Starring David Janssen
Certain classic literature endures because the universality of a storyline that gets imbedded into mainstream culture with repetitious variations of its strong themes directly borrowed and often altered to suit modern lifestyles - one example of this might be Charles Dicken's Great Expectations. Another would be Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. The much awaited (to DVD) TV series The Fugitive starring David Janssen has definite leanings to the latter with Dr. Richard Kimble as the Jean Valjean character doggedly, obsessively and unjustly pursued by Lt. Philip Gerard (Hugo's Javert). I suspect it is a small part of my passion for this classic television - the only TV show I actually copied every single episode to VHS (a medium from the past kids). I suspect the other trait that I am so keen on is The Fugitive's link to Film Noir. It is not a strong association but it does share some of the 'black cinema' style with an ex-convict character, occasional flashbacks (in this boxset see the episode 'The Girl from Little Egypt'), the heavy use of shadowy confine sequences (examples below) and frequent circumstances of the economically depressed. Kimble floats from menial job to job (fruit-picker, cleaning man, farm hand, boxing cut-man etc.) meeting and helping often desperate characters - played by enduring stars (from season one) like Bruce Dern, Jack Klugman, Brenda Vaccaro, Leslie Neilson, Sandy Dennis and Robert Duvall. NOTE: Noir legend Ida Lupino directs two episodes in this first boxset!
In case you are unfamiliar with the story - Dr. Richard Kimble is accused, tried and convicted of the murderer of his wife. The night before his execution, he escapes, because, as deep-voiced narrator William Conrad states '...fate moves its huge hand...' and there is a train derailment. The only chance to prove his innocence is to find the one-armed man he saw fleeing the crime that horrible night. Kimble, relentlessly pursued by Lt. Gerard (Barry Morse), risks exposure several times when he is forced to reveal his medical knowledge to help others out of trouble. The Fugitive works for entertainment on many levels beyond simple suspense and drama and remains my favorite vintage TV series of all time (if I said it about Perry Mason I must have been lying).
DVD Review: Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Paramount Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
|Runtime||15 X approx 51:00 episodes|
Average Bitrate: 5.1 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 1.0)|
1, Episode 1: Fear in a Desert City
Paramount's DVD package looks quite good. Only episode number one, 'Fear in a Desert City', had a visible scratch that was noticeable enough to mention. The rest of the set has excellent contrast - advertised as 'transferred from the original negative with restored audio'. The screen captures below will give you a good idea of how strong it looks on DVD. There are no optional subtitles and the audio sounded quite clear and clean to me. I was very pleased with the progressive image and mono sound.
To my knowledge these are the full episodes, at about 51 minutes long, not the 'cut' syndicated ones. This represents the first half of season one - 15 episodes spread over four dual-layered DVDs. Hopefully the next batch won't be too long in coming to digital. There are no extras but the price is a steal for approx. 12 hours of the best TV ever broadcast (IMHO). I'm surely biased and had a huge obsession with this series many years ago but the supporting cast is always great, the stories are gripping and unique in that it's a new environment and back-plot with each episode. Tack onto this they look great digitally and are immensely addictive. Of course I strongly recommend!
Man of shadows...