Sunday, July 20, 2014

Classic TV: The Rockford Files (1974)

James Garner returned to television in 1974 with a crime drama that seemed like a reincarnation of his Western hit, Maverick, if but because the character traits are almost exactly the same.

The Rockford Files cast Garner as ex-con-turned-private-investigator Jim Rockford, who had as many run-ins with the police, largely because of his past more than anything, as with the suspects he was pursuing. If he needed advice, he turned to his father, Rocky (Noah Beery, Jr.), but he was vulnerable to being lured into one scheme after another by fellow ex-con Angel Martin (Stuart Margolin), who just couldn't stay on the straight side. Rockford's police contact was Lt. Dennis Becker (Joe Santos), who was alternately warning Rockford away and asking for help.

While the series ended in 1980, Garner revisited the role in a series of TV-movies during the decade, after a brief return to his earlier role of Bret Maverick. Today, the series airs on Me-TV six days a week (check listings), at least through the summer. Most people might remember Garner more for Rockford than either Maverick or the Polaroid ads he did with Mariette Hartley during the 70's.

In memory of Garner, who passed away today at 86, we present a season 1 episode, "The Kirkoff Case", with a pre-Barney Miller Abe Vigoda:

Rockford also birthed a spin-off in the short-lived Richie Brockelman, Private Eye, which amounted to a summer replacement series one year. Its star, Dennis Dugan, is better known now as a filmmaker, having worked with Adam Sandler on a couple of films.

Rating: B+.


magicdog said...

So sorry to hear of Garner's passing! He seemed like a cool guy and his roles in Maverick and Rockford Files really connected to viewers. He was charming for the ladies, and guys probably could see them having a beer with him - unlike a lot of other Hollywood types.

I saw one episode of Brockleman, PI and I have to say I was frustrated! He was shown as being too naïve and bungling for the job. I don't remember seeing him again onscreen again until his appearance on "Moonlighting" as "the guy who stole Maddie from David Addison". He got a lot of hate mail for that! I did recognize his name turning up as director for both TV and film, so I'm glad he still found his place in the trade.

hobbyfan said...

I'm waiting to see if any cablers other than TCM (Because of Garner's film career) will do marathons. Me TV? Not sure. Don't know anyone else that would.

Heaven's gradually developing its own museum of television.