Thursday, November 19, 2015

What Might've Been: Search (1972)

Warner Bros. suits had a simple idea. What if you took a simple spy show, amped it up with some ahead-of-its-time gadgetry to complement a veteran cast, and successfully sold it to a network?

In 1972, that idea, conceived by Leslie Stevens (ex-The Outer Limits), became Search, which had started under the title, Probe, for a 2-hour pilot film before it got out that Probe was also the title of a British series running at that time. Search barely got through the first month of its 2nd season before getting the ax from NBC.

The show focused on three specific agents, or Probes, as played by Hugh O'Brian (ex-The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp; this would be O'Brian's last series), Doug McClure (fresh from The Virginian/Men From Shiloh), and Tony Franciosa (equally fresh, albeit from The Name of the Game), under the direction of the curiously named V. C. R. Cameron (Burgess Meredith, ex-Batman, Mr. Novak). In a way this was Man From U.N.C.L.E. crossed with Mission: Impossible, the latter of which was still on the air at the time.

Stevens brought in veteran producer Robert Justman (ex-Star Trek) in that role, and it seemed as though NBC & WB had a hit on their hands, but, as noted above, it didn't sustain itself. Can't be sure of why, since I never saw the show. Some folks might've gotten shocked seeing Meredith on the side of good after 3 seasons of playing The Penguin, especially since Batman reruns were plentiful in syndication.

The Rap Sheet provides an intro for a sample episode with guest stars Edward Mulhare (ex-The Ghost & Mrs. Muir), Mary Frann (later of Newhart), and James Gregory (later of Barney Miller).

Let's see if WB would be willing to try this concept now. No rating.

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