, Clarence. “ABC Cops Flop Despite Releases.” Chicago Tribune. 26 Sep. 1972: A15.
20 “All in the Family Rests Atop Weekly Ratings.” Los Angeles Times. 19 Oct. 1972: E22.
21 “‘Family’ Still Top Show on Nielsen Poll.” Los Angeles Times. 26 Oct. 1972: E32.
22 Wiedrich, Bob. “Tower Ticker.” Chicago Tribune. 31 Oct. 1972: 20.
23 Browning, Norma Lee. “Hollywood Today.” Chicago Tribune. 1 Nov. 1972: B7.
24 “All Networks Close on Weekly Averages.” Los Angeles Times. 17 Nov. 1972: G29.
25 Haber, Joyce. “Burt Reynolds to Star in ‘Cat Dancing’.” Los Angeles Times. 7 Nov. 1972: D11.
26 Browning, Norma Lee. “Zsa Zsa is in a New Play, Dahlings!” Chicago Tribune. 23 Jan. 1973: A5.
27 Petersen, Bettelou. “On the Air: Networks Still Undecided on Fall Schedule.” Los Angeles Times. 23 Feb. 1973: B17.
28 Petersen, Clarence. “NBC Adds Nine New Shows to Fall Lineup.” Chicago Tribune. 4 Apr. 1973: C11.

Image Credits:
1 From TV Guide, Western New England Edition, September 9th, 1972, Page 49.

Originally Published May 8th, 2009
Last Updated September 9th, 2016



33 Comments

  • stephen russell says:

    Love 2 see a new SEARCH movie made with Todays FX, plotlines etc.
    Be very Unique since 70s show.
    IE like Star Trek.
    Sample titles:

    Probe The Early Years
    WSC Hidden Files
    Probe First Missions File.
    etc.

  • Randy Havener says:

    The funny thing is that a lot of the technology envisioned by Search was pure sci-fi back at that time. In truth, Search was honestly way ahead of its time.

    The ARPANet (the forefather to the Internet) was only a child when Search was on television. The aspect of connecting to different computers to get information (the whole basis for the Internet) was a dream back then. Today, it is taken for granted.

    Regarding the scanners worn by the Probe agents, we’ve come a long, long way toward achieving that level of electronic miniaturization. Although they aren’t there yet, we now have TV transmitters small enough to swallow for medical purposes.

    It will only be a matter of time………..

  • PAUL KEELS says:

    loved the show back in it’s day. Got a set of episodes on DVD. quality isnt the best, but still love watching it!

  • Trevor Douglas says:

    I have been a fan of Search since it was first broadcast here in Australia in 1972. I was eleven back then and we all had our favourite Probe Agents. I like all three, Hugh Lockwood was the one who started in all in the excellent Pilot film.
    Doug McClure added some comedic touches and his banter with VCR Cameron were great. Nick Bianco (Omega Probe) was quick tempered, suave and took his job very seriously. Ange Tompkins was a delight and should have been in the entire series. I have twenty episodes that are in great condition, with only the end credits missing from In Search Of Midas, since my mother recorded them when they were rerun in the early 80s. My wife had recorded Suffer My Child on another station and it is the best print I have. I also have the uncut alternate pilot with a scene that was not included in the Unicorn video release, again thanks to my local station, it is also a great print. All I need are good prints of Countdown To Panic, Ends Of The Earth and The Packagers and I can complete my comprehensive episode guide. I submitted my first guide to CTVA a few years back and I have been updating my information ever since. If they can bring out such rare shows as Here Come The Brides on DVD, why not Search.
    I hope to see it in pristine condition before I leave this earth!

  • Sandy Caggianelli says:

    Hi People,

    Heavens…it’s SO good to see SEARCH fans out there! I was beginning to think I’d dreamt the program up! (Not really) :)

    I still consider SEARCH my favorite television program! My mind often wanders back in time (36 years now) at 10pm on Wednesdays. How about that?!

    [Wish I could use The Doctor’s TARDIS, now & then, to view the program again. (I wonder what The Doctor would think of the show.)]

    Nick Bianco was my favorite Probe Agent. I find it interesting that throughout the years I was always attracted to (TV) characters that had an aversion to using guns. That all started with Nick.

    Anyway, thanks for the walk down memory lane people! SO good to see you!

  • Peter Thorp says:

    Great write-ups everyone.

    This excellent short lived series should be released on DVD.

    Does anyone know who owns the rights to it, so we could get a petition going online and send it to them?

  • Clayton Reed says:

    I vividly remember watching Search when it was on the air. One of my friends and I even fashioned our own camera’s with magnet on the back. Maybe it was my age, but I loved the show and while the critics claimed the sci-fi “tech” was above most viewers, I don’t agree. It was ahead of its time (like Star Trek) but maybe a bit ahead of its time. I miss the show and the actors that have passed on since too. Doug McClure & Burgess Meredith were actors I always enjoyed. I downloaded and watched the Pilot recently and it was like taking a trip back in time. Today, I believe it would be possible to do a “similar” program using better technology. However if a network has no interest, that may neve come. Good Memories though!

  • Gerry Edwardo says:

    Saw this series when I was a teen. Managing to stay up that late, cause I was in the 11th grade. But most of the Nielsen Family members were probably asleep by 10pm, old and young. And who was left wasn’t interested in this kind of an adventure. So I suspect NBC slotted it wrong. It should have had its own night, at either 8 or 9 pm. Not following two hours of earlier shows, that left viewers ready to go to sleep. Instead NBC blamed the series. Typical. As to why it was never syndicated in the US, I’ve had my theories. I blame the Watergate scandal for quashing anything featuring electronic bugs. Or perhaps the CIA didn’t want the nation (or the world) thinking this stuff was really possible. Or allowed. They didn’t need a prime time Tv show complicating the Cold War. Or NASA didn’t like Probe Control stealing some of their high tech thunder. Anything upstaging the space race, back then, usually got shut down. Like Star Trek did. As to the media critics who dissed it. They probably all like every James Bond movie they saw. And yet their plot were just as shallow. And they had feature film budgets, and two hours to fill. So what did they expect of Search? Ivanho?

  • John Farquhar says:

    Does anyone have all 23 episodes on DVD? I only have the pilot movie “Probe”. Please contact me if you’re willing to sell a copy of the episodes on DVD.

  • RGJ says:

    For anyone who is interested, the pilot movie “Probe” has been released on DVD through the Warner Archive.

  • Terence says:

    I remember watching SEARCH my Senior year in high school, and I really enjoyed the series. Its resemblance to STAR TREK (especially The Next Generation, with its away teams) was, I think, more than coincidental: Producer Bob Justman had been Associate and Co-Producer of The Original Series, and had worked with Leslie Stevens earlier on THE OUTER LIMITS. Bob would later go on to produce the first season of ST:TNG as well. It’s also interesting to note that in the early episodes of TREK, the Enterprise operated not under the authority of Starfleet but under that of UESPA—the United Earth Space Probe Agency.

  • Hi, I am a long-time SEARCH fan, since I was 10 years old. I remember seeing the show at 10 PM Wednesday nights after the NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie, George Peppard’s Banacek in particular. I am 48 now and remember the series excellent theme song (composed by Dominic Frontiere who did the 60’s WWII series The Rat Patrol starring Christopher George) to this very day without even having to see the actual show. I recently got the PROBE pilot movie, uncut in mint condition from the Warner Archive, the best print of that film I have seen in recent years, it was the overseas syndication print. A few years back I managed to get a complete DVD set of the 23 SEARCH episodes aired on a TV station in Australia (from uncut NBC/WB film prints) from a friend who in turn received it on DVD from VHS tapes that a SEARCH fan group, Probe Control (after the one on the show) had also acquired, back around 2002 when that station aired it. The copies are not in the best condition in the world quality-wise and have their fair share of flaws, but they are much better than no SEARCH at all, I figure. Warner Bros. did not rerun SEARCH in the U.S. after NBC originally cancelled it because they did not think American viewers would not be interested in watching it, so they aired it in overseas syndication instead in countries like the U.K., Canada, and Australia. I thought I was the only person in this country who remembered it, but I was delightfully and pleasantly surprised to learn that I am most definitely no longer alone, that it has other fans, too. I think since Warner Bros. released the pilot movie PROBE they should release SEARCH too, especially since they just released the cult 1977 Patrick Duffy (Dallas) sci-fi series (and movies) of Man From Atlantis recently. I say, why the heck NOT? I am a big fan of both Hugh O’Brian (I am a TV Westerns fan and have his Wyatt Earp series, Season 1 on DVD commercially) and the late Doug McClure of The Virginian. I also liked Tony Franciosa and Burgess Meredith. My favorite SEARCH episodes were the ones with O’Brian’s Hugh Lockwood and Doug’s C.R.Grover (I have Doug’s 60’s detective show Checkmate and several of his mid-70’s sci-fi movies like The Land That Time Forgot on commercial DVD, I also liked his 1975 TV show BARBARY COAST that also starred William Shatner of STAR TREK? Anybody out there know where I can find BARBARY COAST on DVD, by the way?) Hugh is in his mid-80’s now and retired from showbiz, last I heard after he ran his personal project, the Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation (HOBY) for decades, teaching young people in schools leadership skills through seminars. Doug, Tony, and Burgess who have all respectively passed away beginning in the late 80’s may be gone, but they will never be forgotten by their fans, especially the SEARCH fans. Anyway, I just wanted to share my memories of SEARCH with you all. Thanks for your time, attention, patience, and understanding. Respectfully, Jim Smallwood, Montgomery, Alabama.

  • Jim says:

    I don’t think I ever saw the show, but I remember that we had an NBC beach towel (my dad got it at the local NBC affiliate where he worked) that had names and logos of all the prime-time series on it (I wish I still had it!), but it was made before the name change, so it had “Probe” and not “Search.”

  • Tara says:

    As a costume designer I’ve been hopeful of the future of wearable computing, and ever since I got an iPhone 4 about a year and a half ago, I have been reminded of Search. I loved that show, not for any of its action figure leading men, but for the wry commentary of the geeks who were the brains of it all, Burgess Meredith and Angel Tompkins, etc. I’m not surprised it was cancelled, a 54th place rating would have placed it outside the ability of a network of the time to recoup its production costs, but I’m at a loss as to why it has not been released on DVD, since, belatedly it could do so now. After all, geeks really do buy lots of videos, and this is one of the most geek-centric stories produced at the time.

  • Jim Smallwood says:

    If anyone is interested, the two paperback tie-ins to the series, Search and Moonrock by Robert Waverka originally published in 1973 by Bantam Books are for sale by various individuals on Amazon. I recently acquired good condition copies of both paperbacks, which I used to have as a teenager decades ago but lost. I have the 23 episodes on DVD from a collector (shown in 2002 in Australia recorded on VHS originally) but they are not in very good condition, some might consider them barely watchable. But these are better than nothing. Search fans are hoping that Warner Archive officially releases the Search series on DVD since they released Probe the pilot movie in 2011, but personally, I’m not counting on it. Not enough demand for it. Unfortunately, money is their bottom line, not if a TV series is popular or has a fan following, large or small. I hope they do, but it’s always best to have a backup plan.

    • Alan Dasher says:

      Jim, you have absolutely No idea how grateful I am for your post because I have spent an inordinate amount of time looking everywhere for the series and of course all I found was the pilot episode. At least now I know not to keep looking for it. I will eventually get the pilot but I am So disappointed about the series b/c I watched it every week, etc etc.

  • DuMont says:

    The backdoor pilot PROBE garnered a 16.3HH/27% rating it its airing on Mon.Feb.21/1972, and in its Fri.Aug.04/1972 encore airing it was re-titled SEARCH to align to the soon-to-debut series and the repeat airing garnered a 10.8HH/23%.

    ‘Search’ finished the 1972-73 season with a 14.6HH average. It did beat out ‘The Julie Andrews Show’ which averaged 12.2HH, but it was drubbed by ‘Cannon’ which finished the season with a 22.3HH regular season average.

  • Reynard says:

    A new program on CBS, Intelligence, seems to be a redo/update of the idea although it’s supposed to be based on a novel.

  • Jim Smallwood says:

    To Alan,

    Don’t give up on looking for the 23 episodes of the Search series.

    It is out there available from collectors.

    It took me 30 years (1972-2012) to find this and when I did on DVD through
    a collector of classic TV (popular and short-lived alike) it was well worth the wait. It was shown in Australia, granted (in 2002 from VHS courtesy of the
    fan group Probe Control) but it’s better than nothing. The quality of the copies are not pretty but it is watchable. My favorites were Hugh O’Brian’s and Doug McClure’s episodes. Tony Franciosa’s were okay but I could
    take or leave them. Overall, I liked the series but the pilot movie Probe
    was the best of the lot. Last I checked the movie was available for sale
    from Warner Archive.

    And CBS Intelligence which I have been watching does remind me
    strongly of Search, only Gabriel Vaughn doesn’t need a Mission
    Control for his information. It’s all in his brain thanks to the computer
    chip. When he communicates with his boss on missions, I thought
    of Lockwood, Grover, and Bianco on Search with great fondness.
    I wish Intelligence well in the ratings (also reminds me a little of
    Lee Majors’ Six Million Dollar Man).

    Don’t quit looking for Search. I found it. Worth the effort.

  • Jim Smallwood says:

    Well, this just goes to show never say never.

    In case Search fans may be not presently aware, according to the web site
    TV Shows On DVD, Warner Archive is planning the release of Search
    the complete series as a Manufacturer-On-Demand (MOD) release.
    No release date yet for pre-order but I saw a video of the cover box
    on You Tube recently.

  • ERIC PLEASANT says:

    I remember this show very fondly from my youth and I cannot understand why it has never been put out on either DVD or VHS or even rerun in the states-anywhere! It does have a high profile cast and was well-produced. I mean there are so many other obscure and terrible shows out on DVD already so why would this show hurt?

  • Raja99 says:

    The Pilot (“Probe”) and _Search: The Complete Series_ are available on DVD+R from Amazon! They’re a little pricey, but I’m enjoying the first episode as I type these words.

  • JOE S HILL says:

    Finally!,after a long 41 years,this NBC series from Fall 1972 was certainly
    worth the wait! Warner Archive has again proven their value,to the loyal,Die Hard
    fans out there,who have waited a LONG time for “SEARCH” to finally arrive on DVD,,and it is rewarding! the late,great Leslie Stevens,who gave us “STONEY BURKE”(1962) and “THE OUTER LIMITS”(1963) delivers a really original story
    and concept,that makes “THE MAN FROM UNCLE” look somewhat tame! but of
    its concept,the Technology depicted in this 1972-73 series,still remains very impressive and believable-not even “UNCLE” was this original-but then,Leslie Stevens was a master story teller and gifted TV and Movie writer,who certainly
    understood his craft very,very well! “SEARCH” was certainly an original and
    superior concept-and had NBC given this series a little more time and patience,it sure would’ve made a BIG difference! Burgess Meredith was a “natural”,playing the ever seeing and hands on “VCR Cameron”,while Hugh “O Brian,Tony Franciosa and Doug McClure did their rotationary parts,playing
    Probe’s finest! too bad that Angel Tompkins got badly short changed here,because her “Gloria Harding” part,really could’ve stayed as a regular,but
    that’s another story! but the set,along with all the familiar looking computers
    that were used in the series,were no strangers to many TV viewers,since a few
    of these props were heavily used in Irwin Allen TV shows,like “LOST IN SPACE” and “VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA”-in fact,one of the props behind VCR Cameron’s console,was even used on the “Batcave” set of
    the 1966 “BATMAN” series. but of the most noticed thing here,were the sound
    effects which were used on the series,since many of them were used in the original “STAR TREK” TV series,which almost made Probe Control look and feel like being on the bridge of a starship! but for a 1972 primetime TV series
    with an all too short TV shelf life,”SEARCH” is still a classic piece of TV,since it
    gave us a realistic glimpse into our not too far away future! and in the years to
    follow,many other TV series,which have tried to depict such technology,just did not have the kind of punch and impact that “SEARCH” had and used! and
    nobody today,could even try to do this TV series,because while we’re all into the’internet thing,remaking this show would be a serious waste of time! Leslie
    Stevens,who later teamed with Glen A Larson ,to co create “BATTLESTAR GALACTICA” and “BUCK RODGERS” at Universal Studios,is the kind of talent,
    that is just not found in this business any more! this was evident,
    when MGM tried remaking “THE OUTER LIMITS” in 1995-and despite its higher standards,this remade version of Stevens’ work,just totally STANK! so
    for anyone out there,with the idea to try remaking a show like “SEARCH”-forget it! it was Leslie Stevens’ baby,and that’s pretty much where it stays! this
    show will always be an original,and in its own class! and watching the episodes
    again,after those long 41 years,is just so terribly rewarding!

  • Ray williamson says:

    Is the new series intelligence seem an updated search to anyone else?

    • Jim Smallwood says:

      In case you haven’t heard, CBS cancelled Intelligence.
      It has not been renewed for the 2014-2015 network TV fall season.
      I guess everyone else watched Castle on ABC and whatever was on NBC.
      I personally think Intelligence had some influence from Search. It reminded
      me a lot of the latter program. Too bad. Just goes to prove one more time
      that network TV programming execs are idiots and wouldn’t know a good
      quality TV series from a hole in the ground much less what the American
      public really likes (there’s too much reality TV programs on overall.
      Just junk in my opinion. Some of the crime dramas are about it as
      far as the halfway decent good TV today goes. I’d rather watch my
      classic TV shows on DVD).

  • ERIC PLEASANT says:

    My wishes have been granted for I have bought the DVD series but it sucks since it does not have the pilot episode ‘PROBE” on it. They did the same thing with the DVD series on BEARCATS. Greedy rip-off artists.

  • Jim Smallwood says:

    Like the other Search fans on this site, I too have been patiently waiting for
    the series to be released officially on DVD by Warner Archive. Now that it
    has, I just wish the price on Amazon and elsewhere would go down so I
    can actually afford to buy it! For now, I have to settle for my 2011 WB
    DVD of Probe (2011 release) and the Australian VHS-DVD set I already
    have (aired on Australian TV in 2002). The latter is better than nothing!
    At last check, the retail set on Amazon is $48 something new, of course
    subject to change, with the highest for used so far being $67.16,
    which is utterly ridiculous! On the bright side, buyers on Amazon are
    very happy with the 23 episode retail DVD set. I just hate it that I am not one of them! From what I have read, WB did a good job with the film transfers, although they are not restored. Hopefully I can get it before it is discontinued
    by the manufacturer and so far in price that it is out of my range and budget.

  • About the time SEARCH was on or else newly canceled, I was getting catalogs from Lincoln Enterprises, Gene Roddenberry’s company that sold Star Trek buttons, film clips, IDIC pendants, etc. The catalog had a few non-Trek, non-Roddenberry offerings, including at least one item from SEARCH, a show I liked at the time, particularly the Doug McClure episodes. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what the merchandise was. It could have been scripts, photos, a sticker, or I-don’t-know-what.

  • Jim Smallwood says:

    Since I last posted comments here, I have finally been able to purchase the
    commercial DVD set of Search The Complete Series (from Warner Archive,
    I got their 2011 release of the pilot movie Probe first a few years back)
    through Amazon. The film prints on both the 23 episodes and the movie
    at least to me look great, and they’re not even restored. The Warner set
    is a significant improvement over the DVD’s I already had (VHS recordings
    transferred to DVD of the show when it aired in Australia in 2002 from the
    fan site Probe Control that by now are probably long gone) which at the
    time were better than nothing. In my opinion the retail set was both well
    worth the 40 year plus wait and the price I spent on both items. It is
    interesting to see the then-state of the art satellite and computer
    technology of the era (1972) and compare it to today.

    Someone mentioned the show Intelligence on CBS that was reminiscent in
    certain aspects of Search. Sadly, I regret to report that CBS cancelled the
    series due to low ratings and it was not renewed for the 2014-2015 fall season. This is just in case anyone might be wondering what happened
    to Intelligence. I thought it was a good show; unfortunately I’m afraid it
    could not compete with the more successful mystery series Castle on ABC
    which was in the same time slot on Monday nights, 10 PM Eastern/9 PM
    Central. That’s my guess anyway. This was for anyone who liked the
    show Intelligence. Just thought I would mention it in case anyone cared.
    Thanks for listening, everyone.

  • ERIC R. PLEASANT says:

    Rent or buy SEARCH, it is cerainly not a HILL STREET BLUES or THE WIRE but one of those type of dramas is more than enough-let’s have some good old escapism sometime!

  • joe says:

    favorite show of all time, I remember trying to guess which character would be on the next week. So sad to see my favorite probe died today, here’s to you Hugh!!!

  • Lugh says:

    Loved this show! I remember that, in addition to its lousy time slot, it was the most consistently pre-empted show on television at the time, with some of the episodes seen for the first time during its rerun period after cancellation! I think those two factors combined with the fact that it was so far ahead of its time led to its cancellation. Given time and an IQ boost for the average human of the time, it would likely have been a hit. BTW, I’m right there with you, Joe. Hugh O’brien’s Hugh Lockwood was my favorite Probe agent too!

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