"Fugitive Among Us" (at 9 tonight on CBS, Channels 2 and 8) is a routine crime yarn with a dark twist. The action centers on an obsessive cop (Peter Strauss), an elusive rape suspect (Eric Roberts) and three women who stupidly leave their front doors unlocked and pay the consequences.
The production is a red-herring special. The close-up of an unseen rapist's bloodied hand first casts suspicion on Strauss' stressed-out detective with his inexplicably bandaged hand.
Next, the image of cowboy boots seen sneaking through a woman's living room--followed by a brutal sexual assault and four point-blank slugs into the terrified victim--throws likely guilt on Roberts' virile drifter with his fancy, pointy Texas boots.
Roberts, a brash con artist and reckless ladies man, is convicted of the crime, breaks out of the courthouse with the help of his lover (the delicious Lauren Holly), and is pursued by Strauss in a chase that stretches from Galveston to New Mexico to Nevada.
The vicious, blind-sided sexual assaults are not exploitative. The moviemakers (scenarist Gordon Griesman and director Michael Toshiyuki Uno) don't have it both ways. The battery, for female viewers, is a worst-case nightmare.
Roberts is charismatic as the wild fugitive, and he and the sexy Holly generate a smoldering chemistry with mere eye contact. Meanwhile, lawman Strauss, obsessed with a private agenda, effectively conveys a maniacal single-mindedness as life's implacable noose draws the two men tightly together.