Tuesday, February 5, 2008

R.I.P., Barry Morse

I think it was probably the summer between in 5th and 6th grades that the local television station started rerunning the series The Fugitive in the mornings. My younger sister, Kelly, and I were addicts: we watched the whole series through at least twice that summer. Now, if you don't know the show, it's pretty much the same as the Harrison Ford movie: Richard Kimble is wrongfully convicted of killing his wife. En route to the death house, a train wreck frees him and he begins to travel all over the country (most of which bore a remarkable similarity to Southern California) in search of the one-armed man he saw actually commit the crime. Even though he is "relentlessly pursued by a police lieutenant obsessed with his capture," he manages to spend the majority of his time performing good deeds for people he meets along the way.

Barry Morse, the actor who played Lt. Gerard has died at 89. He was British, which I'd never realized (in every show I ever saw him, he used an American dialect). He was also Artistic Director of Canada's Shaw Festival in 1966. Even though he was the supporting character in the series, I always thought he was more interesting to watch than David Janssen, who played Kimble (Janssen just always looked guilty every time he ran across a policeman—of course every cop he ran into was suspicious of him!). Morse worked extensively on the stage right up until 2005.

Incidentally, I found the ending to the series particularly satisfying in that both of the main characters succeed: Kimble is acquitted, but only after Gerard finally catches him and brings him back for trial.

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