''The Fugitive'' stands out from producer Quinn Martin's other work because of its rare depiction of the system's flaws

It's no "Barnaby Jones"!

CBS Television Distribution

Whether or not you recognize the name, you've probably seen his shows. "Quinn Martin" is the name emblazoned over many a series, listed as "producer", or "executive producer". His company, QM Productions, shepherded countless shows to the screen, such as Barnaby Jones, Cannon, The F.B.I., The New Breed, and The Streets of San Francisco. 

Martin got his start in the business as an editor, which gave him a close understanding of the timing and storytelling skills needed for compelling television. Moreso than a writer, or even a director, an editor crafts each episode into a palatable piece of entertainment ready for eager consumption.

With his background in editing, Martin progressed on to other behind-the-scenes jobs before finally turning to writing. His first production credit was on The Untouchables, a series that exemplified many of the themes present in future QM Productions works. 

The collection of hour-long productions that featured his name revealed a lot about how Martin saw the world. Nearly every single show he produced featured characters fighting to uphold "the system". The lawmen are the good guys, and the criminals they apprehend are all bad. There's very little grey area in the ways Martin depicts traditional power structures and reinforces old values. Violence, often seen in QM Productions, is a tool of the system-threatening villains who must be brought to justice.

However, an early gem in the QM Productions library doesn't quite fit in with the others. While The Fugitive has clear heroes and villains, it exists outside of the system-upholding trend as seen in Martin's other shows. The system, in The Fugitive, is notably flawed, as an innocent man is pursued for a crime he didn't commit. Mistakes are made, unlike the near-clinical law work seen elsewhere. 

In the 1983 book The Producer's Medium, Martin was asked about how The Fugitive read like an exception in his repertoire.

"If a man has done everything ethical he has a right to protect himself. That was my justification. I thought long and hard about whether I was really doing something wrong in making a show that says a man is living outside the law," said Martin.

"We made it very clear that he had all the appeals. He had tried to do everything, and now he escapes. He tries to clear himself. He didn't go out and play around; he's not a jet-setter. He worked beneath his station. He did a lot of things to try and find out who killed his wife. And he did."

Watch The Fugitive on MeTV!

Sunday Nights at 2 AM

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AltBill 6 days ago
Great show, very intense. Always liked how the story brought other people around to see there is always two sides to a story, and complexities in characters and situations means our decisions are not always black and white. All carried out in less than an hour. And,
Like Route 66 a great showcase for talented actors that we now know and love.
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