Season 4 of The Rockford Files got under way on 16 September, 1977 with Beamer’s Last Case, written by Cannell from a story by Booker Bradshaw and Calvin Kelly. The first phone gag of the season features a call from Angel (Stuart Margolin) who announces he’s got a new apartment, and has some friends coming over, so could he borrow Jim’s record player.
Robert Loggia guests in this episode that sees Jim (James Garner) coming back from a quick vacation south of the border, sooner than expected because he lost his money gambling, only to discover that while he was away, someone has been using his credit cards, and his car, and taking over his identity.
Not only has someone taken over his identity, he’s starting to stir up serious trouble with his clients, or at least people who believe they’ve hired him. So while Jim tries to figure out who stole his life, he also ends up dealing with a thug who bought his marker and now wants money from him.
He quickly discovers that an auto mechanic, Beamer (James Whitmore Jr.), from the location that always oversees his car’s repairs, is the one that has turned his life completely upside down, and that he has no clue as to the amount of damage he’s caused, as he’s too focussed on living his version of a private investigator.
It’s a nice season opener with lots of humor, and with Angel on the phone, Rocky (Noah Beery, Jr.) and Becker (Joe Santos) both making appearances, the only person missing from this one is Beth (Gretchen Corbett).
We also learn that Jim has an outdoor cat named Valentino.
Trouble in Chapter 17 aired 23 September, 1977 and was scripted by Juanita Bartlett with a phone gag that features a call from a girl named Donna, and it sounds like she’s about to postpone a date with Jim, as things are way too busy at work.
Jim is hired by a successful writer, Ann Louise Clement (Claudette Nevins), against his better judgement to serve as a bodyguard of sorts because of threats being made against her before the release of her new book.
Rockford thinks there’s something wrong from the off in this one, suspecting her husband, Bud (Ed Nelson) to Ann Louise herself in an attempt to generate some free publicity for her book. But when someone actually dies, things take a turn for the serious, and Jim has to figure things out quickly.
I like how this episode played out, and it ends up being one of those stories where everyone has a motive, and any of them could have done it, but Jim is able to unravel it, and while the ending is a little bittersweet for Ann Louise, it’s a deserved ending, and Rockford is ready to take on the next case!
Season four, off to a good start! hard to believe that there are only two more seasons after this one, and one of them is a short one!