The Rockford Files (1978) – The Competitive Edge and The Prisoner of Rosemont Hall

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Rockford (James Garner) finds himself in a mental institution in the first episode of this week’s review.

The Competitive Edge originally aired 10 February, 1978 and was written by Gordon T. Dawson. The phone gag this time around featured a call from Becker (Joe Santos) who knows Jim is deliberately not answering the phone because Becker wants some sports tickets.

When Jim tries to find a missing man, Barry Brauder (Jim McMullan) the trail leads him to the Alpheian club, a gathering of the super-rich and privileged. But when Jim gets too close to figuring out is really going on at the club, he gets caught, drugged, and dumped, with the intention of being forgotten in the asylum.

Once there he meets a variety of odd characters, amongst them someone who calls himself Doc Holiday (George Murdock), a James Bond (John Fiedler), and a John Doe (James Bond’s Oddjob – Harold Sakata), and buried amongst them is the man he’s looking for… Brauder. Now the two of them have to escape and get the truth out about the club.

This one ends up being more a fun lark of an episode than one with a really in-depth, twisty mystery, but it definitely has some fun moments, and ends in a cool chase, as Jim drives a pickup truck loaded down with escapees, including Doc who insists on calling Jim Wyatt, and a psychotic James Bond in pursuit.

Happily, there’s a surprise guest amongst the inmates that helps Jim and Barry out at the last moment, so every thing turns out all right in the end.

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The Prisoner of Rosemont Hall was written by Cannell and David Chase, based on a story by Chas. Floyd Johnson and Maryann Rea. It aired 17 February, 1978. The phone message is from a pizza joint Jim just visited, it seems he shouldn’t eat the pizza he just picked up, some scouring powder fell on it.

Jim ends up on campus when a son, Paul (Bill Thornbury), of a friend goes missing. Things get really rough for Jim when he comes up against the Security Chief of the Campus, Max Kilmore (Kenneth Tobey), and he is threatened with a rape beef, in an attempt to drive him away.

When Paul, who was a promising journalism student, turns up dead, Jim also finds out there is something more going on here than a hazing gone bad, but things of an almost international level, as it seems he’s not the first boy to go missing or die from a ‘hazing’ incident, and perhaps that is the key to what is really going on…

And Kilmore is right in the middle of it all.

Jim sorts it all out, digs up a great story for Paul’s lover, Leslie Callahan (Frances Lee McCain) and justice is served in the end.

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