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The Rockford Files
Rockford files.JPG
Title card showing the famous answering machine
Format Crime drama/Mystery
Created by Roy Huggins
Stephen J. Cannell
Starring James Garner
Noah Beery Jr.
Joe Santos
Gretchen Corbett
Stuart Margolin
Theme music composer Mike Post
Pete Carpenter
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 122 plus 8 TV Movies (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Stephen J. Cannell
Running time 60 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Original run September 13, 1974 – January 10, 1980

The Rockford Files is an American detective (private investigator) television drama originally aired on the NBC television network between September 13, 1974 and January 10, 1980; it has remained in constant syndication to the present day. The show is notable for the quality of its writing, largely from Stephen J. Cannell, Juanita Bartlett, and David Chase, the easy charm of James Garner, who starred as Jim Rockford, and an agile Pontiac Firebird.

The show was created by Roy Huggins and Cannell. Huggins had created the television show Maverick, which had also starred Garner, from 1957 to 1962, and wanted to try to recapture that magic in a "modern day" detective setting. He teamed with Cannell, who had written for Jack Webb productions such as Adam-12 and Chase (1973–74, NBC), to create Rockford. The show was credited as "A Public Arts / Roy Huggins Production" along with Universal Studios and in association with Cherokee Productions. Cherokee was the name of Garner's own company, which he ran with partners Meta Rosenberg and Juanita Bartlett, who doubled as story editor during most of Rockford's run.

The series' memorable theme by composers Mike Post and Pete Carpenter received Top 40 radio airplay, went to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100, stayed 44 weeks on the charts, and won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement.[1][2][3]

The series continues to air in reruns today; as of 2008, Sleuth, RTN and a handful of syndicated affiliates carry the program. All six seasons can be viewed in "streaming-only" format on Netflix as well as the first three seasons on Hulu.com.

Contents

Premise

Producers Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell devised the main character to be a rather significant departure from typical television detectives of the time. Essentially Maverick as a modern detective,[4] James Scott Rockford, usually called Jim (sometimes "Jimmy" or "Jimbo"), played by veteran movie/television actor James Garner, served time in California's San Quentin prison in the 1960s due to a wrongful conviction for armed robbery; after five years, he received a pardon. His infrequent jobs as a private investigator barely allowed him to maintain his dilapidated mobile home (which doubled as his office) in a parking lot on the beaches of Malibu, California. His often-uncollected rate was "$200 a day, plus expenses", which many of his mid-1970s era clients considered steep.

In early episodes in the show's first season, the trailer was located in a crowded parking lot alongside the highway and near the ocean; for the rest of the series, the trailer was located at Paradise Cove (address 29 Cove Road), adjacent to the pier, and a restaurant, "the Sandcastle". In the series of TV movies from 1994-99, Rockford was still living in a trailer, but it had been extensively enlarged and remodeled, and could no longer be described as "dilapidated".

Unlike the almost uniformly macho and trigger-happy gumshoes on other shows of that day (and before), Rockford would just as soon duck a fight as swing his fists, and he rarely carried a gun (a Colt Detective Special for which he did not have a permit; he kept it in his cookie jar in the kitchen). In contrast to most nattily dressed TV private eyes of the time, Rockford wore off-the-rack, low-budget, slightly tacky clothing (favoring tan, brown and beige jackets, much to the amusement of a high-fashion model in one episode).

As Rockford preferred talking his way out of trouble over violence, he typically worked on cold cases, missing persons and low-budget insurance scams. He repeatedly states in the series that he does not handle "open cases". In the pilot (and in Rockford's Yellow Pages ad), it was stressed he "specialized in closed criminal cases," so as to avoid conflict (and trouble) with the police.[5] This point was mostly ignored in the later seasons, to allow Rockford to become involved in more dramatic cases like murder, kidnapping, and extortion.[citation needed]

Cast

Starring:

Also starring:

  • Noah Beery, Jr. — Joseph "Rocky" Rockford – Jim's father, a retired truck driver. (The role was played by actor Robert Donley in the 1974 pilot episode.)
  • Joe Santos — Sgt. Dennis Becker — Jim's friend in the LAPD (promoted to Lieutenant in season 5)

Recurring Stars:

  • Stuart Margolin — Evelyn "Angel" Martin – Jim's former cellmate / con artist friend
  • Gretchen Corbett — Elizabeth "Beth" Davenport – Jim's lawyer / girlfriend (seasons 1–4)
  • James Luisi — Lieutenant Douglas J "Doug" Chapman (seasons 3–6)
  • Tom Atkins — Lieutenant Alex / Thomas Diehl (seasons 1–2 and 4)
  • Bo Hopkins — John "Coop" Cooper – Jim's disbarred attorney friend (Season 5)
  • Pat Finley — Peggy Becker, Dennis' wife
  • Isaac Hayes — Gandolph Fitch, an acquaintance of Jim's from his prison days who annoyingly refers to Jim as "Rockfish"

Characters

Rockford's pursuit of these cases would often lead to difficulties with his friend in the LAPD, Sgt. Dennis Becker (played by character actor Joe Santos), a homicide detective struggling to advance in the department under a series of overbearing lieutenants. The two most notable were: "Alex/Thomas Diehl" (Tom Atkins) during the first, second and fourth seasons and "Doug Chapman" (James Luisi) in the third to sixth seasons of the show's run. Those higher-ups invariably hated Rockford (and private investigators generally) because of their perception that either he meddled in open cases or was trying to make the LAPD look incompetent in its handling of closed ones. Further, Rockford often called Becker asking for favors such as running license plates through the state computer system, sometimes annoying the already overworked cop. Eventually, by the fifth season, Becker was promoted to lieutenant; it was stated in the story line that Becker's association with Rockford, considered by LAPD brass to be a shifty ex-con, had probably hampered Becker's chances for promotion. Lt. Chapman also intensely disliked the fact that Becker had become his "equal". Becker appeared in 89 of the 123 episodes during the run, and the chemistry of Garner and Santos was one of series TV's most enduring friendships.

Unlike many 1960s and 70s TV private eyes, who typically lived in penthouse apartments or ritzy houses, Rockford resided in a decidedly humbler abode: a trailer house in Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway, not far from the small bungalow home of his father, Joseph "Rocky" Rockford (played by veteran actor Noah Beery Jr., nephew of screen legend Wallace Beery). Rocky (Jim usually called his dad by his nickname) was an ex-Seabee, semi-retired semi-truck driver who often nagged his son to get more stable (and less dangerous) employment, often urging him to follow in his footsteps as a truck driver (especially in early seasons).

The relationship of this father and son was an integral part of the show. Rocky appeared in 101 of the 123 episodes, and was usually involved (whether he liked it or not) in his son's cases. Occasionally, he even hired Jim himself. Adding to the credibility of the casting, there was also a physical (and facial) resemblance between Garner and Beery.

Jim Rockford's mother was never shown, never named, and only referred to indirectly over the run of the series. Whether Rocky was a widower or divorcé (or just what his relationship with Jim's mother was ) was never discussed in the storylines.

Jimmy, Angel and Rocky

Rockford's scheming former San Quentin cellmate, Evelyn "Angel" Martin (something of a comic relief character portrayed by character actor Stuart Margolin), would almost always get Rockford in trouble, usually by involving him in hare-brained scams, which as often as not would result in either his arrest or being placed on somebody's hit list. In spite of this, however, Jim considered Angel as one of his best, if most exasperating, pals.

Rockford had a close relationship with his beautiful attorney, the idealistic, tenacious Elizabeth "Beth" Davenport (Gretchen Corbett). During the show, though never made explicit, it was understood the two had been romantically involved at one time. At other times in the series, the two shared an "open relationship", dating others and openly discussing their respective romances with each other.

After Corbett was dropped from the show after the fourth season (allegedly due to contract disputes between Universal, which owned her contract, and Cherokee Productions, Garner's company which produced "Rockford"), a new legal adviser (Jim's disbarred attorney friend John "Coop" Cooper), and a new romantic interest for Rockford were introduced: Dr. Megan Dougherty (Kathryn Harrold), a blind, yet very independent and gorgeous psychiatrist, who made three appearances in the fifth and sixth seasons. Rockford also had romantic flings with numerous other women on the show, but none appeared to last for any significant period. Most episodes had a "leading lady" figure.

Garner's brother, Jack Garner, made 23 guest appearances playing (at various times) a policeman, a gas station attendant, and a stranger in a bathroom. The most regular character Jack played was that of police "Captain McEnroe" in a number of appearances in the final season.

Credits

The writing on the show was penned by co-creator and TV icon Cannell (36 episodes); one of the show's producers and Garner's partner at Cherokee Productions, Juanita Bartlett (34 episodes; also Scarecrow and Mrs. King and In the Heat of the Night); David Chase (16 episodes; Northern Exposure and The Sopranos); and Roy Huggins (as John Thomas James), among others. Directors included William Wiard (23 episodes), Lawrence Doheny (10 episodes), and Ivan Dixon (previously a star on Hogan's Heroes) (9 episodes). Veteran actor James Coburn also directed an episode. Coburn had co-starred with Garner in the classic movies The Great Escape (1963) and The Americanization of Emily (1964). Garner himself directed one episode, "The Girl in The Bay City Boys' Club," in the show's second season (as of 2008, Garner's only directing credit).

Firebird Esprit

Very familiar to viewers of the show was Jim Rockford's gold Pontiac Firebird Esprit automobile, which Rockford always took through its paces. The car's license plate was yellow-on-blue California "853 OKG". One oft-recurring element of the show was the famous "Jim Rockford turn-around" (also known as a J-turn, and commonly employed as an evasive driving technique being taught to Secret Service agents driving for the President of the United States). When trying to evade someone tailing him or when otherwise cornered, Rockford would shift into reverse, speed up backwards in a straight line and sharply turn his wheels. This maneuver would spin his car around 180 degrees and he would then quickly shift back into forward gear, speeding off to escape while maintaining a straight course the whole time.

Answering machine introduction

Main article: See List of Jim Rockford's answering machine gags.

The show's title sequence began with someone leaving a message on Rockford's answering machine, a device which was still something of a novelty in 1974,[citation needed] and which Rockford was leasing, at apparently significant cost.

A different message was heard in each episode. These frequently had to do with creditors to whom Rockford owed money, or deadbeat clients who owed money to him. They were usually unrelated to the rest of the plot. As the series went on, this gimmick became a burden for the show's writers, who had to come up with a different joke every week. Suggestions from staffers and crew were often used.

Rockford's phone number (seen on his touch-tone phone during the title sequence) is (311) 555-2368.

Aftermath

The still-successful show went into hiatus late in 1979 when Garner was told by his doctors to take time off because of his bad knees and back, as well as an ulcer. He sustained the former conditions largely because of his insistence on performing most of his own stunts, especially those involving fist fights or car chases. Because of his excruciating physical pain, Garner eventually opted not to continue with the show a number of months later, and NBC cancelled the program in mid-season. It was also alleged that Rockford became extremely expensive to produce, mainly due to the extensive location filming and frequent use of high-end actors as guest stars. According to some sources, NBC and Universal claimed the show was generating a deficit of several million dollars, a staggering amount for a nighttime show in those days, although Garner and his production team Cherokee Productions claimed the show always turned a profit.

Later in the 1980s, after he attempted to fulfill his Rockford contract with a 1981 Maverick revival titled Bret Maverick, Garner became engaged in a legal dispute with Universal regarding the profits from Rockford that lasted over a decade, causing (and reflecting) significant ill will on both sides. The dispute was settled out of court (for an undisclosed amount) in Garner's favor, but because of this conflict, the Rockford character would not re-emerge until 1994.

Universal began syndicating the show (initially under the name Jim Rockford, Private Investigator due to standard practices at that time for a show still running on a network) in 1979 and aggressively marketed it to local stations well into the early and middle 1980s. This almost certainly accounts for its near-ubiquity on afternoon and late-night schedules in those days. From those showings, Rockford developed a cult following among younger generations of fans, with the momentum continuing throughout the 1990s and 2000s on cable. The show was broadcast for a few months in 2006 on Superstation WGN, before the station cancelled it in favor of Matlock. As of 2007, the Retro Television Network has once again begun broadcasting the program nationwide, as are the digital cable channel Sleuth and Chicago station WWME-CA. ION Television also has rights to the show and has it slated for future broadcast. In the fall of 2009, the show will be reappearing in Canada on Deja View. The series was also broadcast in the UK on BBC1 and has since been repeated on BBC2 and ITV (later named ITV1) and also on Granada +Plus, which later became ITV3, although none of these channels repeated the later seasons. In Australia, the series runs Monday - Friday on cable and satellite channel Fox Classics. Within the U.S., full episodes of the show can be viewed online at Hulu.com.

Rockford's style was said to have influenced the creation of many other detective shows, including Magnum, P.I. and Tenspeed and Brown Shoe (the latter also created by Cannell). Tom Selleck made two guest appearances on Rockford in the comic role of private investigator Lance White, a character who was everything Rockford was not — wealthy, highly educated, debonair, irresistible to women, and ethical to a fault. Rockford's producers would later tap Selleck in the next TV season after the Rockford cancellation for Universal's Magnum, P.I., where he played a character similar in many ways to Rockford, although with wholesome, patriotic undertones in the context and plots. Several episodes of Magnum make reference to the character of Lance White.

In turn, Rockford was pencilled in to appear in the sixth season Magnum, P.I. episode "A.A.P.I." (1986; in which Cannell also guest starred), concerning a murder at a Private Investigator awards ceremony, but a dispute between Garner and Universal (Garner reportedly refused to even set foot on a single Universal film set until it was resolved) meant that the planned cameo had to be dropped.

Episodes

(including TV movies)

The series pilot aired on NBC March 27, 1974 as a 90-minute made-for-television movie. In the pilot, Robert Donley played Rockford's father; Lindsay Wagner also starred and later made a return appearance. The pilot was titled Backlash of the Hunter for syndication.

Four written, but unproduced, season 6 episodes have been referred to in "Thirty Years of the Rockford Files" by Ed Robertson (2005). There is no mention of these episodes having been filmed. This would appear to be the source of the rumour that four filmed and completed Rockford episodes were destroyed in a fire in 1980, before ever airing. No substantiation of this rumour has ever been offered.

Movies

Eight Rockford Files reunion TV movies were made from 1994 to 1999, airing on the CBS network (whereas the original series had aired on NBC) and reuniting most of the cast from the original show. Beery died on November 1, 1994, so the first of these movies, which aired later that month, stated, "This picture is dedicated to the memory of Noah Beery, Jr. We love you and miss you, Pidge." ("Pidge" was Beery's nickname).

Spinoffs

The character of Richie Brockelman, played by Dennis Dugan, first appeared in a 1976 series pilot produced by Cannell, appeared in the 1978 Rockford episode, "The House on Willis Avenue"; Brockelman was Rockford's nephew. The limited-run series, Richie Brockelman, Private Eye appeared as a summer-replacement series, thus becoming the only Rockford spinoff to be aired, but was cancelled after five episodes. Episodes were also stitched together to air in syndication as two-hour movies. The character of Richie Brockelman returned to Rockford in the 1979 episode, "Never Send a Boy King To Do a Man's Job."

Universal made a pilot featuring the characters of Gandolph "Gandy" Fitch and Marcus "Gabby" Hayes, played by Isaac Hayes and Lou Gossett, Jr., respectively, titled Gabby & Gandy. The series never came to fruition, but the pilot was broadcast as an episode of Rockford.

Ratings

Season Ranking
1974-75 #12
1975-76 #32
1976-77 #41
1977-78 #46
1978-79 #59
1979-80 #??

DVD releases

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released all 6 seasons of The Rockford Files on DVD in Region 1. Universal Playback has released the first 5 seasons on DVD in Region 2. The Rockford Files- Movie Collection, Volume 1, was released on November 3, 2009. [6]

DVD Name Ep# Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Season One 23 December 6, 2005 August 29, 2005 February 6, 2008
Season Two 22 June 13, 2006 August 21, 2006 February 6, 2008
Season Three 22 February 27, 2007 May 7, 2007 September 2, 2009
Season Four 22 May 15, 2007 July 30, 2007 TBA
Season Five 22 January 15, 2008 May 12, 2008 TBA
Season Six 11 January 20, 2009 TBA TBA
Movies Collection, Volume 1 4 November 3, 2009 TBA TBA
Movies Collection, Volume 2 4 TBA TBA TBA
Season 1 – 4 Collection 89 TBA October 22, 2007 TBA
The Complete Series 130 TBA TBA TBA

Remake

On July 30, 2009, it was revealed that NBC, Universal Media Studios and Steve Carell's Carousel Television, were teaming up to produce a revival of the show. David Shore, creator of House, has been tapped to head the series.[7] In February 2010, it was announced[8] that Dermot Mulroney will be playing Jim Rockford in the series. In January, a casting call [9], had been issued, listing series regular roles for Rocky, Angel, Dennis Becker, Beth Davenport and Lt. Doug Chapman. As of March 12, 2010, Alan Tudyk has been cast as Det. Dennis Becker.[10]

References

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Rockford Files (1974–1980, with many subsequent made-for-TV movies) is an American detective (private investigator) television drama created and often written by Stephen J. Cannell. It stars James Garner as a charming ex-convict who lives in (and works out of) a seaside mobile home, drives a Pontiac Firebird, and struggles to make ends meet while serving a rogue's gallery of clients and friends, who often rope him into untenable situations. Each episode begins with Rockford's answering machine receiving a different humorous call placing more burdens on the hapless P.I.

Contents

Opening introduction (each episode)

  • Hello, this is Jim Rockford. At the tone, leave your name and message. I'll get back to you. [beep]

Season 1

The Rockford Files: Backlash of the Hunter [Pilot]

Sara Butler: You aren't afraid of him, are you?
Jim: You're damn right I am!

Sara Butler: How much of my own money am I going to earn back?
Jim: I usually pay my operatives 20 bucks an hour for this kind of thing.
Sara Butler: I wouldn't do it for less than 50.

Jim: You know what's wrong with karate Jerry? It's based on the ridiculous assumption that the other guy will fight fair.

Nick Butler: Who are you, the boyfriend?
Jim: No, what I am is about fifty pounds heavier and a whole lot meaner.

Jim: [right before Jerry hits him] You gotta be one of the dumbest looking apes I ever saw.

Mrs. Elias: [meeting Jim, who is posing as a Dean of Admissions] You look like a truck driver in a suit.

The Kirkoff Case [1.01]

Larry Kirkoff: How about it, Mr. Rockford? Twenty thousand dollars can buy a lot of groceries.

Jim: I'm investigating the Kirkoff killings and I heard you were having an affair with Mrs. Kirkoff before she was killed.
Travis Buckman: Private cop, huh?
Jim: Look, you aren't gonna shoot anybody, we both know it, so why don't you put that thing away before you have an accident.
Travis Buckman: Who're you working for?
Jim: Well, that's confidential.
[Buckman cocks his gun]
Jim: Larry Kirkoff.

Jim: Can I have my pants back, please?

Jim: I have a special this week - Opinions come with no extra charge.

The Dark and Bloody Ground [1.02]

[Beth hides Jim's car keys in her blouse]
Jim: If you think that's going to stop me, you've got a short memory.

The Countess [1.03]

Exit Prentiss Carr [1.04]

Tall Woman in Red Wagon [1.05]

This Case Is Closed [1.06]

Jim: [to Agent Shore] That’s my career specialty – ducking process servers.

The Big Ripoff [1.07]

Find Me If You Can [1.08]

Jim: What's wrong?
Rocky: I am THROUGH talking to you! Look at you, an inch or two to the right and you'd be missing that eye!
Jim: Yeah, but look at it this way, an inch or two to the left and he'd have missed me completely.

In Pursuit of Carol Thorne [1.09]

The Dexter Crisis [1.10]

Caledonia - It's Worth a Fortune [1.11]

Profit and Loss (1) [1.12]

Alec Morris: I was told that you were very reliable.
Jim: Reliable...but chicken.

Profit and Loss (2) [1.13]

Aura Lee, Farewell [1.14]

Sleight of Hand [1.15]

Counter Gambit [1.16]

Claire [1.17]

Say Goodbye to Jennifer [1.18]

Charlie Harris at Large [1.19]

The Four Pound Brick [1.20]

Just by Accident [1.21]

Roundabout [1.22]

Season 2

The Aaron Ironwood School of Success [2.01]

The Farnsworth Stratagem [2.02]

Gearjammers (1) [2.03]

Gearjammers (2) [2.04]

The Deep Blue Sleep [2.05]

Bob Coleman: You say one word about that to Adrienne, and they'll be scraping you up in six counties!
Jim: Six? Why not one neat little package like Margo?

Dennis: [suspiciously] What are you going to do, Jim?
Jim: Oh...I don't know ... go home ... take a shower .....
Dennis: Stay out of it.
Jim: ... stay out of it...

The Great Blue Lake Land and Development Company [2.06]

The Real Easy Red Dog [2.07]

Resurrection in Black & White [2.08]

Susan: You're a private investigator! Why aren't you armed?
Jim: Because I don't want to shoot anybody.

Susan: [as Jim is loading his gun] I thought you didn't like to shoot people.
Jim: I don't shoot it, I just point it!

Susan: What are you going to do, Dave?
Dave: I'm gonna get a woman, and get drunk!
Jim: I'll drink to that.
Susan: Well, I guess I can too.

Chicken Little is a Little Chicken [2.09]

2 Into 5.56 Won't Go [2.10]

Pastoria Prime Pick [2.11]

Answering Machine: Hey Jimbo. Dennis. Really appreciate the help on the income tax. You wanna help on the audit now?

The Reincarnation of Angie [2.12]

Jim: Well I said he had a federal ID. I didn't say he was a fed. He wasn't.
Angela Perris: How do you know?
Jim: Ah, because the picture on his ID was taken against a blue field like your driver's license. Feds have theirs taken against a yellow field. What he did was cut the picture out of his driver's license and paste it into a federal ID, and then encase it in plastic. Nice job, but it was a phony.
Angela Perris: How can you be so sure?
Jim: Oh, because that's what I did.

The Girl in the Bay City Boys Club [2.13]

[Rockford pulls up to the speaker at a Jack in the Box drive-thru]
Young Man: Your order please.
Jim: Call the police.
Young Man: Your order, please!
Jim: That's it. You got it. There's a guy following me in a white 1974 Datsun, California plates. Tell the police I'll be headed south on Perdugo and for them to intercept.
Young Man: Are you nuts, mister? Is this a joke?
Jim: Just tell them he took a shot at me... and while you're at it could you throw in a taco and a bag of fries?

[Kate watches Jim pick the lock at the club]
Kate: That's illegal!
Jim: So is what we're about to do.

Angel: You know, I'm just an innocent bystander.
Thug: They're the ones that usually get shot.

The Hammer of C Block [2.14]

Jim: Would you knock off that "Rockfish" stuff? The name is RockFORD!
Jim: OK, Rockfish

The No-Cut Contract [2.15]

Sturtevant: Ah, listen honey, try not to stare. I know it's difficult, but why don't you just relax and later the two of us will go get some coffee. I'll let you look at my scrapbook, hah?
Beth: That'd be lovely, only I gave up reading the funnies in the third grade.

A Portrait of Elizabeth [2.16]

Joey Blue Eyes [2.17]

In Hazard [2.18]

The Italian Bird Fiasco [2.19]

Jim: We're going to start doing things my way now.
Caine: You realize of course that's blackmail!
Jim: It's just business.

Where's Houston? [2.20]

Foul on the First Play [2.21]

A Bad Deal in the Valley [2.22]

Jim: Old times only buys you one ticket and you cashed that yesterday.

Season 3

The Fourth Man [3.01]

Jim: Well, if you hear anything bump in the night or you can't stand the sound of silence, I'm just a few blocks away.
Lori: And a good friend.
[They kiss]
Jim: Are you sure you don't want me to stay?

Lori: I'd feel better if I knew what you were going to do.
Jim: No, you wouldn't.
Rocky: I don't like it.
Jim: Rocky, you don't even know what I'm talking about!
Rocky: I don't need to. I don't like it!

The Oracle Wore a Cashmere Suit [3.02]

Answering Machine: Teddy's Tree House! You've won our free landscaping service for one full year! We'll mow your lawn, top your trees, mulch, seed, fertilize and feed! Isn't that wonderful!

The Family Hour [3.03]

Answering Machine: Hey Jim, it's Frank. Me and Ellie's down here for our convention. Can't wait to see you! Ah, should be over at your place about one am. Time flies, buddy!

Feeding Frenzy [3.04]

Answering Machine: Hi, this is the Happy Pet Clinic. Your father gave us this number when he left town. The calico stray had six kittens. Please come get them - today!

Lt. Dan Hall: Well, yesterday you got yourself in a heap of trouble son.
Jim: Well gee Dad, how'd I do that?

Drought at Indianhead River [3.05]

Angel: I don't go by Angel anymore...
Jim: Just who are you? The Archduke of Guacamole?

Angel: Now, who would want to kill me?
Jim: You want the list alphabetically or in order of importance?

Jim: Hey he's a really breath of stale air, isn't he?
Dominic Marcone Goon: He's a winner. What are you Mr. Rockford?
Jim: I'll let you know.

Dominic Marcone Goon: If I trust a guy, I expect him to be true with me. And if he doesn't, he's gonna end up in the flower business...as a soil additive!

Jim: Ranch’o Angelo! Sort of takes your breath away, doesn’t it?
Angel: It’s a DUMP! What a DUMP!
Jim: I don’t know, once you get in the Orange Groves and riding stables it won’t look too bad.
Angel: Do you think it’s funny?
Jim: No Angel, I don’t think it’s funny. As a matter of fact it scares me to death. I think it’s about time we take this to the cops.

Coulter City Wildcat [3.06]

Answering Machine: It's Shirley at the Plant and Pot. There's no easy way to tell you this Jim. We did everything we could. Your fern died.

Jim: Dad, who turned you on to this scheme?
Rocky: Harry Schreau down at the Gear Tavern. He's the one always buying drinks for the house!
Jim: Dad, isn't Harry also the one who lost five hundred bucks on an astrology chain letter?

So Help Me God [3.07]

Answering Machine: Doctor Salter's office. This is the third time you've cancelled. Now you have to have that root canal. A sore foot has nothing to do with your mouth!

Rattlers' Class of '63 [3.08]

Answering Machine: Gene's 24 Hour Emergency Plumbing. Your water heater's blown? We'll have somebody out there Tuesday...Thursday at the latest.

Return to the Thirty-Eighth Parallel [3.09]

Jim: Al, Al, be a good soldier. Don't die, just fade away.

Alvin Thomas: Are you a connoisseur of art?
Jim: I had a painted turtle when I was a kid.

Answering Machine: Tompkins at Guaranteed Insurance. About your burglary claim? Major loss alright. Funny you remembered to file... you didn't remember to pay your premium!

Piece Work [3.10]

Answering Machine: This is Dr. Salter's office again regarding that root canal. The doctor's in his office...waiting. He's beginning to dislike you!

Dennis: Make lieutenant? I'll be lucky if I make the end of the week!

Rocky: I didn't like it when you was messing around with your boy scout knife. I sure don't like it now that you're messing around with machine guns!

[Dennis is cuffing Fred Molin]
Jim: Well, Fred...looks like you're going to have something to really be depressed about.

The Trouble With Warren [3.11]

Beth: Warren is a brilliant chess player.
Jim: He's a turkey!

Jim: My next attorney's going to be a foundling - someone with no known relatives.

There's One in Every Port [3.12]

Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones, but Waterbury Will Bury You [3.13]

Jim: Okay, Vern, what's your problem? Rabies?

Vern St. Cloud: Why you're on a real crusade, aren't you. You're a regular Sir Guinevere!

Answering Machine: This is Department of the Army. Our records show you are the Rockford, James who failed to turn in his service automatic in May 1953. Contact us at once!

The Trees, the Bees and T.T. Flowers (1) [3.14]

Answering Machine: Jimmy-y-y old buddy buddy, it's Angel! You know how they allow you one phone call... well this is it.

The Trees, the Bees and T.T. Flowers (2) [3.15]

The Becker Connection [3.16]

Answering Machine: Hi. Um. I'm confused. Is this Dial a Prayer? Well, should I call back when the reverend's in the office or what?

Jim: Well the name I came up with is Rafael Sabatini.
Angel: Well let me finish my story, huh? Sabatini. That's the name I got from four or five guys. Sabatini.
Jim: Angel, Rafael Sabatini has been dead for a coupla hundred years.

Just Another Polish Wedding [3.17]

Hayes: You have a hair-trigger, Mr.Finch.
Gandy: That's right, mouth, and you're sitting on the edge of a big disaster.
Hayes: I like him Jimmy. He's got pluck.

Answering Machine: George Debohn, Malibu Space Watch. Had three sightings last week. You see anything unusual? Your television reception interrupted? Call 555-1313.

Gandy: Shut up Gabby!
Jim: [incredulous] Gabby?!
Hayes: [sighs] Yeah, that's what he calls me. Cute, huh?
Jim: [snorts in disbelief] Gabby and Gandy...sounds like a puppet show.

New Life, Old Dragons [3.18]

Answering Machine: It's Pete. Hope you enjoyed using the cabin last week...only next time leave the trout in the refrigerator, huh, not the cupboard!

To Protect and Serve (1) [3.19]

Peggy Becker: Just what is a buff?
Dennis: [looks uncomfortable] Well, it's a citizen who is fascinated by the police work. Like, you know, people who are into CB radios and broadwave shows, these people are buffs as we call them: they like to spend their time around the station getting to now the fellas, sorta hang out...
Peggy Becker: [angry] Dennis, that's not a buff, that's a groupie!

Lianne Sweeny: It may interest you to know that Sergeant Becker rolled a code three to a major four-fifteen which could have turned out to be a one-eighty-seven.
Jim: I flunked math.

To Protect and Serve (2) [3.20]

Answering Machine: This is incredible! Do you know I had one of my dreams last night? I dreamed that if I called you you wouldn't be home...and you're not!

Crack Back [3.21]

Answering Machine: This is Dr. Salter. My nurse tells me you've blown four root canal appointments. Well, you're finished in this office.

Dirty Money, Black Light [3.22]

Answering Machine: This is Toby. I forgot what I was calling for. Your recording is so boring... spike it with some humor, some personality...something!

Season 4

Beamer's Last Case [4.01]

Ramirez: My banking representatives will be by at five to cancel out the debt; have the money.
Jim: Representatives? Plural?
Ramirez: That's right
Jim: I guess they travel in pairs 'cause that way they have twenty fingers and twenty toes.

Answering machine: [Loud traffic noise in background] Jimmy, this is Angel. Listen, I've got this new pad right over by the Hollywood Freeway and some friends are coming. Borrow your record player?

Jim: Detective Digest, ‘strange cases from my file’, it's a weekly feature. Hear harrowing legal experiences by America's premiere defense attorney, He reads this stuff Dennis, he is one hundred percent chucklehead!

Ralph Steel: I'm getting my gun. Both of you guys are dead.
Freddie Beamer: Yeah? Well, go ahead! I'm not the kind of guy you can blow away with a threat!
Jim: Yeah, well I am!

Trouble in Chapter 17 [4.02]

Jim: Look, I don't have a lead!
Ann Louise Clement: Except...
Jim: Some avenging feminist with a black belt in auto repairing.

Jim: It's my client's book, part Dear Abby, part Norman Vincent Peale and part Kama Sutra.
Rocky: What's a Kama Sutra?
Jim: It's a...uh...how-to book.

Jim: Somebody took a shot at her.
Dennis: Are you sure it wasn't a backfire?
Jim: It was a shot, Dennis.
Dennis: The doorman thinks it was a backfire.
Jim: Oh, and some expert he is since he's heard so many gunshots!
Dennis: He's heard a lot of backfires!

The Battle of Canoga Park [4.03]

Rocky: Well anyone who keeps dirty laundry in their desk I think is pretty...
Jim: I knew right where to find it didn't I?

Rocky: Don't worry, Sonny. I mean, they can't throw you in jail for something you didn't do!
Jim: Isn't that what you said before I spent those fun-filled years at Quentin?

Rocky: Jimmy didn't kill nobody!
Jim: Jimmy's gun did.

Second Chance [4.04]

Jim: Gandy's carrying around a $12 grudge in a $3 hat. He's not gonna be too gentle when it comes to collecting, so you either give me some answers or I'll drop him on your doorstep.
Theda: You wouldn't do that!
Jim: Watch me!

The Dog and Pony Show [4.05]

Answering Machine: Jimmy. Lou. You owe me five bucks. Madarazo's average in the '68 Series was .310 not .350. Oh and, ha, ha, Fred and I are getting divorced.

Jim: But I will need a diversion so I can get back to Bloomberg's room and try to talk to him.
Angel: Oh! Now we're getting to the nitty-gritty. Now it's beginning to make sense. "Come on over to Rocky's, Angel." Serve my favorite food. First time I been invited over here for so much as a glass of water!
Rocky: [to Mary Jo] I could use a little help in the kitchen with the coffee and dessert.
Angel: Forget about the dessert! You don't buy Angel Martin with a couple of drumsticks and some red eye gravy.

Requiem for a Funny Box [4.06]

Answering Machine: Mr. Rockford? Sue Ellen. Our class is having that crazy scavenger hunt I told you about. If you're wondering what happened to your trailer door, it's gonna win me first prize!

Quickie Nirvana [4.07]

Jim: You've flipped from Ashram to watertank and back! Are you any happier for it? Look around you. You see a lotta bliss out there?
Sky: I don't think I've done so bad for being 32 years old.
Jim: You're 40. I've seen your driver's license.
Sky: I was 40, but I'm making positive affirmations! I'm 32. I'm youthing myself.
Jim: You're 40!
Sky: But I don't want to get old.
Jim: Well, neither do I!
Sky: But you see we don't have to. Not if...
Jim: There's nothing you can do about it. That's the way it is. I'm sorry to be the bearer of the bad news. There's no easy answer, you know. No quickie nirvana. You don't like it, tough! Join the club!

Irving the Explainer [4.08]

Answering Machine: Hey, am I too late for those African goats? Haven't got the whole three hundred cash, but I've got a lot of homemade cheese. Maybe we could work something out?

Dennis: Let me get this straight: You have a client who has the same name as Herman Goering's HOUSE?!

Karen Hall: You met up with the Surete. They actually followed me. That's why I had that horrible feeling I was being watched. And they're the ones who ransacked my room!
Jim: Oh no, not nearly so simple. Your room was ransacked by an Olympic wrestling champion and a German ex-neurosurgeon.

Becker: [reviewing a microfiche] Stay back, please. This is official department memorandum, open only to the department.
Jim: Boy, mention the Nazis around you and it rubs off!

Karen Hall: Of course, Korper wasn't the only one of his time to be pro-Nazi.
Jim: Sure. There was Mussolini...

The Mayor's Committee From Deer Lick Falls [4.09]

Jim: [after crashing the sabotaged Firebird to a stop] Well, what do you say let's forget the sushimi and call it a day?

Lauren: How long does it take to read a police report anyway?
Dennis: Quite a while, if you're Lt. Chapman.
Jim: Oh yes, sometimes he'll read a report twice if it's complicated. Actually tonight his attention span is pretty good.

Rankin: [to Rockford] Your file. I've never had the occasion to examine one this size before, and I've been with the Bureau of Consumer Affairs for nineteen years! You seem to have some sort of magnetic field that attracts controversy!

Answering Machine: So you put your machine on at night, huh? Just cause I call you at 3 am? You know how bad my insomnia is! Thanks a lot Jim!

Jim: You actually believe I would cater a killing?!

Benson: [Benson tossing Jim a wad of money] That's five thousand dollars.
Jim: Yeah, yeah I thought so. My hand size is a perfect five thousand.

Hotel of Fear [4.10]

Angel: Muriel is dead! D-on-the-e-d!

Angel: I wrote a book about the whole thing.
Jim: You have trouble writing your laundry list!

D.A. Pleasance: Now, Del Kane is syndicate. If we can convict him, maybe we can get him to do some talking. He knows where a lot of bodies are buried.
Lt. Chapman: He planted them!

Answering Machine: Jimmy, this is Manny down at Ralph's and Marla's. Some guy named Angel Martin just ran up a fifty buck bar tab, and now he wants to charge it to you. You gonna pay?

Forced Retirement [4.11]

Jim: [as "Jimmy Joe Meeker"] That's another thing my daddy always said: smart folks always eat off the same plate, but those greedy ones always spill their dinner.
Richard Lessing: I'm beginning to tire of your daddy.

Answering Machine: Hi there! [beep] If you're interested in selling your product by a computerized telephone sale, stay on the line and one of our representatives will speak to you!

Beth: I don't want to raid Harcourt and Lowe's client list when I leave, but I am worried about clients; where are they going to come from?
Jim: Oh hey, they'll come, they'll come! And, you know, you've always got me!
Beth: Thanks Jim. I was talking about paying clients though.

The Queen of Peru [4.12]

Answering Machine: Jim, it's Grace at the bank. I checked your Christmas Club account. You don't have five hundred dollars, you have fifty... Sorry! Computer foul-up!

A Deadly Maze [4.13]

[Jim has just been threatened by a butcher]
Rocky: What was that guy's beef?
Jim: What? Is that supposed to be funny?
Rocky: What'd I say? What'd I say?

Answering Machine: Hey Jimmy! I tried to catch you before you left! [chuckles] Hey buddy, I was wrong. That rally in Mexico? That was yesterday!

The Attractive Nuisance [4.14]

The Gang at Don's Drive-In [4.15]

Answering Machine: Jim I have finally finished 12 long years of psychotherapy and now I am able to tell you just what I think of you. Would you please call me?

The Paper Palace [4.16]

Answering Machine: This is Mrs. Owens of the Organization for a Better Malibu. Thanks for your contribution. We've made great strides. It would help, dear, if you'd move your trailer.

Rita Capkovic: [at the Becker dinner table] You know the one animal I can't stand? Monkeys. I had one once. I only kept him for a couple of weeks. They make the place so smelly. Now you take cats. All you need is a litter box and that's it. Now that monkey, he made all over my new couch. He made all over my floor. You'd come through my door and find yourself up to your buns in ...
Peggy Becker: Broccoli?

Dwarf in a Helium Hat [4.17]

South by Southeast [4.18]

Jim: I don't have superiors. I have few peers and no superiors.

Answering Machine: Billy Skelly at EyeCo. Like to interest you in some new private detection equipment, including the 448 Telephonic Bug. We'll demonstrate it in a friend's home for one full week no charge.

The Competitive Edge [4.19]

Answering Machine: Okay Jimbo, Dennis. I know you're in there and I know you know it's ticket season again; Policemen's Ball and all that. So come to the door when I knock this time. I know you're in there!

The Prisoner of Rosemont Hall [4.20]

Answering Machine: That number four you just picked up from Angelo's Pizzeria? Some scouring powder fell on there; don't eat it! Hey, I hope you try your phone machine before dinner...

The House on Willis Avenue (1) [4.21]

Richie Brockelman: Look, this guy actually lives in a trailer.
Jim: [indignant] Well what does that mean?
Richie Brockelman: Well, it just seems to me that living in a trailer is at the bottom.
Jim: I live in a trailer!
Richie Brockelman: Well, you know, not exactly the bottom, more like the middle. And of course, depending on what kind of trailer, it could be the upper middle. For instance I saw one in a magazine a couple of months ago. It could expand out into a two thousand foot home. Now a guy living in a place like that has the world by the...
Jim: Save yourself, son, it's not important.

Richie Brockelman: You know, I've been thinking, Mr. Rockford, that if you want my opinion, we may be barking up the wrong tree.
Jim: [nursing his shot gun wound] We're sure getting some strong feedback from the wrong tree.

The House on Willis Avenue (2) [4.22]

[Jim breaks into Tooley's office the second time and is caught by BJ and Smithy]
BJ: Where's Brockelman?
Jim: Oh, its not my turn to watch him.
BJ: I can see you're gonna keep us in stitches.

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