The Rockford Files (1975) – Counter Gambit & Claire

 

This week’s delving into the files of private investigator Jim Rockford (James Garner) is a lot of fun in terms of plot and cast.

The phone gags are a lot of fun as well, in the first episode, it’s a friend of Jim’s who wants to give him the money he owes, but he’s at the airport on his way to Japan for a year! The second one, is from a school of dance and etiquette who wants to know, for the last time, does he want these lessons or not?!

Counter Gambit, written by Howard Berk and Juanita Bartlett, which aired 24 January, 1975, sees the return of Angel (Stuart Margolin) as Jim is hired by a con Moss (Eddie Fontaine) to track down his girlfriend, Valerie (Mary Frann). Jim tentatively agrees, as long as he doesn’t have to deal with Moss, who he did time with.

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When an insurance agent Edgar Burch (M. Emmet Walsh) shows up and gets involved as well, Jim realizes that they aren’t after the girl so much as they are trying to rob her of the priceless diamond she has.

At that point the con is on, as Angel gets roped in to give Jim a hand, despite the fact that the police, even his friend Becker (Joe Santos) thinks Jim may be involved in its theft.

This one is filled with crosses, double-crosses and lots of cons, and it was a lot of fun to watch!

The second episode, airing 31 January 1975 has an amazing guest cast of familiar faces… Linda Evans plays the titular Claire, an ex-girlfriend of Jim’s who comes back into his life, much to Rocky’s (Noah Beery Jr.) disappointment.

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Written by Cannell and Edward J. Lasko, Jim gets in deep when Claire comes asking for his help to protect her from a couple of hoods, played by Lance LeGault and Lane Smith!! Jim learns that there’s an undercover officer involved, and was blackmailing Claire, which draws not only Becker into the case, but also a police captain played by Jackie Cooper!!

The guest cast alone made this a great episode, but watching Jim try to figure out everything that is going on, while also trying to keep Rocky out of trouble is a real joy.

Jim seems to come out ok this time around, with no one really screwing him out of his fees or his expenses, and he also helps Claire get away, protecting her identity from the police as the case gets wrapped up.

The series just seems to be getting better and better, and I love watching Rockford bluff his way in and out of trouble as well as putting his mind to work…

He gave Rocky a hand with his taxes this time around, maybe he could help me with mine…

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