The first, The Four Pound Brick, was penned by Leigh Brackett(who had her pen in Rio Bravo and The Empire Strikes Back) and Juanita Bartlett and aired 21 February, 1975.
The phone gag features a call from the bank, turning him down on a loan, letting him know he’s overdrawn, and that the teller who is calling, well, she finishes at 4:30 if he’s around.
This episode sees Jim hired by his dad, Rocky (Noah Beery Jr.) to help out Kate (Edith Atwater), whose son, a rookie cop, was killed and his death was ruled an accident. Kate, who can’t afford Jim, believes her son was murdered, and Rocky wants him to find out what really happened.
As Jim dives into the case, we find a world of drugs and bad cops, but there are familiar faces to guide us, keep us safe and provide some laughs. Tom Atkins is back as Lt. Diel, Joe Santos’ Becker is around, both of whom warn Jim off the case, and Angel (Stuart Margolin) gets wrangled into helping out.
This one is a lot of fun for the interactions between Jim and Rocky, as they are together for almost the entire length of the episode, and it’s fun to watch them together. Especially after Jim learns Rocky lied to Kate about his job, saying he drives a rig and only does this private investigating thing to make some extra cash.
The next episode, Just By Accident, written by Charles Sailor and Eric Kaldor, aired 28 February, 1975. The phone gag is a very troubling message about some research he was doing for a family tree, and the female caller believes Rockford and she may be kin.
Jim is called in by another mother, though this one can afford him, to investigate the death of her son, which was ruled an accident, but considering his career, as a derby driver, that sounds questionable.
As Jim investigates he uncovers an insurance scam involving accidents, birth certificates and unpronounceable names.
When his own car gets totaled (again) as in the shop (again) Jim has to borrow a loaner… and I laughed aloud when I saw how the car lot/garage owner was… WKRP’s Gordon Jump.
The final episode of the first season, Roundabout, aired 7 March, 1975 and was written by Mitch Lindemann and Edward J. Lasko and features Ron Rifkin!
The final phone gag of the season features a woman who, once she realizes she’s talking to an answering machine hangs up, because she doesn’t talk to machines.
Jim is off to Vegas, to deliver a $10,000 cashier’s cheque as a pay out to a dead woman’s long-lost daughter, Nancy Wade (Jesse Welles).
Once there, the mystery gets deeper, as they go to the bank to deposit the money into a bank account for Nancy, who claims she’s broke, only to learn, from one of the bank managers, played by George Wyner, she has one already, and it has $300,ooo in it.
As the investigation progresses we find that she has a lounge act and that her manager, Tom Robertson (Rifkin) is keeping the money for himself, and faking and padding his books, in one big moneymaking con.
The episode, the season, ends with a foot chase through Hoover Dam, and an exhausted Rockford catching his man at the bottom.
So ends season one, I wonder what familiar names and entertaining moments await in Season 2?