From: "RG Naylor"
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 18:29:43 -0700

Here is the review of the week. It's the first Rockford episode of the regular season (9-13-74). Thanks again to all those who commented on last Sunday's review of BACKLASH OF THE HUNTER.

This episode stars Garner as Rockford, James Woods as Larry Kirkoff, Abe Vigoda as Al Dancer, and Julie Summars as Tawnia Baker. The beginning scene has Rockford tailing Travis Buckman, who stops at the beach and shakes his tail. I found it amusing that Rockford had a trout rod in his trunk. It makes sense for someone who spends a lot of time in his car to have all sorts of things in their trunk. At the beach, Rockford runs into beautiful Tawnia Baker, who just happens to be sunbathing. A witty exchange goes on between them at the beach, and on Rockford's way back to his car. Some of the better lines: Tawnia:"I hate to tell you, but the trout fishing in the ocean is lousy." Tawnia: "What do you do when you're not hunting cowboys?" Rockford: "I sell greeting cards." Tawnia: "Is there much money in that?" Rockford: "Christmas and Easter ain't too bad, but Mother's day just sort a lays there." Ms. Baker flirtily invites Jim back to her apartment and takes off down the road.

At the apartment, Tawnia slips Rockford a mickey (second ep. in a row where the mickey is employed). Rockford asks her if she's setting him up, and she says, in the most amused manner, "Of course not." Rockford uses his noggin and slips his wallet under the carpet in the hallway before going under. When he comes to, his pants are off, and a gun is leveled at his head by Travis Buckman. One thing leads to another, and Rockford gets the distinct feeling he's going to be offed, so he pulls an entertaining stunt with his cigarette, and emerges from the predicament like the true survivor he is. On his way out the door, Rockford gives Tawnia a smart alecky "ohhoho." to her pleas that he's barking up the wrong tree.

James Woods has worked numerous times with Garner. One movie I haven't seen but would like to is the story of the founders of A.A. Kirkoff tells Jim he's not paying for his opinions, and Rockford says, "I'm having a special this week, so opinions come with no extra charge." Larry Kirkoff's dog is not exactly happy to see Rockford, and Jim quips, as the dobie growls, "He really knows how to lay out the ol' welcome mat, doesn't he?"

Upon following Tawnia, he finesses his way past the guard at the racquet club, and scams his way ingeniously into getting a guest card. It was a true joy to watch Rockford insinuate himself into the table where Ms. Baker and her elderly companion are sipping drinks. You could just imagine the motivation, had these been real characters, to ham this scene up in pursuance of their own interests. Then Rockford puts the icing on the cake by handing the man a phony insurance business card in true hack form. Rockford to Ms. Baker: "I'm gonna sit on you until you hatch into something."

The next scene we find the trailer on what looks like the shoulder of the PCH. Rockford: "Where are the aspirin Dad?" Rockie: "Headache?" Rockford: "No, I got a hot tip that the seabass at the pier are hitting aspirin tablets if you can keep 'em from dissolving."

Next, Rockford is ambushed at the parking garage of a big hotel by the mob. Very professionally done. Rockford: "Does your mother know what you do for a living?" Goon: "Shut up." After the goons beat him in an empty building downtown, a man with a husky voice tells Rockford to lay off the Kirkoff Case, or they'll, "Sharpen your heels, and pound you into the hard ground." Rockford then finds a broken tooth on the floor as they leave.

At the Hollywood division of the LAPD, I discovered a blooper. Becker calls the form he's using a "157 form", and Jim erroneously calls that the murder section of the penal code, which is in reality 187. In another episode (The Countess), they do the same blunder, when the motorcycle cop pulls him over and arrests him. Rockford: "What do you mean don't count on too much, I'm counting on you and this girl scout troop in here to solve it." Becker: "Every time you get a bloody nose, morale goes up ten points." Becker: "The only person you got worried is your physical therapist." Becker ends up shaking Rockford down for ownership information on the building he was beaten in.

At the Owl and Turtle, Rockford meets Tawnia for dinner. (Does anyone know if this is a real restaurant in the L.A. area?) They both decide to make a truce, and eat at a drive in restaurant, where Tawnia makes a wise crack about the price of the meal.

Rockford then tries to make his way in to see the union boss, and when he's rebuffed, he tries the cigarette trick, and it backfires. He manages to get an audience with the boss, Al Dancer (Abe Vigoda), and warns him that a henchman, Muzzy Vinette, is moonlighting, which is a no-no. Rockford follows the union toughs to Vinette's place, and has a high speed chase through a golf course after Vinette kills the toughs. Vinette gets caught in a sand trap, and Rockford apprehends him with the help of a sand trap shovel. An interesting noise ala Sergio Leone is employed as the shovel hits home.

Rockford briefs Kirkoff on the details of the case, in which Mr. Kirkoff hired Vinette to whack his wife, and Larry Kirkoff whacks his father. Rockford gets $10,000.00 for this effort. Later on, on a date with Tawnia, they see the evening news, where the headline shows that Kirkoff turns himself in for the murder of his father, in revenge for his mother. Shawnia: "Hey, by the way, you're fired." Rockford: "Well, in that case, I'll buy you a hot dog."