When an object tracks across the sky and lands in a remote area in Wyoming, Oscar and Steve arrive on the scene and find that a Russian space probe built to withstand the extreme Venus ... See full summary »


(as Richard Moder)


(novel), (as Steven E. deSouza)


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Episode cast overview:
Major Popov
Irina Leonova
The Secretary
Ryan MacDonald
Walter Brooke ...
General Wiley
Zack Meesham
Phillip Pine ...
Russian General
The Sheriff
Bill Fletcher ...


When an object tracks across the sky and lands in a remote area in Wyoming, Oscar and Steve arrive on the scene and find that a Russian space probe built to withstand the extreme Venus environment has crash landed on earth and is out of Soviet control. It's up to Steve to try to stop the probe from destroying a nearby town. Written by Dave R

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Release Date:

9 January 1977 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


When the farmer shoots the second barrel of the shotgun, and then a moment later when the gun strikes the front of the probe, there are no audible sound effects other than the constant whooshing roar of the probe's engine. See more »

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User Reviews

Archetypal Bionic Man Adventure
7 April 2008 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

Like the other commentator, the original two part "Death Probe" episodes from "The Six Million Dollar Man" were amongst the best of the series. The genesis of the idea came from the unexpected success of season 3's "Bigfoot" two parter, a wonderful cliff hanger that was amongst television's finest hours. Like the Sasquatch model, "Death Probe" pitted Colonel Steve Austin and his bionic limbs against a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of destruction. This time it was an errant Russian made Venus probe designed (by 1st season SMDM babe Jane Merrow, reprising her role as Russian scientist fox Irina Leonova) to withstand the atmospheric pressure and general inhospitable nature of the surface of Venus. Which by definition would make it more powerful than the Six Million Dollar Man, who must use his wits, skills and plenty of boulders thrown through the air to keep it from destroying the towns in it's misguided survey of Earth.

While as my fellow devotee here points out we were too in awe of the thing as kids to think critically about what we were watching, seeing the series again as an adult two things strike me as odd about the Death Probe:

1) It knows to go right after Colonel Steve Austin's bionic arm, and 2) It has a sense of humor.

At one point Steve hurls a boulder at it and the thing swings its grabber arm around like a baseball bat and hits a rolling grounder right at the Bionic Man. Later the two have a sort of duel using the corner posts from a chain link fence, even though it could have just run right over our bionic hero without breaking pace. The probe also seems to have a fascination with only exploring things that are on dirt roads in what looks to be an out of season camping grounds: We never see thing thing going cross-country. And the Russians stupidly built it so that while it could withstand the high atmospheric pressure of Venus they left a flaw in the design whereby it would implode when flown into the air hanging from a helicopter.

In other words it's all silly fun, but if you don't think about it and allow yourself to get caught up in the moment like any good 9 year old kid this is a phenomenal adventure with high stakes, scurrilous Russian spies, a cool little high-tech LAAWs rocket macguffin, and a bionic frisbee shot using a Ford Pinto hubcap that proves once and for all how dangerous those cars were. But sadly this was the series' last grasp at greatness, it regressed into Bionic Dittyland for the most part with Steve Austin using his bionic powers to fix kids bikes, dress up like Santa Claus and jump up onto roofs for bionic gift giving, and stand around in a cheesy 70s mustache looking like Freddy Mercury's long lost cousin.

The amazing thing is that it still managed to be the greatest television show ever devised by mankind week in and week out, including a follow-up "Return of Death Probe" cliffhanger with an even bigger, badder Death Probe that really wasn't much of a cliffhanger, though we appreciated the effort. When we were kids we didn't know if the show would be back next week because he might have been killed, and this episode was one of the last adventures that really had that kind of thrill. Still does, too: Just the SOUND they created for that Death Probe stays with you even after nearly forty years. Imagine that!!


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