This week’s installment features two back to back enjoyable episodes that sees Jim Rockford (James Garner) in top form as he works his way through a murder, and a con job.
First up, is The Trouble with Warren, which originally aired Christmas Eve, 1976, and was written by Juanita Bartlett. The phone gag features a potentially lucrative call for Jim, that is constantly interrupted by static on the line.
When Beth (Gretchen Corbett) persuades Jim to help out her genius cousin, Warren (Ron Rifkin) he gets more than he bargained for, and really doesn’t want to do it in the first place, as he thinks Warren is a bit of a turkey.
But, it’s for Beth, and Jim walks face first into trouble, as it seems a case of corporate corruption, and an illicit love affair have led to the murder of Warren’s superiors.
More a hindrance than a help, Warren seems to be constantly in the way, and completely socially inept, as he tails along with Jim, who seems to careen from one troubled encounter to the next. He starts to rack up some serious crimes, including grand theft auto, and an accomplice after the fact.
The only way to get free is to find the real guilty parties and make sure they end up in Becker’s (Joe Santos) hands.
This one was a lot of fun, because it’s clear that Jim not only doesn’t want the case, he wants to be shot of Warren as quickly as possible, but the case keeps tangling him up and keeping the two of them together. That coupled with Warren’s ineptitude causes nothing but problems, until even Beth agrees that her cousin is a turkey.
The second episode, There’s One in Every Port was penned by Cannell himself, and screened for the first time on 7 January, 1977. The phone message this time around features a phone call from a ditzy California type gal who wanted to share some good vibes, but didn’t want to talk to a robot.
Joan Van Ark makes her third appearance on the series, this time as part of a father-daughter team that ends up costing Jim $20,000 and an impending end to his continued existence.
Infuriated that he’s been had, he decides to turn the table on Christina (Van Ark) and her father (Howard Duff). With Angel’s (Stuart Margolin) help, he puts together a team, including Steve Landesberg of Barney Miller fame, and the group of them go to work.
Working with loopholes in maritime law, selling ships, and piling up double crosses, Jim plays out the long game to make sure he gets even with Marks (Duff), and honestly, it’s played out brilliantly.
This episode was just a lot of fun to watch, because it lets Garner really shine, and watching Rockford put the con job together, and take apart his old prison buddy, is a lot of fun.
Chances are, this one is going to go down as one of my favorite episodes!
More next week!