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The Fugitive: Brass Ring (1965)
1/12/65 "Brass Ring"
Robert DuVal was on "The Fugitive" twice. In the first one, "Never Wave Goodbye", (a two-parter), the action takes place on the Santa Barbara Pier. Bob plays the brother of the beautiful Susan Oliver, who falls for Richard Kimble. There's a character named 'Lars'. In this on they are on the Santa Monica Pier. Bob plays the brother of the beautiful Angie Dickinson, who falls for Richard Kimble, (sort of). There's a character named 'Lars'. Are there a lot of 'Lars' in California?
In this one DuVal has been crippled in an auto accident. The good news is that he got a large settlement. The bad news is that Angie and her boyfriend, Lars, (John Erickson), value the money more than they do Bob. Kimble comes looking for a job and they give him one, taking care of Bob, (whose name is Leslie here). Duval in his younger days, was really good at looking sickly. He looks healthier now, even though he's in his 80's. Angie and Lars want him to die but Kimble gives him therapy that keeps getting him healthier, physically and mentally. They plan to kill him and frame Kimble for it. But Kimble looks awfully good to Angie and that spoils the plan.
Route 66: 1800 Days to Justice (1962)
1/26/62 "1800 Days to Justice"
This episode stands out to me because it was the first one I saw when Route 66 turned up on "Nick at Night" back in the 80's. I hadn't seen the show since I was a kid and it was fun to see it again after all these years. Now it's been longer than that since I watched on Nick at Night!
In a set up similar to "Black November" the boys are lost and stop in a small Texas town to get some gas. But the place seems deserted. They soon find out why as John Ericson appears with a machine gun and invites them into the town hall to join the others. He's a native of the town who has spent the last 5 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. He wants to hold a new trial with himself as both judge and prosecutor. He appoints Todd defense attorney because it's obvious he's college educated and Buz the "sergeant at arms", (even though John holds on to the armaments), because he obviously isn't. John's also got a gang with him to which he's promised the proceeds from robbing the bank.
The trial swiftly establishes his innocence. The richest guy in town, (DeForest Kelly), wanted his girl, (Marian Ross, a decade before "Happy Days"), and had Ericson, who had already had his share of scrapes with the law, framed and sent to prison to open the way for Kelly's courting of Ross. Ericson assesses the damages and they get the money from the bank, (which Kelly apparently owns, like everything else in the town). The gang wants to split but Ericson decides he wants to execute a death penalty on Kelly. Buz challenges him to a fight to buy time, (and, unusually, loses it). Meanwhile the townspeople, led by Ericson's older brother, (Noah Berry Jr.- Daddy Rockford), stand in front of Kelly, (whom they all hate), and plead with Ericson not to kill him and thus commit a crime that would put him back in jail or cause his execution. John sees the logic of what they are saying, orders the gang to return the money, (it belongs to the people) and tells them to leave. He's staying. (And, apparently, will not be prosecuted for the crimes he has committed in holding these people against their will and threatening them.)
The Fugitive: Ballad for a Ghost (1964)
12/29/64 "Ballad for a Ghost"
Per Ed Peterson's book on this show: "The Fugitive Recaptured", Diane Brewster, who played Helen Kimble in the flashback sequence of "The Girl Form Little Egypt" wanted to appear in more episodes, particularly since she knew Quinn Martin often reused his performers in different roles. "I would like to have been used on the show more frequently either in flashback or as a different character and I couldn't do it, having played that pivotal dumb thing on the floor."
Why isn't she in this episode? Janis Paige plays a singer who has come back to play a night in her ex-husband's night club: she made the big time and he didn't and he resents it but needs the money. Kimble takes one look at her and sees his wife Helen, (we even see Paige lying on the floor in the same dress Brewster wore).
He becomes obsessed with her, especially when he finds out she's taking drugs. It turns out she's dying of cancer and the drug she is taking is morphine. What's more, she is aware of her resemblance to Kimble's wife because people comment on it: she followed the trial and knows who he is, (it's the second straight episode where a character suddenly announces to Kimble that he/she knew all along who he is). They agree to keep each other's secret. Her ex, Peter Mark Richmond, is jealous of the attention Kimble is getting. He sees Kimble with a syringe and concludes he's the drug addict and calls in the police.
Janis Paige, (who is still with us at age 92) is a song and dance lady from way back. Diane Brewster does not appear to have been a singer so maybe that's why she didn't play this character. But the singing sequences are brief and she could have been dubbed. I don't see that much of a resemblance: Diane: http://image2.findagrave.com/photos250/photos/2005/46/11396_11085597 8394.jpg Janice: http://www.nndb.com/people/583/000132187/janis-paige-2- sized.jpg The episode is weaker because Janis just doesn't look that much like Helen Kimble. It would have much stronger with Brewster, (although Janis' acting is quite good), and it would have given Brewster something more than just being "that dumb thing on the floor". She deserved better.
1/19/62 "A Long Piece of Mischief"
Zap! Suddenly we're in Texas, where the boys are working in a brick factory conveniently next to a rodeo. (Why not give them jobs at the rodeo?) Through much of it this episode just seems like a series of shots of a rodeo in action stitched together with a threadbare plot. Albert Salmi plays a former champion rodeo rider who lost a hand in an accident and who is now rodeo clown. Two cowboys, played by the great Ben Johnson, (Sam the Lion in "The Last Picture Show") and Slim Pickens, who actually was a rodeo clown before he became an actor, seem to dislike the easy-going Salmi and play mean tricks on him. T&B intervene, earning the enmity of the two cowpokes. Meanwhile Salmi has befriended the show's star female rider, who is grieving over her lost husband, (Audrey Totter, possibly a bit hold for her profession at this point).
The show gains depth at the end. Firstly, Johnson and Pickens kidnap Buz, dress him up as Salmi's lady love in a darkened trailer and tell him that 'she' wants him to propose, which he does in a touching scene Buz hears but can't respond to because he's gagged. Then Johnson and Salmi get in a fight and Johnson confesses that he hated Salmi precisely because he was so good-natured, no matter what happened to him or what they did to him. He couldn't stand to be in the same world with someone so saintly so he had to destroy him. A complicated motivation for a TV bad guy.
Not long after this Pickens was asked to ride a "bronco" of a different sort- by Stanley Kubrick.
(Irrelevant factoid: this is the second straight episode where a character has something wrong with his right hand.)
The Fugitive: Devil's Carnival (1964)
12/22/64 "Devil's Carnival"
They say you should watch out for hitch-hikers and hitch-hikers need to watch out who picks them up. Kimble is picked up by Warren Oates, playing Hanes McClure, a career outlaw who is something of a legend in his home town of Corona, California. Even the Sheriff there, (Phillip Abbott- later Inspector Erskine's boos on the FBI), is a childhood friend. Despite that friendship, the Sheriff arrests McClure when he shows up. Kimble protests that he's done nothing but the Sheriff recognizes him from his poster and both Kimble and McClure wind up in jail, with the Sheriff sending out the proper notifications, including to Lt. Gerard.
The story then becomes about all the various characters in town, including Strother Martin, (the chain gang boss in "Cool Hand Luke"), as a bar owner who sees dollar signs in everything, A young actor named Dee Pollock plays a teenager who hates the small town and hero- worships McClure. His mother, (Madeline Sherwood), is constantly in a panic, trying to hold onto him. Various others, including a sexy waitress, add to the atmosphere described in the title. It all winds up with a shoot-out and the kid driving Kimble to freedom. In a poignant scene, Kimble convinces him to go back and not be on the run like he and McClure have been.
1/5/62 "To Walk With a Serpent"
I've always felt that the leading cause of violence in the world is illusion. Those who cannot or refuse to deal with reality create their own worlds to live in with their own set of good guys and bad guys, and everybody will tend to be in one of those groups, if they are allowed to exist in the dream-world at all. These people then view the real world a threat to their dream world and respond by lashing out at reality or by trying to force the real world to conform to their illusions. There will probably always be such people. The important thing is to keep them away from any real power to minimize the impact of their evil.
Zoom! We're back in Boston and the boys are touring the famous patriotic monuments in the city when they meet a gang of "super patriots" led by Dan O'Herlihy. They call their organization "Awake America" and, predictably, they are worried that 'mongrel' immigrants are taking over the country. They signify their determination to waken America with a Nazi-like salute, (fist to chest and then extended out). The corpulent, sweaty Logan Ramsey looks like Goering but plays a Goebbels equivalent. Frank Sutton is a jumpy bodyguard who I suppose would be Himmler. An actress named DeAnn Mears is the Eva Braun who believes anything O'Herlihy tells her because she loves him.
Todd impresses O'Herlihy when he admonishes some kids not to deface a statue. They are less impressed with Buz, especially when they find out he's adopted: he could be a 'mongrel'. Simon Oakland and Joe Campanella play government agents who convince Tod to infiltrate the organization, (to replace an agent who died in an "accident") to see what they are up to. They know the group has acquired some plastic explosives. It turns out they plan to hold a rally at Paul Revere's statue and plant the explosives on the statue. Sutton will set them off with a rifle shot and many in the crowd will be killed. The incident will be blamed on the opposition and the dead spectators will become, (unwilling), martyrs. (The Burning of the Reichstag!) It ends with Sutton being shot before he can get his shot off and O'Herilhy being carted off in a conveniently available straight jacket.
The show has an obvious relevance to our times, when there is no shortage of extremists. The difference is that the mainstream parties have invited many of them on board because they need the votes. It's a dangerous situation as we've seen such groups take over the politics and eventually the government of a country.
The Fugitive: The Iron Maiden (1964)
12/15/64 "The Iron Maiden"
Another delicious situation for Kimble to get out of, (arguably his closest call before "The Judgment"), although the credibility factor is pretty low. He's working for a private contractor building a missile silo for the government, (even though he's not a government employee, Kimble would be subject to a level of scrutiny he'd wish to avoid). Nan Martin plays a visiting Congress woman who takes a dim view of things because she takes a dim view of everything. She's had a previous run-in with the company's owner, (Steven McNally). She demands a tour of the silo, (basically just a hole in the ground, although there are some a joining rooms). A nosy photographer takes a picture of her. The flash startles her and she twists an ankle. The same guy then takes a picture of her ankle being taped- by Richard Kimble! Then after leaving the silo, the photographer causes an accident that produces a fire and a cave-in that traps Kimble, the Congresswoman, McNally and a couple of his other employees in the rooms. The photographer then completes the set-up by publishing the picture with Kimble in it, which brings Gerard, who will be waiting when they clear the mess and pull the people back up.
Richard Anderson, who will return as Kimble's brotherin-law in "The Judgement", here plays a no-nonsense military Colonel who jousts with Gerard. An interesting side-story is that of Martin's apparently loyal assistant, played by Christine White, who immediately sells her story of the cave in to the newspapers. This causes the cynical Congresswoman to realize that her cynicism has caused cynical people to flock to her and maybe she should reassess her view of the world and her behavior in it. Martin has a combination of sunken eyes but a reptilian smile that is perfect for her role. And the metal case they use to lower and raise the people from the silo resembles the medieval torture devise of the title.
Route 66: Burning for Burning (1961)
12/29/61 "Burning for Burning"
Tod and Buz are working on a chicken farm in Pennsylvania but aren't liking it too much. Their employer is a hard-boiled old lady, (Beulah Bondi), with a son, (Pat Hingle) who sees everything through the prism of the Old Testament, which he constantly quotes. The son of the family somehow wound up in Stockholm, where he fell in love with Inger Stevens, (who wouldn't?), but died before their son could be born. Now she's come to town with her baby to meet the family. Cold-hearted Mama thinks she's just a gold digger and that the baby probably isn't even her son's and Hingle thinks she's a sinner who must be punished. The boys disagree and hang around long enough to hold things together until the matriarch softens. Ol' Pat will just have to get used to having Inger and her kid around.
It's a good drama with strong performances, especially by Inger and I liked the reason the old lady gave for her sticking around.
12/8/64 "Detour on a Road Going Nowhere"
This is an episode going nowhere. Kimble leaves a mountain resort he's been working at when some cash is missing and the police are taking fingerprints of everyone to see if anybody has a record. The only way out is a bus carrying a load of passengers, each with their own problems. It's sort of "Grand Hotel" on a bus, except the difference between this and "Grand Hotel" is the difference between staying at the Grand Hotel and being on a bus. Elizabeth Allen is a flirty guest who has had a run in with Kimble and doesn't like him. Lee Bowman is a middle-aged man having a mid-life crisis such that he's been chasing younger women around the resort and his wife, Phyllis Thaxter, is fed up with him. There's also a crook with gun, etc. etc.
They find out who Kimble is due to a radio broadcast and Bowman, trying to be a "big man", grabs the crooks' gun and takes over, sort of. He gets distracted by Allen, who somehow has now fallen for Kimble. In the end our hero escapes from this group and this episode and is glad of it.
You do get a quick look at Natalie Wood's curvy kid sister, Lana at the beginning before she dives into a pool. It's the highlight of the episode.
12/15/61 "And the Cat Jumped over the Moon"
This is another memorable episode. I remembered it as taking place in New York but it's another Philadelphia episode. What confused me is that the boys are staying with Chuck Briner,(Milt Kamen in a good performance by a guy better known as a comedian) a guy who was a mentor to Buz and many other troubled youths when Buz was growing up in New York. This brings up this subject: Herb Leonard and Stirling Silliphant also produced "Naked City", which was on for the first three years of Route 66 and used many of the same actors, writers and directors. Why did they never have a cross-over episode? They are supposed to have gotten the idea for Route 66 from a Naked City episode called "Four Sweet Corners that starred George Maharis. Why not have the boys show up in New York and interact with the Naked City characters? This episode would have been an ideal cross- over. Maybe they didn't do it because that's where they came from and the boys are looking to see what everywhere else looks like.
It starts with the three of them laughing uproariously over a story Brennan is telling them. That's the last laughter. A young woman, Marva, (Susan Silo), bursts into the apartment to tell Chuck that a local gang, the "Missiles", is planning some kind of criminal activity. Chuck goes out to talk to them and, unwisely, accepts a challenge to compete in a game with the gang's leader, Packy, (Martin Sheen in his first television appearance), involving performing dangerous tricks along the edge of a rooftop, (which is where this gang hangs out). The result is that Chuck falls to his death. The police are called in, but to Buz's frustration, can do nothing as the incident is considered an "accident". There's a long line-up scene with a police captain and lieutenant who could have been Mike Parker and Adam Flint of "Naked City".
Buz finds out what the gang was planning: to "make an example" of their former leader, Johnny, who has left the gang to work in the building trade but who has maintained a relationship with Marva, a violation of gang rules. He goes to find Johnny, (symbolically atop a building much higher than the gang has ever been), leaving Marva with Tod back at Chuck's apartment. The gang invades the apartment, beats up Tod and chases after Marva. They corner her on a rooftop but Buz and Johnny, (James Caan in his third TV credit), show up in time to stop them.
Johnny and Packy then play the rooftop game, which Johnny invented and is better at. Packy loses his nerve as the degree of difficulty mounts and then finally chickens out and it beaten up by his own gang, who values the 'guts' to play such games more than the guts Johnny showed when he left the gang to join the adult world and work at a productive job every day.
This one is directed by Elliot Silverstein, who went on to direct "Cat Ballou" and "A Man Called Horse" but whose career then petered out for reasons that are unclear. He does a great job staging the rooftop challenges. (What these guys are doing is an extreme sport now. Check out "rooftop daredevils" on YouTube. Even Johnny would chicken out before doing what those guys do.)
Note: James Rosin's book on the series erroneously identifies Chuck Briner as "Chuck Brennan".