QUICK DVD STATS:
- Number of DVDs -- 4 (Single-Sided; Dual-Layered).
- Total Episodes -- 15 (51+ minutes each).
- Video -- Full Frame OAR (1.33:1).
- Audio -- English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono.
- Color/B&W -- B&W.
- Subtitles -- None.
- Closed Captioning? -- Yes.
- Bonus Materials? -- No.
- "Play All" Option? -- Yes.
- Chapter Stops? -- Yes.
- DVD Distributor -- CBS Paramount Television / Paramount Home Entertainment.
- DVD Release Date -- February 26, 2008.
- DVD Cover (Back Side).
CBS/Paramount delivered "THE FUGITIVE: SEASON 1, VOLUME 2" in the form of a compact 4-Disc DVD set on February 26, 2008. This fifteen-episode set finishes off the distinguished inaugural season of David Janssen's breathtaking television series from the 1960s.
Janssen's title character, Dr. Richard Kimble, encounters many twists, turns, sheriffs, helpful strangers, and assorted close calls with his chief rival (Indiana police lieutenant Philip Gerard) during the second half of his first season on the run. Gerard was played with great skill and style by the great actor Barry Morse, who passed away at age 89 on February 2, 2008.
This collection of episodes offers up some real dandies from the 4-year history of "The Fugitive" too, with a few of my own personal favorites being:
"Search In A Windy City", "Somebody To Remember", "The End Game", "Rat In A Corner", and the virtually-perfect two-parter "Angels Travel On Lonely Roads".
While the above episodes rate as some of my top picks from this batch of shows, every single one of these programs actually earns high marks on my quality meter. Each installment in the series always offers up something good and entertaining....beginning with the always-solid performances of Mr. Janssen.
The wrongly-accused doctor from Indiana travels from town to town, and job to job, and girl to girl, while performing the dual task of avoiding the law and attempting to locate the one-armed man whom Kimble is convinced killed his wife two years earlier.
And in episode #19 of this first season (which is part of this boxed set), Dr. Kimble comes face-to-face with that one-armed man for the first time since the night of Helen Kimble's murder. It's one of the most thrilling moments in the whole series, as Kimble gets a brief glance of one-armed Fred Johnson on a bus near Chicago.
For me, one of the most rewarding things about this television series is that these hour-long dramas never get tiresome to watch....no matter how many times I have seen them. Like a good wine, "The Fugitive" only gets better with age, and with multiple viewings too.
And the fantastic music that accompanies each episode (most of which was composed by Peter Rugolo) certainly doesn't hurt things a bit either. The music is just made to order for this series. And, quite literally, a goodly portion of it truly was made to order, being written by Rugolo specifically for "The Fugitive".
For the trivia-minded, "The Fugitive" was named "Best New Show" of the 1963-1964 season by "TV Guide" magazine. During the first year of the series, David Janssen, as the on-the-lam Dr. Kimble, was seen by an average of 21-million people every Tuesday night.
Paramount has restored and remastered these "Fugitive" TV prints very nicely ("transferred from the original negative with restored audio", per the back of the DVD case). And, just like the "Season 1, Volume 1" collection, this second 15-show set provides outstanding video quality. Just about perfect as far as I can tell.
The first-rate black-and-white photography comes through in fine fashion on these four DVDs, with very little to complain about (even when watching on a large-screen television set).
Although I will have to say that some of the shows in this DVD set don't pass the "Freeze-Frame Test" quite as well as other episodes in this collection and in the first volume of Season One. (Every episode in "Volume 1" passed this test, by the way.)
By that I mean: when the image on screen is paused and then "stepped" forward, frame-by-frame, the picture quality for some of the episodes within this set isn't quite as rock-solid and stable as can be found in other episodes.
This is especially noticeable whenever written words are shown on the screen (particularly the "stenciled" type of outlined lettering that is used for a lot of the on-screen text in "The Fugitive"). On slightly lesser-quality DVD transfers, the letters on the screen will "break up" (for lack of a better term) as the film frames are advanced.
The "freeze" test is something I usually do when attempting to gauge the overall quality of a DVD transfer. But, at the same time, any "break-ups" that do, in fact, occur in this set probably won't even be noticed by anyone unless they frequently utilize the "pause" button on their remote control when the episodes are playing. Because in "play" mode there really isn't very much difference (to my eyes) between the DVD transfers that possess rock-solid, always-stable lettering on the screen and the transfers that suffer from "lettering break-up". (I'm just an old fusspot for bringing this up in the first place, aren't I?)
Anyway, even with a few episodes that perform in a slightly unstable fashion based on my little "Freeze-Frame Test", these "Fugitive" episodes still look remarkably good overall (picture-wise and sound-wise).
And, by the way, I was happy to note that my very favorite episode from this batch of shows -- "Search In A Windy City" -- does indeed pass the "freeze" test with flying colors. (Or should I say flying "black-and-whites" here?)
"Windy City", unlike the other three shows on Disc #1, can be paused in absolute perfect clarity, sans any of the jagged edges (or "breaking up") that I was talking about before. That made me smile...for sure.
I might as well add my full "Freeze-Frame Test" results here (since I went ahead and "tested" each of the 15 programs for such a thing (just because of my fusspot nature, I guess). .....
More than half of the episodes in this 4-Disc set "passed" the "freeze/pause" test (8 of the 15 shows, to be exact). In case anybody is interested, those eight episodes are the following shows (based on the episode numbers provided later in this review): #19, #24, #25, #26, #27, #28, #29, and #30.
So, everything considered, my compliments definitely go to Paramount/CBS Studios for treating an iconic TV series like "The Fugitive" the way it deserves to be treated -- with great care and attention paid to producing the highest-quality DVD transfers possible.
Having these eminently-rewatchable "Fugitive" episodes digitally preserved for all time to the high standards that can be found in the two first-season DVD sets that have thus far been released by Paramount is certainly something for Fuge fans to be very pleased about. I know I am anyway.
Like the first DVD volume, Paramount has included two disclaimers on the Volume Two packaging, warning purchasers about possible (but not specifically verified) edited episodes and a warning regarding some music changes.
The warning about the "changed" music is definite, per the text on the case, although I'm fairly certain it has nothing to do with the outstanding Pete Rugolo theme or any of the equally-exquisite background music we hear integrated throughout each episode. The altered music must be some material that is heard on a radio or a TV (or elsewhere) during one or more of these fifteen episodes.
I, myself, thus far haven't noticed anything that particularly leaps out as being drastically different from what I remember seeing or hearing previously during these shows. And the average running time of more than 51 minutes per show certainly bodes well for these episodes being pretty much intact and uncut. If anything's missing here, it sure can't be very much, that's for sure.
But, then too, even though I'm a big fan of "The Fugitive", I'll admit I haven't memorized every last minute of each scene prior to the release of these DVDs. So a minor, subtle musical change or a small edit somewhere in an episode probably won't trigger any kind of "That's Been Changed!" reaction on my part. But perhaps that kind of reaction will occur in other people.
SOME SCREEN SHOTS:
Here are some screen shots from this DVD boxed set (courtesy of DVD Beaver.com; clicking on these photos will link to a larger version of each picture). I think the words "Gosh, the quality of these DVD images looks fantastic!" would be an appropriate and quite accurate response while perusing these pictures. Don't you?:
Following is a list of the 15 episodes that show up on these four DVDs. I've added a brief description for some of the shows, plus a look at Kimble's alias for each week's program, along with the episode numbers and the original ABC-TV air dates (and a few more DVD screen shots too). .....
16. "The Garden House" (First Aired: January 14, 1964) .... Alias: "Sanford".
17. "Come Watch Me Die" (January 21, 1964) .... Alias: "Ben Rogers". .... This episode features some good character actors that pop up in other "Fugitives" as well; and keep an eye open for Diane Ladd as a waitress. I don't recall ever having seen this episode prior to this DVD release.
It's an unusual episode in some respects, one of which is that Richard Kimble finds himself in the unlikely position of becoming a sheriff's deputy. And there's also the fact that part of the plotline had me totally fooled until near the very end of the show. (I like the fact that an episode could pull the wool over my eyes....and Richard Kimble's too.)
18. "Where The Action Is" (January 28, 1964) .... Alias: "Jerry Shelton".
19. "Search In A Windy City" (February 4, 1964) .... Alias: "George Blake". .... This is one of the very best shows in the 4-year history of "The Fugitive" (IMHO), with a terrific "double chase" taking place within this episode -- Lt. Philip Gerald is hot on Kimble's trail; while at the same time, Dr. Kimble (for the first time) actually sees and pursues the elusive one-armed man. Everything about this episode spells tension-filled excitement.
Bill Raisch, as the one-armed man, actually only made ten total appearances throughout the series (not counting flashbacks or the opening "montage" for each show), making his guest-starring appearances all the more special and memorable due to their relative infrequency.
Pat Hingle also co-stars in "Windy City", and gives an impressive performance too, as a newspaper reporter (Mike Decker) who at first helps Kimble, but then has other ideas.
20. "Bloodline" (February 11, 1964) .... Alias: "Dick Lindsay".
21. "Rat In A Corner" (February 18, 1964) .... Alias: "Dan Crowley". .... Warren Oates gives a fine performance in a guest role as the self-centered "rat" alluded to in the show's title.
22. "Angels Travel On Lonely Roads; Part 1" (February 25, 1964) .... Alias: "Nick Walker". .... The 2-Part "Angels" episode is worthy of as much praise as I can possibly muster. These are incredibly good shows, due in no small part to guest-star Eileen Heckart's wonderful performance as "Sister Veronica", a nun who is travelling cross-country in a rattletrap of a car and happens upon the always-helpful Dr. Kimble during her journey.
Kimble joins the Sister on her trip to California (as driver, repairman, bread-winner, and hitch-hiker), with the pair encountering several obstructions and roadblocks that impede their progress. This two-parter demands to be viewed again and again. I appreciate its greatness more deeply with each successive screening. Magnificent in all respects.
23. "Angels Travel On Lonely Roads; Part 2" (March 3, 1964) .... Alias: "Nick Walker".
24. "Flight From The Final Demon" (March 10, 1964) .... Alias: "Al Dexter". .... Carroll O'Connor guests as a sheriff who stumbles across the forever-running Dr. Kimble. .... "I couldn't just stand there and let 'lard belly' take you in."
25. "Taps For A Dead War" (March 17, 1964) .... Alias: "Bob Davies". .... More fine guest-star performances are on tap in "Taps", with both Tim O'Connor and Lee Grant showing off their considerable acting skills.
26. "Somebody To Remember" (March 24, 1964) .... Alias: "Johnny Sherman". .... A highly-memorable "Gerard-chasing-Kimble" installment. A co-worker of Kimble's arranges a slick-sounding little plot, which involves "duping" Lt. Gerard into believing Kimble has left the country. This one's a real suspense-builder right to the end. A truly great episode.
27. "Never Stop Running" (March 31, 1964) .... Alias: "Doc". .... The fetching Joanna Moore is featured as one of the guest stars in this episode. And, as usual, she's excellent. Joanna makes this episode extra worthy of praise. And, as an added bonus, she passes the good ol' "Freeze-Frame Test" (and then some) at precisely the 7:40 mark of this episode too.
28. "The Homecoming" (April 7, 1964) .... Alias: "David Benton".
29. "Storm Center" (April 14, 1964) .... Alias: "Larry Phelps".
30. "The End Game" (April 21, 1964) .... No alias used. .... The first-season wrap-up features another worthy manhunt, orchestrated by the always-persistent Philip Gerard. Guest stars John Fiedler and John McGiver provide some comic relief in this episode, which closed out a fabulous rookie season for this Quinn Martin production.
A PARTING FUGE THOUGHT:
If you bought Volume 1 of the first "Fugitive" season on DVD, then this second volume practically becomes mandatory. There's no way that any fan of this remarkable TV series will want to miss out on owning this outstanding collection of top-notch shows.
There probably ought to be a law requiring everyone with a DVD player to obtain this set of "Fugitive" discs. (In fact, I think Lieutenant Gerard was instrumental in getting such a sensible law placed on the books in late 2007. I'll check on that statute.)
David Von Pein
"The Fugitive: Season 1, Volume 1" -- A Personal Review
Wouldn't All "Fugitive" Fans Love To Have This DVD Set?
"The Fugitive" (1963)