DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: The Fugitive: Season Two, Volume One

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Matt Hough, May 26, 2008.

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  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    The Fugitive: Season Two, Volume One
    Directed by Sydney Pollack et al

    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 1964
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    Running Time: 771 minutes
    Rating: NR
    Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
    Subtitles: CC
    MSRP: $ 42.99

    Release Date: June 10, 2008
    Review Date: May 26, 2008


    The Series

    5/5

    The Fugitive is one of the iconic television series of the 20th century. The story of Dr. Richard Kimble, convicted murderer of his wife who after an amazing escape from police custody searches the country for the one-armed man he saw running away from the scene of the crime, has been the basis of two television series and one of the biggest film hits of the past century. But the original series version remains a wondrous creation, an absorbing drama with a charismatic, laconic leading man and stories that have him interact with every strata of society: some helpful, some lethal as he continues his seemingly unending quest for the man he believes actually committed the crime.

    The second season of the show was the most popular of its four year run landing as the fifth highest ranking show in the ratings at the end of the season. This first of two volumes cataloging that season’s enormously successful presentation form the basis of this release. The fifteen episodes contained in this set might not have scored any Emmy nominations during the 1964-65 awards season (a reorganization of Emmy categories worked to the disadvantage of the show), but you won’t find more involving human drama than in the episodes contained in this set.

    The underrated David Janssen played Kimble, and he gives from beginning to end one of the legendary continuous performances in TV history. His halting, tortured persona, that constant mix of hopefulness and yearning as he continues his quest in episode after episode, is a haunting portrayal never equaled by the other actors who have taken the role. His adversary, Lieutenant Philip Gerard played by the effectively stolid Barry Morse, was constantly one step behind and yet unrelenting in his search for the escaped Kimble.

    The episodes follow a similar pattern: Kimble passes through town and gets involved with one or more persons there with their own conflicts. Sometimes the conflicts involve him directly (a former trial lawyer who wants to push for a new trial, a former girl friend who wants to flee with Kimble to Brazil) while in other episodes, he’s an unwitting participant in someone’s else’s struggles, involvements which often come close to exposing his identity and aiding the police in his capture.

    As in many Quinn Martin television programs of the period, guest stars played a key role in bringing millions back to the show week after week. Among the award-winning stars guesting during this first half of season two are Ed Begley, Suzanne Pleshette, Lois Nettleton, Diana Hyland, Slim Pickins, Leslie Nielsen, Arthur O‘Connell, Tuesday Weld, Betty Garrett, Brett Somers, Ronny Howard, Warren Oates, and Janis Paige. And you’ll see surprisingly young versions of familiar actors like Dabney Coleman and Kurt Russell (playing the son of Lieutenant Gerard!) pop up in episodes occasionally as well.

    Here is the list of episodes contained on the four discs in this set. As with all Quinn Martin productions, the episodes follow a set format: a prologue (in this season, a scene from the show about to air), main credits, four acts, and an epilog:

    1 - Man in a Chariot
    2 - World’s End
    3 - Man on a String
    4 - When the Bough Breaks
    5 - Nemesis
    6 - Tiger Left, Tiger Right
    7 - Tug of War
    8 - Dark Corner
    9 - Escape into Black
    10 - The Cage
    11 - Cry Uncle
    12 - Detour on a Road Going Nowhere
    13 - The Iron Maiden (my favorite episode of the half-season)
    14 - Devil’s Carnival
    15 - Ballad for a Ghost


    Video Quality

    4/5

    The series’ original 1.33:1 aspect ratio is replicated in these transfers. Despite being forty-four years old, the black and white transfers for the most part are of astonishing quality. Yes, there are occasional dirt specks and once in a while a scratch will briefly go by. But the sharpness, the terrific grayscale with darker than dark blacks and superb shadow detail will thrill you. Naturally, without anamorphic enhancement, the herringbone coats are going to flash, and you’ll see moiré patterns in clothing and some aliasing in tight line structures, but these go with the territory. Only on “Cry Uncle” do you see a truly wretched transfer, loaded with prominent scratches that cover almost the entire screen on more than one occasion. It’s the only episode in abominable shape, however. The rest look superb. Each episode is divided into 6 chapters.

    Audio Quality

    3.5/5

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is decoded by Dolby Prologic properly into the center channel. For audio technology over forty years old, these mono mixes sound really nice. There’s some nice bass during explosions, and the voices are all well recorded.

    Special Features

    0/5

    Apart from trailers advertising the John Wayne Collection, the CSI franchise, and Twin Peaks, there are no bonus features in this set at all.

    In Conclusion

    5/5 (not an average)

    There are a few truly great television shows available on DVD, and The Fugitive is one of them. Despite no extras at all, fans of the show will be delighted with the outstanding picture quality of these DVD transfers. The box features the usual disclaimer about some episodes being edited and music being changed from the original broadcasts. On "Ballad for a Ghost," obviously performance songs by Janis Paige have been dropped as the episode runs a few minutes shorter than the other episodes.


    Matt Hough
    Charlotte, NC
     
  2. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Looking forward to this set (eventhough the music edits on episode 15 are a bummer). Thanks for the review! [​IMG]
     
  3. Gary OS

    Gary OS Producer

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    Another review posted at DVD Beaver

    Gary "looking forward to this one" O.
     
  4. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    "Ditto", Gary. After all, you're primarily responsible for hooking me on this show [​IMG] That's the kind of habit that's [​IMG]

    I'm timing the viewing fairly well. Next one is FLIGHT FROM THE FINAL DEMON. I should be about done with it at the time of the next release. "Holy One-Armed Man"! It's less than 2 weeks away 06/10 .
     
  5. michael_ks

    michael_ks Screenwriter

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    You'll like that one, Jeff. Nice performances by Ed Nelson and Carroll O' Connor. I just viewed "The Homecoming" last night myself so I'm about on target to continue on seamlessly into S2.

    "Homecoming" didn't grab me like the others did on the set, but it caught the attention of my wife at least and I may have finally won her over with this show. Still, the performances seemed stilted (save for Shirley Knight's role) and I didn't like Gloria Grahame at all. Directing, dialogue and editing seemed rather flat as well--not as punchy as we've witnessed in other episodes.
     
  6. michael_ks

    michael_ks Screenwriter

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    Oh yes, thanks for that link, Gary. The nice shots of Suzanne Pleshette, Lois Nettleton, Strother Martin and Kurt Russell are really whetting my appetite for the latest set. And doesn't Tuesday Weld look quite the "untamed thing"? That's what ya gotta love about a QM show, such tightly drawn and highly disparate personalites from one episode to the next. Just compare Ed Begley to Arthur O' Connell, for instance. One nervously irritable the other warmly compassionate--without a single word said. The images say it all.

    And my, that "Cry Uncle" does indeed harbor considerable print damage. Looks like the "silver rain" in that 'Outer Limits' episode ("The Mutant").
     
  7. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    And that shot isn't nearly as bad as it actually looks and which happens for protracted moments a couple of times during the episode. I thought my player was getting ready to expire because it does come out of nowhere.
     
  8. michael_ks

    michael_ks Screenwriter

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    Matt, you mentioned in your review that scratches in the film cover the entire screen in a couple of scenes. Is this fairly isolated? Outside of this, is the episode in decent shape? I get the impression that the parts with the prominent scratching are the worst of what is a substandard transfer, i.e. the rest of episode has problems too.
     
  9. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    No, outside of the series of scratches, the episode looks fine. The scratches don't happen early, and before them, the episode looks as good as the others which is why they're so shocking when they do appear. They linger badly for longer than you think they're going to last, clear up for a bit, and then come back.

    But this is the only episode that is so badly marred in this way.
     
  10. PaulaJ

    PaulaJ Supporting Actor

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    Not to be impatient or anything, but does anyone have a guess as to when they'll release the second half of the second season?

    I really wish they were putting this out in complete season sets, but I shouldn't complain -- I'm so thrilled to have them at all. [​IMG]
     
  11. Bob Hug

    Bob Hug Screenwriter

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    Assuming sales are satisfactory for season 2, vol. 1, I think it's safe to assume that we'll see season 2, vol. 2 before the end of the year (maybe in time to coincide with another DeepDiscount sale).
     
  12. Tina_H_V

    Tina_H_V Supporting Actor

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    Great job, Matt!!!! Thanks!!!! I am looking forward to adding this sophomore season first-half as a birthday present to moi (two weeks from today!!) I particularly look forward to viewing the "Escape Into Black" episode featuring the late, great pre-Hogan's Heroes Ivan Dixon as a doctor Kimble himself runs into when he is injured in following up on a hot lead to the one-armed man!!!!

    Escape Into Black is one of my all-time favorite episodes of this fine classic television series. [​IMG]

    Besides mentioning Ms. Phlesette, Ms. Nettleton, Mr. Pollack and Mr. Morse, we also lost another great actor-director as well this year with the passing of Ivan Dixon. So, in watching this first-half Season Two set, please keep Mr. Dixon in your thoughts alongside all of the others. [​IMG]
     
  13. Bill Parisho

    Bill Parisho Stunt Coordinator

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    Danger! Danger! Avoid The Fugitive: Season Two, Volume One at all costs! "Some music" hasn't been replaced! All the music has been replaced! If you don't believe it, check out the reviews on Amazon.
    They couldn't pay me to take this abomination!
    Bill Parisho
     
  14. Carabimero

    Carabimero Cinematographer
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    I don't get why reviewers don't amend their reviews. I've always believed one of the top duties of journalists is accuracy and correcting oversights in a timely fashion.
     
  15. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Since the comments become part of the thread in the archive along with the review, and I said nothing one way or the other about the music, there's nothing to change, and the additional information is in the thread provided by those in the know.
     
  16. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Paul Mavis edited his DVDTalk review, but his edited version still indicates that it's actually up in the air as to whether there are any music changes at all within the Fuge S2, V1 release. Incredible.

    The "official" Internet reviewers of this DVD set are taking a very curious approach to this abominable decision by CBS/Paramount to rip out a vital part of each and every Fugitive episode....almost ignoring it entirely. Weird. And silly. (Especially since forums like HTF and DVDTalk allow people to "edit" their posts at any time in the future.)

    Gee, without the "edit" button at my side, I'd go nuts, because I can't possibly write a forum post without editing it at least once due to some type of error. And reviewers who didn't even spend one word talking about the unprecedented and sweeping music changes made to one of the most highly-regarded TV shows of all time and now won't go back into their initial reviews after learning about these major music changes in order to add some comments on the absurdity of releasing a show like "The Fugitive" sans every bit of its original background music is just -- well -- mind-boggling.

    ~shrug~
     
  17. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Sorry to disappoint you, David, but not being an expert on the original music, I can't speak with any authority on the changes. I think part of being a professional is admitting that I don't know everything and won't pretend to do otherwise. You'll pardon me if I leave those proofs for the music experts and comment only on what I can speak of with certainty.
     
  18. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    And even after learning that all of the background music has been stripped out of the whole DVD set, an addendum regarding these unprecedented changes in a DVD review is not warranted??

    That's very strange, IMO.


    EDIT:

    I've noticed that the DVD Beaver review has now added a blurb about the miserable music changes.
     

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