The Fugitive (The Fourth and Final Season, Volume Two) – DVD Review

The end of the chase has arrived. Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen) raced across the country staying one step ahead of the electric chair for four seasons. He swore a one-armed man killed his wife. He was finally going to get a chance to prove it. The Fugitive would take the extraordinary step of giving a full resolution. This was revolutionary for its time. TV shows had ended but without any farewells or absolute conclusions. Nobody had given a true finale to a dramatic series.

At that point in time, no show had been like The Fugitive.

Each week Kimble barely escaped the grasp of local authorities and Lt. Gerard (Barry Morse). Viewers had been promised resolution and they got it spread over two episodes. Not all of the 15 episodes on The Fugitive: The Fourth and Final Season, Volume Two hinted that the end was coming.

“The Other Side of the Coin” almost ends the show before the finale. Kimble lands a job at a grocery store. He finds himself a victim of crime when a gunman robs the place. The local cop makes him the suspect since the real robber is his son (Beau Bridges). He needs Kimble to patch up the kid or he’ll expose him. “The One That Got Away” sticks him on a boat with a embezzler’s wife (Honey West‘s Anne Francis). The federal agent tailing her is played by Charles Bronson (Death Wish). “Concrete Evidence” puts him on construction site with Harold Gould and Jack Warden. “There Goes the Ballgame” proves you get more than peanuts and Cracker Jack at the park. Kimble witnesses the kidnapping of a newspaper publisher’s daughter. The kidnappers recognize Kimble and want him to bring the ransom. They have a plan. Lynda Day George, Martin Balsam and Vincent Gardenia guest star. “The Ivy Maze” brings the One-Armed man (Bill Raisch) back into the picture. To earn extra money, the real killer does a sleep deprivation experiment. He confesses during his guinea pig time to the killing. Kimble gets word of the confession and heads to the college. Trouble is that Lt. Gerard also wants to investigate it. What will happen when the trio are on the same campus? It sets up the anticipation that the chase is winding down.

“Goodbye My Love” lets Jack Lord (Hawaii Five-O) wander into the darkness. This is a twisted love story when Kimble gets tangled with Marlyn Mason. Turns out she’s also dating Jack. The two lovers plot to kill Jack’s wife and blame it on Kimble so they can collect the reward on Kimble. He’s the ultimate alibi and payday. “Death of a Very Small Killer” nearly kills Kimble with pneumonia. “Dossier on a Diplomat” places Kimble in D.C to meet a lawyer that wrote a book about his innocence. Eventually he helps out an ambassador from Africa (Hogan’s Heroes‘ Ivan Dixon). “The Walls of Night” gives him a fellow fugitive in the shapely shape of Janice Rule. Can he really handle another felon on his journey?

“The Judgement” is a two parter that brings the series to an end. There’s no need to spoil the excitement by explaining what happens when Kimble, Lt. Gerard and the One-Armed Man are brought together. But unlike so many other final episodes of recent shows, this one does not disappoint. Everything that’s been built up over the last four seasons comes into play. The answers to that fateful night are given. The mysteries are revealed. There a reason why 26 million people (nearly half of the TV sets in America) tuned in for the finale back in 1967 and not as many people groused like when The Sopranos cut to black. After 120 episodes, The Fugitive ended his run without coming up short for the viewers.

The Episodes
“The Other Side of the Coin,” “The One That Got Away,” “Concrete Evidence,” “The Breaking of the Habit,” “There Goes the Ballgame,” “The Ivy Maze,” “Goodbye My Love,” “Passage to Helena,” “The Savage Street,” “Death Of a Very Small Killer,” “Dossier on a Diplomat,” “The Walls of Night,” “The Shattered Silence” and “The Judgment” (two-parter).

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers have much better color than when the show ran a few years back on RTN. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels are fine for the big finale. There is a notice of music replacement, but nothing sounds too modern like in earlier season replacements. The episodes are subtitled.

Compose Dominic Frontiere: The Color of Music (11:38) mostly covers his time scoring the show. He has great tales of coming to Hollywood and working fellow composers that would dominate soundtracks for decades. The most revealing part of his interview is explaining how Quinn Martin felt the finale was a massive mistake. Sure it scored the highest viewership for a TV episode, but the ending cut into the syndication action. TV programmers feared viewers wouldn’t want to rewatch a show that they knew how it ended.

The Fugitive: The Fourth and Final Season, Volume Two wraps up one of the finest TV dramas of all time. The conclusion of Dr. Richard Kimble’s run pays off. While Quinn Martin might regret it, fans of the series are happy they weren’t left teased with an open ending.

CBS DVD presents The Fugitive: The Fourth and Final Season, Volume Two. Starring: David Janssen, Barry Morse and William Conrad. Boxset Contents: 15 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released on DVD: February 15, 2011.

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