The Fugitive: Season One, Volume Two – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com
The most famous pursuit in TV history continues. Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen) was wrongly convicted of killing his wife. He swore it was a one-armed man that killed her. But no one believed his alibi. On his way to Death Row, his train wrecked. He escaped his police escort, Lt. Philip Gerard (Barry Morse), and went on the lam for four seasons. He took to the road to save his life and find the real killer.


The Fugitive wasn’t merely a chase show. While there’s cat and mouse action between Kimble and Lt. Gerard, a majority of episodes dealt with his encounters with people on the road. Kimble supported himself as he stayed one foot ahead of the law. Each week found Kimble in a different town and with a menial job. The Fugitive takes us back to a time when a man could stay off the grid in America. He worked jobs that paid in cash and don’t care about social security numbers. Rarely did a human resources person recognize him and call the cops when Kimble turned in a bogus resume. Nobody checked his references. Today his face and case would be continually plastered on the TV through America’s Most Wanted, CNN and Fox News. They’d have computer enhanced photos showing him with black hair. He couldn’t hide in daylight like he did on the show – especially with those ears. He’d be as notorious as a husband named Peterson.


Kimble gets a gig as the caretaker on a newspaper heiress’ country estate in “The Garden House.” Kimble suspects the heiress’ husband is having an affair with her sister. The duo plot her murder so they can inherit it all and pin the crime on Kimble. He’d be a great patsy since he’s got a track record with the police. “Come Watch Me Die” puts Kimble in a strange position when he’s deputized and ordered to accompany a murder suspect to jail. He thinks that like himself, the accused is innocent. What will he do to give him the justice he was denied? Nothing twists the episode more than a guest role from Bruce Dern.


“Where the Action Is” puts Kimble in the lifeguard seat of Reno’s Rainbow casino-hotel. The joint is run by a hard-nosed Telly Savalas. He’s got a drunk daughter with eyes set on Kimble. He does not approve her dipping into the employee pool. There’s a great moment when Joanna Frank sucks a martini from the spout of a silver teapot. How did the network censor let that enticing image broadcast across America? Perhaps this role as casino owner that inspired Telly to become the spokesman for Players Club?


The two-parter “Angels Travel on Loney Road” has Kimble hitch a ride with a nun that’s off to renounce her vows. It’s a sweet faith and redemption tale that involves a major roadblock. “Rat in a Corner” has Kimble entangled with a liquor store robber. Claude Akins kidnaps a kid on “Never Stop Running.” Kimble has to come to the rescue since the hemophiliac kid is internally bleeding to death. That’s a really effective way to amp up the jeopardy level. The season ends with the highly dramatic “The End Game.” Lt. Gerard traps Kimble inside an eight block zone in Chicago. It looks like the end of the road for the doctor with little hope of escape.


Barry Morse passed away on February 2, 2008. He had the most thankless TV role as Lt. Gerard. America viewed him as an evil man since he hunted after an obviously innocent Dr. Kimble. But what was the character supposed to do? If he let Kimble roam free, he’d be up on charges and behind bars. Morse brought a human element to the role. He wasn’t a diabolical lawman. He sensed Kimble might be innocent, but his job wasn’t to override the court’s verdict. He needed to recover Kimble and let justice take its course. The Fugitive, Season One, Volume Two is a fitting tribute to Morse’s acting legacy. He applied the pressure that made David Janssen so compelling as Kimble.


The Episodes

“The Garden House,” “Come Watch Me Die,” “Where the Action Is,” “Search in a Windy City,” “Bloodline,” “Rat in a Corner,” “Angels Travel on Lonely Roads” (Two-parter), “Flight from the Final Demon,” “Taps for a Dead War,” “Somebody to Remember,” “Never Stop Running,” “The Homecoming,” “Storm Center” and “The End Game.”

The image is 1.33:1. The black and white transfers are top notch. You get a sense of the shadows that Dr. Kimble.

The soundtrack is mono. The dreaded “some music has been changed” warning is on the box. There’s no nasty edit in the sound so it’s not a severe change.

No bonus features.

The second half of the first season of The Fugitive is equal in quality to the first episodes. This wasn’t just a normal TV drama. This show was the cream of its era. There’s always the tension that Kimble will get fingered by passerbys and local cops. For those nervous about split seasons, The Fugitive: Season Two, Volume One is due out June 10, 2008.

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CBS DVD presents The Fugitive: Season One, Volume 2. Starring David Janssen, Barry Morse, Bruce Dern, Telly Savalas, & Carroll O’Connor. Running time: 12 hours 51 minutes. Episodes broadcasted from Jan. 14 to May 21, 1964. Released on DVD: February 26, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.