From September 17, 1963 – August 29, 1967, TV viewers tuned in Tuesday evenings to watch an ABC network offering that, in this man’s opinion, was (still is) the best written and most captivating, crime drama ever aired.
For the first few seasons, its 10 to 11p.m. slot was way past my bedtime. But, eventually, as a teen, I got to join that vast audience; among them, my own mother, who never missed an episode. I could easily understand what inspired such loyalty. Who, among us, could not feel instant empathy for the protagonist; as introduced by the program’s narrator…
“The Fugitive, a QM Production … starring David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, an innocent victim of blind justice. Falsely convicted for the murder of his wife … reprieved by fate when a train wreck freed him en route to the death house … freed him to hide in lonely desperation … to change his identity … to toil at many jobs … freed him to search for a one-armed man he saw leave the scene of the crime … freed him to run before the relentless pursuit of the police lieutenant obsessed with his capture.”William Conrad
Granted, series creator Roy Huggins’ premise would’ve been rapidly shot down had the program debuted, today. Indeed, the anonymity, so vital to Kimble being able to “fly” beneath Police Lieutenant Philip Gerard’s radar, would’ve been rendered virtually impossible by the speed of light Internet, 24/7 news reportage, social media and, last but not least, post 9-11’s, ubiquitous, intrusive security cams, facial recognition tech, etc.
Additionally, had rail travel been in decline, as it is today, the freight trains would not have been Kimble’s oft chosen mode of travel / means of flight. Indeed, the very train wreck that had granted him a new lease on life, would’ve never happened, in the first place. As for today’s commercial airlines? Forget it! He would’ve never even dared to cross paths with uncompromising TSA personnel.
Beyond that, I must credit The Fugitive’s, innocent-man-sentenced-to-death theme for playing a significant role in establishing my staunch, anti-capital punishment sentiments.
Scant hours ago, the MeTV network aired an episode featuring a classic Kimble / Gerard interaction; one that was so clever, my first reaction was to find it on YouTube and offer you the link.
Considering how most of us are still idled / social isolating, anyway, this clip will provide some welcome relief from the monotony. Once you get wrapped up in Richard Kimble’s world, the 52 minute playback time will fly by. However, there’s a much better reason to watch.
I believe you’ll find the subplots uplifting. They showcase Kimble’s worldliness, which makes it second nature for him to befriend his Apache coworkers. And, in the end, it’ll be these Native Americans’ bilingualism; the utilization of their native tongue that’ll provide an unexpected twist to the storyline.
Also, the good doctor’s compassionate nature, will prove invaluable as he performs some figurative surgery. In the end, he’ll heal a thick-skinned, mean-spirited, tightfisted U.S. Congresswoman; help her reclaim her own heart.
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