Paramount // 1966 // 666 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Michael Rubino (Retired) // November 18th, 2010
"He stands convicted of a crime he did not commit. His full time occupation is the search for the guilty man. There is no one who has a greater appreciation for freedom under the blessings of liberty than Richard Kimble, fugitive."
Richard Kimble has been running for so long that television entered the age of color! This first volume from The Fugitive's final season finds the good doctor edging ever closer to the one-armed man that killed his wife.
By now, you probably know the drill: Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen) was wrongly accused of killing his wife. The one-armed man, Fred Johnson (Bill Raisch), did it! Kimble was able to escape the cold-hearted clutches of Lt. Gerard (Barry Morse), and has been trying to clear his name ever since. That was like three years ago.
The Fugitive: The Fourth and Final Season, Volume One features the following episodes:
* "The Last Oasis"
* "Death is the Door Prize"
* "A Clean and Quiet Town"
* "Sharp Edge of Chivalry"
* "Ten Thousand Pieces of Silver"
* "Joshua's Kingdom"
* "Second Sight"
* "Wine is a Traitor"
* "Approach with Care"
* "Nobody Loses all the Time"
* "Right in the Middle of the Season"
* "The Devil's Disciples"
* "The Blessings of Liberty"
* "The Evil Men Do"
* "Run the Man Down"
I imagine a show transitioning from black and white to color must have been pretty jarring back in the '60s. Color photography had been around for a while, but suddenly television was catching up. And just as America was finally catching up with the world of RGB, Dr. Kimble seems to be getting closer and closer to that ugly guy with one arm.
By this point in the show's run, the formula of "wander into town, solve someone's problem, escape town before getting caught" was wearing a little thin. It's clear early on in this set that the writers began pushing towards an end, a final showdown between Kimble, Gerard, and Johnson (the one-armed man). Suddenly, the character of Fred Johnson is showing up all over the place, and every episode he's in is pure gold. In "A Clean and Quiet Town," Kimble becomes trapped in a burgh run by gangsters that happen to cavort with Johnson. In "Second Sight," Kimble gets even closer to nabbing the guy, but a temporary blindness ruins his chances. Again, in "Nobody Loses all the Time," Kimble is caught in a hospital between Johnson and Gerard -- it's easily the most intense episode in the set.
Over these four seasons, the character of Lt. Gerard has grown from a two-dimensional detective to a deep, and very depressing, foil for Kimble. Unfortunately, his regularity on the show seems to have dropped off; he only appears in four episodes this set. Admittedly, "The Evil Men Do" may be one of his most exciting appearances, as he and Kimble have to team up to escape a sniper in a warehouse.
So when Kimble isn't fighting the man with one arm, he's falling into the sort of trope that almost every "wandering hero" show after The Fugitive eventually resorts to: hot-button social issues. This series has always been exceedingly well written, with a classy and realistic representation of everyday American life -- that much remains. But there's also this newfound stream of social and cultural relevance that Kimble keeps wading into: in "Joshua's Kingdom," Kimble deals with ultra-religious, anti-medicine types; "The Devil's Disciples" has him riding around with hepcat bikers angry about Vietnam; and "The Blessings of Liberty" has him tackle both abortion and immigration in one swoop. Whether it's mental disability, labor unions, or Native American relations, this season seems ready to tackle them all.
As I mentioned, this is the first season to transition into color, and the digitally remastered print looks pretty great. The colors are vibrant and the dirt and grain exists just enough to be charming. The audio, and specifically the music, is as strong as ever.
Surprisingly, this is the first set in the series to feature a supplement: "Season of Change," an interview with Quinn/Martin composer Dominic Frontiere. The interview is fairly interesting, but fans of the series should consider this a major win: it was just a few releases ago that fans rallied online to get the original soundtrack for this series restored. Still, for as nice as it is to have a ten-minute interview in this set, there's a lot more that needs to be done as we approach the final volume.
After three years, why don't the authorities have an updated photo of Kimble? How about an accurate artist sketch? Something.
The Fugitive: The Fourth and Final Season, Volume One finds our hero getting closer than ever to the one-armed man. These episodes are some of the best I can remember from the show's run; however, the social issue-centric episodes are often boring and preachy. It's a mixed bag, sure, but the show's solid writing and exciting jaunt into the world of color make this final season worth checking out.
It doesn't matter if I say you're guilty or not, you're still going to run.
Review content copyright © 2010 Michael Rubino; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 666 Minutes
Release Year: 1966
MPAA Rating: Not Rated