This time around private investigator Jim Rockford (James Garner) has a couple of interesting cases…
First up, we have The Big Ripoff, with an airdate of 25th October, 1974, written by Robert Hamner from a story by Roy Huggins, that sees Rockford trying to find a man who supposedly died in a plane crash, but may have actually swindled the insurance company for a big payday. Unfortunately, even the insurance providers believe he’s dead. No one thinks Rockford is onto anything. Nancy (Nedra Deen) hires Rockford to find Steve Nelson (Fred Beir), whom she believes was murdered by his wife, Ginny (Three’s Company’s Suzanne Somers).
Trailing Ginny around Europe, and having a bit of a fling with her, Jim believes Steve is still alive, and after explaining this to Nancy, she takes off, refusing to pay his fees. Beginning to suspect he can claim a finder’s fee on the insurance money if he can arrange for it to be returned he trails her to a small town, where he meets up with Marilyn (Jill Clayburgh), a ‘model,’ who takes a fancy to him, and seems to be the only person in town who wants him there!
It’s Marilyn who finally recognizes the picture of Nelson, after a little modifications. He’s hiding out in plain sight, as a painter, living off of part of the insurance payout and selling his ‘primitive’ art for $2,000 a pop.
When Jim confronts him, and reveals that he’s told the insurance company that Nelson is alive, Jim suggests being the middle man to return the insurance money and take a percentage as a finder’s fee.
But, Jim gets screwed out of it again, when Nelson makes his own deal with the insurance company. There’s a nice final moment, when Jim arrives back at his apartment to find Rocky (Noah Beery Jr.) working a barbecue and revealing that some fella dropped off a whole bunch of junk for Jim… there’s a slew of paintings in the back of Rocky’s truck.
The next episode, Find Me If You Can, which aired 1 November, 1974, and was penned by Juanita Bartlett based on a story by Huggins has been my favorite of the series so far.
Rockford is hired by Florence Baker (Joan Van Arc) to find her. Jim isn’t amused at first, but decides to take the case, especially when she pays him up front.
As he digs in, lifting her prints from a glass and running them with Dennis’ (Joe Santos) help (though it costs him a pair of Lakers’ tickets), he learns that apparently Florence had been dating a mobster up in Denver Detective Starsky himself, Paul Michael Glaser as Ralph Correll.
It seems she’s trying to make sure her cover is strong enough that Correll can’t track her down!
I quite liked this episode, it had the strongest guest cast so far, was fun, but edged quickly to the dangerous, and it’s always fun to watch Rockford put his skills to work, and I quite enjoyed the bit where Rockford and Correll are in the elevator together….
I am so loving this revisit to my youth, the episodes are slower moving than today’s stories, but there is more time for character development and story twists, especially considering most episodes run 48 minutes as opposed to today, when you barely have 40 because of all the advertising…
And as much as I am enjoying my catching up with Jim, I look forward to travelling back to Robin’s Nest in the future!!
How about you? Who was your fave tv detective in the 70s? In the 80s?