Friday, September 2, 2011
$200 A Day, Plus Expenses
Creator: Stephen J. Cannell and Roy Huggins
Starring: James Garner, Noah Beery, Jr., and Joe Santos
Guest Starring: Gretchen Corbett and Stuart Margolin
Handsome, rugged, laid back, sarcastic, and a darn good detective. Too bad he never gets paid. James Garner is James "Jim" Rockford, a pardoned ex-con cum private eye who lives--and works--in a raggedy trailer in a parking lot of a Malibu beach. With no pretensions--he doesn't even own a tie--or ambition, Jim spends his days fishing. His diet consists of the fish he catches, coffee, eggs, tacos, hot dogs, beer, Oreos™ and the occasional steak. When he needs the money--or when he's suckered into taking a hopeless case--Rockford works. His father Rocky badgers him to take a real job, but Jim's happy with his lot in life.
A skilled driver, Rockford takes us on many a car chase in his gold Pontiac Firebird. Jim avoids fights like the plague, but when cornered is not above sucker punching his enemies. Rockford's friends include L.A. police detective Dennis Becker, his attorney and sometime ladylove Beth Davenport, and the cowardly conman Angel Martin, Jim's cellmate from San Quentin. Other memorable characters are Gandy Fitch (Isaac Hayes), a former prison mate who calls Rockford "Rockfish," and Lance White (Tom Selleck), a smoother, more sophisticated and successful private investigator.
Each episode opens with Rockford's answering machine playing a message that pokes fun at him. Like this one from Sgt. Becker: "Jim. It's Dennis. Thanks for helping me with my taxes. Now how are you with audits?" The Rockford Files is the quintessential 70s detective show, arguably the best ever.