The Rockford Files (1978) – Black Mirror

 

This two-parter aired 24 November, 1978 and was written by David Chase. As it was later split into two episodes, there are two separate phone gags. The first is a friend calling from London trying to figure out what his arrival time is, with time changes and flight times. The second one is the neighbor’s association calling to complain about all the gunfire that seems to happen around Jim’s (James Garner) place.

Jim finds himself falling for his client when he’s hired by Doctor Megan Dougherty (Kathryn Harrold), a blind psychiatrist, who is being terrorized by an unknown stalker.

The story takes its time, letting things develop nicely between Jim and Megan, while always hinting at the trouble not so very far away from her. Her apartment gets tossed, in an especially chilling moment, she reaches for the phone to call for help, and it’s not where it’s supposed to be, it’s been tucked under the table, inches away from where it’s meant to be, left there mockingly by her stalker.

As Jim explores more, sometimes with Angel’s (Stuart Margolin) and Becker’s (Joe Santos) help (we also get to seen Becker’s new office, now that he’s a lieutenant). He starts to find a possible candidate for the stalker, one of Megan’s own clients, Danny Green (John Pleshette).

As he investigates Danny, and with Becker’s help even brings him into the station for questioning, we learn that he’s calling himself Jackie Tetuska. In fact, he has no awareness of anyone named Danny Green.

kathryn-harrold-rockford-files-1978-pic-2

Megan believes he may be suffering from split personalities. Jim, along with Angel, is a little more suspicious and think it’s all a con to protect himself, and now that Megan is on to him, she may have to be removed. Which suits both personalities fine, since one of them is actually a professional killer.

Everything comes to a head with Megan’s life in the balance, but Jim,  with help from Becker, Angel and even Billings (Luis Delgado).

There are a lot of fun moments in the episode, there’s a bit at the beginning when Angel and Jim are on the beach, and Angel tries to steal a football. He also has a nice moment, when he tries to convince Jim that Megan is faking being blind, and rifles through her purse to lift money while he makes a phonecall. Rocky (Noah Beery Jr.) gives Megan his stamp of approval and wants to spend time with her and tell her all about Jimmy.

The fact that Chase as the writer, and producer in this case, was allowed to tell this tale over two episodes allowed the romance, nicely written and executed, and the characters to develop nicely. It will be unfortunate that I’m sure Megan won’t be around for anymore episodes, because, I quite like the interaction she has with Jim.

This is a great little episode, and lets Jim have an actual romantic liaison that feels real, and not just scripted for the week. It truly will be a shame that her character won’t be back for the remainder of the series. Apparently she doesn’t appear again until the final season for one last episode.

Oh well.

She was a welcome addition to the fun this week.

More next week!

The Rockford Files - Season 1

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