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Published:July 25th, 2014 14:24 EST
With James Garner Gone, Time to Watch 'The Rockford Files (1974-`80)'  All Over Again (The Seventies Rule)!

With James Garner Gone, Time to Watch 'The Rockford Files (1974-`80)' All Over Again (The Seventies Rule)!

By John G. Kays

I was sad to hear of James Garner`s death last Saturday (July 19, 2014); I`ve been a very big fan of Jim`s, dating back to Maverick days (on ABC, 1957-60). I admire all of his work tremendously, but my softest spot is saved for The Rockford Files (1974-80); the reasons for this aren`t readily apparent to me, but one might be, I have a nice little hobby of studying the popular culture of the 1970s, and RFs is quintessential in this category. 

This was before James Garner passed away, but back in May, when dropping by my favorite Barnes & Nobles (Bee Cave Galleria), I noticed they had Season Five in stock, half-priced, so I snatched it up in a jiffy! I have a few more episodes to watch, but this was interrupted last night, when I noticed Netflix is streaming the entire series (Six Seasons and a bunch of movies (8) made in `90s -[don`t know if they have the movies too]). As such, I returned to the two-part pilot (Backlash of the Hunter, co-starring Lindsay Wagner), first broadcast on March 27, 1974!

I thought it would be a good idea to return to the beginning; okay, so I`ve seen these shows before, but do you realize 1974 was forty years ago now? I hate to say it, but I sure don`t remember these early episodes very good anymore, so it`s like I`m seeing it for  the very first time. 

The pilot establishes what might seem like an old warn-out hat to you by now; you know, the run down trailer near the ocean, the great, rocking theme song (Mike Post does the music for the series, which for me, is the driving force behind its success!), the answering machine, custom changed for every episode, the Gold Pontiac Firebird Esprit (which changed fairly often - Jim did his own stunts too!), and, of course, the characters, such as Rocky (Robert Donley plays Dad in the Pilot, not Noah Beery, Jr.), Sergeant Dennis Becker (Joe Santos), and flim-flam man, Angel Martin (Stuart Margolin). 

Yea, and lots of action, fistfights, romance, car chases, Rockford brushing up against the law; it`s all there in the Pilot! Don`t forget sideburns and bell bottoms!

The series creator and main writer was Roy Huggins (co-writer was Stephen J. Cannel), who had also worked with Jim on Maverick; this was a very successful combination, where Rockford was suppose to be a modern-day confidence man (yet his heart was always on the right side, the side of of good and justice, especially looking out for his client - in this case it`s the lovely Lindsay Wagner, whose father has been murdered by a karate-thug Bozo, who Jim gives a good thrashing to in the Men`s Room, after spreading some liquid hand soap [a slippery lubricant] on the floor).

 I`m going to watch every one of these; viewing Rockford Files on your ipad is a unique experience; it`s like playing an old movie, a memory in your mind (from the `70s), but, for some odd reason, it seems fresh again! The pilot even documents the advent of Disco, with a Disco club and real Disco Ball spinning, even. Now how cool is that! Hell, Jim`s Firebird explodes in the Pilot; damn, hate to see that piece of junk get destroyed like that! But not to worry, Jim will get another one, in time for the next episode! See you tonight in ETERNAL `70S RERUN LAND! Best place to go on a Friday night, the Dog Days of Slumberous Summer!