“Probe” is the TV-movie pilot for a forgotten 1972 sci-fi spy series called “Search.” Created by Leslie Stevens (“The Outer Limits”), both “Probe” and “Search” were about private secret agents who had tiny audio receivers implanted in their skulls, tiny magnetic cameras that they could attach to their rings and tie-clips, and even high-tech fillings in their teeth that permitted them to secretly communicate across huge distances via Morse code.
The cameras would transmit video, audio and other telemetry to Probe Control, essentially a room full of supersmart specialists and experts who could give the agent information and advice through his in-skull audio receiver.
Like “The Name of The Game,” a series about journalists that Stevens helped write, NBC’s “Search” would follow a different secret agent every week, rotating between spies played by Hugh O’Brian (who created his role in “Probe”), Tony Franciosa (who also starred in “The Name of the Game”), and longtime “Virginian” icon Doug McClure.
The weekly constant was the ethnically diverse Probe Control staff, let by big-brained V.C. Cameron (a post-Penguin, pre-Mickey Burgess Meredith).
I adored this series when I was a tot, but have no idea how it holds up 40 years later.
Syfy’s “Haven” is more like “Haven’t.”
A sci-fi series barely based on the 2005 paranormal-free Stephen King novella “The Colorado Kid” and written by a bunch of guys who turned King’s “Dead Zone” into a USA series, “Haven” is more of the bland and familiar original-series filler that is fast becoming Syfy’s post-“Galactica” trademark. (One missing ingredient is late, great “Dead Zone” showrunner Michael Piller, a gifted writer who had a big hand in eventually turning “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” into series worth remembering and revering.) “Haven” follows hot FBI girl Audrey Parker (“John From Cincinnati’s” Cass, Emily Rose), who is dispatched to track down an escaped convict who has fled to his small seaside Maine hometown. And yeah, “The Fugitive” and “Karen Sisco” and “Justified” have taught us this does seem like more a job for the marshal’s service than the FBI. Whatever. When the convict is killed in the opening minutes, Parker encounters unconvincing “uncanny” CGI events, dull characters and a town that will serve to irritate fans of the similar but much better “Twin Peaks.” (“Haven” is, however, rather less annoying than “Happy Town,” ABC’s 2010 attempt to clone “Peaks.” For whatever that’s worth.) The series’ other main characters include a handsome but slow-on-the-uptake local cop played by Lucas Bryant (“Queer As Folk”) and a roguish local seaman played by Eric Balfour of “24” and “Six Feet Under” fame. The mystery built in the pilot involves a victim, suspects and witnesses few are likely to care about. And given how “Dead Zone” sputtered to its uninspired conclusion, I’ve little faith this enterprise will right itself anytime soon. The hour’s highlight is an odd, brief sequence in which Parker wakes naked in unfamiliar surroundings. Rose cavorts briefly without pants, and she’s an actress few will mind seeing in any state of undress. USA Today says:
… a ludicrously see-through supernatural crime drama that wastes a perfectly fine performance from Emily Rose … sort of Eureka without the science or wit …
… “Haven” not only resembles its Syfy stablemates, but it’s also just about as good, which means that if you like a cozy, lived-in mystery with some quirky characters in a pleasant setting — and you don’t mind spotty writing and perfunctory camerawork — you may enjoy it. Where it pales is in its central performances. In “Eureka” Colin Ferguson plays bland, to good comic effect; in “Haven” Emily Rose (“ER,” “Jericho”), as the F.B.I. agent Audrey Parker, is bland. Eric Balfour (“24”) also stars as a fisherman and the bad-boy leg of a potential romantic triangle; his acting is still less arresting than the stark planes of his face. …
… Viewers sad about the end of "Happy Town" and looking for another creepy municipal drama filmed in Canada may find this a port in the storm, though it is more cheaply appointed and less spectacularly cast. Still, it would be pointless to attack the show for not achieving things that are beyond its ambitions. It wants to scare you a little, and to amuse you a little more. …
… the fish out of water story needs either an interesting fish or an interesting body of water, and preferably both. If you’re going to relocate a boring person to a boring place, why bother at all? No one, unfortunately, revealed that lesson to the creators of “Haven” …
… Syfy's latest and not greatest series. … The mysteries of "Haven" do offer some intrigue but coupled with fairly unextraordinary situations and plots, the show may have a tough time convincing viewers to become weekly visitors.
… Tonight’s mystery ultimately doesn’t hang together, but it does establish the show’s light mythos in an easy-to-digest way … Rose might grow into her role, but Bryant is so wan and emotionally distant, I half-expected him to turn out to be a vampire, the monster du jour. He could give “True Blood’s” Stephen Moyer lessons in emotional repression. (There’s always sweeps for that sort of revelation.) “Haven’s” most frightening omen: The presence of known show killer Eric Balfour (“Conviction,” “Veritas: The Quest”) as bad boy Duke Crocker. The producers might be considering a triangle similar to “True Blood’s” Bill-Sookie-Eric tangle, but the safest course for this series is to arrange an eviction.
… a third-rate summer series … the TV equivalent of a $3 Halloween mask. … Is the town filled with superheroes, super-villains, or average people cursed with unwanted “gifts’’? Whatever. The characters are so shallow, it’s hard to invest interest in them. …
… a show one will like for 20 reasons, and one that will irritate for 25 more. It has some good bones, though, and a strong, willing cast. Whether the big picture is even worth delving into, however, is one mystery that probably won't be so easily solved.
… Despite its "Imagine Greater" promotional slogan, Syfy appears stuck in a bit of a creative rut. Enter "Haven," which, even with a Stephen King pedigree (it's based on his novella "The Colorado Kid"), feels like the bastard child of its lead-in, "Eureka," and "Warehouse 13." Beyond the ominous clouds, collapsing roads and unpredictable weather, there's not much to get excited about in the pilot for this Canadian co-production, which has the added burden of some unfortunate casting choices. In short, those seeking a haven from summer ennui had best look elsewhere. …
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