Monday, March 23, 2009

Too bad we couldn't vote for this guy last November

I don't remember at what point I started watching "The Rockford Files," the crime drama with a touch of comedy that aired for six seasons in the 70's. Since it started when I was ten (in 1974), I doubt I was on board from the beginning. But by my high school years, Friday nights were "The Rockford Files" and Oreos fresh from the snacking bonanza that was grocery night. May not sound like much (don't worry, I'm making up the social losses now vicariously, through "Friday Night Lights"), but it was enjoyable and intellectually stimulating and a heck of a lot better than some of the stuff my peers and siblings were into.

I thought it was a cool show. Cool car, cool music, and a cool guy. His appeal was that, in a town that emphasized trendy fashions and outward appearances, he was a regular guy with a taste for cheap food and with flaws he readily admitted, but who made the best of his talents and did a lot for justice. The theme music said it all; cool L.A. rock accented by a bluesy harmonica that said "I'm me, take it or leave it." He was John Wayne in a Trans-Am.

And while he preferred not to get into more trouble than necessary, and despite his often-mentioned aversion to guns, he didn't run from a fight when it came to him (and fights did come, at the rate of at least one per episode). OK, sometimes he did run...and when he didn't, it was often because he was tied up or being held by a couple of big goons.... But he was prudent, is what I'm saying. This made him good at his job, regularly saved his life and, of course, brought much appreciation from the ladies. The latter was at approximately the same per-episode rate, including a character played by Lindsay Wagner, later to be known as Jamie Sommers, the original Bionic Woman. No wonder we admired him. And like "Richie Brockelman, Private Eye" (remember Richie?), we aspired to be like him.

And thanks to Netflix and the DVD nostalgia market, I've been gratified to see how right I was about this show; despite (or because of) the dial phones, primitive keyboard incidental music and the occasional shot of an AMC Gremlin or Chevy Nova, it still holds up. Or maybe I'm the same guy, with the same aspirations to be cool, drive a cool car, live an adventurous life...and date Jamie Sommers.

Wonder where I can get myself a dial phone?


Curt said...

You should check out the movie "Support your local sherrif". Same sort of understated grace under pressure, cool and wry humor. Love James Garner. Good in so many different things.

Mark Kelly Hall said...

Great movie! And don't forget "Maverick." Don't know if I ever actually saw the TV series, but the 1994 movie with Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster was great.

Janelle Martin said...

Well, what can I say except from this 40 somethin's view, James Garner is HAWT! Plus something about a cool guy who drives a cool car but lives in a trailer appeals to me!