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Category:    Home > Reviews > Detective > Mystery > Comedy > The Rockford Files - Season One (Universal DVD)

The Rockford Files Ė Season One

 

Picture: C+†††† Sound: C+†††† Extras: C-†††† Episodes: B

 

 

The Detective Series had overtaken The Western as the primary genre of hour-long hit TV and had been so for most of the 1970s.However, by 1974, so many had been hits that some self-reflectivity was on the horizon.James Garner was already a movie star who had a hit TV series under his belt when he became James Rockford.Unlike the more serious detectives with secretaries, Rockford was more laid back, easily annoyed, lazy if as physical when need be.The Rockford Files even opened with the weekly gag that he used an old invention that was catching on as a substitute for any hired help: the answering machine.They had gone from reel-to-reel tape to cassettes by the time the show arrived.

 

A smart-ass guy with actual wit and attitude based in the realities of the world, Rockford was very appealing to his audience and Garnerís star power backing the solid writing produced a hit.Instead of killing the genre, it just perpetuated it.The first season produced the following episodes, including notable guest stars where applicable:

 

1)     The Kirkoff Case (Abe Vigoda, James Woods)

2)     The Dark & Bloody Ground

3)     The Countess (James Cromwell, Susan Strasberg, Mel Allen)

4)     Exit Prentiss Carr (Roberta Collins)

5)     Tall Woman In Red Wagon

6)     This Case Is Closed (two episodes: Joseph Cotton, Sharon Gless)

7)     The Big Ripoff (Fred Beir, Norman Burton, Jill Clayburgh, Scott Glenn, Bruce Kirby, Suzanne Somers)

8)     Find Me If You Can (Paul Michael Glazer, Joan Van Ark)

9)     In Pursuit Of Carol Thorne

10) The Dexter Crisis

11) Caledonia Ė Itís Worth A Fortune (Ramon Bieri, Shelley Fabares, Sid Haig)

12) Profit & Loss (in two parts, one called profit, the other loss; Ned Beatty, Val Bisoglio, Barry Cahill, Michael Lerner, Albert Paulsen)

13) Aura Lee, Farewell (Linda Dano, Bill Mumy, Lindsay Wagner)

14) Sleight Of Hand (Lara Parker, Gerald McRaney)

15) Counter Gambit (Mary Frann, M. Emmet Walsh)

16) Claire (Jackie Cooper, Linda Evans)

17) Say Goodbye To Jennifer (Thayer David, Hector Elizondo, Beverly Gill)

18) Charlie Harris At Large (Zekial Marko, Diana Muldaur, Mel Stewart)

19) The Four Pound Brick (Edith Atwater, Frank Campanella)

20) Just By Accident (Beatrice Cohen, Gordon Jump)

21) Roundabout (Virginia Gregg)

 

 

Though diehard detective fans might have found the show a gimmick to some extent, it was never so deconstructionist as to be stupid or empty.The great series of scripts and talents helped immensely and over 30 years later, these early shows hold up very well.Though I was never the biggest fan of this show, I can say I appreciate it more now and see it was another TV classic built to last.

 

The 1.33 x 1 image is not bad, though color and detail are not distinctive, but playback is good enough for an older show.Older series (like Universalís Kolchak: The Night Stalker) may have better color often, but this show looks as good as it ever did in broadcast.The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also good enough, though the sound has noting distinctive to offer.Dialogue is clear enough for the most part, while many will wish the music (especially the theme song) was in stereo.The only extra is a brief interview with Garner, but the new set should have more.The show was a much-needed hit for NBC and things were about to get more interesting.With Kolchak cancelled, many of the talents of that show went to other series.One in particular moved on to the new hit to be Switch the next season as well as the second season of Rockford.That was David Chase, who helped propel both shows and later created The Sopranos.We look forward to both upcoming on DVD.

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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