For the Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon : The Fugitive “Corner of Hell”

The Fugitive aired on ABC for 4 seasons, 1963-1967.  I was a mere tot then, only 2 years old when the show ended.  I recalled my Dad remembering how a lot of America tuned in for the last episode of The Fugitive, and I don’t think that record number of tv viewers for one tv episode  was broken until America tuned in to see the last episode of MASH, in 1983.   When I found out that A Shroud of Thoughts was hosting a Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon this weekend, I had to join in on the fun.  Be sure to visit the site to read about other bloggers favourite tv show episodes.   Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon

I was curious about The Fugitive.  So many Americans made sure they tuned in  each week to view it.   Checking out Youtube one day last year I was pleasantly surprised to discover that two folks had put all of The Fugitive episodes there.  I began watching and now I’m on Season 3.

The Fugitive poster 1

Why do I enjoy this show so much?  Various reasons!  The writing for this episodic tv show was excellent, with interesting story lines, that were bookended with a retelling of the show’s main premise.  The narrator-William Conrad.  Long before Conrad had his own hit tv show on CBS, Cannon, he did a lot of radio work-he was Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke , the radio show, before that Western made it to tv.  Conrad’s voice is wonderful, low and knowing, as he intones to the viewers what alias the fugitive has adopted for that episode, possibly what part of the country he is in, and a hint at the trouble he’s going to get caught up in.   The actors and actresses-just superb!  David Janssen was the show’s protagonist, aka the fugitive of the title, Dr. Richard Kimble.  Janssen played Kimble as a very serious guy and wouldn’t one be if they were on the run from the law?  British actor  Barry Morse was the show’s antagonist, police Lt. Philip Gerard.  Morse also played his character with lots of no nonsense and an obsessive gleam in his eye.  I don’t think the guy ever smiled in any episode he appeared in!  The guest stars were top-notch and many were just starting out in their careers, so that’s always neat to see.

Each episode of Season 1 begins with  Dr. Kimble and Lt. Gerard riding on a train as it makes its way to the penitentiary where Kimble will receive the death penalty.  William Conrad’s voice informs us  that Dr. Richard Kimble is an innocent man, innocent of the murder of his wife, and that he saw a one-armed man running from his home the night of the murder.  However, fate is about to throw Dr. Richard Kimble a curve.  Then we see the train derail and Kimble is on the run.  Girard  is obsessed with finding Kimble, who escaped on Girard’s watch.  An innocent man on the run each week, the relentless law man scouring the country for him, if this plot sounds vaguely familiar to you, it’s none other than French writer Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables redone with a modern 1960s vibe.

The Fugitive, each week showing that fateful train ride to the death house

The Fugitive, each episode of Season 1 opened with Janssen and Morse, as Kimble and Girard, on the train to the death house.

 

 

Season 2, episode 21, “Corner of Hell” is the episode that I watched a few months back and it had an excellent plot twist:  Lt. Gerard  needing Dr. Kimble’s help in order to survive!

Guest stars for this episode were: R.G. Armstrong as Tully, the partriarch of a moonshine making family, a family that the local law officers avoid.  Lt. Girard is appalled when he finds that fact out!    Bruce Dern, playing a mean, sneaky, and slightly crazed young man, Cody, in with the moonshiners gang.  Sharon Farrell, as Elvie, Tully’s mischievious daughter-she likes to lift wallets and keep the cash.  Dabbs Greer as the hapless Sheriff Claypool who refuses to look for Dr. Kimble with Lt. Girard due to the fact that Kimble might have run off into the moonshiners’ woods.

R.G. Armstrong as Tully

R.G. Armstrong as Tully

Sharon Farrell as Elvie

Sharon Farrell as Elvie

Barry Morse, as Lt. Girard, and a crazed Bruce Dern, as Cody

Barry Morse, as Lt. Girard, and a crazed Bruce Dern, as Cody

Of course, Cody,(Bruce Dern) finds Dr. Kimble running through the woods and takes him prisoner, courtesy of his shotgun.  After Kimble and Cody wrestle/fight in front of Tully(R.G. Armstrong), Elvie(Sharon Farrell), and the rest of the moonshiners, Cody injures his arm cutting an artery on some glass in the melee.   Dr. Kimble impresses them  with his medical skills in stitching up Cody’s wound and dressing it.   As Elvie is making the good doctor a meal he can take with him, Tully is notified about a stranger’s car coming down their dirt road.  Kimble watches from behind the front window’s curtains and is shocked when he sees that the “stranger” is his nemesis, Lt. Girard!

Lt. Girard makes the mistake of telling the moonshiners that he is a police officer looking for a fugitive, wanted for murder.  When Evie finds Girard’s wallet, steals the cash from it, and Cody hits her over the head to take the cash for himself, the trouble kicks into high gear.   Cody runs off, Lt. Girard finds the unconscious girl and Tully accuses him of harming his daughter.  Kimble has to come forward to provide Elvie with medical care in her unconscious state.  He sees that the moonshiners tie up Lt. Girard, taunt him, refuse to listen to his claims of innocence, and in a key scene, the fugitive and the law man are left alone for a bit in the shack.  They have enough time for Kimble to get Girard to see what it’s like to be accused of a crime that one says one didn’t commit, and no witnesses to back up the accused’s alibi.

Hanging Lt. Girard is next on the agenda!

Hanging Lt. Girard is next on the agenda!

With Elvie finally gaining consciousness, Kimble finally able to cajole her into telling the truth of who hit her, the vigilante justice that was about to be carried out is tamped down.   Here is the entire episode, courtesy of Youtube.  This episode was directed by Robert Butler and the teleplay was written by Jo Heims and Francis Gwaltney.  Roy Huggins was the creator of The Fugitive.   This is a very enjoyable episode and you just might find yourself seeking out this series via dvd or via Youtube again!

A fun TV Guide cover with Morse and Janssen smiling!!

A fun TV Guide cover with Morse and Janssen smiling!!

Season 4 was shot in color,

Season 4 was shot in color,

 

 

 

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by classicfilmtvcafe on April 4, 2015 at 3:01 PM

    A superb choice, Jenni! This episode ranks in my top 5 (my fave is the two-parter with Mrs. Gerard). In “Corner of Hell,” I love how the tables are turned and Gerard is the one that faces an execution. THE FUGITIVE (especially the first three years) is one of the best-written TV series in the history of the medium.

    Reply

    • Thank you! After hearing my dad’s raves about what a quality tv show it was, I am so glad I am now able to view it. Honestly, I chose “Corner of Hell” because of what you mentioned, Gerard needing Kimble’s help. I almost chose another episode concerning Gerard’s family, when his son, Phil Jr.(Kurt Russell) is stowing away in a car that Kimble happens to nab and use for a getaway!

      Reply

  2. Thanks for introducing me to this gem – so many TV shows, so little time! I do appreciate well-honed dialogue though, so I’ll bump this up my list.

    Reply

    • You are very welcome and it is a gem of a show. Well-written, thought-provoking, and suspenseful. I do catch myself thinking, though, as I watch that if only Dr. Kimble had a cell phone, urgent phone calls could be made a lot quicker!

      Reply

  3. Posted by mercurie80 on March 29, 2015 at 9:20 PM

    I’ve always had a weakness for the old semi-anthology shows, particularly Route 66 and The Fugitive. With both shows I liked the fact that the heroes wandered from place to place, and we were often given glimpses of an America that has long faded away. And both shows were known for the quality of the writing and the acting. I don’t know if “Corner of Hell” is my favourite Fugitive episode, but it would certainly rank up there! It has a fantastic cast: R. G. Armstrong, Bruce Dern, Dabs Greer, and Sharon Farrell. And it was great seeing Gerard having to rely on Richad Kimble for his life.

    Thank you so much for taking part in the blogathon!

    Reply

  4. “Bruce Dern, playing a mean, sneaky, and slightly crazed young man…” LOL! T’was ever thus.

    Terrific episode from a terrific series. The strong writing and excellent guest stars make “The Fugitive” a never-ending pleasure.

    Reply

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