“The man is Richard Kimble, and, not surprisingly, the man is tired. Tired of looking over his shoulder, the ready lie of the buses and freight trains. Richard Kimble is tired of running…”
The elusive “one-armed man” is one of the best-known television icons of all time. The plight of Dr. Richard Kimball has been the subject of numerous imitations and even a feature film staring Harrison Ford as Kimball and Tommy Lee Jones as his pursuer. Tim Daly left the ranks of comedy to fill the shoes of Kimball in a very short-lived revival series. While some of these efforts managed to capture the essence of The Fugitive, none can truly compare to the real thing.
Quinn Martin is known for his procedural dramas and formulaic television programs. The Fugitive fits into the latter category. The formula was actually ridiculously but almost ingeniously simple. Dr. Richard Kimble (Janssen) comes home to surprise a man who has just killed his wife. The cops think Kimble did the evil deed himself, and he manages to escape while being transferred to Death Row. He’s being tracked by Federal Marshall Gerard (Morse). Now he’s traveling the country in search of clues that will prove his innocence and bring him closer to that “one-armed man” who ruined his life. Along the way he ends up involved in the lives of the people he meets. The episodes are narrated in Martin Quinn fashion by William Conrad. The show finds Kimble helping others in trouble along the way as much as looking for clues to clear his own name. The finale was the most-watched episode of television at that time and wouldn’t be beaten until M*A*S*H ended its decades-long run some 20 years later. Kimble finally comes face to face with his nemesis in a milestone episode ending Kimble’s own four-year odyssey. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. That climactic moment is still two and a half years ahead of us. Pick up this latest set and relive some of those dramatic moments in the life of a fugitive.
The final episode of The Fugitive brought closure to the show. Kimball finally confronts the infamous one-armed man. It became the first mega-event in television history. Stores closed early, and the ratings numbers would remain until Roots and later the final episode of M*A*S*H brought in more actual viewers, but The Fugitive’s final episode still holds the share ratings record of 72% of all households watching. Since that time there have been few regular television episodes to score those kinds of ratings.
Guest stars in this release include: Charles Bronson, the recently departed Anne Francis, Jack Warden, Harold Gould, Martin Balsam, Lynda Day George, star Janssen’s sister Jill, William Windom, and Hawaii Five-O’s Jack Lord.
Each episode of The Fugitive is presented in its original broadcast full frame format. The show moved to color for its final season, and the presentation is pretty well preserved. The contrast levels are pretty solid, allowing for a fair amount of detail in the image. The colors hold up well for the age. Of course, there are plenty of specks and other print artifacts, but not more than you might expect.
The Dolby Digital Mono track delivers exactly what you are looking for and nothing more. The dialog is clear, and that’s all you’re going to get out of this minimalist presentation. If you’re looking for the nostalgia of watching a ten-year-old television show, Paramount decided to make the experience authentic by delivering a ten-year-old sound.
Composer Dominic Frontiere – The Color Of Music: (11:38) The composer recounts how he got his break in show business on the accordion and eventually as a composer. He appears to have a little bit of a chip on his shoulder for modern film scores.
Kimball’s run was finally over. The show went out on top and got to make some television history along the way. The story wouldn’t completely end here. Harrison Ford would play Kimball in a major motion picture with Tommy Lee Jones doing the chasing as Gerard. Tim Daly took over the role in the 2000 remake which sadly only lasted one season. In that series Mykelti Williamson took on the role of the pursuing Gerard. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the character does reappear again in the future for another race against time to find his one-armed man. The show has often been imitated in some form or another. Kenneth Johnson’s The Incredible Hulk used the formula to great success. But for now it’s still 1967: “Tuesday, August 29th, the day the running stopped.”