April 22, 2014

Read the fine print

Sunday night I was watching one of my favorite police shows of the 60s, The F.B.I.  (Call me nostalgic; I enjoy remembering the days when federal officers were the good guys.)  Now, when I'm watching a DVD, I generally don't like to use the rewind button if I can help it; even though most of the shows don't include the original commercials, I still like to see them in some approximation of how they were originally broadcast.*  But in this last episode of The F.B.I, I saw something so intriguing that I had to pause and rewind, just to make sure I'd seen what I thought I saw.

*That, and if I pause it for too long, I have trouble remembering what was happening when I start it up again.

The episode in question, "Hostage," was originally broadcast on February 19, 1967.  As we join the story, the FBI has just put out a wanted poster on Dr. Marie-Luise Karn (Diana Hyland), part of a Communist team sent to kidnap an anti-Communist leader to try and force an exchange for a leading Red general being held in an American prison.  Fortunately for the FBI, a man working in the harbor, where the Commies are planning to rent a boat to facilitate their escape, sees the poster:

A few things become immediately apparent.  First of all, the Eastern-bloc doctor is not six feet tall (earlier in the episode, a photo supposedly from the magazine Der Spiegel suggests she's probably about 5'8"), is not an American (she's likely supposed to be East German), and therefore was not born in Stafford, Indiana.  But you know who was born in Stafford?

That's right - Dr. Richard Kimble.  Interestingly enough, he and Dr. Karn not only share the same birthplace, they were also born on the same date*, and are the same height and weight!  And they both became doctors!

*David Janssen was also born on March 27, albeit in 1931.  Coincidence?

Obviously what happened is that someone in the prop department pulled out one of the old Kimble posters, pasted Karn's picture over it, and used it in the episode.  Both The Fugitive and The F.B.I. were Quinn Martin productions, so it makes sense.  And in the days before high-def, big screen televisions with pause buttons on the DVD player, it's unlikely that anyone anticipated viewers would be able to even see the fine print, let alone notice the discrepancy.

It's all good fun, of course.  One of the treats of watching old television shows on large-screen HD televisions is seeing things that were invisible when the show was originally aired; a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea fan noted that the remastered discs now allowed him to see the wires that pulled models along the floor.  As the Wizard said, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.  Little details like this just add to my enjoyment of the shows, and affection for the simplicity of the era.


  1. I love this kind of stuff. A couple of my favorite examples of this would be Richard Kimble walking past Del Floria's Tailor Shop (from The Man From UNCLE) and Gidget having an original Samantha Stephens Bewitched doll in her bedroom (though that was more likely deliberate product promotion and not a behind-the-scenes error).

    1. It's great, isn't it? Those "you either get it or you don't" moments that are guaranteed to produce a smile. Another one I thought of, that I'll have to look for, is a Perry Mason moment when he's playing a record that's supposed to be some specific piece. Freeze the frame and you can read one the label that it's a different piece entirely!


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!