Thursday, February 06, 2014


Leslie Stevens, the creator of THE OUTER LIMITS, was the creator, producer, and writer of this feature-length pilot for SEARCH, an adventure series with science fiction overtones. Hugh O’Brian, once the star of THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF WYATT EARP, plays Hugh Lockwood, an operative of a high-tech spy/detective agency that uses futuristic gadgetry to aid its agents in the field.

A team of technicians led by Cameron (Burgess Meredith) works with computers and monitors to guide Lockwood through his mission. He wears an implant behind his left ear to hear Cameron’s relayed instructions, carries a miniaturized and magnetized television camera on his ring or pendant (it also serves as a lie detector), and relays non-verbal information back to Probe Central by clicking a special filling in his tooth.

While Stevens had the germ of a good idea here, saddling the hero with a permanent babysitter that can feed him pertinent info at any given time takes some of the danger out of his mission. It also makes Lockwood seem more like a good-looking puppet rather than a smart, independent adventurer who can think for himself. Whenever he does make a decision, he’s usually overruled by Cameron. In the pilot, Cameron even sticks Lockwood with a sidekick played by, of all people, Sir John Gielgud in a rare American television appearance.

Directed by journeyman Russ Mayberry (THE REBELS), Stevens’ plot sends Lockwood to Austria to track down nine diamonds that were stolen during World War II by a Nazi war criminal and never recovered. Along with diamond expert Harold Streeter (Gielgud), who can identify the gems, Lockwood starts his investigation with the Nazi’s widow (Lilia Skala) and daughter (Elke Sommer). Albert Popwell (DIRTY HARRY), A Martinez (SANTA BARBARA), and Angel Tompkins (THE TEACHER) play some of the young technicians spinning dials and pushing buttons back at Probe Central.

PROBE’s ratings were good enough for NBC to buy Stevens’ series. SEARCH could be accurately described as MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE meets THE NAME OF THE GAME, and like the later series, it features a trio of rotating leads. O’Brian’s Lockwood appeared in approximately every third episode with Doug McClure (THE VIRGINIAN) as C.R. Grover and Tony Franciosa (THE NAME OF THE GAME) as Nick Bianco taking up the slack. Scheduled against CBS powerhouse CANNON and saddled with grumbling stars Franciosa and O’Brian, SEARCH netted terrible ratings and was cancelled after one season.

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