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"The Fugitive: Season 1, Volume 1" -- A Personal Review


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#1 of 59 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

David Von Pein

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Posted August 21 2007 - 01:25 PM

THE FUGITIVE: SEASON ONE, VOLUME ONE


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 <br />
 <font size=QUICK DVD STATS:
  • Number of DVDs -- 4 (Single-Sided; Dual-Layered).
  • Total Episodes -- 15 (Approx. 51 minutes each).
  • Video -- Full Frame OAR (1.33:1).
  • Audio -- English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono.
  • Color/B&W -- B&W.
  • Bonus Materials? -- No.
  • Subtitles -- None.
  • "Play All" Included? -- Yes.
  • Chapter Stops? -- Yes.
  • DVD Distributor -- CBS Paramount Television / Paramount Home Entertainment.
  • DVD Release Date -- August 14, 2007.
  • DVD Cover (Back Side).
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What is it that makes a television show a particularly great one, or that makes it highly memorable, or that makes it eminently rewatchable time after time?

Is it the actors? The characters and the interaction between them? The surroundings? The writing? The direction? The photography? The atmosphere? The music? Or the believability of the stories being told on the screen?

The answer, of course, is "All of the above". And when a TV series comes along that earns very high marks in every single one of the above-mentioned categories, as I believe "The Fugitive" (the original 1960s version) easily accomplishes, then I think it's safe to say that such a television program is deserving of an ample amount of attention (and praise).

And it's for those reasons I am proud to call Quinn Martin's "The Fugitive" one of my favorite TV series of all-time....and certainly my very favorite drama series ever shown on television.

For four seasons, David Janssen starred as Richard Kimble, a soft-spoken doctor who was falsely convicted for the murder of his wife.* Dr. Kimble was kept running for 120 TV episodes from 1963 to 1967.

The first 15 of those shows are presented in this nicely-done, 4-Disc DVD boxed set from CBS/Paramount Television.

* = For those people who are totally unfamiliar with this TV series, the above declaration of Kimble's innocence is not a "spoiler" of any kind. And that's because the viewing audience is told, point-blank, within the first few seconds of the opening credits of the very first episode that Dr. Richard Kimble is "innocent" of the murder charge for which he was convicted.

"The Fugitive" made its debut at 10:00 PM (east-coast time) on Tuesday, September 17, 1963, when ABC-TV aired the pilot episode, "Fear In A Desert City".

The final show of the series ("The Judgment"), which was first broadcast in the United States in August of 1967, is one of the highest-rated television programs ever. At the time of its initial airing, in fact, "The Judgment Part 2" surpassed all records and became the single most-watched program ever aired in the USA. It was eclipsed 13 years later by an episode of "Dallas" (and then by the final episode of "M*A*S*H" in 1983).

David Janssen was interviewed by Joey Bishop just hours before the final episode of "The Fugitive" aired on August 29, 1967. Jokingly, Janssen said to Bishop: "I killed her, Joey. She talked too much." [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/8/8d/htf_images_smilies_smile.gif[/img]

You can hear that fascinating 9-minute interview by clicking the "Play" button below:


In addition to its always well-written scripts, much of the enjoyment of "The Fugitive" (for me) lies in its instantly-recognizable music, composed by Pete Rugolo. The main title theme plus the wide variety of mood-enhancing musical cues and "bridges" used in each episode evoke singular thoughts and memories of this 1960s TV series. It's impossible to imagine any other music being used for this show. It's utterly perfect for this program.

Not all of the music we hear in "The Fugitive" was written by Rugolo, however. Some of the background musical arrangements for parts of the episodes were taken from Hollywood's vast library of "stock" music. But this music blends in nicely with Rugolo's classic compositions. Some of the "Fugitive" music can also be found in other popular TV shows of that era, like "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits".

Interestingly enough (at least it's interesting to me, as a fan of both shows), I have learned from this list of music credits that Pete Rugolo also contributed some of the music that can be heard in the 1957-1963 TV comedy series "Leave It To Beaver". I hadn't realized that fact previously.

"The Fugitive" also benefited greatly from a very talented cast....beginning, of course, with David Janssen as the title character. Sadly, Janssen (born David Harold Meyer) died way too soon, passing away of a heart attack in February 1980. He hadn't even turned 50. David was nominated for an Emmy Award three times during his 4-year stint as the perpetually running physician on "The Fugitive".

Janssen's performance as Richard Kimble, right from the get-go in "Fear In A Desert City", somehow already seemed refined and tuned to just the right pitch. It's really quite remarkable that Janssen was able to accomplish such a "veteran" feel to his character after just a single episode.

The series, in my opinion, also possessed just the right "feel" to it starting with the very first show. Many TV series fail to reach full stride or their full potential in their rookie season. I'd say that "The Fugitive", thanks to a great cast and the top-notch writing and directing, was a series that didn't suffer from this common problem.

Dr. Kimble's chief nemesis throughout the four-year run of the series was Indiana Police Lieutenant Philip Gerard, played to absolute perfection by London-born actor Barry Morse.

Morse's portrayal of Gerard counters Janssen's Kimble to a tee. Invariably, the very best "Fugitive" episodes were the ones in which Gerard was on screen, physically pursuing his elusive prey.

Morse/Gerard is relentless in his pursuit of the prisoner who slipped through his grasp when fate intervened. But, then too, Gerard isn't overly ruthless or blood-thirsty. He still maintains some level of compassion and kindness, even though his #1 priority in every episode in which he appears is to do his duty as "an instrument of the law" and re-capture Dr. Kimble.

The character of Philip Gerard actually appeared in less than 40 of the 120 episodes during the series (not counting the opening credits, where he is always shown). It truly seemed, though, as if Morse had actually appeared in many additional episodes. Gerard's "presence" is felt in nearly every show. But in most of them he's not physically shown on camera.

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Other semi-regular "Fugitive" cast members include Bill Raisch (as the "one-armed man", Fred Johnson), (who portrays Richard Kimble's sister, Donna), and Paul Birch (as Captain Carpenter).

Raisch, by the way, really did have an arm missing. He lost part of his right arm during World War 2, after being badly burned while fighting a fire.

Also worthy of an endorsement is William Conrad, who is never seen on the screen, but who has a strong presence in every episode as the very capable narrator. Conrad's booming voice is heard at the start of each show throughout the series (except one, "The Girl From Little Egypt"), as he smoothly ushers the audience into Richard Kimble's world.

We also hear Conrad again at the end of every episode, at the conclusion of the "Epilog" scene, when he often reminds us of Dr. Kimble's ongoing predicament -- "This is the way it is with him....because Richard Kimble is....a fugitive."

In addition to its stellar main cast and narrator, "The Fugitive" offered up plenty of opportunities to feature a large selection of Hollywood talent in supporting roles. Many top-name actors appeared in the series.

In the first season alone (covering 30 total episodes), the roster of guest stars included: Robert Duvall, Jack Klugman, Leslie Nielsen, Bruce Dern, Brenda Vaccaro, Susan Oliver, Jack Weston, Sandy Dennis, Eileen Heckart, Vera Miles, Carroll O'Connor, Joanna Moore, Beverly Garland, Telly Savalas, Tim O'Connor, Jerry Paris, George Voskovec, Geraldine Brooks, Frank Sutton, Warren Oates, Brian Keith, Gilbert Roland, Pat Crowley, Ruby Dee, Ruta Lee, James Best, Edward Binns, John Fiedler, Alejandro Rey, Claude Akins, and Lee Grant.

Some of my all-time favorite "Fuge" episodes are located within the very first season of the series, including a few of the 15 shows we find in this DVD set -- such as: "Fear In A Desert City", "The Girl From Little Egypt", "Nightmare At Northoak", and the two-parter "Never Wave Goodbye".

Actually, in my opinion, "Volume 2" of the first season of "The Fugitive" (which is bound to follow this first volume in relatively short order; knock wood) will contain even a better batch of overall episodes than Volume 1.

When the second half of Season 1 emerges on DVD, some of the top-flight Fugitive offerings that we'll be in store for include: "Search In A Windy City", "Somebody To Remember", "The End Game", "Rat In A Corner", and the superb two-part episode "Angels Travel On Lonely Roads" (with Eileen Heckart giving a "heavenly" performance [pun, pun [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/8/8d/htf_images_smilies_smile.gif[/img]] as Kimble's travelling companion).

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"PQ" TALK (AND OTHER STUFF):

The DVD video quality for these fifteen "Volume 1" programs is stunning ... glorious ... fabulous ... picture-perfect (take your pick from any of these descriptive terms, because I think they all apply).

I was immediately struck by the superior image clarity right from the very first moments of the premiere episode ("Fear In A Desert City"), as Richard Kimble's bus pulls into the Tucson terminal. Just fantastic. (Some sample images from the DVDs are shown below, courtesy DVDBeaver.com.)

Each of these episodes has been "transferred from the original negative with restored audio" (per a notation on the back of the DVD box). And you can hardly ask for more than that.

The superb black-and-white photography that helps propel each of these episodes looks incredibly clean and crisp and almost blemish-free on these DVDs. A little bit of grain and/or a few dirt specks pop up here and there....but the overall grade for the "PQ" on this DVD set can't be anything less than an "A", in my opinion.

The deep blacks that make up the many night shots and shadowy scenes contained within many of these episodes are simply beautiful, even when viewed on a large-screen TV.

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The mono audio sounds quite good too, with Pete Rugolo's incomparable music coming through in fine style here.

The DVD packaging claims that some music "has been changed" for this Paramount DVD release, and that "some episodes may be edited from their original network versions".

I, however, haven't been able to detect any major changes or edits of any kind. Perhaps there are a few and I haven't noticed them; I'm not sure. But the average episode running time on these four discs is more than 51 minutes per show....so if anything has been cut out, it sure can't amount to very much.

About the only "change" that I can see pertains to the opening credits for the first episode. That show's opening on the DVD could possibly be a slightly different version of the title sequence from what originally aired on TV in 1963.

And there's also a different piece of music utilized during the "Desert City" opening when compared with a VHS tape I have for that episode, which could conceivably account for each of the package disclaimers for this DVD release (the parts about both "music" and "edits").

Note: When originally aired, the first season of the series did not include any "previews" at the start of each episode. Those "coming up next" type of preview scenes weren't included until Season #2.

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MORE DVD SPECS:

DVD Packaging: A standard style plastic "Keepcase" has been used for this 4-Disc set (very similar to the type of case shown here), which nicely holds the four discs in a compact manner via an extra "page" that has been inserted inside the case which holds Discs 2 and 3.

The case is clear, with episode information visible on the inner panels of the case (when Discs 1 and 4 are removed, that is). I would have liked it if a quick-reference episode list had also been printed on the back cover of the DVD case. That would have been handy. Paramount has done just that for other TV-DVD products, including several sets of "The Andy Griffith Show".

Overall, though, I like this packaging style. This is the first multi-disc DVD set I've bought which uses this type of case, and it's a real space-saver, to be sure.

Bonus Material: None (except for a few "Previews" advertising some other DVDs, viewable on Disc 1 only). It's too bad that a few audio commentaries couldn't have found their way onto this collection of discs. A few years ago I heard a rumor about Barry Morse and Jacqueline Scott possibly recording some commentary tracks for a future "Fugitive" DVD release; but evidently that rumor never panned out (at least not for this first set of DVDs anyway).

Video: Original TV ratio of 1.33:1 (Full Frame). All episodes are in crisp, exquisite-looking black-and-white.

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. In English only.

Subtitles: None. But English "Closed Captioning" is available for all fifteen shows. Just remember to switch off "Progressive Scanning" on your DVD player. If you don't turn that off, the captions will never appear on screen. At least it's that way with all Panasonic DVD players that I've owned. It's possible that other players vary regarding this strange "captioning" anomaly.

Chapter Stops?: Yes. There are 7 chapters per episode, with each break coming at appropriate locations throughout each program -- at the end of each "Act", as well as a break just after the opening credits and right after the "Epilog" scene. I very much like the ability to go straight to the very beginning of a particular "Act" in any episode via these DVDs. This chaptering was perfectly done by Paramount. And it's just another small factor that makes this DVD product an excellent one, in my own opinion.

Paper Enclosures: None.

Menus: Non-animated. No music. There are no Sub-Menus at all. Each disc has a simple but efficient Main Menu which provides access to that disc's three or four episodes (plus a "Play All" option).

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THE EPISODES:

Here's a look at the 15 programs that fill up these four "Season 1/Volume 1" discs. I've also listed the aliases that Richard Kimble used for each episode; plus I've added the original TV air dates and a few selected comments of my own for some of the shows. .....

1. "Fear In A Desert City" (First Aired: September 17, 1963) .... Alias: "James Lincoln". .... "The Fugitive" burst onto American television screens with a great amount of style right off the bat, via this spectacular debut/pilot episode.

The brilliant series-opening program gives us our first look at David Janssen's perfectly-controlled portrayal of the falsely-accused doctor from Indiana who was sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering his wife, Helen. A train wreck freed Dr. Kimble on his way to the "death house". Thus, Kimble's four-year TV flight from the law begins with this first exciting episode.

From this very first show, we (the audience) can feel the tension that surrounds Richard Kimble. It's also quite easy for the viewing audience, right from this initial episode, to feel a great deal of empathy (and sympathy) for Dr. Kimble and his plight, by way of the fabulous writing that exists within this script (and virtually all those that followed it).

The first "Fuge" has Kimble tending bar at the "Branding Iron Saloon" in Tucson, Arizona, where he soon becomes embroiled in the lives of the saloon's lovely piano player (played by Vera Miles) and her abusive and hot-headed husband (Brian Keith).

Miles and Keith are both excellent in their "Desert City" roles -- particularly Keith, who is savagely brutal and menacing here, to the point of being downright scary. Keith plays "Ed Welles", who teems with a raging fury that practically burns through the TV screen. It's a fabulous performance.

"Fear In A Desert City", which was directed by Walter Grauman and written by Stanford Whitmore, also co-stars Barney Phillips, Harry Townes, and Dabbs Greer.

Just days prior to filming the pilot episode, David Janssen said this to director Walter Grauman:

"Wally, you're really going to have to help me. I've been used to doing 'Richard Diamond'; all this shallow shit. There's a lot of character here with Richard Kimble. I don't know whether I can act it."

Well....the rest, as they say, is Fugitive History. I'd say David's worries were unfounded. He did, indeed, "act it"....and did it very well too.

Another interesting piece of trivia concerning the pilot show -- David Janssen suffered three broken ribs during the fight scene with Brian Keith in Act IV of the first episode. It was the first of many physical injuries that David sustained during the making of the 120 episodes of this TV series.

Also worth noting is the fact that Janssen suffered his rib injuries on the very first day of filming the pilot episode in Tucson, Arizona. And it took 10 additional days to complete the filming of that premiere show (and filming was not stopped due to David's injury), which means that for ten days Janssen worked with a mighty sore ribcage.

More great tidbits about "The Fugitive" and its talented star, David Janssen, can be found at "The David Janssen Archive" (which I also hyperlinked earlier in this review). A couple of the internal webpages located within that Internet site that I found very intriguing and entertaining are linked below:

The David Janssen Archive

The David Janssen Archive

2. "The Witch" (September 24, 1963) .... Alias: "Jim Fowler".

3. "The Other Side Of The Mountain" (October 1, 1963) .... No alias used.

4. "Never Wave Goodbye"; Part 1 (October 8, 1963) .... Alias: "Jeff Cooper". .... The series would occasionally incorporate a "Two-Parter", with this being the first such example. The ingenuity and shrewdness of both Kimble and Lt. Gerard are fully evident in this top-notch 2-part program, with Kimble (naturally) slipping through Gerard's fingers yet again, via a rather clever scheme of faking his own death.

5. "Never Wave Goodbye"; Part 2 (October 15, 1963) .... Alias: "Jeff Cooper". .... I enjoy revisiting this two-part episode often. I've had it on VHS videotape for many years now, but that "Republic Entertainment" VHS copy can't hold a candle, quality-wise, to the prints of "Never Wave Goodbye" that are found on this Paramount DVD release.

My 1998 VHS version of "Goodbye" has warbly-sounding music at times and I think the two shows might be sped up a little bit, shortening the running times to about 49 minutes per episode, instead of the proper 51+ minutes which this DVD collection maintains.

God bless DVD! [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/8/8d/htf_images_smilies_smile.gif[/img] [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/d/d9/htf_images_smilies_biggrin.gif[/img]

6. "Decision In The Ring" (October 22, 1963) .... Alias: "Ray Miller".

7. "Smoke Screen" (October 29, 1963) .... Alias: "Joseph Walker".

8. "See Hollywood And Die" (November 5, 1963) .... Alias: "Al Fleming". .... It's yet another strong acting turn for Mr. Janssen, as he spends the bulk of this episode pretending to be a real bad guy in the company of two kidnappers who abduct guest star Brenda Vaccaro. It's actually kind of a "double" performance we find here, with Janssen portraying Richard Kimble, and Kimble playing a part of his own.

9. "Ticket To Alaska" (November 12, 1963) .... Alias: "Larry Talman".

10. "Fatso" (November 19, 1963) .... Alias: "Bill Carter". .... Some "Fatso" talk.

11. "Nightmare At Northoak" (November 26, 1963) .... Alias: "George Porter". .... Regarded by many as one of the top shows of the whole series, "Northoak" combines several different plot-developing elements that helped make this TV series such a great one for four consecutive seasons, e.g.:

The never-ending chase of Dr. Kimble by Lt. Gerard (and this time the detective actually catches up with the good doctor, only to lose him in the end); plus: Kimble's own heroism (he rescues several children from a burning school bus here); plus: Kimble's habit of continually--and inadvertently--running into law-enforcement officials during his travels (in "Northoak", he's nursed back to health by the local sheriff and his wife after being injured while saving the children on the bus).

"Northoak" is, indeed, a dandy episode, and a big reason for that (IMO) is because we get to watch Kimble and Gerard interact with each another during a terrific jail-cell scene, during which we get to see David Janssen really sink his teeth into his role of Dr. Richard Kimble (i.e., an embittered, tired, and completely-innocent fugitive from justice).

During that extraordinary jail scene, Kimble's anger and frustration come pouring out, as he confronts Gerard with one of the best lines from the series: "Your nightmare is when I'm dead, you'll find him."

"Act IV" of "Northoak" is worth replaying....again and again.

A "Northoak" addendum.

12. "Glass Tightrope" (December 3, 1963) .... Aliases: "Harry Carson" and "George Paxton".

13. "Terror At High Point" (December 17, 1963) .... Alias: "Paul Beaumont".

14. "The Girl From Little Egypt" (December 24, 1963) .... Aliases: "George Browning" and "George Norton". .... This excellent episode, for the first time in the series, lays out the backstory of Richard Kimble's plight. And getting to see a pre-fugitive "salt-&-pepper"-haired Dr. Kimble during a few scenes in "Little Egypt" is a rare treat indeed.

15. "Home Is The Hunted" (January 7, 1964) .... No alias used. .... This fifteen-show collection concludes with this dandy installment, which has Dr. Kimble travelling back home to Stafford, Indiana, for the first time in the series to touch base again with his father (played by Robert Keith), his sister Donna (Jacqueline Scott), and younger brother Ray (Andrew Prine).

Prine, IMO, is particularly impressive in his role as Ray Kimble, who has some doubts about his brother's innocence (until Act IV of this episode, that is).

"Home Is The Hunted" also includes Lt. Gerard bearing down on Kimble once again. (It's just a good thing that Gerard didn't catch a glimpse of that bottle of hair dye at the Kimble family home.) [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/8/8d/htf_images_smilies_smile.gif[/img]

Billy Mumy and Clint Howard (Ron's brother) also appear in this 15th show of the series, as Donna's two young sons.

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FURTHER FUGE FUN:

If you'd like to see what my ultimate "Fugitive Fantasy DVD" would look like, you can check this webpage.

That page links to one of the several "Fugitive" VHS videotapes that have been released over the years. And that particular tape features two of the very finest Fuge installments, "Nemesis" and "World's End", both from Season #2 of the series.

If that "Dream DVD" of mine ever gets produced, it will be ample proof that miracles truly are possible. [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/d/d9/htf_images_smilies_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/8/8d/htf_images_smilies_smile.gif[/img]

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CLOSING THOUGHTS:

David Janssen's portrayal of Dr. Richard Kimble ("an innocent victim of blind justice") is low-key and subtle and understated. Richard Kimble, though, through Janssen's patented "twitch" or a faint smile or just a silent look, can move a viewer emotionally. At least I think he can....and he does (often) throughout the four-year lifespan of one of the best television programs to ever appear in American living rooms -- "The Fugitive".

This 4-Disc DVD collection is the first of what will hopefully be eight such DVD sets of "The Fugitive" to be released by Paramount. Each of the four seasons of this series positively deserves the right to be digitally preserved for eternity onto the Digital Disc format. It's just too good a series to not be treated with such respect. And that includes even the final year of the series, which was the only season filmed in color.

That fourth season does contain a few lesser-quality episodes, IMO, but there are still many first-rate gems and pulse-pounding "Gerard Chasing Kimble" entries to be found among the thirty shows of Season 4, too.

But to begin your wonderful and wandering journey into the sometimes-frantic and always-interesting life of "The Fugitive", you'll want to pick up this DVD set with the first 15 episodes from Season 1.

If there was ever a "must have" TV-on-DVD set to own and collect, this would certainly rank as one such set, in my Fuge-favoring opinion. And I'd be willing to bet the one-armed man's remaining limb that almost everyone else who buys this DVD collection will agree with that "collectible" assessment as well. [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/a/a8/htf_images_smilies_smiley_wink.gif[/img]

David Von Pein
August 2007

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#2 of 59 OFFLINE   Gary OS

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Posted August 21 2007 - 02:14 PM

David, you have truly outdone yourself this time. My hat's off to you for an incredible, and I do mean incredible review!! First rate and really the best one I've read anywhere. You are to be commended my friend. I can always count on you for great reviews, but this is your best yet!

Gary "fantastic stuff from every angle" O.
"Do not challenge supernatural unless armed with sword of truth"
                                             ...CHARLIE CHAN AT TREASURE ISLAND
 

 


#3 of 59 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted August 21 2007 - 02:51 PM

Quote:
David, you have truly outdone yourself this time. My hat's off to you for an incredible, and I do mean incredible review!! First rate and really the best one I've read anywhere. You are to be commended my friend. I can always count on you for great reviews, but this is your best yet!
Should I send you the payola via money order this time? Or will you take a credit-card payment? Posted Image Posted Image

Gee, the above kind of comment will make even Gerard's hat from "Fear In A Desert City" likely far too small to fit my swelled cabeza. (Thank you, Gary OS. I appreciate your kind words.) Posted Image Posted Image

Posted Image

#4 of 59 OFFLINE   Gary OS

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Posted August 21 2007 - 03:05 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Von Pein
[/b]
Thank you, Gary OS. I appreciate your kind words.

I meant every word, David. It really was a great, great review. Thank you for all the hard work I know you put into that.

Gary "you're too humble a guy to let your head get that big" O. Posted Image
"Do not challenge supernatural unless armed with sword of truth"
                                             ...CHARLIE CHAN AT TREASURE ISLAND
 

 


#5 of 59 OFFLINE   Hank Dearborn

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Posted August 21 2007 - 07:59 PM

I second that. A great review from someone who obviously knows the show and appreciates it very much. It's too bad that more reviews are not done by such people.

#6 of 59 OFFLINE   Harry-N

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Posted August 21 2007 - 09:37 PM

Outstanding review David. Bravo!

You've summed up and tidied up everything we've been saying in that other thread. Nice job, indeed.

Harry
My DVD Collection

A fugitive moves on, through anguished tunnels of time, down dim streets, into dark corners. And each new day offers fear and frustration, tastes of honey and hemlock. But if there is a hazard, there is also hope. - Closing narration to THE FUGITIVE, "Death Is The Door Prize".

#7 of 59 OFFLINE   Bob Hug

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Posted August 21 2007 - 10:58 PM

Beautifully (and thoughtfully) written, David. You've captured the heart and soul of the show.

#8 of 59 OFFLINE   Sam Favate

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Posted August 21 2007 - 11:51 PM

I agree, outstanding review! Makes me want to go home right now and finish watching the rest of the DVDs! I've only just started watching them but have already been impressed by the quality of the presentation and, of course, the material.

#9 of 59 OFFLINE   Steve...O

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Posted August 22 2007 - 12:50 AM

David,

I always enjoy reading your personal reviews because not only do they sum up the release, they provide historical context and allow readers who are not familiar with the series to gain an appreciation of it.

Great job!

Thanks,

Steve
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#10 of 59 OFFLINE   Doug Wallen

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Posted August 22 2007 - 02:45 AM

Another tip of the hat for a great review of that amazing series. The thought and care you take with your personal review's make them a top priority read for me. Thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts and placing the show in the proper historical context of classic TV.

Doug
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#11 of 59 OFFLINE   Mitchum22

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Posted August 22 2007 - 03:38 AM

David,

Beautiful, beautiful job. Both in terms of content and style.

As someone with such a moving avatar, I was hoping you would expand on previous mentions of the Kennedy connection to the show. The sense of loss and sorrow is so strong here (Janssen's face could be an icon of such feelings) that its birth in the Autumn of '63 feels so right.

I've always thought there was something very Kennedy-esque about Janssen, mostly around the eyes and of course his deep reserve. Metaphorically and mythically, "The Fugitive" can be seen as an Everyman longing for the restoration of lost innocence.

Luckily for Kimble, he found it. We never did.

#12 of 59 OFFLINE   Jeff Willis

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Posted August 22 2007 - 04:56 AM

DavidVP, I can't add anything more to what the others have said here except if you're not writing TV/DVD reviews professionally, you should be Posted Image I won't add more words about your review since I couldn't convey the scope of your review properly. Thanks from a 1st-time viewer of this show.

ml1fyo.jpg  "Checkmate King Two, 'Out'" "Combat! A Selmur Production"

 

TV/DVD Collector, mainly 50's thru 90's with a few 2000+ shows.
My 2 all-time favorite TV shows:
"Combat!" & "The Fugitive"
My 2 all-time best blind-buys: "The Fugitive"   "The Donna Reed Show"


#13 of 59 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted August 22 2007 - 09:31 AM

Quote:
I was hoping you would expand on previous mentions of the Kennedy connection to the show.
It's kind of strange that I didn't, isn't it? Especially considering the photo I've used in my Profile here at HTF and elsewhere, and this mile-long review that deals with JFK. Posted Image

I was actually considering doing that very thing you mentioned re. JFK, but I held back from doing it because I somewhat feared a few "rolling eyes" from readers when they saw me referencing President Kennedy and his assassination yet again. It's something I seem to do often, and I was wondering if mentioning it again in yet another review would be hitting one Kennedy note too many. Posted Image

I seem to be "locked" into that '60s era for some inexplicable reason. A large number of my favorite old TV shows (and even movies) come straight from those precise Kennedy years (1961-1963), or very near those years anyway. I've often been amazed when I think about that "connection" myself.

As many of you probably know, one of the TV series from that time with several tangential "Kennedy connections" is "The Dick Van Dyke Show". The Van Dyke pilot show was even filmed on the same day as JFK's inauguration. How's that for a "connection"? Posted Image

And, you are right, Mitchum22.....the Kennedy-esque feel to "The Fugitive" series is certainly there as well. At least it is for me. I can feel it every time I watch an episode.

It's no doubt merely a coincidence, but the episode that many fans of the series point to as being one of the best in the whole Fuge run ("Nightmare At Northoak") was the very first episode aired right after President Kennedy's terrible assassination in Dallas. (It aired the day after JFK's funeral.)

Maybe there's a subliminal sign or a message to that "Northoak" timing....i.e., one of the best episodes airs immediately after a slain leader is put to rest. It seems very fitting indeed.

I'm just being overly-dramatic about that, I realize; but I've always thought about that odd connection between the timing of the "Northoak" airing for the first time and John F. Kennedy being laid to rest just 24 hours earlier.

Perhaps I'm locked in to the 1960s and the Kennedy era so firmly for another underlying (or subliminal) reason too -- I was born when JFK was in his first year as President.

Now, if I had been born on Inauguration Day or on November 22, 1963, which was the tragic day of his murder, then I would, indeed, start to wonder even more about those visceral feelings I have for the Kennedy era. Posted Image (I was born in December '61.) But I've always felt sort of proud of being born during that year. Sounds a bit silly and foolish, I know. But that's what I've always felt nonetheless.




Quote:
I've always thought there was something very Kennedy-esque about Janssen, mostly around the eyes and of course his deep reserve. Metaphorically and mythically, "The Fugitive" can be seen as an Everyman longing for the restoration of lost innocence. Luckily for Kimble, he found it. We never did.
Talk about a "moving avatar".....I think you summed things up very nicely here. And thank you.

And I want to thank the several HTF members who have posted their gracious compliments regarding my review above. I very much appreciate your kind words. This forum is a wonderful place to visit and to post messages and to start threads. The HTF software is so user-friendly....and so are the forum members (friendly, I mean). Posted Image

It would seem that nearly everybody in here has a certain affinity and admiration for 1960s-era TV shows. Which makes sense, I suppose. Otherwise, why even read and post to a thread such as this one.

Maybe all of you guys were also born in December 1961, huh? Maybe there's an "HTF Connection" to be looked into.* Posted Image

* = If I see a sea of responses saying, "Now that you mention it, I was", I'm going to seek out Rod Serling asap. For, then I'll know I've entered Rod's T-Zone. Posted Image (And, naturally, Rod's "Zone" is yet another of my favorites...and it, too, was on the air during those exact Kennedy years. Amazing, huh?)

But, hey, if any of you guys (and gals....are any females in here at all, btw? Hadn't really thought much about that gender thing heretofore) ever want to read a bunch of stuff about JFK's assassination and the continuing controversy about it, you can always take a few years off from work and read all of this stuff. (Shameless plug indeed.) Posted Image

But I'm not totally obsessed with that murder case. After all, I did have time to talk about "The Fugitive", didn't I? Posted Image

Take care everybody.

#14 of 59 OFFLINE   Tina_H_V

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Posted August 23 2007 - 05:46 AM

Way to go on your review, David!!!!! Posted Image

I have long been a Fugitive fan, not only collecting episodes on pre-recorded video tape, but also filling out that collection with VHS recordings of the reruns as they aired during the afternoons back in the early-to-mid 1990s. I only missed the episode, "The Good Guys and The Bad Guys" from going into my collection. Otherwise, I have them all on VHS tape in one way or another. (I even own Ed Robertson's brilliant book, The Fugitive: Recaptured, as well.)

That said...

...I am still going to add this series to my DVD TV collection in the coming time ahead!!!!!!

Oh, and one other mention I wanted to give on notable guest stars is one from an episode in this very volume: Ruby Dee, who played the boxer's (Joe Smith, as played by James Edwards) wife, Laura, in "Decision In The Ring", where Kimble's alias was Ray Miller--cutman. Ironically, the boxer was only boxing because he felt he could not do what he really wanted to do--be a doctor--because of the color of his skin. Ruby had just received an Emmy nomination for a performance she gave in another TV program that very year.

Ruby's late, great husband, Ossie Davis, would appear in an episode as a detective during the 1966-7 color season, "Death Is The Door Prize."

Ruby and Ossie--besides the also-trailblazing Mr. Edwards--were amongst a number of notable African-American thespians who would appear on The Fugitive throughout the course of this classic series--significant during the years of its run, 1963-1967. Posted Image
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#15 of 59 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted August 23 2007 - 06:23 AM

Quote:
Oh, and one other mention I wanted to give on notable guest stars is one from an episode in this very volume: Ruby Dee.
Thanks for that guest-star reminder, Tina. Good one. I've added Ruby to the list in my review. (I knew I must have missed a few notable guests.)




DVP SAID:
Quote:
Are any females in here at all, btw?
And Tina pops in to answer my own inquiry. Posted Image

#16 of 59 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted August 25 2007 - 12:42 PM

A couple of behind-the-scenes images of Fugitive star David Janssen:

Posted Image

Posted Image

#17 of 59 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted August 25 2007 - 03:57 PM

Off-Topic (but just barely related to this "Fugitive" thread in that Paramount released "I Love Lucy" on DVD too)...... Posted Image

Here's something I ran across today that I thought was interesting -- an "I Love Lucy" radio program from February 26, 1952, an episode called "Breaking The Lease" (which was also done as a TV episode).

I had no idea that "ILL" was ever done on radio. The complete half-hour show is linked HERE.

#18 of 59 OFFLINE   MichaelEl

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Posted August 25 2007 - 08:02 PM

Quote:
The superb black-and-white photography that helps propel each of these episodes looks incredibly clean and crisp and almost blemish-free on these DVDs. A little bit of grain and/or a few dirt specks pop up here and there....but the overall grade for the "PQ" on this DVD set can't be anything less than an "A", in my opinion.

The deep blacks that make up the many night shots and shadowy scenes contained within many of these episodes are simply beautiful, even when viewed on a large-screen TV.

I agree that the picture is generally clean and that outdoor and night shots tend to be quite sharp - sometimes amazingly so. However, as I've noted before, there are many indoor scenes which suffer from some sort of grain or video noise. This *shimmering* (or whatever you want to call it) is most noticeable on larger, lighter-colored surfaces, such as faces, clothing, walls, etc., and I find it to be occasionally annoying. Given that I've observed this effect using a number of different video devices, including a calibrated 36" Sony SDTV, an older 27" Sony Trinitron, an LCD display and various DVD players, I think it is definitely attributable to the DVD source, and not my imagination, although I will admit some people might not be as sensitive to it as I am.

For what it's worth, I've noticed this same problem on a number of other DVDs mastered in HD, such as the TWILIGHT ZONE DEFINITIVE sets (also produced by CBS), and my conclusion is that the HD process is either capturing too much grain from film elements (grain is something you would probably never notice with softer TV broadcasts or VHS) or else some sort of video noise is being introduced in the down-conversion to SD. I've certainly never noticed this sort of thing with DVDs not mastered in HD - for example, the OUTER LIMITS sets (which is a good comparison I think, since that show was filmed in B&W by the same network during the same time period as THE FUGITIVE), and I think there's no question that it's due entirely to the HD part of the process.

Aside from this grain issue and the line running down the entire length of FEAR IN A DESERT CITY, the only other complaint I have about this set is that the end credits are truncated slightly by a modern Paramount logo, but I don't consider that a major issue.

All in all, I would say this effort is certainly watchable and definitely worth the purchase if you're a fan - as I am - although if you're annoyed at all by grain, I would recommend you check it out first. Actually, everyone needs to check this out at some point as THE FUGITIVE is one of the best television shows ever produced.

#19 of 59 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted August 25 2007 - 11:32 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelEl
All in all, I would say this effort is certainly watchable and definitely worth the purchase if you're a fan - as I am - although if you're annoyed at all by grain, I would recommend you check it out first.

I'm notorious for being bothered by softness or graininess (especially in feature films) and usually people try to convince me that "grain is good" and then we go back and forth... but I am not bothered by grain at all in THE FUGITIVE set. I don't notice it much at all ... either that, or the show is so noirish that it doesn't register.

#20 of 59 OFFLINE   Dan McW

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Posted August 26 2007 - 05:52 PM

Name: David Von Pein

Occupation: Fuge fan

Destination: HTF Review Hall of Fame

I don't know what I can add, David, except to agree with everyone's praises here for an outstanding review. I enjoyed the images you posted too. One of my favorite Fuge photos is "Image 3 of 3" at IMDb, with Janssen, Morse, and Raisch. Can that one be added to this thread?

http://www.imdb.com/....th_key=0056757

Quote:
Ruby and Ossie--besides the also-trailblazing Mr. Edwards--were amongst a number of notable African-American thespians who would appear on The Fugitive throughout the course of this classic series--significant during the years of its run, 1963-1967.

I just watched "Decision in the Ring" last night. Great guest cast, with Dee, Edwards, and Oscar-winner James Dunn in one of his last roles. I also noticed an uncredited Davis Roberts in the cast, playing the cut man Kimble replaces. Roberts later played a doctor on a few episodes of Sanford and Son. At least one of his appearances featured a routine where Fred would ask him several questions about his exam, only to have Roberts say, "I don't know." When Fred got to, "How much do I owe you?," Roberts would say, "That I do know."


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