Sunday, 4 September 2011

David Janssen's Fugitive catches up with the orchestral music

I've just posted my fourth review for Volumes 1 and 2 for each of Seasons 2 and 3 of 'The Fugitive' starring David Janssen (Season 2 V1&V2, Season 3 V1&V2).

A few months ago I discovered that the complete series Seasons 1-4 is available on DVD. I was excited about this because I remember it with great affection from my late teens. What a great series it was, too, filled with tension and humanity in equal measures, providing a moral exemplar in a time of social turmoil.

Both Volumes 1 and 2 of Season 1 are available in a Region 2 pack, filmed in black and white but full of atmosphere nonetheless. Wonderful! And exactly as I remember it. Seasons 2 and 3 are available in Region 1/NTSC (US TV standards) in the original black and white, with the fourth and final season Volumes 1 and 2 in the original colour (Region1 NTSC) and with the final showdown with the one-armed man.

Having watched all the Region 2 Season 1 episodes, I was intent on carrying on. However, in my usual 'check the reviews before you buy' mode, I found a set of reviews warning of dire changes to the music score on the Seasons 2 and 3 discs. Apparently, CBS re-recorded the original orchestral scores for seasons 2 and 3, with synthesizer music back in 2009. The other reviews stated that after an outcry from fans, CBS provided disc exchanges for fans who had bought discs with synthesizer music. This only lasted for a short time and reviews suggested that replacement discs are no longer available and to avoid the middle two series at all costs.

This seemed like a huge disappointment but I determined I would fork out the price of the first volume of Season 2 and see for myself what this synthesizer sound track was like. I was completely amazed to find that each episode on each disc contained not a note of synthesiser music and that the orchestral score was intact. I have no idea how this is possible but it is so.

Still continuing with great caution, I bought one season at a time, until I had all volumes of both Seasons 2 and 3. Each time I was delighted to find that the sound track had not been tampered with. A very pleasant surprise because the original orchestral music is absolutely central to the tension, atmosphere and enjoyment of these stories. I bought all the discs from a number of different suppliers, so I can only assume that it is not hard now to obtain the discs with the original music. However, this is only an assumption and I sincerely hope that anyone cautiously buying these nostalgia-laden discs gets the right ones. Don't forget that if you decide to follow the epic struggle of Dr Richard Kimble's quest for justice, you will need to be able to play US Region 1 NTSC discs.

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