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Tear Jerker: Chico And The Man
"Raul Runs Away" was a special hour-long episode that brought closure to the death of series star Freddie Prinze. Aired January 20, 1978, on the weekend of the one-year anniversary of Prinze's death, the plot revolved around new "chico" Raul running away after Ed had yelled at him. (Raul had found Chico's things, and Ed – still having trouble coming to terms with Chico's heretofore unacknowledged-to-viewers death – shouts at him and breaks Chico's guitar, which Raul had been playing.) Ed later deeply regrets his hasty anger and, after going to apologize, sees that Raul is nowhere to be found. Ed forms a search party and, acting on a tip that Raul may have hitchhiked to Tijuana, travels there to find him. He eventually tracks him down inside an old church and tenderly apologizes. The tearjerker kicks in when he indeed explains about Chico, how close he had grown to him, and that he had passed away; it is never stated how Chico died (presumably, a car accident). Although Ed never cries on camera – although in reality, it likely was all Jack Albertson could do to avoid showing his emotions – it is a very tender moment and was probably one of the last true highlights of the series. (And yes, Raul accepts the apology and agrees to return home.)