Jim’s (James Garner) fifth season finds him in more and more trouble.
First up is The Jersey Bounce, which aired 6 October, 1978 which was put together by Cannell, Juanita Bartlett and David Chase. The phone gag features a fun call from Angel (Stuart Margolin).
It seems Rocky (Noah Beery Jr.) is having trouble with his next door neighbors, a pair of punks from Jersey, who want to become made men, and party it up all the time, commit violence, peddle and do drugs, and cause problems in the neighborhood.
When one of the party-goers ends up dead, after Jim is witnessed threatening him, amongst others, and sees Jim going to court. Beth (Gretchen Corbett) is glaringly missing from this episode, and Jim is saddled with a rather inept counsel in the form of Wade G, Ward (Sorrell Booke – a name you may not recognize… but you may know him by sight, if you grew up in the 80s… this is Boss Hogg!).
Aiding Ward, and more importantly, Rockford is John Cooper (Bo Hopkins), a disbarred lawyer, who actually makes a good companion for Jim.
As the two of them seek out a way to clear Jim’s name, they find that the two thugs, Conigliaro (Greg Antonacci) and Mickey Long (Gene Davis) are trying to be involved with local gangster Nodzak (Luke Andreas). They run down any and all leads, from beaten girlfriends, to pregnant women, and finally in the last few moments, find a way to catch them, and restore Jim’s innocence.
There is also a wonderful running gag with Rocky’s mailbox being constantly knocked over.
The second episode White on White and Nearly Perfect originally screened 20 October, 1978 and was written by Cannell. The phone message is from a funeral company, saying they won’t rest, until you’re at rest.
This one is a lot of fun, as it features a detective who is suave, well dressed, and seems to talk like he’s in a 1940s movie, filled with a pleasant naive attitude that everyone around him seems to love. Everybody, except Jim who finds himself working with him.
And who better to play him, than Tom Selleck, two years before he took on the role of Magnum.
Jim is paired up with Lionel White (Selleck) as they dig into a mystery of a kidnapped daughter of a huge weapons industrialist.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the story, it was just a lot of fun for me watching Rockford and Magnum (though not really Magnum, I know, and honestly, the character is nothing like Thomas) on the screen together.
Still, it’s very apparent that Selleck is quite at ease in the role of a private investigator, and I have no doubt, that perhaps this role helped him land the role of Thomas Magnum a short time later.
White and Rockford have some fun chemistry, and it would be awesome if we see him again, but with only 30 episodes left in the series, I don’t think we’ll be seeing him again. Still, pretty damned cool.
Until next time…