Dr. Richard Kimble is accused to be the murder of his wife. The night before his execution, he escapes. The only chance to prove his innocence is to find the man who killed hi wife. Kimble, persecuted by the Lt. Gerard, risks his life several times when he shows his identity to help other people out of trouble.
"Nervous?" a police officer reassures the uncomfortable-looking citizen brought in for questioning as witness to an attempted liquor store heist. "That happens to everyone who comes into a police station." This man, though, has good reason to be uneasy. He's Richard Kimble (David Janssen), who escaped en route to Death Row after being falsely convicted of killing his wife. The 15 compelling episodes that conclude the essential season 1 heighten his desperation and paranoia, as the rootless Kimble travels across the country, accepting odd jobs while searching for the One-Armed Man he saw leaving the scene of the crime. Fate, intones narrator William Conrad at one point, is not finished with Kimble. In the episode "Rat in a Corner," a woman who works in the post office recognizes him from his Wanted poster. In "Storm Center," an embezzler's girlfriend turns out to be the woman to whom Kimble refused an abortion five years earlier. In "End Game," one of the season's best episodes, a street photographer inadvertently snaps his picture, and the discarded photograph revealing his location inexorably makes it way to Kimble's nemesis, Lt. Gerard (the late, great, Barry Morse). Janssen is riveting as the tortured Kimble for whom a forced smile to appear normal seems excruciating. Each episode brings a new location and another human-interest story, as Kimble finds himself embroiled in sinister plots (the attempted murder of an heiress in "The Garden House," a stepmother's scheme to drive her stepdaughter insane in "The Homecoming"), family dramas ("Where the Action Is," in which a "rude, drunken brat" is at odds with her hotel owner father), and personal crises (the two-part "Angels Travel on Lonely Roads," in which Kimble escorts a nun en route to renounce her vows).
More of Kimble's backstory is revealed. In the powerful "Taps for a Dead War," we learn that he served in Korea, where his life was saved by a now-embittered vet whose face was horribly scarred in the process. The Fugitive gets some extra mileage out of a stellar roster of guest stars, including Warren Oates as the hapless stick-up man in "Rat in a Corner," Carroll O'Connor as a bullying sheriff in "Flight from the Final Demon," Telly Savalas as the hotel owner in "Where the Action Is," Pat Hingle as a sympathetic columnist in "Search in a Windy City," and most memorable, John McGiver and John "Tigger" Fiedler in "The End Game" as bickering, bantering housemates on opposite sides of the Kimble guilty-or-innocent question. The Fugitive's noir sensibility evokes dread and menace even in the most bucolic of settings. And everywhere he goes, Kimble wins hearts and minds against the police sworn to bring him in. As a surfer tells Gerard in "The End Game," "You know, after meeting you, I hope he makes it." --Donald Liebenson