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The Fugitive Fan


By Tom Soter from VIDEO, 1993 To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, some fans see shows and say "wow," others see them and say, "Why can't I do that?" People like "Texas Bob" Reinhardt of Austin, Texas. He isn't just a fan of the 30-year-old David Janssen video series The Fugitive – he is a follower, a believer, a high-priest at the shrine of the late actor, best known for his role as Dr. Richard Kimble, the man falsely convicted for the murder of his wife. Janssen spent four years hunting the real culprit – a one-armed man – and his role will be reprised this summer in a big-screen version starring Harrison Ford.

Texas Bob got there ahead of Ford, however. Founding a fan club and issuing a newsletter ( The Stafford Chronicle, named for Kimble's mythical home town of Stafford, Indiana) wasn't enough – after all, Rusty Pollard in nearby Garland, Texas, had already started his own "Fuge" newsletter, On the Run. Reinhardt staged a Fugitive convention in Janssen's home town, at which the late actor's mother, Berniece, spoke, and then fulfilled every Fugitive fan's dream: he actually portrayed Dr. Kimble in a half-hour video.

Billed as the "first new episode in 30 years," Texas Bob's "Fear in a Pioneer Village," employs the titles, music, and voiceover narration familiar to fans of the show, as well as its trademark chases and moral dilemmas. Janssen's aunt and uncle appear in small parts, with Reinhardt himself essaying Kimble, imitating the mannerisms Janssen made so distinctive: the nervous glance, the half-smile, the slight hunch. 


Reinhardt claims "Fear," which features fellow fan club members in key roles, has been selling well via mail order (one viewer called it "absolutely terrific"), but he is also not surprised: "I think Kimble was one of the last real heroes. He was persecuted for what he didn't do, but helps people in spite of that. There was a high moral and ethical value to the series. Personally, there are no other TV shows I like as much. When The Fugitive went off the air, TV ended for me. I never missed an episode." 

"Fear in a Pioneer Village," paired with footage of the first Fugitive convention, is available for $23, including postage, from: Memory Lane Video Services, 511 Stillmeadow, Richardson, Texas 75081. To join The Fugitives, Texas Bob's club, send $12 to 507 B. Bellevue Place, Austin, Texas 78705-3109.