The Rockford Files (1976) – Foul on the First Play & A Bad Deal in the Valley

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Season 2 of the Rockford Files comes to an end this week with these two episodes.

First up is Foul on the First Play, written by Cannell from a story by Chas. Floyd Johnson and Dorothy J. Bailey. It’s original airdate was 12 March 1976… things worked differently back then I guess, because March seems like a strange time to end a season, but serialization of prime-time television hadn’t exactly taken complete hold of the airwaves yet.

The phone gag this time around features a call for Jim from what sounds like a bookie, saying he was right on the money for the horse, unfortunately, he didn’t get Jim’s bet in on time. This guy just can’t catch a break!

Rockford (James Garner) takes a beating this week, when his ex-parole officer, Marcus (Louis Gossett Jr.), turns up in his life. It seems Marcus is a private investigator now as well, and is working for someone intent on getting a new NBA franchise off the ground. Unfortunately, not everyone seems to want it, and some people have a rather violent opinion on the subject as Jim can attest to, as Marcus seems intent on using him for a blocker for the course of the episode, leaving Jim very upset.

This one was smart and convoluted, one of those ones, you really can’t wander away from because the plot is so involved, it was also a lot of fun, because of the presence of Louis Gossett Jr. I love when familiar faces pop up in shows I love!!

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The season finale, A Bad Deal in the Valley, written by Donald L. Gold and Lester Wm. Burke had its airdate on 19 march, 1976. The phone gag this time around featured Jim’s nephew Ralph calling to say that he ignored Jim’s advice about not moving to California, and could he please teach him to be a private investigator.

Veronica Hamel makes a guest appearance in this episode, as Jim finds himself in deep trouble. When an ex-girlfriend, Karen Stiles (Susan Strasberg), shows up asking for Jim’s help, he makes the foolish decision to help her. Despite advice from both Becker (Joe Santos) and Rocky (Noah Beery Jr.) to walk away, he ignores them, and finds himself under arrest on federal charges. Apparently the suitcase Karen entrusted him with to pay for a deal, is all counterfeit.

Of course Rockford comes under suspicion, as it seems Karen’s father was a counterfeiter and is serving time for it.

Jim struggles to find his way out from under this one, as stolen jewels, lies, betrayals, a kidnapping and trouble of all kinds come piling in on him.

When he learns the money was being used for a real estate deal, Jim runs down a lead on the dealer’s ex-wife, Sandy Lederer (Hamel), and finds himself confronting yet another private investigator, Slauson (David Sabin), who has a less than stellar opinion of Rockford.

While smart and engaging, this one doesn’t have the sense of fun that most of Rockford’s stories have. I’m not saying they all have to be funny, but Jim is usually pretty quick with a remark, although in this one he does get a chance to take down Slauson a notch, with a couple of quick moves.

And like that Season 2 has come to an end! Next week, we’re on to Season 3!

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