Not being old enough to remember the series first time around, I first discovered The Rockford Files when repeats appeared on Wednesday afternoons in the mid-90s, courtesy of the good old BBC. It caught my attention as a bit of an enjoyable retro novelty so it was interesting to see if having aged another 15 years or so it could still cut it.
Well, I'm pleased to say that it still does do!
As 70s detectives shows go, Rockford is actually very run of the mill in basic concept; it was also highly predictable in so much as that, per episode, there will be at least one car chase, a kidnapping of some form or other and Rockford will inevitably get a bash or two on the head. Also if an episode does end with victory for Rockford it is usually pyrrhic. I'm not sure that an answering machine and a mobile home on the beach front were really enough to mark the character out as anything different (or maybe it did in 1974, I don't know, but they're really not important now).
But what does make the series stand out above most others however is the presence of James Garner; it was absolutely superb casting. Garner brought a unique charisma to this character, which he fitted like a glove. I'm not surprised it ran for several series.
It's fair to say that the whole thing was generally well put together -- if you can overlook some obvious (and amusing) car chase continuity errors that is -- it's well produced and directed stuff; seriously, I don't think there is a clunker amongst any of the episodes. That said, I think did lend itself better to the 2 part episodes and the series opener, Backlash of The Hunter, is my personal favourite.
I think what really says it all is that, having watched all of these episodes, Series 2 is now at the top of my must buy list. You won't be disappointed.