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DVD Review: The Fugitive – Season Three, Volume Two

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Fugitive fans can now complete season three, which won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Dramatic Series, as Volume Two presents the last 15 episodes on a four-disc set. For those who don't know what the series is about, narrator William Conrad said it best:

The Fugitive, a QM Production, starring David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, an innocent victim of blind justice, falsely convicted for the murder of his wife, reprieved by fate when a train wreck freed him en route to the death house; freed him to hide in lonely desperation, to change his identity, to toil at many jobs; freed him to search for a one-armed man he saw leave the scene of the crime; freed him to run before the relentless pursuit of the police lieutenant obsessed with his capture.

Over this collection, Kimble turns up in a different location every episode in an effort to remain a free man and clear his name. His main pursuer, Lt. Gerard (Barry Morse), appears in a third of these episodes. The one-armed man (Bill Raisch) makes his only appearance this season in "Wife Killer" as reporter Barbara Webb (Janice Rule) finds a one-armed man in a police roundup of transients. She uses his photo to lure Kimble to town and Lt. Gerard (Barry Morse) isn't far behind. When the one-armed man gets into a car accident, Kimble works to save his life and get a confession out of him.

Kimble has other compelling run-ins with Gerard. "Ill Wind" finds Kimble working as a farmhand near the Gulf of Mexico. Gerard learns of Kimble's whereabouts through a news story and captures him. However, they find themselves in the middle of a hurricane and Gerard gets badly hurt. Will Kimble save the man whose mission it is to put him in jail? "The 2130" finds Gerard teaming with Professor Ryder (Melvyn Douglas), who claims his computer can see Kimble's patterns of work and travel and calculate where 's he's going to turn up next.

"Running Scared" strikes close to home for Kimble. After learning of his father's death, he sets up a meeting with his sister. Kimble's prosecutor Mike Ballinger (James Daly) learns of it and thinks catching Kimble would help his run for governor. However, Ballinger's wife, Harriet (Joanne Linville), who already feels neglected, works to help the Kimbles to diminish her husband's chances.

Continuity goes right out the window this episode. In the first-season episode "The Girl From Little Egypt" Kimble's prosecutor is said to be Mr. Rand (Bernard Kates). Also, and more importantly, this is the second of three appearances in the series of Kimble's brother-in-law Leonard. All were played by different actors: here by Lin McCarthy, in "Home is the Hunted" by James Sikking, and in the series finale "The Judgment" by Richard Anderson.

What's even stranger is reconciling the lack of concern about key figures in the series mythology combined with the repeated use of some actors. Telly Savalas makes his third Fugitive appearance, all as different characters, in "Stroke of Genius." "In a Plain Paper Wrapper" finds Kurt Russell returning to the series, although in a less significant role, considering the season before he played Gerard's son.

The series also presents episodes where Kimble's story is not the focal point. In "With Strings Attached" Kimble is concerned about the lengths a violin prodigy (Rex Thompson) will go to get away from his agent (Donald Pleasence). In "Coralee" Kimble begins dating a woman (Antoinette Bower) considered a jinx by the locals because her boyfriend died. When Kimble discovers it was equipment failure, the man responsible tries to make sure that information doesn’t get out.

Unlike many television series that grow dated and stale over time, The Fugitive remains a quality drama over four decades later because of the high quality of the writing and the acting. The black-and-white photography looks exquisite with great contrast, sharp details, and is free of defects. The following and final season was shot in color. Yet again, CBS DVD/Paramount offers no extras to a series that deserves it.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS