A subject that is getting a lot of talk of late makes an appearance in the first episode under review this week… Three Day Affair with a Thirty Day Escrow was written by David Chase and aired 10 November, 1978.
Jim (James Garner) finds himself immersed in a real estate swindle with romantic overtones, when one of the con men, Sean Innes (Richard Romanus) falls for one of the marks, an attractive, married woman, Khedra Azziz (Maria Grimm).
When Azziz’s family, led by an honour-bound sheik, shows up threatening Rockford, and demanding to know where his daughter is, things get worse for Jim and Sean.
When the duo finally come across Khedra, and Sean pleads his case, the trio get snapped up by the wealthy sheik, and she is put on trial by her family. It seems it’s quite alright for her husband, newly arrived in America, like she was, to have affairs and sleep around, but not ok for Khedra to meet someone and fall in love.
In fact, if her family (the male members of her family) find her guilty, the verdict is in fact death. In other words, we’re talking about an ‘honour’ killing. Knowledge of these things nowadays is fairly common, and I will say, it’s sad, and disgusting, a commentary on a male-dominated culture that seems to be afraid of its women and therefore subjugates them, but to have it pop up in the late 70s in an episode of The Rockford Files, I was really surprised, I wasn’t aware that we as a Western culture were aware of it at that point.
Made for an interesting episode.
The second episode, The Empty Frame, aired 17 November, 1978, and was written by Cannell. The phone gag this time are a series of directions to a party…
Rockford is at a swanky party, where he’s stunned to discover that his, well, nemesis is a strong word, but Lt. Chapman (James Luisi), is working security there. Jim delights in needling him a little, but things get serious when mid-party, masked gunmen arrive, spouting lines about ‘capitalist pigs,’ and make off with a series of valuable paintings.
Jim is quite happy to leave well enough alone, until he’s asked by one of the hosts to look into it. Since the theft happened while Chapman was working the party, he wants to get back into the commissioner’s good graces, and insists on pairing up with Jim to dig into things and resolve the case.
It makes for some fun, tension-filled dialogue between the two of them and Jim does his best to exploit some of it.
Speaking of exploiting, there’s a sub-plot with Angel (Stuart Margolin), who now has an ‘in’ with a local D.A. and people from all walks of life (most of them shady) come to him for help, and consequently he starts living the high-life with plenty delusions of grandeur, treating Jim like dirt, until the last few moments of the episode when everything is torn down around him.
That moment literally made me laugh out loud, as Becker (Joe Santos) takes a piece of paper from Jim, hands it to Billings (Luis Delgado), who hands it to Chapman, who in turn hands it over to Angel…
An arrest warrant.
More next time!!