‘The Fugitive’

Fond memories of '93 film and '60s original back new series

You know the drill: One-armed man, Dr. Kimble on the loose, Lt. Gerard on his tail, yadda, yadda.

In this age of fragmented viewership and network erosion, a brand-name like “The Fugitive” has obvious advantages–like instant audience awareness.

Indeed, “The Fugitive” is tops among all new series when it comes to awareness levels. After all, just about everyone either remembers the 1993 movie starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, or the original 1960s series with David Janssen.

This time around, Tim Daly stars as the wrongfully accused Dr. Richard Kimble, while Mykelti Williamson takes over as Gerard. John McNamara exec produces, joined by fellow exec producers pretty familiar with the franchise: Arnold and Anne Kopelson, who produced the 1993 movie, are back on board, as is Roy Huggins, who created and produced the original 1962 series (and was also an exec producer on the film).

“The Fugitive’s” pilot boasted an unprecedented large budget for a single episode. Series producers admit that they won’t be able to shoot with that kind of budget week in and week out.

“We have to think of our first season–knock wood–as a 24-hour movie,” McNamara says. “There are going to be episodes that will have absolutely no action… If I only had Tim Daly hanging off the back of a truck every week, I’m an idiot.

“However, that’s not to say that we won’t have action sequences like that every couple of episodes,” he says. “I think if the audience did get that level of action every week, they would grow kind of tired.”

Warner Bros. execs were less than thrilled with “The Fugitive’s” Friday night berth. But most industry execs don’t expect CBS to give up on the big-budget series that quickly, even if it doesn’t perform up to snuff on the night. To prove their committment, CBS has been marketing “The Fugitive” heavily with a teaser campaign that features a shot of Daly and the question, “Have You Seen This Man?”

TN Media’s Steve Sternberg picks “The Fugitive” as one of this season’s new series with the most potential.

“If it can be maintained on a weekly basis, it has a chance to do well (on Fridays),” Sternberg says.

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