The Fugitive (4th season, 1966-67)

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The Fugitive (1963-67)
Streaming free at Internet Archive 

"Why all the cloak and dagger, or shouldn't I be asking any questions?"

"Well, I guess you should, but I wish you wouldn't."

Innocent but convicted for the murder of his wife, Dr Richard Kimble was on the run for four years, on TV's The Fugitive.

Most episodes are a miniature film noir, with Kimble imperiled again and again, as he travels the country trying to elude the wily cop Gerard, and also seeking an elusive one-armed man he'd seen running away after the murder.

Under the episode-by-episode chase and dramatics and narrow escapes, The Fugitive is about fear and loneliness in the heart of a human, about questioning authority when authority is wrong, and about how easily anyone's life can be savaged by strangers or shattered by a twist of unfortunate luck.

It's a dang good show, and now I've seen every episode.

S04E01: "The Last Oasis"

"Next — The Fugitive, in color!" The show starts its fourth and final season by going from black-and-white to color. The colors seem to really pop off the screen, maybe because I'd grown accustomed seeing David Janssen in black-and-white.

This time, Kimble has been shot by a lawman, but narrowly escapes. He takes refuge at a school for Native Americans, or as they were called in the '60s, Indians. Hope Lange (The Ghost and Mrs Muir) is the school's teacher, and of course she and Doc Kimble make goo-goo eyes, but her character is written smart and tough, and Lange makes it work. 

The cop is played by Mark Richman (you'd know his face, if not his name), and he's a cop sorta like a real cop, not the kind of cop Jack Webb would approve of.

S04E02: "Death is the Door Prize"

Howard Da Silva plays a retired cop, now working as a security guard, who shoots and kills a burglar. The dead perp was unarmed, and his co-prowler says Da Silva shot in cold blood, but we saw it happen. The guard shot because the perp reached into his pocket, as if he was going for a weapon. Even I, cop-hater extraordinaire, would consider it a clean kill.

There's no video of the killing, and in this episode's fantasy world, the cops take the surviving burglar's claim seriously. They hold an inquest, to decide whether Da Silva should be charged. Kimble was there and saw what happened, but he's on the run so there's no way he can testify at the inquest… is there?

I haven't decided what to think about this episode. It's a good drama, and Ossie Davis is in the cast, but the cop-worship is intense and the story is unreal: In any situation where a cop kills someone and there's no video, the cop's version of events will be taken as true— that's an absolute, so the whole idea of the inquest is a bloody red herring.

Lois Nettleton plays the woman who falls for Kimble, as so many women do, week after week on this show. You don't often see out-and-out lousy acting in big-budget productions, but Nettleton is quite bad in the role. She reminds me of those dolls with a string in the back; pull the string and she says her line, but it never sounds believable.

S04E03: "A Clean and Quiet Town"

Kimble gets beaten up by a couple of cops, for no particular reason, just because they're cops and they can get away with it. Turns out they're being paid off by the one-armed man, and it further turns out that all the cops in town are crooked. 

The cop corruption is thorough and accurate, and helps make up for the previous episode's cop-worship, but bad cops are the only element in the story that seems plausible. 

Directed by Mark Rydell, who later made On Golden Pond and Cinderella Liberty and The Cowboys with John Wayne.

S04E04: "The Sharp Edge of Chivalry"

Going by the name 'Baker', Kimble is working as building super in a rez hotel. There's a shady young man in the building who kills the woman in room 2B, and plants evidence to frame Kimble.

It's an overwrought episode of Days of Our Lives, and even in the innocence of the 1960s, you couldn't get a job as building super — with keys to every room in the building — without a background check.

It's also pivotal for the plot that Kimble leaves the perp alone in the office with all those keys hanging on the wall, something only an idiot would do. 

S04E05: "Ten Thousand Pieces of Silver"

'Livingston' is the new hired hand on a farm, where there's a girl everyone describes as 'different' — a little light in the head. There's also an escaped killer, and an unlikely truck wreck into the water. The 'different' girl's older sister has the hots for Kimble, and a newspaper publisher has put a price on Kimble's head — $10,000. Yeah, believe it or not, there'd been no reward for his capture until now.

This story is stuffed to overflowing with unlikeliness, which I'll forgive because the strands are tidyly tied together into what feels like one coherent story.

But jeez, what about June Harding? She's the actress who plays the 'different' girl, but she also played effectively the same role, a different 'different' girl, in the second season episode, "Moon Child." Seems weird and insulting, to hire the same actress to play mentally defective women twice on the same show.

S04E06: "Joshua's Kingdom"

This sixth episode of the fourth season is a remake of the eighth episode of the third season: Again, Kimble meets an otherwise upstanding family man who despises mainstream medicine. Again, this not-a-doctor's rules against doctoring have killed someone, and might kill someone again. Again, Kim Darby is the guest star, but last time she was the child in peril, and this time she's an unwed mother, and her baby is the child in peril.

Some elements of the plot have been altered. Last time, Kimble had been injured, was unemployed, and went by 'Curtis'; this time he's an assistant to a veterinarian, and going by 'Corbin'. Last time, the wingnut's hatred of medicine was fueled by his love of nature and an evil wife; this time, the wingnut is motivated by Christianity, so there are a couple of conversations dealing with religion, and of course, Kimble wins those arguments.

None of this is criticism, though. The episode's quite good, and puts Kimble in more peril than the original did. Harry Townes plays the wingnut, Tom Skerritt plays a fired deputy who's a wingnut in a different way, and Walter Burke (you'll know him) plays Doc Martin, the veterinarian who doesn't have a phone, and says, "I can't stand phones. Too much jangling. A man's gotta have time to eat and sleep."

Hilariously, he meets and hires 'Corbin' with the world's easiest job interview:

Kimble: Doc? Mr Feeney thought you might be able to use some extra help.

Doc Martin: Oh, yeah, yeah, I sure could. I sure could use some help. You're hired.

S04E07: "Second Sight"

In a room full of boxes marked "Explosives," Kimble and the one-armed man square off, and soon things get explosive. Kimble is blinded. Ted Knight is his ophthalmologist. Things get more and more impossible, and probably offensive to the blind. 

It's trying to be high drama, but a lot of this plays like a parody of The Fugitive… and yet, after watching maybe too much of The Fugitive over the past month, I enjoyed it. 

S04E08: "Wine is a Traitor"

In California wine country, 'Taylor' (Richard Kimble) accepts a ride with a couple of grape pickers, who are talking about a strike. Gunshots ring out from the side of the road, one of the workers is killed, and 'Taylor' is shot, too. Did the farmers order the killing, to stop a strike?

It's not The Fugitive's proudest moment, but this one's enjoyable for the drama and mystery of why the grape picker was killed.

Roy Thinnes is the guest star, and James Gregory is the "special guest star," but it's unclear what makes Gregory special, and Thinnes not so special.

S04E09: "Approach with Care"

This is another episode about someone 'different', because we're not supposed to say 'retarded' any more. 'Retarded' is rude when used as an insult, and should be avoided, I think, but when used descriptively, there's no word that works so well.

The retarded guy in this episode (Denny Miller, from Wagon Train) is violent, and needs to be institutionalized, and the episode is more a slur on the retarded than the word could ever be. I've known a dozen retarded people in my life, and nary a one has been violent. Probably it happens, but this episode leans way too hard on that generally false stereotype.

S04E10: "Nobody Loses All the Time"

Working as 'Robinson', Kimble is a red-tuxedo-clad waiter at the HMS Bounty Bar & Grill, and after work he spots the one-armed man on the street. He's ready to chase, but wham, there's an auto accident. A woman has been seriously injured, and in a flash Kimble decides, damn it, he has to be a doctor and help her, even as the one-armed man gets away. That's the start of a pretty good story.

"You'd notice this fellow — he only has one arm."

"Who counts?"

In a lot of episodes, the street scenes were filmed on sets, which after four years gets really obvious. This one was filmed on location, and it brings things to life.

There's a nail-biting chase across a rail yard, and a scene under the bridge I recognize from the movie Drive, so it wasn't a long commute — this was filmed on location in Los Angeles.

In one scene, cops are closing in on Kimble inside a hospital, and he escapes in a service elevator, then steals an ambulance from in front of the emergency room to get away. These exact events were borrowed and restaged for the 1993 movie, The Fugitive

S04E11: "Right in the Middle of the Season"

Calling himself 'Carter' again (he was 'Carter' twice in the third season), Kimble is working on a fishing boat, for a cranky old salt who spouts the line from every fishing drama, "All I know is fishin', like my pappy before me and his pappy before him."

Kimble and the fisherman are at sea for two weeks, but when the boat returns to dock, there's no unloading the catch, because a strike started while they were gone fishin'. The old sailor's son is the head of the union local, because that's dramatic.

A big-time TV network isn't likely to side with the strikers, and even an excellent show like The Fugitive is going to fumble the nuance of a strike. And yeah, it's fumbled. Maybe more like sidestepped, and the show's affectionate embrace of the fisherman — a scab — is frustrating.

S04E12: "The Devil's Disciples"

Kimble is cornered by a police manhunt in the foothills, but a couple of motorcycle roughnecks see what's going on, and give him a getaway ride on one of their two-wheeled roaring machines. When Kimble gets off and says thank you, one of them explains, "We're not exactly running a free bus line, you know. You are with us."

One of the motorcycle thugs is Bruce Dern (in his fifth Fugitive episode, all in different roles). Dern and Kimble get into a shovel-fight, but mostly this episode is a bore. The series is working its way toward its conclusion at the end of this season, and still making mostly good episodes, occasionally great ones, but not as reliably as in the first season, or even the third.

It also features Lou Antonio, and "special guest star" Diana Hyland (her third episode, with one more later in the year).

S04E13: "The Blessings of Liberty"

Kimble is working in a Hungarian immigrant's upholstery shop when cops raid the place, but they're not looking for Kimble. They're looking for some other escaped killer — one who actually killed somebody.

The patriarch of the Hungarian family seems as uptight as Kimble around cops, and it turns out he's also on the run. Man, we need a shuttle bus for all these fugitives on the run!

Turns out the Hungarian upholsterer had been a surgeon in the old country. The backstory is that a woman had come to him for an abortion, and he'd refused because it was illegal. She went to a butcher instead, where the procedure went wrong, so she sought out the Hungarian to patch her wounds, but they were unpatchable. And as the woman died, she pointed at our Hungarian guy, and said, "It's his fault." 

"If anybody dies from an illegal abortion, it's called murder," the episode explains, and there were witnesses to the lady's pointing and what she said, so now the Hungarian guy is certain he'd be convicted of murder if the cops knew who he was.

Sounds complicated, right? And that's just the set-up. It gets more complicated, but it's tense and entertaining.

S04E14: "The Evil Men Do"

Waitress at the diner: May I help you?

Kimble: Yeah, give me a hamburger and a cup of coffee.

Waitress: Roast beef's better. Hamburger's been sitting around four days already.

Kimble: Oh, how about the roast beef?

Man, this episode is so weird, it had me laughing out loud even before that diner scene.

Without giving too much away, Kimble is working with horses at a ranch in the Poconos. James Daly (Medical Center) owns the ranch, and he's a gun enthusiast and hunting fanatic, which in my experience means he's definitely a bad guy. And guess what? He's a bad guy.

But Kimble has saved the bad guy's life, and there's a code of honor in the mob, so now the bad guy wants to return the favor — by killing Lt Gerard.

All this is about as likely as planting radishes but growing cucumbers, but this episode is a marvelous cucumber.  

S04E15: "Run the Man Down"

Kimble being Kimble walks by the wrong place at the wrong time, gets a gun pointed at him, and we're underway. The recent winning streak continues — this episode's great.

It's the familiar story of bad guys in the mountains after a heist gone wrong, but it has a few extra twists, and it's engagingly acted by James Broderick, Ed Asner, and Georgann Johnson.  

S04E16: "The Other Side of the Coin"

Kimble, but call him 'Parker' please, is a stockboy at the grocery store. Skippy works there, too. He's barely an adult, estranged from his father the sheriff, and low on cash so he robs the store. Skippy, Skippy, Skippy — never rob the store where you work.

The robbery goes all wrong, the kid gets shot, wrecks his stolen getaway car, and asks his sheriff dad to cover for him.

Would a cop bend the rules to protect a loved one, a buddy, himself? In real life, yes of course, but would a cop on a TV show bend the rules?

Joseph Campanella, Beau Bridges, and Booth Colman are the guest stars, along with another vaguely familiar face I couldn't place. It's soap opera stuff, like sands through an hourglass again, and only tangentially about Kimble, but it's fun.

S04E17: "The One That Got Away"

This one's another enjoyable excursion. Kimble is working as deck hand on a small boat that's sailing to Mexico, and the only passenger is the wife of an embezzler, headed for a rendezvous with her criminal husband. But the skipper, brave and sure, is an undercover cop zeroing in on the embezzler. 

Anne Francis and Charles Bronson are the guest stars. Directed by Leo Penn, who did a dozen Bonanzas, ten Marcus Welbys, 27 Matlocks, and fathered Chris, Michael, and Sean.

S04E18: "Concrete Evidence"

You could build a good movie with this cast — Harold Gould, Celeste Holm, Jack Warden, and of course, David Janssen. But this is a kinda sucky episode.

Warden plays a hardhead under a hardhat, building a few miles of that newfangled interstate highway system, and he's also building a hotel, but he's not good with the books or the law. Holm is his wife and business partner, just as hardheaded but not as gullible about Kimble. Gould is a city official who sniffs something ain't right with the highway man's accounting.

There's intrigue here, and any business is corrupt if you look at the wrong set of books, and it's a treat to see businesspeople so vicious and backstabbing and all. But there are another half dozen crazy plot elements, and it's all too much, even before the mental hospital and the firebombing.

And it's guilty of the worst sin for The Fugitive: it's barely about Kimble.

S04E19: "The Breaking of the Habit"

This opens with a rather thrilling chase, and then Kimble hops onto the back of a truck to Sacramento, headed to a nunnery, to ask for help finding the one-armed man.

It's a sequel to the first season story about Sister Veronica the grumpy and faith-challenged nun, and I loved that nun. But here's she's all responsible and shit, has her faith back, and it takes 3/4 of the episode just talking her into helping Kimble. 

It's mostly dreck, followed by a sermonette.

S04E20: "There Goes the Ball Game"

Kimble goes to a big league ball game, alone, and ends up seated next to a woman (Linda Day before she was George) who's soon called away by an usher. Seems ordinary enough, but no, she's been kidnapped, so her father (Martin Balsam) effectively kidnaps Kimble, demanding that he identify the usher. 

The worried father is a demanding, obnoxious, rich bastard, and we're shown the bastard part as much as the rich part, along with the part where he actually loves his daughter. Day is smart and spunky and not merely a victim, and the dynamic between the kidnappers is brittle. There's also a nice sprinkling of Vincent Gardenia.

But the winning point here is that Kimble gets a bit brusque. He'd barely even glanced at the perp at the ball park, so he's not able to ID him, but he also doesn't seem to care much. "What kind of a cold potato are you?" the woman's father demands.

Wherever he's run for four years now, Kimble has always been the menschiest mensch in the room, so it's nice seeing him get impatient, seeing a hint of his dark side.

After two stinkers in a row, this is a very good episode. And the ball game is at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, which brought back some happy memories of a game I saw there, and a lady I saw it with, who fortunately didn't get up and disappear during the game.

S04E21: "The Ivy Maze"

This one's almost science fiction, and good sci-fi, albeit B-movie cheesy.

William Windom plays Fritz Simpson, an old fraternity brother of Kimble's who reaches out to tell him he's found the one-armed man. But finding the one-armed man isn't enough; what Kimble needs is the one-armed man's confession that he killed Kimble's wife.

Luckily, Simpson is a mad scientist, conducting 'dream-deprivation' experiments, in which the subject is allowed to sleep, but shaken awake every time he starts dreaming. No REM for you! Doc Simpson says this breaks down a person's mental defenses and forces honest answers to any questions asked, so the next experimental sleeper will be … the one-armed man.

It's all sorta sordid, but likable, and in addition to the main story, there's some enjoyable backstory on Kimble and his wife. 

S04E22: "Goodbye My Love"

Kimble, going by 'Garrison', is a parking attendant at a swanky nightclub, where a rich guy (Jack Lord) is leering at the lounge singer (Marlyn Mason). What 'Garrison' doesn't know is that the rich guy and the lounge singer both know he's Kimble, and they've concocted a devious plan to frame him for the murder of the rich guy's disabled wife (Patricia Smith). 

After so many years of Hawaii Five-O, it's fun watching Lord being despicable, and the woman in a wheelchair is not a stereotype.

Someone 60 years ago must've made a conscious decision to tweak Kimble's character a little, to reflect his weariness from the long chase. In this season's episode 20, he was a bit meaner and more mercenary than he's been. In episode 21 he wasn't bothered by the ethics of medical experimentation. And in this episode he's got a ladyfriend yet again, but he's not pushing her away and always making the Pepto-Bismol face, like he's usually done. Kimble even gets slightly liquored up.

I like this episode a lot.

S04E23: "Passage to Helena"

In a Montana town so small that the barber also runs the bus station, Kimble is walking along all dour and alone and haggard, and pauses to pet a dog, but the critter scrambles away. Gotta love little moments like that. 

"Hey, you! Hold it!" cries a cop from across the street. Kimble bolts, the cops run after him, and when they try to arrest him he puts up a struggle. This gets him arrested and jailed, but they don't know who he is. Still, the deputy has a feeling...

Cop: Why did you run when the officer stopped you?

Kimble: I only had $10 in my pocket, no visible means of support.

Cop: Hmm. You don't look and talk like a vagrant.

The cop is bringing a convicted killer to be hung in the state capitol, so he decides to take Kimble along, planning to check his background with the state police there. This cop is black, though, and did I mention we're in Montana? The locals aren't wild about having a black cop, and the bad guys' kinfolk in the hills hate this cop twice as much as they hate cops in general.

James Farentino and Percy Rodrigues are the guest actors; Farentino's good and Rodrigues is better. 

"Nobody puts me in chains, especially him."

The race factor is underplayed, because of the times but maybe also because the drama works better when it's subtle. The cops are all written righteous when you and I know they're not, and I prefer it when The Fugitive knows that too, but other than that, this is a pretnear perfect episode. 

S04E24: "The Savage Street"

"Do you know what he said to me once? He said, 'We all do what we have to do'."

Three almost comically well-scrubbed white thugs hassle a teenage Hispanic fiddler for being Hispanic. There's a mild street brawl, and Kimble comes to the boy's rescue.

I've forgotten how, but somehow Kimble knows the fiddler's father's (Gilbert Roland from The Sea Hawk), whose brother (Michael Ansara from The Manitou) is a cop, who figures out who Kimble is. Tom Nardini (Cat Ballou) plays the fiddler. 

"The Savage Street" is an exaggerated title; the street is kinda unfriendly, that's all. It's an ordinary episode, dramatically, and the street gang is straight from Ozzie and Harriet, but there's some cool and unusual camerawork, and a script that delivers a real rarity — a fictional cop I liked.

S04E25: "Death of a Very Small Killer"

Love the title — will this be an episode about gnomes and little people? Nope, it's about bacteria. Kimble finally finds his way to Mexico, where he's recognized by a mad scientist and forced to assist in his human experiments.

Give the episode points for being unusual, but it's lame. It might've succeeded if not for Arthur Hill's over-the-top performance as the mad scientist, but… probably not.

On the plus side, Kimble pursues a woman again. For four years women have been pursing him, but now he's ready for love.

S04E26: "Dossier on a Diplomat"

In Washington DC and going by the name 'Farrell', Kimble comes to the aid of a foreign ambassador (Ivan Dixon with an African accent) who slips while crossing the street. In gratitude, the kindly ambassador offers Kimble a room in the embassy. His wife (Diana Sands) is not so welcoming.

Other than the unlikeliness of the ambassador's invitation, this ep is exquisitely written, with clever dialogue for five intriguing, believable, and smart characters — the ambassador, his wife, their secretary (Diana Hyland, full of witticisms), Kimble himself of course, and his new lawyer, who thinks he can get Kimble a new trial.

One of the show's great moments is when Lt Gerard comes to the embassy to arrest Kimble. "As my guest," the ambassador explains to Gerard, "he is beyond your reach. The privilege of immunity
and sanctuary is expressed by many countries, including yours, sir."

"The local police have surrounded the embassy," says Gerard. "He's boxed in tight."

"Ah, well. The beds here are very comfortable, we have a superb cook, excellent television reception, and then, of course, there's always chess."

Curiously, the script fleetingly mentions budget cuts due to "austerity measures," an obnoxious term and bad idea I'd thought much newer than 1967.

S04E27: "The Walls of Night"

Kimble is a short-haul truck driver, and friendly with the dispatcher (Janice Rule), who has a checkered past — and present. She and Kimble can only date for lunch, never dinner, because she's on work release from prison.

He doesn't know that, though, and invites her for a weekend getaway, hubba hubba. She decides to go with Kimble instead of returning to prison, and the next thing you know, Kimble and Rule are on the run together.

This is a strong episode, and also offers a weary but witty waitress at the diner, played by the reliably excellent Sheree North. 

Maybe this is only a coincidence, but being a Seattle boy I noticed that a road sign puts Kimble 97 miles south of here. In the early moments of the next episode, Kimble says he's fresh from Olympia WA, which is about that far south of Seattle.

Now I'm wondering whether all the episodes are geographically synced like that, but I'm not curious enough to research it. Probably it's a one-time fluke.

And here's an even flukier fluke: I haven't watched The Man from UNCLE in about fifty years, but I liked it, and being a living repository of inane and irrelevant facts, I remember that headquarters for the United Network Command for Law Enforcement (UNCLE) was hidden behind Del Floria's Tailor Shop.

Well, Kimble walks right past Del Floria's, in the last moments of this episode. Guess Hollywood has only a finite number of back-lot street sets.

S04E28: "The Shattered Silence"

This is the last episode before the show's grand finale, and it's directed by Barry Morse, who usually plays Lt Gerard. The direction is good, and the story is half-preposterous, half-awesome.

Kimble is going by the name 'Lewis', new in town and shopping for sundries, when, immediately after meeting a pretty woman (Antoinette Bower), she offers him a job. He says no, and she quickly offers him a ride. He accepts, and away they go, but she stops at her house, and invites him inside. This lady is one very friendly stranger.

And then, having known him for mere minutes, she hears a 'wanted' bulletin on the radio, realizes that 'Lewis' is Richard Kimble, and suggests that he take her car, wreck it over a nearby cliff, and get away while cops are investigating the crash.

After wrecking the woman's car as instructed, and getting shot by a cop, Kimble finds himself resting and recuperating at a hermit's house on a mountain hilltop. He's the hermit's first human contact in many years, and right here on network TV, they have a conversation about Henry David Thoreau.

"Do you think he would've allowed himself to become a slave to his car, to his lawyer, to the 101 things that run a man's life from sunup to sundown?"

After living so alone for so long, the hermit (Laurence Naismith) decides he wants Kimble to stick around. Me, I love the hermit, and I'd definitely stay if invited, but Kimble can't, of course — he has a one-armed man to find.

"You'll find another excuse," says my hero hermit, "and never stop running. You'll be like the rest of them, on the treadmill until you die."

The episode's first half, with that nutty woman, can't be taken seriously, but once the acerbic hermit shows up it might be my favorite half-episode of the whole series.

When the cops want to search his cabin for Kimble, he says, "I'm a mad hermit, sheriff. Mad hermits don't have house guests, by definition." 

"Then why not let us in?" the sheriff asks. "What are you protecting in there?"

"My privacy."

Wow, he's me!

S04E29 & E30: "The Judgment"

These days, every so-so show gets an overblown last episode. The Fugitive invented that. There had already been myriad television series by 1967, but every one of them simply stopped airing when it was cancelled. The Fugitive was the first TV show courteous enough to intentionally tie up its loose ends and resolve its storyline.

Annnnd this is it. This is why I watched The Fugitive again — I'd never seen the show's famous two-part conclusion, but now I have and this is it. As the very-bass narrator says, "Tuesday, September 5th: The day the running stopped."

Kimble is in Tucson, working as a truck driver again, when he spots a headline: "Only one arm — wrecks L.A. bar." There's a photo, too, and it's the same one-armed man we've seen in a clip at the top of every episode for four years, the man Kimble saw fleeing from the scene of his wife's murder.

Of course, Kimble quits the trucking job and makes his way to Los Angeles. But was the one-armed man's arrest for real, or is it a ruse by Gerard, who's waiting in L.A.? 

The story twists like a strand of boiled spaghetti left in the pot, and then it twists a little more. Part one is stuffed with tension and a couple of big surprises, and part two does plotted loop-de-loops before the remarkable set-piece conclusion at an amusement park.

It's been nearly 60 years since this aired on the telly, but spoilers are still an outrage so I'll say nothing more, except that it's not a disappointment. It's a terrific story, and one of the series' best (though there were a few episodes better).

The only let-down is the final handshake between Kimble and Gerard. Almost as much as the dramatics with the one-armed man, their handshake is the pinnacle of the whole series, and it deserved a better camera angle and a moment of lingering.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Vindicated at last, what lies ahead for Dr Richard Kimble? It seems unlikely that he could go back to his medical practice — who's going to bring their children to a pediatrician famous for being accused of murdering his wife?

And the show doesn't bring it up, but with nobody paying the mortgage or taxes, even his house would be someone else's house after four years on the run.

For Doc Kimble and The Fugitive, though, it's a happy ending, and this remains one of the finest series ever made for television. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

OK, let's tally the numbers and check the stats:

By my count over The Fugitive's four-year run, Kimble was shot nine times, survived being hit by a car, a truck wreck, a Jeep wreck, and of course the train wreck that started it all. He suffered two concussions, was hospitalized four times, survived a kitchen explosion and a bus explosion, got amnesia (but got better), and was blinded (but got better).

Hundreds of people figured out who Kimble was, or he told them — and almost all of them helped him anyway. Which is a felony, of course — and a key part of the show's subversive appeal. 

Kimble told four jokes, and smiled about 45 times over the course of 120 episodes. He romanced 14 women, and 22 more made moondoggie eyes or otherwise indicated a willingness.

And he saved Lt Gerard's life five times, and once even saved the life of Gerard's wife's.

David Janssen was the entire "regular cast," but Barry Morse appeared in 37 episodes as Gerard, and Paul Birch was in eleven episodes, playing Gerard's boss. Bill Raisch played the one-armed man in nine episodes (having lost an arm in a shipboard fire during WW2, he was perfect for the part, but he wasn't otherwise an actor). Jacqueline Scott played Kimble's sister in five episodes, and Eileen Heckart played a wacky nun, Sister Veronica, in three episodes. Appearing only in flashbacks, Kimble's ill-fated wife was played by Diane Brewster (Beaver's teacher on Leave It to Beaver), in two episodes. 

There were lots of recurring actors, playing different characters every time. Tops was Mark Russell (9 episodes, 9 characters), but among actors you might've heard of, the champ was Richard Anderson (from The Six-Million Dollar Man), who appeared in six roles in six episodes. Five episodes each for Bruce Dern, Dabs Greer, Bing Russell, and Harry Townes. Four each for Val Avery, Joseph Campanella, Dabney Coleman, Ted Gehring, Diana Hyland, and Noam Pitlik. Three guest starring roles for Lou Antonio, R G Armstrong, Ed Asner, Edward Binns, Michael Constantine, Robert Duvall, Ned Glass, Harold Gould, Lloyd Haynes, Shirley Knight, Lois Nettleton, Tim O'Connor, J Pat O'Malley, Telly Savalas, and James B Sikking.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Obviously, The Fugitive adds up, and I enjoyed it so much I kept notes, but I wouldn't recommend what I've just done — watching every episode. Most are good and about two dozen are very good or great, but TV is an assembly line, and even The Fugitive churned out some stinkers.

If you're going to watch the series, trust me on this, you won't miss much by skipping S01E02, S01E09, S01E16, S01E20, S01E28, S01E29, S02E04, S02E06, S02E08, S02E10, S02E19, S03E06, S03E11, S03E23, S03E25, S03E28, S03E30, S04E02, S04E03, S04E04, S04E09, S04E11, S04E12, S04E18, S04E19, and S04E25.



  1. Willie Mays died today, and there are plenty of obits around the Web, so we don't need another, but I need to write a couple of words about my all-time favorite player. You can read his stats in any of the other goodbye pieces.

    I got to see Willie play in person three times: once in Candlestick Park and twice in Cheney Stadium in Tacoma when the big league club visited their AAA affiliate. He didn't dog it for those two games: he apparently only knew one way to play the game. He was also the last player to get on the bus to the airport. He was signing baseballs and programs and arms and legs and the crowd was actually getting bigger, long after the last out had been called. A couple of the other players yelled at Willie from the bus to get onboard so they could get home. Willie yelled back "These people are paying our salaries. Get out here and help me sign." I was 11 years old and Willie was holding up the whole team to sign my program (and a few hundred others).

    When Willie and his wife moved to San Francisco with the team after the 1957 season, Willie discovered with surprise that San Francisco was considerably more segregated than New York. In upper Manhattan, Willie played stickball with the local kids, black and white, during the day of night games. In San Francisco, Willie was confined to the "black" neighborhoods of the city. When he and his wife were out looking for a house, Willie was told, "This is DiMaggio's town." Willie famously replied, "Seems like a big town to only have one player."

    Willie at one time or another led the National League in every offensive and defensive category available. He was the "Say Hey" kid, even when he was 93, which meant go all out on every play and have fun doing it. His smile and his embrace were the sword and staff of the Civil Rights Movement. Life was way too short and precious for Willie to waste time dogging it. He played to win.


    1. And he won.

      If I ever saw him play it was only on TV, which doesn't count. Saw his larger-than-life statue, though, well-earned because he was larger-than-life in life. He probably had his secrets and scandals, everyone does, but I don't need to know about that.

      Thanks for the personal memories, John.


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