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I'll also attach a few essays from around the Internet that deal with what we might call the "internal narrative dynamics" of the show, showing how the writers for THE FUGITIVE moved the needle for Richard Kimble's seemingly monochromatic character as the show played out over its four season. (Those will be separate posts, just so you aren't intimidated by a too massively prodigious hunk of prose...)
The fourth season for THE FUGITIVE was very problematic: changes dictated by external forces (ABC dictating that the show be filmed in color) and internal factors (turnover in personnel) resulted in a series of episodes in the early going of the 1966-67 season that were noticeably off the mark. Executive producer Quinn Martin surveyed the first 8-9 shows generated by his new production team, and made emergency calls to George Eckstein and Wilton Schiller (the key men who'd guided the story development in Season 1-3, but who'd been moved to other QM productions) in order to stop the bleeding.
THE FUGITIVE as a color series always remained a bit amorphous--the noir feel of the show was ripped almost entirely away due to the switch from black-and-white. The new producers had also decided against retaining most of the writers who'd jelled in the second half of Season 3, producing what is arguably the best sustained run of episodes in the show's history; their replacements struggled to create stories that matched the tone and look that the show had achieved previously. (It's instructive to note that Stanley Fish covers only five episodes from Season 4 in any detail in THE FUGITIVE IN FLIGHT, as opposed to eight from Season 1, seven for Season 2, and eleven for Season 3.)
Eckstein and Schiller couldn't disrupt several of the Season 3 writers, who were now coordinating story development for other QM Productions vehicles such as THE INVADERS, which had been green-lighted as a mid-season replacement show for ABC. Instead, they used their contacts to locate writers who could adapt their work to the earlier format of the show and create scripts from story elements reworked from episodes in previous seasons. "If we could do that in the right way," Eckstein suggested, "we'd be deepening some of the themes of the show through variation."
Two of the most successful of these played in back-to-back weeks early in 1967 (after the show had "shot its wad" with respect to the one-armed man narrative angle, which was being more heavily emphasized in wake of the news leak early in Season 4 that THE FUGITIVE was in its last year). These two episodes were generated by writers on opposite sides of the "writing experience" spectrum: thirty-year old Barry Oringer and sixty-year old Leo Loeb.
Loeb took the "femme fatale" story angle that had first appeared in Season 1 (with Pippa Scott as the treacherous woman who discovers Kimble's identity and tries to pin a murder on him) and renewed it by having Kimble (and the audience) duped for a good portion of the action as to the true intentions of the "femme fatale" (played by the perky Marlyn Mason, who brought a more casually palpable sexual edge to her performance). Some solid night-for-night shooting and a cannily-lit interior set where the pivotal action takes place gave extra life to the climactic proceedings--further assisted by casting Jack Lord as the philandering schemer, (less rough around the edges than his Season 1 counterpart--Robert Webber, always just a bit too brusque). All of these ingredients combined to make "Goodbye My Love" into a suitably ironic tale of good old upper-class decadence and deceit.
Oringer wasn't quite so slick in his reworking of prior narrative materials, but his script for "Passage to Helena"--where Kimble is thrust in the middle between a fearless but over-confident deputy and the psychopathic killer he is taking to "civilization" for execution--has enough twists on its previous incarnation to allow it to stand on its own as a riveting character study.
In the earlier episode ("Tug of War" from Season 2), Kimble was caught between two law enforcement officers--the young, sociopathic one (Don Gordon) and the crusty, philosophical ex-sheriff who just happened to have a heart condition (Arthur O'Connell). After Gordon surreptitiously pockets O'Connell's nitroglycerin tablets and induces (as opposed to incites...) a fatal heart attack, he looks to have Kimble signed, sealed and delivered. But O'Connell had Gordon's rifle in his possession previously, and surreptitiously removed all the bullets from it--and he tips Kimble off to this fact with his dying gesture.
As wonderful as all that sleight-of-hand is (and "Tug of War" writer Dan Ullman would push such approaches to their ultimate extreme in Season 3's "The 2130," where Kimble's comings and goings are tracked and predicted by the 1960s version of a "supercomputer"), the situation in "Passage to Helena" is much more visceral and elemental. An added layer is found in race-relations: the psychopathic murderer (played with smirky elan by James Farentino) is a backwoods bigot, while the deputy is black (played by Percy Rodrigues with the clear-eyed presence of Juano Hernandez, but with the intriguing addition of a chip on his shoulder) and is not quite the "shuffle off to the side" type of African-American character seen all too often in the decades preceding the 60s.
At the end of struggle, which involves an ambush and two escapes, Kimble saves the deputy's life, but the gun winds up in the deputy's hands. Kimble, who has vocalized in previous Season 4 episodes about how tired he is of being on the run (and you can see the fatigue in David Janssen's face in the image below), tells the deputy (who had suffered a bullet wound during the ambush) that he is not going peaceably. "I won't fight you for that gun," he says, "but you'll have to shoot me in the back...because I'm escaping." The moral and elemental decision comes down to a highly charged, hot-button moment--one that might well have a different outcome in our own times, either on screen and/or in real life.
Rodrigues and Janssen are up to the moment, which is on par with the best of the many memorable set-piece denouements that THE FUGITIVE provided during its four-year run. The use of locations and the shot selections by director Richard Benedict (who'd been around many a film noir set during his earlier years as an actor) also enhance the look/feel of the action--another sign that the production team of THE FUGITIVE had at last figured out how to successfully transfer the stark intensity that the show possessed in its first three seasons to a color palette.
All in all, THE FUGITIVE remains a show worth recapturing. (Many of its episodes are available for free on YouTube.)
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