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The Rockford Files

January 13th, 2006

Rockforddvd2I just finished watching the first season DVDs for “The Rockford Files,” one of the usual set of DVDs that I buy from Amazon every Christmas when I go back to visit the family. Yeah, I know, you get it on cable where you are. I don’t. And I don’t like having to deal with the commercials, either.

Watching the shows brought back some things about the show that I’d forgotten about. One of those was how in almost every episode, the writers found a way to make it so that Rockford didn’t get paid. While a lot of people enjoy this kind of running gag, I find it a bit annoying. An extreme example of this was with the Steve Martin/John Candy movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” a film that I am sure was funny, but was about the most painful experience for me to sit through. In the film, Candy causes Martin to suffer an endless number of problems and annoyances, from the trivial to the harrowing. Essentially, Martin’s character just gets beaten down and humiliated throughout the film, subjected to one setback or failure after another. Some people enjoy that, and if it’s cartoonish and extreme enough I can get into it, but make it even close to realistic and it grates on me. Ergo my mild annoyance with the stick-it-to-Rockford gag–though it does make it nicer when he actually does get paid.

The other thing I’d forgotten about was how much driving there is in the series. It seems like one third of each episode is spent with Rockford driving his car around. And I’m not talking about the time spent on car chases or characters having a dialog in a car. I mean just minutes on end of watching this car go down that road, or that car turning that corner and going that way. A lot of it is one car tailing another, but sometimes it’s just driving. Atmosphere, I guess. But it feels more like killing time most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong–I love the series, and I’ll keep getting them as they come out. The main reason is Garner himself, and the writing for the series. Rockford’s sardonic and cynical style is priceless, and the driving and not getting paid aside, the plots and episode development are very, very good. One of main regrets is having to wait until the season five DVDs come out to see my all-time favorite episode “White on White and Nearly Perfect,” with Tom Selleck as Lance White, the Anti-Rockford. One of the best episodes in TV history, if you ask me.

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  1. Brad
    January 16th, 2006 at 13:21 | #1

    What was the Western series he did? Maverick? I think I saw half an episode way way back and it seemed a fun show, full of clever ‘pranking’ or good-guys-pull-the-wool-over-the-bad-guys sort of show, comedy/drama. 15 years ago I got a VHS tape labelled ‘Maverick’ but it had a different actor – Maverick’s brother or something. I don’t have cable. I might have to try again and sample the series some time. He’s a classic actor for the serious!comedic parts, I think.

  2. Luis
    January 16th, 2006 at 13:28 | #2

    That might be “Young Maverick,” a show from the late 70’s with a different actor. James Garner starred in the original “Maverick” from 1957 to 1962, then reprised the role for 18 episodes in 1981, after “Rockford” went off the air. He also reprised the role in the movie “Maverick,” with Mel Gibson playing his son.

  3. Diego Sanchez
    February 6th, 2010 at 00:01 | #3

    In what Rockford epoisode did a thug charactor say “I took her so bad she didn’t know where she was for two days”?

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