Private Eye Jim Rockford (James Garner) is hip deep in it this time with this two-parter written by Cannell, based on a story by Roy Huggins.
Airing during the holiday season of 1974, part one on December 20, and the conclusion on December 27, the story sees Jim drawn into a world of corporate corruption, and lets Rocky (Noah Beery, Jr.) see how Jim works.
The phone gag for the first episode is a former army buddy is in town, and looking for a place to bunk, while the second episode is the library calling, telling Jim he’s being charged for his overdue book on karate.
The episode also sees the welcome reappearance of both Becker (Joe Santos) and Beth (Gretchen Corbett).
Rockford is approached by a computer programmer for a massive conglomeration, as he suspects something may be a miss, but two thugs arrive at Jim’s trailer, beating the poor detective, who was working on his garbage disposal unit, and the potential client is kidnapped right out from under him.
When he’s approached by the wife of another one of the company’s employees, Jim sneaks into the building and discovers his potential client, Stan (Paul Jenkins) is fine, and denying that they ever met!
The CEO of the company, Leon Fielder (Ned Beatty) is an arrogant man, who wants Rockford out, and if he has his way, it will be permanently!
As Rockford continues investigating we learn that there is a printer involved, who is forging stock certificates for Fielder, and the entire company is corrupt! Not to mention that some violent people are quite happy with it being corrupt, and don’t want Jim upsetting the apple cart.
Through the course of the two episodes, Jim is threatened, beaten, and gets himself into and out of a healthy dose of trouble, all of it culminating in a street chase (and for the first time I realized that in all these chases, there never seems to be anyone else on the road).
Using Rocky’s truck, Jim and his father chase after Fielder, trying to stop him, before he gets away with the forged documents, gets away with murder, and kidnapping!!!
This pair of episodes is a lot of fun, and once again revealed one of the things I love most about this series, you have to pay attention, you cannot wander in and out of the room because everything, all the time, is important in this show. The smallest clue, the tiniest reveal can take the story in a whole new direction, and if you aren’t paying attention, you’re gonna miss it.
I truly love smart television like this, and Cannell’s writing on this series so far has been top-notch!
Next time, Jim takes on a murder investigation caused by an apparent overdose, and then he’s looking into a disappearance and a murder!
Jim sure lives in a dangerous town, you really can’t blame Rocky for wanting him to find a different line of work…