From: "RG Naylor"
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999 16:28:12 -0700

Once again we find ourselves reminiscing about that icon of the 50's, 60's, 70's and beyond, James Garner, and Jim Rockford. This is the fourth episode of the Files, Exit Prentiss Carr, starring Corrine Comancho Michaels as Janet Carr, Warren Kemmerling as Lt. Furlong and Mills Watson as Sgt. Larson. Sorry this review wasn't on schedule, but I think if I'm rushed, the work suffers, lol. I'm going to try to keep up a rating system for the Rockford eps. It's from one star to five, and includes decimal points where applicable. So slap in your tape, and read along while you watch. I'll try to keep this chronicle as entertaining as possible. On that vein, I read an interesting tidbit in my copy of Ed Robertson's book, This is Jim Rockford. It seems that the producer, Roy Huggins, who wrote most of the stories for the series he produced, rarely used his own name in the credits. But starting in the 60's, he used the pen name John Thomas James, after his three sons. It was noted that Universal even had a parking space reserved for John Thomas James.

The episode starts with Rockford cruising into the Bay City Motel. This is not the first time the Files has used that name for a town (was it the same town?). Rockford's client, Janet Carr, is an ex-girlfriend who's husband is on the sly, so Rockford's been called in to tail him. He finds her husband dead on the floor inside the motel room. It's obvious by the evidence that Mr. Carr has been murdered, so Rockford goes to the police to get them to investigate, without tipping them off that he's been snooping at the scene of the crime. Sgt. Larson, who isn't thrilled with PIs, humorously rebuffs Rockford's request to ride along with them back to the motel. Later, Lieutenant Furlong calls Rockford in to ask him some questions about Prentiss Carr, and as Jim goes in, he attempts to shake the Lieutenant's hand, but he ignores him, lol. Furlong tells Rockford that Carr committed suicide, and Rockford doesn't buy it.

At Mrs. Carr's residence, Jim asks her for her alibi, because he knows she's going to be a prime suspect once the police find out what Rockford knows. She has an alibi, however. Many of you will recognize Corinne Michaels, as she played a prostitute in A Deadly Maze. A good actress. Jim tells her Prentiss has been murdered, and that the police think it was suicide. Then Janet asks Jim to stay the night (in a guest room), and Rockford declines, showing his character, and his street smarts.

Rockford now goes to the Chief of police, and tells him the full story, taking a big chance. The Chief tells Rockford he doesn't believe his story, and tells him not to come back to Bay City. The Lt. and the Sgt. then pull Jimmie over and "lean" on him, threatening to shoot him while initiating a traffic stop if he comes back, which is something cops can do and get away with in the real world. That's one thing I liked about The Rockford Files, it certainly told it like it is from time to time.

At his client's place, she makes a comment about her tennis game, and Jimmie quips, "Yeah, it'd be a shame to lose your backhand too." She explains why she isn't showing the loss for her husband, but Rockford has to really pull teeth to get her to admit that she was having an affair. Back at the trailer, Jimmie's eating an Oreo when Janet Carr shows up, and they get into it about how each of them looks good for the murder. Then Rockford says,"Well sandbagging never works with me Janet, it just makes me unfriendly." and "Cataloguing my virtues won't work either. I hold them to a minimum so they're easy to keep track of." Good lines. Then Janet gives Rockford a clue to work on, and tries to re-kindle the old flame, but Jim declines.

Rockford checks up on the situation at Prentiss' place of employment, an insurance company. His boss seems a little too cooperative. He says he doesn't understand the Department's finding that Mr. Carr committed suicide, but he believes it. Yeah, right. Next Rockford pulls a trick with a liquor store, following their delivery man to a place where Mr. Carr use to shack up with a ladyfriend. Then, he checks the mailbox, and begins a stake out on the house. But later on after dark, the good old Lieutenant and Sergeant show up. The Lt. roughs Jim up a little too much, despite Jim's attempt at docility, and Jim and James Garner do what every citizen should do when their rights are being violated, he sticks up for himself, and does it grandly. Jim: "That's it pal, that's it. Now I don't want to play your little game any more, and I don't have to tell you squat!" Lt.: "Where'd you learn to be so tough, huh Rockford? In the joint? That's right, we checked your record, and YOU are an ex-con." Rockford: "Well you shoulda read the report all the way through. I'm not on parole, I got a FULL pardon." I just love it when Rockford sticks it to the man.

Jim stops by Janet's place of employment, a school for deaf children. Rockford confronts Janet about her alibi, and gets her to tell him his real name. Jim's still not convinced that she's innocent. Janet: "I bet your grandfather was a preacher." Jim: "As a matter of fact, he was a horse thief."

Then Jim borrows a car from a never before seen friend named Eddie. He uses it to stake out Nancy Helmond (Prentiss' main squeeze). She goes to a pier, maybe the Malibu pier?, and receives an envelope of cash from Prentiss' boss. On the way back, Jim is followed by a thug, and Jim skids the car across the street, gets out, and attempts to apprehend the guy, to no avail. He then meets Janet, and relates that he talked with her lover, and that he now believes her. Jim has Rockie meet him where he met Janet, and uses Rockie's truck. This is the first time, I believe, we see Joe's truck. Rockie pulls a sneaky move on Jim; leaving the truck low on gas, and requiring Jim to fill it up with premium.

At the house Jim staked out earlier, he finds Prentiss' lover, Nancy Helmond, dead on the floor, so he calls the PO-lice. The Lt. tells Rockford to show up at the station the next morning, and he leaves. The same tail he had earlier is after him again, so the chase is on. Jim leads him to a lumber yard, where the dude starts shooting at poor Jimmie. Jimmie dumps a load of lumber on him, and then interrogates him. The guy agrees to tell Jim what he knows, and they leave the lumberyard.

They stop alongside a street, and the guy tells Jim that Prentiss was blackmailing his boss, who was selling huge policies, and then keeping the premiums. His boss killed him because of that, and Nancy Helmond made it look like suicide to keep blackmailing the boss, then the boss killed her. Jim got what he wanted, and then told the guy he was turning him into the cops. This ploy, faking greed to win the sucker's confidence was a theme used often on the Rockford Files.

The next scene shows the boss, Eric Saunders, being led out of the Bay City Police Dept. in cuffs. The Chief tells Rockford he should apologize, and Jim declines. Then the two cops decide to buy Jim a drink, and then run him out of town. The last scene here, I think it's the Sand Castle. What a neat place! Maybe one of my fellow Philes could tell me if this is the Sand Castle, or was. In this scene, Janet tries to convince Jim that he has not affected a radical change on her. She insists that she WILL be going to Tahiti. I guess we're supposed to think that she doesn't.

I thought this was a little lengthy, but it had scenes in it, especially with the cops from Bay City, that should go into the Rockford Hall of Fame. I give this episode 3.5 stars. Next week, or AROUND next week, I review episode number five: Tall Woman in Red Wagon. Until then, keep on Rockin'.