The 120th and final episode of The Fugitive is set to air Sunday night on Memorable Entertainment Television, a cable network, and it will be well worth catching.
The program started out in black and white in 1963 as the story of a doctor, played by the cool David Janssen, who returned home to find his wife dead and a mysterious one-armed man fleeing. Dr. Richard Kimble was tried, convicted on circumstantial evidence and sent off to Death Row on a train.
If that train hadn’t crashed, letting him escape, it would have been a short series, but he was able to bounce around the country for four years, searching for justice and being pursued by a dogged police lieutenant who wouldn’t give up. If that sounds familiar, the show’s creator said the idea was partly based on Les Miserables.
If you don’t recall the TV show, you might remember the 1993 movie based on it and starring Harrison Ford. It was a good movie, but nowhere as thrilling as the original.
For the past 119 weeks, I have tuned in each weekend on Me-TV, which is carried on WJBF-DT2, to watch Dr. Kimble run. Each week took him to a different locale, encountering guest actors who were, or went on to become, big stars.
Kimble found a different job each week, which was possible in the days before the Internet and cellphones, when he could hide in plain sight. Still, he worked hard for his freedom. I gave up trying to count the number of times he was shot, stabbed, beat up, blinded, jailed, abducted and run over. He must have carried 20 pounds of lead in him from all those bullets.
Perhaps that explained one oddity about a man on the run. He couldn’t run.
I mean, give him open country and he would take a few steps and fall down. He would bump into things. His form was something like that of the dancing “gang” members in West Side Story, or of a ballet performer desperately looking for a bathroom.
When he wasn’t falling down, he was lying low in other ways. Furtively drinking coffee – “Black, just black” – in a diner, or skipping out when anyone wearing a badge walked in.
Oh, and meeting the ladies. Another week, another woman. I guess women really are attracted to bad boys, even when they’re good boys wrongly convicted.
In the final season, the show was filmed in color. The next-to-last episode set up the finale, in which Dr. Kimble and the police finally converged on the killer. That show broke all viewing records and was perhaps the first series ever to have an ending.
I’m going to miss The Fugitive. Kimble’s return to medicine will leave me with a void in my viewing schedule. Maybe the network will start showing it again. If so, you need to watch Dr. Kimble run.