There’s a lot of fun to be had in this week’s double episode of The Rockford Files.
First up, there is The Dog and Pony Show, which aired 21 October, 1977 and was written by David Chase. The phone gag features a call from a friend collecting on a bet, and letting Jim (James Garner) know that he’s getting a divorce.
Thanks to Angel (Stuart Margolin), Rockford ends up alongside his pal in a group therapy session, where he’s happy to keep things polite, but Angel is his usual troublesome self. That doesn’t stop Mary Jo (Joanne Nail) from approaching Jim for help.
It seems, she thinks someone is spying on her. Unfortunately, because of her interactions in the group, no one believes her, they think she’s just a little unstable. Even Jim is reticent to help out, but once he does, he finds out that there is more going on here than he thought, and perhaps she’s right… someone is out to get her. It seems there are some good guys, and some bad guys both interested in Mary Jo, and Rockford and his client find themselves right in the middle, tugging at strings to unravel the truth.
This is a good episode, the stuff I really enjoyed though was with Angel spinning tales, and Rockford just sitting there watching him incredulously, and occasionally calling him on it.
The second episode, Requiem for a Funny Box, aired 4 November, 1977 and was penned by James Crocker from a story by Burt Prelutsky. The phone gag features a call from someone letting Jim know that his trailer door is going to win her first prize in a scavenger hunt.
Diehl (Tom Atkins) is keen to get Jim behind doors for murder, while Becker (Joe Santos) and Beth (Gretchen Corbett) hope to keep him out when things go bad on a case he’s working on.
Hired by washed-up comedian Kenny Bell (Chuck McCann) to find a stolen funny box, which contains all his jokes, Jim finds himself framed for murder, and learns that Bell has actually learned about an explosive secret about a member of a mob family. Bell ends up setting up the perfect out for Jim at the end of the episode when he refuses to give any information to the police, and help clear Jim’s name. His comeuppance is well deserved!
The secret inside the mob family is handled well for the time, this was the late 70s after all, but the episode certainly doesn’t end happily for all involved.
It’s always fun to have Diehl back, his character shows up just enough to remind us that he’s always around. I also love how Becker has to walk the line between being Jim’s friend and a cop, you can tell that it tries their relationship at times, but that they’re still close speaks volumes.
More cases next week!