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DVD Review: The Fugitive – Season Two, Volume Two

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This release presents the second half (15 episodes) of Season Two, which aired in 1965, of the classic Quinn Martin production about the ongoing adventures of fugitive Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen), a man wrongly accused of murdering his wife Helen, as he travels the countryside in search of the one-armed man he saw leaving his home that fateful night, all the while trying to stay one step ahead of the determined Lt. Gerard (Barry Morse).

The premise of the series made the stories' parameters limitless as Kimble could appear anywhere in the country in the lives of anyone. The four-disc set begins with Kimble in a variation of Double Indemnity entitled “Brass Ring” as Norma (Angie Dickinson) and her boyfriend Lars plan for Kimble to kill her invalid brother Leslie (Robert Duvall) so the lovebirds can make off with the insurance money.

In one typical storyline of the series Kimble is forced into exposing himself by doing the right thing. In “Nicest Fella You'd Ever Want to Meet,” he witnesses a dishonest sheriff (Pat Hingle) kill a prisoner (Tom Skerritt). In “Scapegoat” he has to return to a town where a man was convicted of killing one of his aliases after he left town.

Some episodes appear as if Kimble’s running will end. In “The End Is But The Beginning” while working as a truck driver, Kimble picks up a hitchhiker. To avoid an accident, they swerve off the road and only Kimble leaps from the cab as it plummets down a mountain and catches fire. Kimble sees a chance to trick Gerard into thinking he was the one who died. “May God Have Mercy” throws a monkey wrench at Gerard when a man (Telly Savalas) confesses to the murder of Helen.

Another plot device has people discover Kimble’s identity and attempt to use it to their advantage. The season closer, “Last Second of a Big Dream,” has Kimble working at a financially struggling circus. When Gerard comes around, the owner decides to hold off on turning Kimble in until he can get news photographers there to maximize the publicity for the circus.

Two of the more intriguing episodes strike right at the heart of the series. “Corner of Hell” has a role-reversal as moonshiners threaten to kill Gerard when they wrongly blame him for beating a man’s daughter. Kimble is his only hope. “The Survivors” are Kimble’s in-laws. He goes to see them when he learns of their financial troubles, but while Helen’s father and sister think Kimble innocent, her mother believes he is guilty.

The show had many guest stars familiar to classic television fans, such as Barbara Barrie and Harry Dean Stanton. Although likely common practice for the time, what’s surprising is how often some actors returned to the series playing different characters. During this half of the season, Celeste Holm, Norman Fell, James Doohan, and Jack Klugman each make one of their two appearances. For Michael Constantine, Edward Asner, and Savalas it’s one of three. Richard Anderson and Dabney Coleman make one of four while Bruce Dern tops the list with one of five.

The video has been remastered from the original negative and the black and white photography looks very good for the most part with occasional dirt and marking. The audio has been restored although the disclaimer the “music has been changed” will likely disappoint some completists. The new work sounds too modern and doesn’t mesh with the original music. Also, “some episodes may be edited from their original network versions.”

Even though the programs show their age at times due to some of the performances and situations being melodramatic and the pacing being a tad slow, the writing and acting of the leads will make you want to continue pursuing The Fugitive.

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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