I remember the first time I saw James Garner in action. In 1994, his first Rockford Files reunion movie, I Still Love L.A., premiered on CBS and I stayed up late on a Sunday night to watch the whole thing. What got my ten year old butt in front of the TV was my dad’s excitement about the movie. He loved Rockford, and for me (then and now) my dad’s enjoyment of music, a movie, or a TV series is a pretty good indicator that I’ll love it too. Most everything about it flew over my head, except for the innate likability of Jim Rockford. He was funny, he was smooth, and he was tough. And James Garner carried all of the action with a “gosh, can you believe all of this crazy stuff?” vibe that I came to appreciate so much more when I finally discovered the TV series.
No matter what he did, he made it look easy and he brought his best to the material. Most 70s detective shows are tough to sit through today, but Rockford remains one that you can binge on Netflix as effortlessly as House of Cards or any other modern-day offering. Sure, the writing is there, but you put anyone else but James Garner in that sport coat and Firebird and it becomes a TV time capsule, not good for much else. Few detective shows before or since have touched it, and his performance puts Rockford right up there with the greatest fictional private eyes.
If you can, fire up some Rockford Files in his honor today. Rest in peace, Mr. Garner. You will be missed.
Aw - sad news.
But I agree that the The Rockford Files is a show that holds up. The first thing I watched after getting a Hulu account was The Rockford Files. Just hearing that theme song puts me in a warm, plaid, wood-paneled, 70s, it-was-a-simpler-time mood.