Judge Mike Rubino stopped running a long time ago.
Our reviews of The Fugitive (published November 7th, 1999), The Fugitive: Season One, Volume One (published August 15th, 2007), The Fugitive: Season One, Volume Two (published March 5th, 2008), The Fugitive: Season Two, Volume One (published July 2nd, 2008), The Fugitive: Season Two, Volume Two (published March 23rd, 2009), The Fugitive: Season Three, Volume One (published October 27th, 2009), The Fugitive (Blu-Ray) (published March 26th, 2007), The Fugitive (HD DVD) (published June 5th, 2006), and The Fugitive: The Fourth And Final Season, Volume One (published November 18th, 2010) are also available.
"Tuesday, Sep 5. The day the running stopped."
This is it. After four seasons and eight DVD releases, the falsely accused doctor is ready for his final verdict.
Facts of the Case
For four long years, Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen) has been trying to prove his innocence. His journey has criss-crossed through the American landscape, occasionally overlapping the paths of his pursuer (Lt. Gerard, played by Barry Morse) and his wife's killer (Fred Johnson, played by Bill Raisch). These three men have chased each other long enough. It's time to stop running.
The Fugitive: The Fourth and Final Season, Volume Two contains the following episodes:
Richard Kimble is getting close. It's hard to tell with this show, since the episodes are generally one-offs without any true progression or chronology, but trust me, you can feel the end creeping at every bus stop and railroad crossing.
Janssen, who hasn't changed the stoic awkwardness of Richard Kimble one iota, is commanding these episodes with the exhausted frustration that's natural after four years of running. Kimble has every right to be angry: he's constantly surrounded by people far more guilty or foolish than he'll ever be. He's just trying to find his wife's killer, but every town he stops in drags him into another mess. In "The Other Side of the Coin," Kimble gets stuck in the middle of a liquor store robbery with a sheriff's bratty son; "Passage to Helena" finds him stuck in the desert with a racist prisoner and an African American cop; "The Shattered Silence" has him trapped by a crazed mountain man (as if there is any other kind).
All of these "classic" formula episodes are thrilling in their own right, but the focus here should be on the lopsided shoulders of Fred Johnson, the one-armed man. Every episode he appears in is packed with more tension than suspension bridge cables. In "The Ivy Maze," Kimble and an old college friend lure Johnson into signing up for a university sleep study. The idea is that they'll get a confession out of him and hand it over to Gerard. This episode, along with the first part of the finale, serves up some much-needed character development for the one-armed man. Just as Lt. Gerard has become a fully-formed, depressing nemesis over this past season, Johnson has become something far worse: a directionless bottom-feeder. His character depth comes from his lack of depth; he seemingly has no conscience, no soul with which he feels remorse. That's the scariest kind of villain.
The entire set culminates in the epic two-part series finale, "The Judgment." At the time, it was the most watched episode of television in history, and rightly so. Nowadays you're lucky if the high-concept show you follow gets to arrive at a natural conclusion before getting cancelled. With The Fugitive, the series concludes gracefully. The two-parter begins with Johnson getting arrested for fighting in a Los Angeles bar. Lt. Gerard, knowing that Kimble has been chasing Johnson for years, uses the one-armed man as bait. The series comes full circle, with Kimble and Gerard once again on a train to Indiana. This time, however, Kimble has a second chance: 24 hours to convince Gerard that he didn't kill his wife.
"The Judgment" is beautiful television. The show's trademark four-act structure, the flashback reveal of the actual murder, and the final showdown at an abandoned amusement park all add up to a fully satisfying conclusion. It was, in fact, worth the wait.
As with previous releases, Paramount presents Season Four, Volume Two with a newly remastered, color transfer. The picture looks sharp for its age, despite the occasional dirt and grain that coats certain scenes. The Dolby Digital mono, featuring the show's incredible score, is more than adequate. The four disc set also comes with a brief featurette, "Composer Dominic Frontiere: The Color of Music." Given that this is the last installment of the series, it would have been nice to get a couple more supplements than just a 10-minute video on music.
I love The Fugitive; I've been covering the series since its first DVD release in 2007. The show's impact is undeniable, and yet it's rare for an influential show to still hold up as better than most of its imitators.
The Fugitive is a time capsule, abiding by its own dramatic rules while giving us a glimpse into mid-'60s America. The main character may not be all that likable at times, but he's at the very least sympathetic. The show may not have a lot of mystery to it, and yet it manages to ooze suspense before every commercial break. The finale, while arriving arbitrarily because of the show's vague chronology, is one of the most earned endings in television history.
Finally, Not guilty.
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