APB: Fugitive Last Seen in Oregon

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Warning: Avoid Links to Evade Spoilers

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Even after a half century+, this now in his late sixties man still views producer and screenwriter Roy Huggins’ The Fugitive as my all-time favorite, nineteen sixties era TV drama. This won’t be the first time I’ve blogged about this superbly scripted and convincingly cast show and won’t likely be the last; mainly due to fresh, compelling, discussion angles frequently presenting themselves

When The Fugitive made its ABC (American Broadcasting Company) network debut, its Tuesday 10 p.m. slot was way past my bedtime. However, approximately midway thru its four-season run, I did manage to “grow into the show” (as it were) and, in a heartbeat, become a fast fan.

Who could not feel instant sympathy for the protagonist, Dr. Richard Kimble; i.e., considering how, while still in deep mourning, re the tragic death of his wife, Helen, he’d been wrongfully accused of being her murderer and, worse yet, convicted. True, his incarceration would only be brief, but that was due to his new “home” being situated on death row.

Only the en route to Indiana’s Big House, train derailment could pop open the handcuffs that conjoined Kimble and police Lt. Philip Gerard; offer the courtroom railroaded doctor an abrupt stay of execution; free him to pursue the actual killer (the one-armed man later identified as Fred Johnson), whom Richard had actually eye-witnessed fleeing the scene of the crime.

And, right then and there, the oft hot pursuit begins; Johnson fleeing Kimble; Kimble fleeing Gerard.

Even tho all of this intrigue does play out in TV land, with art renowned for frequently imitating life, the glaring ramifications could “only” serve to WISELY and WIDELY open my youthful eyes.

Most viewers could sense Huggins also taking a stand against real life imprudent jurisprudence and, via extension, showcasing capital punishment, already inhumane, in itself, as morphing into something even more contemptible, when (no spoiler re that link –>) judicial travesties condemn, to death, the falsely accused.

Hell, were such wrongful death jury trials ever convened, it’d be tough not to return a guilty verdict re each errant arresting officer, negligent crime scene investigator, overzealous district attorney and thoughtless juror.

Transitioning, now, to our second and last discussion angle….

Yesterday, the MeTV Network had aired Season 4’s Episode 28; Titled: The Shattered Silence; the very storyline that had ALMOST condemned Kimble to a “life” on the lam; i.e., till he EITHER died of old age OR Gerard wound up recapturing / dispatching him to death row’s doorstep. The following quotation will fill in the rest of the particulars…

“The [ABC] network was simply going to end the series with a regular episode without any kind of denouement, as network executives were totally oblivious to the concept that a television audience actually tuned in week after week and cared about the characters of a TV series. The timing of the broadcast was unusual. Rather than ending the regular season, the finale* was held back while suspense continued through the summer reruns.”

Fugitive Producer Leonard Goldberg / *original finale air dates 08/29 and 09/05/1967

Fortunately, the ABC (empty?) suits / bean counters, eventually funded the filming of the tie-up-the-loose-ends, two part episode, titled The Judgment; resulting in an advertiser’s bonanza; statistical data below:

“Part two of the finale was the most-watched television series episode up to that time. It was viewed by 25.7 million households (45.9 percent of American households with a television set and a 72 percent share), meaning that more than 78 million people tuned in.”

Wikipedia

Oh, btw, a reminder, just to keep viewers, new to the Fugitive Franchise, guessing; the airing of a finale does not, necessarily, guarantee a screenplay with a storybook ending.

However, for those of you, who are really, Really, REALLY content to settle for yesterday’s S 4 Ep 28, epilogue; i.e. when/where Kimble was last seen heading off into the Oregon hills; still desperately and doggedly hunting down the one-armed man Johnson, you’ll need to avoid watching The Judgment; slated to air on 4/11 & 4/18/2022 @2 a.m. Daylight Savings Time in the Eastern U.S. time zone (for some viewers, temporal adjustments will likely be necessary).

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Related Reading: The Fugitive’s Fascinating Facts

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

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One Step Ahead of the (F)law

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The stanzas, below, synopsize the core storyline of Roy Huggins’ brainchild; a.k.a. The Fugitive; the Sixties era crime / drama series; originally airing Tuesdays at 10 p.m. over the ABC-TV network; these days, episodes playing out on Mondays at the ungodly hour of 2 a.m. over the MeTV network.

By the bye, by poem’s end, do “stay tuned” for my, in standard prose, analysis of how and why, as a bygone kid, I could so readily identify with a grown-up, fictional fugitive from justice.

The Fugitive

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The off beaten path, Anytown homicide!
Doctor is shocked to learn his wife has died
Further stunned to be Cops’ suspect, prime
For, he saw Man, minus arm, flee the crime

While Doc can account, for his own whereabouts
His alibi, backed by none, stirs Cops’ doubts
With his fingerprints / mugshots now taken
He’s railroaded and feeling quite shaken

Soon at the mercy of hangman D.A.
And twelve jurors too easy to sway
The “Guilty!”, verdict the foreman doth state
Seals the Not Guilty. convicted Doc’s fate

Sentencing Judge prescribes chair with High Volts
But, train wreck derails plans; for Doc’s Death Row Jolts
Now, at large, he dyes hair, runs and hides
Flags down the buses, hops boxcars, thumbs rides

The folks he bumps into, wherever he goes
Also have down-on-their-luck tales and woes
Some shelter him well; others call cops to tell
He’ll pull up stakes, STAT; and then Run Like Hell

So, dual manhunts; daily duel, around the clock
Doc hunts down One-Arm; while Cop hunts down Doc
When clashes, face-offs oft go head-to-head
Who’ll get caught first? Who’ll live? Wind up dead?

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  • As a tween / teen I could readily relate to The Fugitive because Dr. Richard Kimble (actor David Janssen) and I were both misjudged and harassed; both on the run from bullies; him fleeing police Lt. Phillip Gerard (actor Barry Morse); I fleeing Elementary and Middle School classmates (bad actors all).
  • We both got morphed, against our will, into outcasts; forced into desolate, hopeless, social isolation.
  • Years later, when these 150 episodes got rerun in syndication. I began to better identify with Kimble’s palpable despair re his need to trade off his professional career (pediatrics) for menial, dead end, low wage, thankless jobs. After all, circumstances beyond my control necessitated deferring my own professional aspirations (broadcasting); to do my time in Retail Hell; a metaphorical death sentence, eventually commuted to 30 years.
  • Lastly, generally speaking, are not most of us doing our level best to stay one step ahead of that entity, akin to the relentless, death sentence enforcer Lt. Gerard; a.k.a. the Grim Reaper?

Beyond my above comparisons, we mustn’t overlook the simultaneous undercurrent coursing thru Huggins’ core storyline; which surfaces to serve as a consciousness raising message to society…

  • The Death Penalty serves no other purpose other than indulging the mindless vengeance of latter-day cavemen; (mis)leaders, (f)lawmakers and their birds of a feather constituents! Capital Punishment has no place within any aspiring to civility society.

At present 24 of America’s 50 states still endorse capital punishment; namely, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

All of which reminds the mindful…

How many of the convicted souls are absolutely innocent of all wrongdoing and, worse yet, how many have been put to death?

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Footnote: MeTV needs to reschedule The Fugitive to a prime time slot. While I’d watch this quality drama every day of the year, once per week would suffice to serve as a reminder to society that there’s still so much more of our work to do; so many wrongs we’ve yet to right.

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

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