The one-armed man is back.
CBS has given a pilot commitment to a new small-screen rendition of “The Fugitive” from Warner Bros. TV, and producers Arnold and Anne Kopelson and John McNamara. Arnold Kopelson produced WB’s smash 1993 “Fugitive” feature with Harrison Ford, which earned a best picture nom and a supporting actor Oscar for Tommy Lee Jones.
The proposed new series will adhere closely to the 1963-67 ABC original by focusing on the hunter-and-the-hunted relationship between Dr. Richard Kimble, falsely convicted for the murder of his wife and bent on finding the real killer, and Lt. Philip Gerard, the cop who’s obsessed with recapturing the prisoner who escaped while en route to the big house.
And for sure, the villain who drives the pursuits of Kimble and Gerard will be a one-armed man. Like the 1993 feature, the original series, created by Roy Huggins, ratcheted up the suspense just enough in each seg to make “The Fugitive’s” August 1967 finale the highest-rated seg of a regular TV skein until the “Who Shot J.R.?” question was answered 13 years later on “Dallas.”
Warner Bros. TV and CBS are high on the prospects for the “Fugitive” revival as a big-budget actioner that would likely involve location shoots throughout the country.
“We want to combine the heart and the emotion of the original series with the high-tech pace of the movie, blending the best of both elements,” said McNamara, who co-created last year’s short-lived ABC/Warner Bros. drama “Vengeance Unlimited.”
“The series will take into account all the updated technology that would make being a fugitive difficult in the year 2000,” he said.
Given the success of the 1993 pic, McNamara stressed that the new series will have to dazzle viewers with both techno wizardry and compelling storylines, or risk being deemed a cheap knockoff.
“We are very aware that we are tempting the gods in trying to do this series — in no way do we think this is a slam-dunk piece of business because of the name,” said McNamara, whose other TV credits include Fox’s “Profit” and ABC’s “Lois & Clark.”
McNamara added that he’s been nursing his own obsession with Messrs. Kimble and Gerard since he first saw reruns of the original series, which starred David Janssen and Barry Morse, in the early 1980s.
“I think Roy Huggins created the best concept for a TV series ever. It’s a personal story about two men who are opposites, but yet they’re the same,” McNamara said. “They’re driven by a singular obsession.”