Original Airdate: January 9, 1977
The Soviet Venus Probe in Wyoming
Steven E. de Souza
Nehemiah Persoff as Major Popov
Jane Merrow as Irina Leonova
Beverly Garland as The Secretary
Bill Fletcher as Mechanic
Ryan MacDonald as unknown
Austin Stoker as Captain
Walter Brooke as General Wiley
Don Dubbins as Zack Meesham
Phillip Pine as Russian General
Ross Elliott as The Sheriff
John de Lancie as Medic
David Mooney as Radar Operator
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Doomsday, and Counting
A Soviet launch of a probe to Venus malfunctions, bringing the probe down in the United States. Because it is made of a new alloy, unknown to American technology, Soviet scientists and agents are anxious to recover the probe, which has landed in a remote section of Wyoming. A farmer who encounters it fires his gun at it, and the probe retreats, causing consternation among locals.
The Soviets alert their agents stationed in the area (one even operates a very capitalist gas station), using the phrase "Have you looked at the sky lately?", while they secretly move the probe's designer, Irina Leonova, there with equipment to order the probe to shut down, accompanied by the KGB's Major Popov, who has a missile to pierce the probe's shell. The probe does not respond to the shut-down order, then Irina recalls the farmer shot at it, so the computer might reason it was near a volcanic eruption and be moving away, on "total override".
Steve Austin and the OSI arrive, and Steve recognizes Irina. During an encounter, Irina and Major Popov are sent on the run by the probe, and Steve tracks the probe. When Irina regains consciousness, Oscar tells her that Steve is tracking the probe and she is alarmed - she designed the probe for Venus' hostile environment, making it almost indestructible - more so than a bionic man.
With the probe still operating as if it has landed on Venus, it is on a course leading to a small town as Soviet and American forces try desperately to stop it.
Oscar: Irina, you know that Steve is bionic. If he's careful ...
Irina: You don't understand. I designed that probe for Venus. Venus Oscar. A planet with temperatures of 900 degrees, 300 mile per hour winds, pressures up to 90 earth atmospheres. Even a bionic man couldn't survive under those conditions.
Oscar: And anything that could would be more powerful than ... Steve.
- Steve notices the opening in the top of the probe, he asks Irina what it is for, she says it is the socket for the loading ring used to load the probe onto the space vehicle. When Irina gives Steve the technical information on the socket she states that it is "12cm in diameter, standard metric threading." 12cm being approximately 4.5". The lifting eye that Steve has made is more like 1.5" not 4.5" in diameter.
- This episode marks the return of Irina Leonova from S1 E6, Doomsday, and Counting.
- Steve would shave down to a half-mustache for this episode, leaving a trim line just above the lip, before shaving completely before season's end.
- This marks the first time in which Oscar carries a weapon. It is a small snub nose revolver, possibly a .38.
- One of the last Six Million Dollar Man toys released by Kenner was based upon the probe in this (and succeeding) episodes. See Venus Space Probe (Toy).
The Soviet Union sent several landers to Venus in the 1970s and 1980s, the only nation to do so. None of these landers were mobile rovers like Death Probe, however.
- On December 15, 1970, Venera 7 made the first successful landing on the Venusian surface.
- On October 22, 1975, Venera 9 landed and sent back the first pictures of the surface, followed by Venera 10 three days later.
- On January 9, 1977, "Death Probe" aired on ABC.
- In 1978 Venera 11 and 12 sent more landers to the surface.
- In 1981, Venera 13 took the first color photos and soil samples.
- The Death Probe vehicle itself would eventually be extensively redressed and used as the "Crimebuster" robot in the Andy Kaufman film, "Heartbeeps" in 1981.
- When Steve jumps down the hill to save Irina from the probe, the camera lingered on the stuntman just a second too long - you can see him land on the side of the hill before the camera switches to show Steve still in the air.