The Fugitive (1963)

Season 1 Episode 1

Fear in a Desert City

Aired Unknown Sep 17, 1963 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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  • Seminal Elements for the Entire Series

    A soothing voice introduces the viewers to the main character of the series with these words: "Now six months a fugitive, this is Richard Kimble with a new identity, and for as long as it is safe, a new name: James Lincoln." Dr. Richard Kimble is a man on the run. His running will continue for the next 4 years. This pilot episode introduces us to the major players of the series: the fugitive (Richard Kimble) and the relentless police lieutenant obsessed with his capture (Philip Gerard). We learn that Kimble takes odd jobs to meet his meager financial needs and lives in cheap motels when he's not working. In order to conceal his true identity, he dyes his hair and keeps out of view when officers of the law are present. He has a likeable personality. He's considerate and caring with most people and can be tough when needed with those who oppose him. In his travels, he's looking for a one-armed man. A man he saw running from his house the night Kimble's wife was murdered.

    Philip Gerard is a man possessed. He was accompanying Kimble to his execution when a train wreck freed him. Gerard somehow feels responsible for his escape and will stop at nothing to see him behind bars again. Gerard is a cool, calculating man with a single-minded mission: to uphold the law (with all its weaknesses).

    A recurring theme of the series is also introduced in this episode. Dr. Kimble befriends and helps someone in need. When they discover his true identity, (believing his innocence) they help him escape from the police. It makes for compassion and high drama.

    The episode ends with Kimble quickly leaving before the authorities come to investigate a shooting. Not long afterward, Gerard is on the scene asking questions. But he's too late. Kimble has escaped to continue his search for the true murderer of his wife. This is the life of an innocent man on the run. This is the fugitive.
  • The beginning of a classic episode and tv show!

    This is a great start of the beginning of a
    Classic show to a pilot great episode. As we get the
    First glance of Richard Kimble. Who escaped from the death
    Train to go to death row. As he's been a fugitive for
    Six months. He gets work as a bartender under the
    Username of James Lincoln. He befriends an abused young wife who is being stalked by her jealous husband, played by Brian Keith.
    The show is really getting off to a great start as this will happen as before Kimble's identitiy is revealed, he must move on before he gets caught by the law while trying to find the killer of his wife!
  • This is how it is with him...

    It starts here, the odyssey of Richard Kimble's flight from the law and his hunt for his wife's killer. Writer Stanford Whitmore pens an episode that is haunting, engrossing and lays the groundwork for the four seasons to follow.

    All of the basics are here - Kimble arrives in a new town, finds a job, and inevitably winds up immersed in somebody's personal trouble. Here, it is saloon pianist Vera Miles (who is a dead ringer for Melora Hardin, IMO), who is being terrorized by her unhinged ex, Brian Keith. Problem is, Keith is a big wheel in town, and he turns to the local law to get Kimble to lay off. Oh, and Lt. Gerard is dogging Kimble's track.

    David Janssen is brilliant, simply brilliant, and nails it every minute he is on screen. His Irving the Explainer scene with Miles in Act II, where he basically has to spell out the gist of the series, could have been corny, but darn it if he doesn't sell every word. The pain and conflict he conveys, sometimes with just his eyes, puts some modern actors to shame.

    Then there's Barry Morse. I love Gerard's soliloquy about being an agent of the law - the law says Kimble is guilty, so it doesn't matter what Gerard thinks. Kimble needs to be caught. It's deceptively simple to think of Gerard as the cliche "cop who won't quit," but there's more to it than that. If that's all that he was, "The Fugitive" wouldn't be as compelling as it is. Both Kimble and Gerard are real men, each with their own obsession, their own quest. It's great, because Gerard isn't "the bad guy," even though he's chasing Kimble.

    It's a great pilot, and a terrific start to the series. On a slightly related note, I am watching the recent DVD release, and the picture quality is amazing. A great way to watch and discover this classic show.
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