ONTVLand: The Rockford Files (An ONTD original)

Sep 29, 2021 19:03

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It is rare that an actor can star in hit movies & hit TV shows in their career, but James Garner is one of them. Case in point, The Rockford Files starred Garner as Private Eye Jim Rockford, an Ex-con wrongly convicted of burglary, after 5 years he was pardoned and eventually started work as a P.I. which barely allowed him to live in a run-down trailer by the beach.
In contrast to most TV Private Eyes at the time Rockford wore cheap off the rack clothes, avoided physical altercations & rarely carried a gun (that he didn’t even have a permit for). For a fee of $200 a day, plus expenses he typically took on cold cases, missing person cases & low-level insurance scams. His rule that he didn’t handle open cases to avoid conflict with the police is relaxed in later seasons. The series ran from 1974 to 1980 on NBC. Eight reunion TV movies aired from 1994 to 1999 on CBS.

Supporting characters included his father Joseph “Rocky” Rockford (Noah Beery Jr.) a semi-retired truck driver who wishes his son would find a more stable, and less dangerous, job.
LAPD Sgt. Dennis Becker (Joe Santos) a homicide detective struggling to advance in the department. This is not helped by Rockford’s repeated requests for such things as running licence plates through the DMV computer.
Evelyn “Angel” Martin (Stuart Margolin) Jim’s former cellmate who he occasionally employs as an operative to gather info from the street and access the files at the newspaper where he works. Angel is always running a low-level con & gets Rockford involved whether he wants to be or not. Leading to trouble for both of them.
Elizabeth “Beth” Davenport (Gretchen Corbett), Jim’s attorney & former girlfriend. The two casually date and sleep together in early seasons.

By 1979 Jim Garner was told by his doctors to take time off from the series because of numerous knee injuries & back trouble resulting from the fact that he insisted on doing most of his own stunts. All of this plus an ulcer led Garner to decide not to continue with the series after several months off. The network canceled The Rockford Files in the middle of the 1980 season.

The intro of every episode had different messages on Rockford’s answering machine, often humorous, rarely relating to the current episode & occasionally relating to previous ones. 122 different messages were created for the original six season run and were difficult for the writers to come up with. They often took suggestions from staffers & crew members.
Rockford sometimes keeps his gun in a coffee canister on his kitchen counter claiming that it prevents rust. This is most likely true as coffee grounds absorb moisture.
Tom Selleck appeared in two episodes as a Private Eye which may have influenced his casting in Magnum P.I. just a couple of years later.
Jim Garner directed one episode. The only time he directed in his 50+ years in show business. It was because the director who was supposed to do the episode was unavailable at the last minute.
Rockford takes care of a black & white cat named Valentino. The cat is only seen in a few episodes and mentioned in a couple of others.
Writer/Producer David Chase would go on to create The Sopranos in the 1990s. In an early episode there is a scene in a retirement home where the residents are watching TV. You can't see what they’re watching, but you can hear The Rockford Files theme.

Where can you watch it?
The Rockford Files original 6 season run is streaming on IMDB TV Amazon Channel, The Roku Channel, Peacock & Peacock Premium. All seasons & the reunion TV movies are on Region 1, 2 & 4 DVD and YouTube as a few episodes.
Channels like MeTV or RTN (Retro Television Network) will sometimes run the series, which can be watched with an antenna for the over-the-air signals or some cable lineups will have one or two of these channels. Pluto TV may have them as well.

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Sources; Wikipedia, IMDB, Just Watch, YouTube 1, 2, 3

television - nbc, 1990s, 1970s, ontd original, television - cbs, 1980s