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11/22/66 "Nobody Loses All the Time"
Kimble again spots Fred Johnson and again winds up in the hospital, but not as a patient. He's chasing after him. Johnson has been taking to a woman who gets hit by a truck when he breaks away from her and tries to follow him. Kimble's doctor instincts take over and he tends to her instead of running after Johnson. There's been a big explosion and fire that has filled the local hospital and Kimble is pressed into service as a doctor.
He invents an alias but declines to give background information. He wants to remain close to his patient and find out where Johnson lives. She's grateful he saved her life but she's Johnson's girlfriend, (the one armed man apparently has a good side to go with his bad side, even he has only one arm). He's unable to get the information he needs and has to run for it, setting up a car chase, (he's stolen an ambulance) and some tight moments in a freight yard, part of this series' increasing emphasis on 'action' in its final season.
11/29/63 "A Cage in Search of a Bird"
Zap! We're back in Colorado again for an episode featuring Stephanie Powers as a dodgy young beauty who steals $600 from a crooked card game set up by her boyfriend Alex Viespi, (Cord). She escapes by jumping into the corvette when the guys are stopped at a stop-light, (much as Suzanne Pleshette did in "The Strengthening Angels" and Roger Mosely in "Somehow, it Gets to Be Tomorrow").They don't have much time to be shocked: they drive off when they see a guy with a gun coming after her. They wind up a diner where a distinguished looking Dan Duryea overhears them and helps out when the cops show up, claiming that she is his niece. He sort of takes her under his wing and develops an affection for her.
It turns out he's a crook from the old days, who once pulled off a robbery of the Denver National Bank, (which we see in flashbacks- a rare device in this show). He is now dying and wants to leave life by doing something positive. The money from the robbery is gone but there's still a $25,000 price on his head. He instructs her to turn him in so she can have that money and maybe make something of her life. She doesn't want to do so. But Alex beats her to it, wanting the money for himself.
There's an excellent sequence where the old man gives his young charge a tour of Denver as he knew it, complete with flashbacks. This is the sort of 'organic' thing that is totally missing from "I'm Here to Kill a King".
The Fugitive: Approach with Care (1966)
11/15/66 "Approach With Care"
This one is obviously inspired by "Of Mice and Men". Denny Miller plays the simple-minded giant, well- intentioned and friendly but who doesn't know his own strength and can hurt people in a fight. He tries to join some kids in playing football but pushes one of them down. The kid is mildly hurt but his mother wants Miller arrested. He runs and hides out at a carnival where Kimble is working.
Our hero finds him a job as a roustabout, not knowing the police are after him. He has a sister who has taken care of him but who wants to get married to a fiancé who doesn't know about Denny. She wants to institutionalize him to obtain her own freedom. The tragic ending is predictable, as is the episode. Dr. Kimble once again gets to show his gentle side.
Route 66: I'm Here to Kill a King (1964)
scheduled for 11/22/63 "I'm Here to Kill a King"
The story about this episode is far more amazing than the episode itself, which is amazingly bad. It was originally scheduled to be shown on the day President Kennedy was shot, (some sources say it was scheduled for 11/29 but most sources show "A Cage in Search of a Bird" was shown on that day). Many sources say this episode was shown on March 20, 1964, a week after the intended finale, the two part "Where There's A Will There's a Way", which would really be ending with a whimper rather than a bang, since neither episode is very good. Other sources say that "I'm Here to Kill a King" was never shown on the network and was not seen until the show was syndicated years later. It might have been better not to show it at all.
The problem with it, aside from its poor quality is that it's about an assassination attempt. That makes its intended broadcast day ironic in the extreme. It's also that staple of 60's TV series that were running out of good story ideas, a "Double Trouble" episode. The lead actors in a series get tired of playing the same character all the time and the writers come up dry so they inevitably come up with an episode in which there is a perfect double for the lead character- a look-alike and sound alike so close to the original that even his family and friends can be fooled. The one difference is that the double is opposite in character to the hero. The hero gets blamed for his misdeeds while the hero's friends can't understand why their friend has changed so much. There's the inevitable split-screen confrontation between the yin and the yang and a violent confrontation at the end, with the hero wondering what it would be like to be the opposite of what he is. The lead actor gets to show his acting chops and the audience gets to wonder if there is such a thing as person who looks and sounds so close to yourself that he could so easily impersonate you. The story is so based on this corny idea that it usually has little substance or credibility of its own, as is the case here.
Another problem with the story in this episode is that it's not organic. It's a series about two guys who motor around the country, get various jobs and meet people on the job and in the community in which they are temporarily living. The stories tend to rise from those people and that community. They are of the place where the story transpires and reveal something about the location. This episode has an excellent location: Niagara Falls, but it has nothing to do with that location except as a backdrop and the people of the area are extras in the story.
Instead, it's a story of a visiting Arab potentate whose chief aide, (Robert Loggia) wants him assassinated. He hires a guy who happens to look exactly like Tod Stiles, who is in town with his pal Linc looking for a birthday present for Linc's mother. There Linc encounters the assassin, who happens to be in the same store and he talks to the man as if he was Tod. This clues the bad guy in that he has a look-alike and he figures that's convenient. He finds Tod and kidnaps him, which sets up the split screen sequences. Todd and his "evil twin" have some conversations about their contrasting outlooks on life. Martin Milner is suitably oily and arrogant to make a convincing bad guy. As Tod he mostly looks on with a shocked expression, especially when the assassin coolly shoots an agent pursuing him. . The bad guy doesn't kill Tod, which would seem the logical thing to do. Instead he handcuffs him to a metal bar in a boat and then goes out to kidnap Linc, who conveniently has a job repairing those binocular viewers at the lookout points around the falls, which gives the assassin a perfect opportunity to impersonate Tod and get a shot at the Arab King as he views the falls.
The DVD places this episode in its original intended slot so I'm reviewing it in that order. But what a dumb show it would have been for this great series to go out on!
The Fugitive: Wine Is a Traitor (1966)
11/1/66 "Wine is a Traitor"
Kimble is back in California in the middle of grape picker's strike where the son of a major farm owner has taken matters into his own hands and killed one of the leaders. Kimble witnesses it but flees before the cops come because he doesn't want to be recognized. The grape pickers think he did it, too at first. He has to win them over and avoid the police, not for his usual reasons but because they are essentially in the employ of the father.
The father is played by the always excellent James Gregory. The son is played by Roy Thinnes who would become the star of Quinn Martin's next series about a wandering hero: The Invaders."
This is not Kimble's first encounter with Mexican agricultural workers: there is Episode 7, "Smoke Screen" where he is one of them but they are suspicious because they think he's an undercover immigration agent and Episode 59, "The Old Man Picked a Lemon", where he has to take sides between the workers and a sadistic new farm owner.
11/15/63 "I Wouldn't Start From Here"
Zoom! We're back in New England where the boys encounter an elderly farmer who, like the one in Minnesota, they will later, (or had earlier?) encountered in ""And Make Thunder His Tribute", is trying to save a farm that's been in his family for generations. They try to help him out but it's no good: the local bank is calling in his note and he can't pay it. Everything on the place has to be auctioned off.
There's a long, sad sequence in which one, by one, the old man's possessions are bought by his neighbors, including a portrait of his grandmother. Linc starts bidding on his team of horses, which drives Tod crazy until he finds out Linc is bidding on behalf of the old man, who wants to preserve something from his life. He'd like one last hurrah: using the horses to win a pulling completion at the country fair. They finish second. But instead of breaking the old man's heart, it brings him back into touch with reality and he finally agrees to sell the horses, too. It's not clear where he's going next, probably to some kind of retirement home. The boys drive off with adventures still to be had in their life before they meet the same fate.
It's not as sad and depressing as it sounds. There's a lot of "Down East" humor and Rosemary Forsyth offers some attractive window dressing as a Manhattanite who has fled the city for the country only to find out that everybody has their problems. It's a low key, gently paced, very human episode.
The Fugitive: Second Sight (1966)
10/25/66 "Second Sight"
Ed Robertson declares this to be the worst episode of the series in his book "The Fugitive Recaptured", blaming it on David Janssen's "wretched" performance as a man temporarily blinded and dependent on the kindness of strangers. I couldn't agree less.
Kimble is again after the one-armed man, "Fred Johnson" and corners him in warehouse. They fight in a chemical warehouse and Johnson causes a minor chemical explosion that blinds Kimble, who winds up in a hospital, then reports Kimble to the police. Kimble escapes but still can't see anything and is at the mercy of a couple of hobos he runs into and then of a free-lance photographer who took the picture who led Kimble to Johnson.
As Robertson says, "Kimble bumbles around with his arms flailing and crashes into every garbage can he finds." What do you expect? The guy can't see anything. Robertson sees it as "so broad his performance borders on camp". I saw fear, even panic, desperation, pleading for help- the exact sort of emotions you'd expect him to have in that situation. The worst episode of the series is surely "The Homecoming" from season one, not this one which is actually pretty good.
Route 66: The Stone Guest (1963)
11/8/63 "The Stone Guest" (spoilers)
Now they are in Colorado, where Tod has a job working behind the scenes in an opera house. He's befriended a young boy whose father, (Lee Phillips), is the town brawler. He also happens to be an old Army buddy of Linc's, who tries to get him on the straight and narrow. Phillips' one sign of hope in life is an old gold mine he's been working.
Tod explains the plot of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni to the young boy: Don Giovanni kills a beloved man in a duel and the statue his friends erected of him somehow comes alive and visits Don Giovanni's house, demanding Don Giovanni repent or be sent to Hell. He doesn't and he is. The young boy sees his father as Don Giovanni. (The animated statue provides the episode's title.)
Meanwhile Phillips has picked up a lonely middle-aged woman, (Jo Van Fleet), in a bar and taken her to the mine to show her his work there. There's a cave-in and they are trapped- far below the rest of the world, just as Don Giovanni wound up.
There's also a poignant but basically unnecessary sub-plot about Phillip's wife having a baby that Phillips didn't want.
Again, we see an episode you are unlikely to see in any other series. Who else would connect the plot of a Mozart opera to a modern TV melodrama? And who else would eschew the happy ending and instead use the nihilistic one this episode finishes with?
The Fugitive: Joshua's Kingdom (1966)
10/18/66 "Joshua's Kingdom"
Kimble's still out in the country, assisting an aging veterinarian who travels around caring for farm animals. They encounter Harry Townes, who has nothing against veterinarians but people doctors are somehow against his religion. His daughter, (Kim Darby) is concerned about her sick baby and so is Kimble. He goes to the point of signing the vet's name to a prescription for antibiotics. Meanwhile a deputy, (Tom Skerritt) is after Kimble with a couple of bloodhounds.
Townes, who had played a cop who harassed Kimble in the premiere, plays a religious fanatic who seems, as some do, to have made up his own religion. He seems to be converted away from it rather easily, although his role in Kimble's escape is a clever one. Townes retied from acting in the 1970', (but occasionally returned) to become an Episcopal priest in his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama. I assume he liked doctors better than the guy he played here.
11/1/63 "And Make Thunder His Tribute"
We jump back to Minnesota for a story about an old man, (J. Carroll Naish), trying to keep his raspberry farm going. He's in constant conflict with his son, (Lou Antonio) over how to do that. Lou wants to take an offer to build a motel on the place. Our heroes are on the sidelines, employed at the farm but wondering who they should take orders from: the father or the son? The most interesting aspect of the episode is their reaction to the dispute. Todd, who loved and respected his deceased father, sides with the old man. Linc, who, (as we saw in the episode that introduced him), didn't get along with his father, sympathizes with the son.
Alfred Ryder, a fine actor usually stuck playing bad guys, (such as "The Man In the Monkey Board" from season one), makes a meal of a philosophical Indian who is the old man's closest friend. One of the old man's character traits is that he likes to have fun when not working his farm or arguing with his son and he and the Indian spend some time in amusement park in a scene designed to make him seem a more endearing character. We also see him at the beginning incongruously piloting a borrowed speedboat at the beginning. What is with this series and speedboats?