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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MeTV Axed Columbo! YIKES!

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The headline pretty much sums up the crime that went down last night; and on a Sunday, too!

The Big Q: Does the MeTV brass really, Really, REALLY know WHO they are going up against?

Word on the street has it that Lt. Columbo has already been moonlighting in another precinct; i.e, over at the Cozi TV network.

And this viewer suspects that the Lieutenant will wind up kicking MeTV ass; hauling in higher Nielsen Ratings than whatever shows his former “bosses” counterprogram.

BTW, my admiration for this series, in part, focuses upon how, in spite of the violent nature of the crimes this sleuth investigates, the screenplay writers had rarely resorted to gratuitous gore; i.e. they had, indeed, refrained from painting the town red / crime scene blood red.

Now, to borrow Columbo’s classic catch phrase…

Just one more thing…

MeTV, do you really expect Columbo fans to believe you cannot scare up a scant 90 minutes per week to keep us happy? I mean how about axing Svengoolie? Each of his hackneyed presentations of unscary, yawner flicks burns up 120 minutes.

Oh, and just one more thing…

You guys have made a huge mistake. While I fully realize that your decision to axe Columbo was based upon YOUR BELIEF that you’ve rerun this series so deep into the ground that it buried itself… well… let’s just say that if you ever apply that same logic to all the shows you rerun, similarly, you’d soon need to bury your entire network.

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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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Must See MeTV Tonight!

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This being Veterans Day in America, I’d like to express my undying gratitude to the selfless, courageous and heroic men and women, who we rely on to preserve, protect and defend our cherished freedoms.

As long as we’re speaking of heroes… in a similar, somewhat less serious vein…

Let’s cross-fade to a discussion re the classic sitcom, Hogan’s Heroes, which originally aired over the CBS TV network from September 17, 1965 until April 4, 1971.

“The show is set during World War II, and concerns a group of Allied prisoners of war who use a German POW camp as a base of operations for sabotage and espionage purposes directed against Nazi Germany”

Wikipedia [read more here]

However, it’s the storyline of Season 2 Episode 01, in particular, which I consider to be the most imaginative of this series’ entire, 6 season 168 episode run. And best of all, it’s all slated to playback in prime time, this very night over the MeTV network.

BTW, the reason for my recently heightened affinity for this program is quite understandable. These characters consistently make life hell for every Nazi who’d even dare to cross their path.

Nazis just like Donald J. Trump and the 74,223,369 Nazis who voted for him last November.

Beyond that…

Had the characters Colonel Robert E. Hogan, Corporal Louis LeBeau, Corporal Peter Newkirk , Staff Sergeant James Kinchloe, Sergeant Richard Baker and Technical Sergeant Andrew Carter been stationed in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021, not one of Donald J. Trump’s seditious bastards would’ve gotten within one kilometer / mile of the U.S. Capitol. Hell, Nazi Trump’s Anti-American, “Stop the Steal” rally would’ve never gone down at all.

Typically, showtime for Hogan’s Heroes is 10 p.m., but due to time zone issues, the exact times will vary; so do consult your local listings.

This is Must See MeTV; soooooo… Tune In, Watch It and ENJOY!!

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4 Acts + 1 Epilog = Must-See Drama

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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.

Without further ado, I’ll now bid you, “Adieu” and invite you to click over to YouTube to watch an intriguing installment of The Fugitive, the episode titled: The Iron Maiden.

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