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Series / BBV Probe

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Does the acronym work? Not even remotely. Is it a really cool logo anyway? Hell yeah.
BBV Productions' P.R.O.B.E. is a Doctor Who spinoff started in 1994, at the height of the show's wilderness years. It focuses on a UNIT or Torchwood-esque organization, the titular Preternatural Research Bureau, or PROBE.

PROBE is a poorly-funded and badly-thought-of governmental association, originally formed formed around Third Doctor companion Liz Shaw, with Caroline John reprising her role in the original 1994-1996 run of the series. Though geared more towards supernatural threats than alien ones, the P.R.O.B.E. team has also taken on its fair share of non-magical, purely sci-fi-based baddies, such as the rogue immortal soldier Paul Reynish.

In 2015, the series was brought back from the dead with one final direct-to-video episode, When to Die, where, due to Caroline John's death, English actress Hazel Burrows stepped in as Liz for one final adventure which ended with Liz quitting, and going off to her queer Happily Ever After with her long-time associate Patsy Haggard (originally played by Leela actor Louise Jameson). The film also introduced two new members of the P.R.O.B.E. team, however: Box, a sentient, talking box gifted to Liz by a certain Dr. Smith; and Giles, the laid-back, but secretly sensitive technician of the team.

In 2020, the series was revived in a primarily prose medium by U.S.-based publishing house Arcbeatle Press, focusing on a restructured, larger PROBE team now centered on Giles. Bill Baggs, who played Giles in When to Die, returned for a short live-action minisode establishing the new status quo, ahead of the release of the first short story anthology, Out of the Shadows, slated for late 2020 but delayed due to the COVID 19 pandemic. This transitioned into a full-on series of PROBE Online Case File shorts formatted as short vlogs from Giles.

Has nothing whatsoever to do with Isaac Asimov's Probe series.

BBV's PROBE contains examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: Giles has only a bit part in When to Die, but becomes the leader of the new team, and de facto main character, in the 2020 revival.
  • Backup Twin: In "The Devil of Winterborne", the character of Barbara Taploe, played by Charmian May, is killed. When they came to do a sequel, "Ghosts of Winterborne", producer Bill Baggs chose to make the new headmistress Margaret Wyndham her twin sister, so they could use the actress again.
  • Creator Cameo: Bill Baggs as Giles in When to Die, prior to the character taking on a greater importance.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Box, a box-shaped talking computer.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "P.R.O.B.E." stands for "Preternatural Research Bureau", a definite case of "somebody really wanted our initials to spell out a meaningful word".
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: The live-action 1990's episodes featured guest appearances by Doctor Who actors in addition to Caroline John including, rather confusingly, Caroline John's own co-star Jon Pertwee in a completely different role in "The Zero Imperative". And, of course, Louise Jameson, who plays Liz's coworker and girlfriend Patsy Haggard, played one of Liz's successors as companions of the Doctor, the fierce Leela.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Any and all mentions of Liz's old associate "Dr Smith", who seems to have helped her set up PROBE back when, is clearly understood to be mentions of the Doctor, as confirmed by "Doctor John Smith" being his official designation in UNIT paperwork in the Pertwee era.
  • Talking Appliance Sidekick: Box, a talking, sentient, box-shaped minicomputer rigged up by Dr Smith for his old companion Liz Shaw.
  • Vlog Episode: Shadow of Doubts is presented as one of main character's Giles video logs.

Alternative Title(s): The Zero Imperative, The Devil Of Winterborne, Unnatural Selection, Ghosts Of Winterborne, When To Die