Much like his trusty Pontiac Firebird, The Rockford Files
was a particularly well-oiled machine by the third year. Everything was clicking into place, from the writing to the acting (writer/producer David Chase went on to create The Sopranos
). Despite a terrific supporting cast, James Garner
was always the main draw, and he received an Emmy for the series during year three (1976-1977). Considering that the show was carefully pitched between drama and comedy, it was well deserved as Garner excelled at both. Notable episodes include "Feeding Frenzy," in which Rockford returns stolen loot for a client; "Drought at Indian Head River," in which informant Angel (Stuart Margolin) reinvents himself as a real estate developer; and "Rattler's Class of '63," in which Angel ties the knot. Among the guest stars are such hip cats as Blazing Saddles's Cleavon Little ("Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones...") and Cool Hand Luke's Strother Martin ("The Trees, the Bees, and T.T. Flowers"). Ned Beatty also drops by as a buddy from Korea ("Return to the 38th Parallel"), while R&B legend Isaac Hayes returns as prison pal Gandy Fitch ("Just Another Polish Wedding").
As usual, there are plenty of good lines, like Robert Loggia's "I expect him to tell me the truth. If he doesn't, he's gonna end up in the flower business--as a soil additive" ("Drought at Indian Head River") and Garner's "Stop batting your eyes like that or you're gonna get a muscle spasm" ("Return to the 38th Parallel"). The best part about season three is simply that it adds depth to Rockford's relationships with the four people most important to him: Angel, dad Rocky (Noah Beery Jr.), detective Becker (Joe Santos), and attorney Beth (Gretchen Corbett). The only extra feature is "Quickie Nirvana," an episode from the fourth season. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
All 22 episodes from the third season of the US television detective drama series, starring James Garner as Jim Rockford, the laid-back ex-con turned private investigator. Episodes are: 'The Fourth Man', 'The Oracle Wore a Cashmere Suit', 'The Family Hour', 'Feeding Frenzy', 'Drought at Indianhead River', 'Coulter City Wildcat', 'So Help Me God', 'Rattlers' Class of 63', 'Return to the 38th Parallel', 'Piece Work', 'The Trouble with Warren', 'There's One in Every Port', 'Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones, But Waterbury Will Bury You', 'The Trees, the Bees and TT Flowers (Part 1)', 'The Trees, the Bees and TT Flowers (Part 2)', 'The Becker Connection', 'Just Another Polish Wedding', 'New Life, Old Dragons', 'To Protect and Serve (Part 1)', 'To Protect and Serve (Part 2)', 'Crack Back' and 'Dirty Money, Black Light'.