Friday, December 13, 2013

Classic TV: The Fugitive (1963)

Quinn Martin had left The Untouchables halfway through its run to start his own production company. His first entry for QM Productions, The New Breed, was a bust, lasting just one season. His next entry, however, would propel Martin into iconic status.

The Fugitive, reported to have been loosely based on the real-life Sam Sheppard murder case and/or Victor Hugo's classic tale, Les Miserables, lasted 4 seasons, same as The Untouchables did, and, like The Untouchables, would be revived by a different studio years later.

The plot was basic. Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen, ex-Richard Diamond, Private Detective), convicted of a crime he didn't commit, is freed by a twist of fate, and spends four seasons on the run from Lt. Philip Gerard (Barry Morse), whose single-minded determination to recapture Kimble recalls Les Miserables. Fittingly, both have been adapted for the big screen in later years, with the 1993 feature film version of The Fugitive, marking the 30th anniversary of the series, eventually leading to the aforementioned revival, which, unfortunately, lasted just 1 season.

William Conrad (ex-Rocky & His Friends) narrated, beginning his own association with QM, which would lead to his own series, Cannon, four years after The Fugitive ended.

The basic format's been copied a number of times since, most notably, and ironically, by the television adaptation of The Incredible Hulk, who made his debut in the comics the same year that Fugitive debuted, and the subsequent TV series, with the man-monster and his alter-ego (Lou Ferrigno & Bill Bixby, respectively) pursued not by the law, but a tabloid reporter looking for a big break (Jack Colvin). Hulk lasted 5 seasons, and aired on the same network that would be home to the revived Fugitive, CBS.

Now, let's go back to 1963, and the first episode, "Fear in a Desert City".

Rating: A.

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