Paramount // 1965 // 771 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Michael Rubino (Retired) // October 27th, 2009
"For Richard Kimble, there is no sanctuary from the night wind. There is no cave in which to hide. But occasionally, along the road, a fugitive will find a hand extended in trust and the night wind will not seem so cold."
If you began each day with the foreboding narration of William "Fatman" Conrad, you'd be an awkward, paranoid mess too. Such is the life Richard Kimble has dealt with for three seasons now. The Fugitive: Season Three, Volume One arrives with fifteen more episodes of the venerable CBS series.
Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen) has been on the run for over two years, still seeking out the one-armed man he thinks killed his wife. Each episode he's in a new town, with a new job, constantly looking over his shoulder for the relentless Lt. Philip Gerard (Barry Morse).
Season Three, Volume One contains the following episodes:
* "Wings of an Angel"
* "Middle of a Heat Wave"
* "Crack in a Crystal Ball"
* "Trial By Fire"
* "Conspiracy of Silence"
* "Three Cheers for Little Boy Blue"
* "All the Scared Rabbits"
* "An Apple a Day"
* "Landscape with Running Figures" (Part 1)
* "Landscape with Running Figures" (Part 2)
* "Set Fire to a Straw Man"
* "Stranger in the Mirror"
* "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys"
* "End of the Line"
* "When the Wind Blows"
One of the more interesting aspects of The Fugitive, aside from its influential formula, is that it's a show that doesn't seem to evolve. Kimble isn't really any more downtrodden or gruff than he was in the first or second seasons. The stories aren't any more advanced -- although they may be a little more outlandish at times. The formula remains unchanged, so Season Three doesn't feel a whole lot different from those before it.
The show is still great, of course. The acting is consistently strong, especially with the show's two heavies, Janssen and Morse, and the pacing of each episode is down to a science. The episodes this season, like before, fall in to two clear-cut categories: Kimble gets mixed up in other folks' business, and Kimble narrowly escapes Lt. Gerard. The Gerard episodes are much more exciting, but there's only a few; after all, an entire series where Gerard fails every episode would start to feel like a Saturday morning cartoon.
"Wings of an Angel" opens the season with Kimble getting taken to prison -- not because he was caught, but because he got stabbed trying to catch an escaped convict. The episode is rich with tension, but it presents a question I found myself asking a number of times throughout the season: Why does Kimble get involved? It's his constant flirting with law enforcement that brings the guy so much heartache. Because he's a genuinely good person, that's why -- a lovable character with nary a flaw (except maybe being too shy). They don't make them like Kimble anymore.
So often, like in the episode "Conspiracy of Silence," Kimble is faced with an open door, a chance to escape, but he remains in order to help people. He's a doctor, and almost every episode has him using his skills in some fashion. Sometimes, like in "All the Scared Rabbits," it amounts to fifty minutes of tedium. In "Rabbits," Kimble agrees to work as a driver for a single mother and her daughter, but things get hairy when the girl brings along a rabbit with meningitis. Hey, they can't all be winners.
The real winners in the set are the Gerard episodes. In the two-parter "Landscape with Running Figures," Gerard and his wife (Barbara Rush) cancel their vacation to close in on Kimble in a Midwestern city. The only problem is that the city, and its surrounding areas, is awash in a dangerous flood. A long string of events finds Kimble and Mrs. Gerard together, with her being temporarily blinded by a concussion, fending for themselves in a lawless wasteland. The two-part format not only allows more screen time for Morse to further progress Lt. Gerard's brutal determination, it also lets Mrs. Gerard develop as a real character. As previous seasons have shown, the hunt for Kimble is tearing apart the Gerard family.
The best episode in the set, "Trial By Fire," involves another close call with Gerard. Kimble finds out that there was actually a witness on the night of his wife's murder: an Air Force pilot who saw the one-armed man but had to report abroad and couldn't testify. Now the pilot is willing to take the stand, but the only way they'll get a retrial is if Kimble turns himself in. "Trial By Fire" is one of the rare instances in the series where the plot to absolve Kimble progresses. Most of the time I don't feel as if Kimble is doing enough to solve his wife's murder, but here the series moves forward, even if the trial (obviously) doesn't work out. The next episode, Kimble is stuck working as a bellhop in a motel caught in a military experiment. He seems to have gotten over the botched trial.
The Fugitive: Season Three, Volume One matches previous releases in the set in both packaging and presentation. The video is, on average, extremely good. The quality of the remastered black and white negatives is sharp and well balanced. There is occasional grain and dirt, but what do you expect from a series that's over 40 years old? The audio is fairly good as well, and it seems as if the new soundtrack elements are blended in more evenly than in the previous release. The newly recorded music still sticks out, but it doesn't totally ruin the moment like it used to. As is usually the case, the set is devoid of any special features.
The Fugitive: Season Three, Volume One is another predictably good release of the classic CBS series. The episodes here tend to lean more on the dramatic character studies rather than tense cat-and-mouse chases with Lt. Gerard, but the acting and production quality are excellent throughout. If you've lasted this long in the search for the one-armed man, you'll certainly want to pick this up.
Review content copyright © 2009 Michael Rubino; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 771 Minutes
Release Year: 1965
MPAA Rating: Not Rated