The Rockford Files (1978) – A Fast Count and Local Man Eaten by Newspaper

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Private investigator James Rockford (James Garner) has his hands full this week.

First up is A Fast Count, written by Gordon T. Dawson and aired 1 December, 1978. The phone gag this time around features a woman calling and giving a rather convoluted money trail about $250.

Jim ends up working for a boxing manager, Morry Hawthorne (Kenneth McMillian), who has been accused of bribery and is in danger of losing his boxing licence. Jim gets pulled in, because he’s made a small investment in one of Hawthorne’s fighters.

When the bribery charges hit, Jim takes some time to be convinced his ‘friend’ is innocent, but begins to suspect a used-car saleswoman, Ruth Beetson-White (Mary Frann), her assistant, Skip (Bert Kramer) and her husband, Don (Lawrence P. Casey). Each of them has an interest in claiming some of Morry’s boxers and has a reason to want him out of the way.

Becker (Joe Santos) isn’t able to help much, especially since everything Jim is suggesting is merely supposition and not provable facts. But Jim had better get it all sorted quick, because now it seems whomever is behind it, is willing to up the ante to murder.

This is a fun one, but it also shows Rockford to be a little bit more than old-fashioned when Ruth makes a few passes at him.

There is a nice depth of plot to this episode as well, the bribery tying into illegal aliens, and some very funny mathematics.

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Next up is Local Man Eaten by Newspaper, written by the ever reliable Juanita Bartlett. This interesting episode (its pacing and style is a little different from other episodes we’ve seen), aired on 8 December 1978, and the phone gag features Rocky (Noah Beery Jr.) leaving a message for himself.

Jim is working undercover in a ‘newspaper,’ a rag that specializes in tabloid journalism, and gossip of the famous and infamous. When he’s found out, he backs out, and checks in with his employer, a doctor (Dallas Mitchell) whose office has been broken into, has had files removed, and stories about some of his more famous patients ending up in the pages of the tabloid.

Asking for help from Cooper (Bo Hopkins), who makes a welcome reappearance, the two of them find themselves caught up in a potential firestorm involving some troubling people. People who aren’t afraid to take a shot at them, or break into offices to stop the right, or wrong information from find its way into the scandal rag.

While it was great to see Cooper, it only underscores the fact that Beth (Gretchen Corbett) isn’t around, and hasn’t been for quite sometime. Her contract wasn’t renewed by because of a dispute between the show’s producers and Universal itself who held her contract. Oh well.

The pacing for this one, and the feel of it aren’t like usual episodes, it seems a little convoluted, and there is a whole separate story that doesn’t involve Jim at all.

And at this point, there are only 22 episodes left to the series! Wow!

More next time.

The Rockford Files - Season 1

 

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