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Archive for Thursday, April 1, 2010

‘Fugitive’ recalls pursuits realistically

April 1, 2010

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Those who dismiss “dramatic re-enactments” as cheap or cheesy video fare are in for a pleasant surprise. “Fugitive Chronicles” (9 p.m., A&E) promises a “cinematic” re-creation of real events involving criminal fugitives and their pursuit. And they more than deliver.

Every episode of “Fugitive” recalls the cat-and-mouse game between a dangerous criminal and law-enforcement agents. Each story includes well-shot and frenetically edited accounts of the chase as well as first-person interviews with police, witnesses and other participants and interviews, and voice-over narration provided by the now-captured outlaw.

“Fugitive” kicks off with the story of Ralph “Bucky” Phillips. A petty thief and troublemaker from a rural corner of western New York state, Phillips spent much of his early life behind bars. After a short stint of freedom, he was rearrested on what he considered an unfair parole-violation charge, then managed a daring escape and went on the lam.

Many of the police pursuing him knew Phillips from his youth, and neither the police nor his neighbors took him terribly seriously. Then he shot and wounded a state trooper. As the cordon around Phillips tightened, his immediate and extended family were placed under constant surveillance, leading to anger, misunderstandings and violence.

The authorities’ inability to capture him helped create a groundswell of popular support for a homegrown outlaw. The chase even spawned a cottage industry of pro-“Bucky” paraphernalia — much to the horror of the police and state troopers.

All joking stopped after Bucky shot and killed another officer. He landed on the FBI’s most wanted list, and local police received the resources and manpower that turned his pursuit into the most expensive manhunt in state history.

There’s a good reason why movies about fugitives and manhunts are so consistently popular. By looking at the hunt from both perspectives and presenting the action with certain visual flourish, “Fugitive” has done a good job of pursuing and capturing an audience that should return week after week.

• Walter travels back to 1985 to explain Peter’s peculiar origins as “Fringe” (8 p.m., Fox) returns from hiatus to complete its second season with eight uninterrupted episodes.

Much like “FlashForward,” a drama as mysterious as “Fringe” is ill-served by a long break in the narrative. But if tonight’s story was supposed to excite the faithful, or more importantly, capture new fans, it fails spectacularly. For all of its talk of time travel and “Back to the Future” allusions, it is remarkably static and frequently dull.

• The buddy-cop forensic romance “Bones” (7 p.m., Fox) also returns from a long break to complete its fifth season. For those keeping score, this marks the show’s 100th episode.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Past events in Somalia may offer clues on “FlashForward” (7 p.m., ABC).

• “Beasts of the Bible” (7 p.m., Animal Planet) looks at creatures mentioned in the Old and New Testaments.

• The team encounter the new boss on “The Mentalist” (8 p.m., CBS).

• The hunt for a drug ring leads to a posh locale on “CSI” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Jimmy Fallon, Kirstie Alley and Sheryl Crow appear on “The Marriage Ref” (9 p.m., NBC).

• Free work for a celebrity on “Project Runway” (9 p.m., Lifetime).

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