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The Rockford Files


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#1

Tick Tock

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Posted Mar 19, 2005 @ 3:47 PM

I don't know how we can have a drama board without adding the best P.I. show of them all.

From Jim's crazy answering machine to his trashy trailer and his cool Firebird, this show was it. Where else could you see a guy lose over half of his fights and still be cool? He was part private eye and part con man, with a gun hidden in the cookie jar to boot. Classic! Rocky was such an old mother hen, but you had to love him. Jim and Dennis took turns hauling each others' butts out of trouble, and then there was Angel.

Yep, this show stands with Columbo as a classic from the '70's that will never die.

#2

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Posted Mar 19, 2005 @ 4:55 PM

I was so thrilled when James Garner got the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's Golden Globes. He's the sort of actor who rarely gets his talent fully acknowledged because he makes it all look so damn easy. This show is a perfect example. How many actors can you think of who would have brought off the tricky character of Jim Rockford - a virtual high-wire act, IMHO - while making it look almost as if he was playing himself [which he most assuredly was not].

#3

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Posted Mar 19, 2005 @ 5:55 PM

Oh, I love me some Jim Rockford! A Philip Marlowe for the 70s (and into the early 80s?), walking the mean streets with rugged charm, dogged tenaciousness, and a seemingly outmoded sense of honor (and some of the greatest theme music in the history of TV). I cried, y'all, when the actor that played Rocky died. Great show, and it wouldn't have been without James Garner. He brought the perfect mix of battered idealism that never quite shaded into outright cynicism to the role.

#4

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Posted Mar 19, 2005 @ 6:41 PM

How good was The Rockford Files? John D. MacDonald said it was the only show that was so well-written that the scripts could have been made directly into novels without total re-writing.

And as my daughter (age 9) likes to ask, "Is Angel in this one?"

Why is Tru Calling on DVD and not TRF?

#5

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Posted Mar 19, 2005 @ 7:00 PM

Sorry, the dreaded double post...

Edited by cyberducks, Mar 19, 2005 @ 7:12 PM.


#6

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Posted Mar 19, 2005 @ 7:10 PM

I watched this show as a child, and it was already syndicated in reruns then. It entertained me then, but I truly appreciate it now for James Garner's performance, full of humanity, dry wit, and charm. He interacted so well with the various excellent supporting cast and guest stars. I think women fared well on this show, they were appreciated, but not turned into the usual sex object, so typical of this genre. And the plots were pretty damn clever, funny, and often quite unpredictable.

#7

Tick Tock

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Posted Mar 19, 2005 @ 8:42 PM

Jim Rockford was unique because he was always a bit reluctant to go head-to-head with the bad guys, or the police for that matter. Yet, he fought to expose the corruption of the system on both sides because the system had screwed him over too many times. The perfect example was the episode when he was subpoenaed by a grand jury and plead the Fifth Amendment, only to discover that he had no rights to stand on. In the hands of other social dramatists of the '70's (Ed Asner, Carroll O'Connor and Jack Klugman) they would've turned it into a preachy soapbox, but Rockford stayed quietly defiant and got shanked in prison for his trouble. The point spoke for itself and no one's intelligence had to be insulted to comprehend it.

Its true that sometimes the solutions were a bit gimmicky, but Garner carried it off so well that it didn't matter. The characterizations were rich and the storytelling was fresh. Word to James Garner's recent award, and another amen from me hoping for Rockfish on DVD sometime before 2015.

#8

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Posted Mar 19, 2005 @ 9:22 PM

My husband absolutely loves this show. I think there's something I'm missing.

His lawyer/girlfriend looks like Gina from Nip/Tuck.

P.S. I love teasing my brother-in-law by listing my evidence of Rockford's gayness.

P.P.S. I really like in the opening credits when you see Rockford choosing a cut of meat at the grocery store. It's like, I'm just a normal dude in some fucked up circumstances, man.

Edited to Add: I hate Angel so much!! He disgusts me!! Such an ugly two-faced monkey weasel!

Edited by NoFatChicks, Mar 19, 2005 @ 9:29 PM.


#9

dustylil

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Posted Mar 19, 2005 @ 9:33 PM

I too am a devotee of The Rockford Files. My James Garner love goes back to "The Great Escape" and "The Americanization of Emily". Those dark, good looks and that easy grace. Sigh.
I agree with Cyberducks on how women were treated on the show. I can't imagine characters like Beth the lawyer and Rita the hooker being written with that much nuance and depth and the characters treated with as much respect on any other show of that decade - or later decades, come to think of it.
Another nod should go to The Rockford Files's influence on some later classic shows. Sometime ago, I posted on one of the Sopranos' threads, how many of the quirky aspects of the modern day TV mobsters seem to have their genesis in some of the Rockford guest characters - the gay mobster having the affair with the entertainer, the emotionally ill Mob wife/sister who believed what she read in the tabloids, the first generation mob fellow who was humiliated by a practical joke at his birthday party, the old time mafioso who got religion, etc. (I know David Chase wrote for both).

Edited by dustylil, Mar 19, 2005 @ 9:35 PM.


#10

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Posted Mar 19, 2005 @ 9:34 PM

I think women fared well on this show, they were appreciated, but not turned into the usual sex object, so typical of this genre. And the plots were pretty damn clever, funny, and often quite unpredictable.

TRF was also one of the first shows to deal with homosexuality. In one ep (can't remember titles, sorry) a mobster ordered a hit on his son because he (the son) was gay. Very low-key, matter-of-fact stuff, well-written, well-played.

I hate Angel so much!! He disgusts me!! Such an ugly two-faced monkey weasel!

That's kind of the whole point. Maybe you are missing something.

#11

dustylil

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Posted Mar 19, 2005 @ 9:42 PM

"Requiem for a Funny Box" from Season 4 was the episode that dealt with hit on the gay mob guy.

#12

Tick Tock

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Posted Mar 19, 2005 @ 10:10 PM

I love teasing my brother-in-law by listing my evidence of Rockford's gayness.


Jim Rockford? Gay? I just can't see it even in jest. Garner/Rockford was the poster boy for straightness.

Now, if you wanna talk about Richie Brocklemanů

And yeah, you are kind of missing the point about Angel. He was always the thorn in Jim's side whenever it was least convenient. Its baffling to me that Jim never gave him a full beatdown at some point. If he didn't want to do it himself, he could always have sicked Gandy Fitch on him.

#13

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Posted Mar 19, 2005 @ 10:22 PM

Rockford himself was just a classic, immortal character. A man who literally lived month to month, who's past never let him alone, who had to often accept simple joys in his life like going fishing with his Dad, instead of the greater ones most people enjoy.

But there's also that fantastic seedy world that surrounds him. There was the 1950s film noir sensibility, in a 1970s world. Nobody watching wanted to live Jim Rockford's life, and yet it was eminently watchible.

This show just towered above every other cop or PI drama of it's day. Columbo was the only one to challenge it for quality, and really it was such a different approach the two didn't infringe on each other.

It also had a delightful cynicism (part of the noir sensibility), which I haven't seen since, until this season's Veronica Mars--which also takes place in a seaside California community with both wealthy and seedy sides.

#14

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Posted Mar 20, 2005 @ 12:41 AM

I am always willing to see the HoYah! in everything, and I am a slasher of certain favourite characters of mine - but, nah, Jim Rockford is as straight as they come.

All of this talk of Rockford makes me want to watch this show again - why aren't there any DVD's? Considering all the crap that is out on DVD...

#15

apocalipstick

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Posted Mar 20, 2005 @ 12:44 AM

Thank you, dustylil! It was indeed "Requiem for a Funny Box."

#16

Tick Tock

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Posted Mar 20, 2005 @ 1:39 AM

Not sure why its not out on DVD. Amazon had it listed for a long time, but its gone now. If you go to This site you can vote for its release.

Is Rockford shown in reruns anywhere? I know TVLand used to have it and so did WGN and TNN, but I think its disappeared off the air.

#17

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Posted Mar 20, 2005 @ 2:56 AM

According to my digital cable guide, Rf is showing Sat. night 1.30 a.m. on WGN; and weekdays 11.00 a.m. also on WGN.

#18

Tick Tock

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Posted Mar 20, 2005 @ 3:31 AM

Cyberducks, I turned on WGN just in time to see the end credits of some other show. Now we've got Magnum. He's all right, but he doesn't beat Jim.

Reminds me of Lance White before TS was Magnum, as I awkwardly try to stay on topic.

ETA: Forgot to factor in the time difference. It just ended. It was the one with Sky, the hippie. God, I love this show!

Edited by Tick Tock, Mar 20, 2005 @ 5:26 AM.


#19

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Posted Mar 20, 2005 @ 10:29 AM

Is Rockford shown in reruns anywhere?

It's shown on WGN every weekday around noon in California (11 am?) and sometimes late at night on the weekends.

The Sky the Hippie one is one of my all-time favorites. I got so happy last night when that one came on. So well written, cast, and acted.

Word to all the good things the rest of you have said about this show -- it's a gem. Years ago I read a review of this series where the guy said, "Why anyone would watch this tire squealer is beyond me!" I love TRF, but ever since then I've observed that there's a "tire squealing" scene in almost every episode. Don't know why they felt they had to do that. every. time. Fortunately, the show is so much more than that.

Edited to add: TRF has really suffered from editing to fit in more commercials. Sometimes the episodes are so butchered that the plots are unintelligible. There oughta be a law! I'm looking forward to the DVDs.

Edited by indigo4, Mar 20, 2005 @ 10:36 AM.


#20

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Posted Mar 20, 2005 @ 2:27 PM

I did enjoy the episode where Tom Selleck plays a P.I. who has all the luck in the world, his hunches always pan out, and the ladies are dying for him. Jim has to sit back and watch him pick up some P.I. of the Year award. That was some funny stuff.

#21

Tick Tock

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Posted Mar 20, 2005 @ 4:54 PM

The car-chase was always a staple on TRF because James Garner loved driving and requested lots of those scenes. He said this once in an interview. The show also aired back in that erra when cars were a really big thing on TV, so it was kind of a trend.

#22

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Posted Mar 22, 2005 @ 12:43 PM

No mention yet of the theme music? Best theme music ever, hands down.

I have been known to going into my "This is Jim Rockford. Please leave your name at the tone" spiel whenever I hear an old-fashioned rotary phone ring on TV. They have such a cool, distinctive ring, those old phones. It kind of echoes and fades out, I guess because they used to have a real bell inside.

My favorite Rockford pairing was with the blind psychiatrist. They had a great relationship.

#23

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Posted Mar 22, 2005 @ 3:08 PM

One of the fitness instructors at my health club has a CD of re-mixed 70s and 80s TV theme songs. It has Dallas and Knots Landing and Dynasty, etc. And the Rockford theme! One day in class she shouted, "does anyone know what show this was?" I was the only one who knew! I felt so special.

#24

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Posted Apr 18, 2005 @ 6:47 PM

NoFatChicks:  I did enjoy the episode where Tom Selleck plays a P.I. who has all the luck in the world, his hunches always pan out, and the ladies are dying for him. Jim has to sit back and watch him pick up some P.I. of the Year award. That was some funny stuff.

Made all the funnier by James Garner's reactions. And don't forget that very conspicuous convertible Lance White (Selleck) drove. Wasn't it white with red interior?

You were the only person in your health club who recognized the Rockford Files theme? I never thought I'd hear that. Next thing you know, people won't know the Dragnet theme.

I'm glad Jimmy and Rocky are back on WGN.

#25

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Posted May 10, 2005 @ 10:49 AM

I just finished a two-month stretch where I was "between jobs". What a great show! And twice a day to boot! Between this and twice-daily Magnum I almost hated to go back to work. But my family wants to eat so whatcha gonna do?

I even watched and taped the two-hour pilot episode. Quite different from subsequent episodes, especially the lighting and camera angles. There was a different actor playing Rocky but he just didn't have the chemistry with James Garner that Noah Beery did.

#26

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Posted Jun 18, 2005 @ 8:19 PM

I've been enjoying Jim, Angel, and Rocky during summer vacation. I'm always amazed when I watch this show by the prescience of the writers. David Chase's work on The Rockford Files is just as strong, if not stronger, than his writing for The Sopranos. The plots were so ahead of their time: "Profit & Loss", about a company that has succeeded due to massive fraud (paging Kenny-Boy Lay), the episode about prosecutorial abuse of the grand jury system, the Richie Brockelman/Garth McGregor ep about the sale of private information... and that was thirty years ago.

Also, "Never Send A Boy King To Do A Man's Job" was better than The Sting.

#27

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Posted Jun 18, 2005 @ 8:28 PM

From The Onion: Repressed-Memory Therapist Recovers Rockford Files Episode

LMFAO!!!!!!!!

#28

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Posted Jul 14, 2005 @ 3:41 PM

Yes!!! "Never Send A Boy King To Do A Man's Job"--one of the greatest episodes of series television evah!

#29

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Posted Jul 14, 2005 @ 4:03 PM

Yep, "King..." never gets old.

"Y'know, some people would say that a con that involves both of the principals getting beaten up by the mark must have some basic flaw..."

#30

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Posted Jul 18, 2005 @ 10:22 PM

Every so often I catch myself humming the theme song and get a big grin on my face. The characters were exaggerated to just the right degree -- hilarious, but not absurd.

Somebody with a better memory remind me who played his lawyer, Beth (was that her name?).