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Fugitive Nights: Danger in the Desert

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Based on executive producer Joseph Wambaugh’s best-selling novel of the same name, Fugitive Nights: Danger in the Desert (NBC, Nov. 19, 9-11 p.m.) commences with an unusual bit of casting: Teri Garr as a tough Palm Springs, Calif., private investigator. Rather than use her comic skills to turn her character into an eccentric P.I., however, Garr plays it straight. In fact, she ends up playing straight woman to costar Sam Elliott (Gettysburg), a burned-out detective given to a stream of colorful non sequiturs like ”This guy’s going to be harder to trace than the Basque language.”

Hired to do surveillance for a run-of-the-mill divorce case, Garr and Elliott become involved in a subplot featuring a big, mean, totally bald escaped convict with a twitchy right eye (Geno Silva). In pursuit of this fugitive, Garr and Elliott are joined by Wings‘ Thomas Haden Church, who givesa terrific performance as a wide-eyed, eager-beaver cop. Fugitive Nights, directed by Gary Nelson (Sidney Sheldon’s Memories of Midnight), takes hold as a satisfyingly convoluted multiple mystery. B