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.