From: "RG Naylor"
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 19:59:20 -0700

O.K. Rockfordians, I'm back with another episode review, fan-style. According to me, there are no bad episodes. I guess that's what happens when you put a fan in charge of critique. Well, this episode is appropriately titled The Big Ripoff. It stars Suzanne Somers, whose role is silent, Jill Clayburgh (An Unmarried Woman), whose role is not silent, and Bruce Kirby as Carl LeMay. This is the seventh regular episode and it originally aired October 25, 1974.

I'm going to assume that the European location that starts this episode off is Paris. Suzanne Somers (Ginny Nelson) gets out of a white Mercedes coupe, and enters a building with the word "Pension" (Hotel?)on it. She's looking real good too. I think this was pre-Three's Company days. Jim is eating his lunch and watching her from across the way. He seems to know where she's going to be, 'cause in the next scene, he's there before she is. He pulls a neat trick by renting two cars, and parking them on each side of Ginny's, so close that she can't get in. He shows up as the "knight in shining armor", and manages to unlock one of the cars with a coat hanger, so that he can get her out. What's funny is that he has to pretend like he doesn't know how to open a car door with a coat hanger, so she doesn't get suspicious. He ends up back at her place, carrying the groceries, and gathering information for the case he's working on.

On the way back to the U.S. on the plane, Jim is sharing a seat with a sleeping child, and a little girl is turned around in her seat in front of him, staring at him. Jim winks at the girl, and she continues her deadpan.

Nancy Frazier (Nedra Dean) is Jim's client, and here's another hottie. She's complaining about the bill Rockford handed her, and the conclusion he has come to regarding the case. Ms. Frazier: "You ought to write a book: How to do Europe on $200 a day, Plus Expenses." Rockford's opinion is that Steve Nelson staged an accident at sea to collect the insurance money, and his wife Ginny is living off her cut of the money, and Mr. Nelson is hiding somewhere with the rest. Rockford puts on the sympathy, and she seems to come around, but Jim wants his money right there because he doesn't trust her, and she tells him to bill her. On the way out, he manages to look in a bedroom, and sees that she is packing her suitcases.

Outside and across the street, Jim is on the phone with Mr. Moss of the insurance company that's involved. He happens to know the exec in charge, and this guy's a real weasel. He tells Rockford all about the statistics of business phone calls, and Jim tells him he's calling in regards to $400,000. Just then, Nancy Frazier comes out of the apartment, and Jim hangs up on the exec to follow her, because he has a hunch she can lead him to the "deceased" Steve Nelson, and a large recovery fee.

Jim just makes it inside the airport to the ticket window where Ms. Frazier is buying her ticket, so he pulls a scam of his own. He buys a cheap bag, puts a newspaper inside, leaves his jacket and tie inside a pay toilet, and with his sleeves rolled up, tells the cashier that Ms. Frazier left the bag in the cab he drives. He tells her the company he works for will send the bag to her. He is so slick it's amusing. She then sizes him up and decides he can be trusted with her name and destination. Everything was done perfect, but as he's about to leave, he almost forgets to take the bag with him. Back at the bathroom, James Garner's real life brother Jack is playing a small part as the guy who gives Jim change. But as he opens the stall he was just in five minutes ago, he finds that his jacket and tie have been boosted.

Next, Jim is in the office of the insurance exec, Melvyn Moss, and he's trying to get the guy to authorize some expense money and a recovery fee. This guy is so tight his butt squeaks. Jim makes a funny wise crack when the guy says his investigators advised against settling the claim: "Yes, but you're a company a sweethearts so you decided to pay off anyway, huh?" The guy then says that in situations like this they give "every consideration." and Jim quips, "Oh, that's, that's why Mrs. Nelson had to sue to collect." Jim tells Mr. Moss that Mrs. Nelson is living out of the country on exactly half the amount that the insurance company settled for; $200,000. Mr. Moss finally grinds Jim down to $500 expense money and a 5% recovery fee.

Jim takes a plane to Almeria and starts checking all the Hotels and motels for anyone fitting Ms. Frazier's or Mr. Nelson's description. On the way back into town after checking all the motels north of town, he picks up a female hitchhiker, named Marilyn Polanski (Jill Clayburgh). It seems she poses nude for artists, and this particular artist was "a real gropefreak." Jim asks her if she's seen Henry Nelson. She's full of witty retorts, and Jim gives her one of his own about an artist for the "Avocado Growers of America." When he drops her off, she invites him over for a home cooked meal, and he invites her out to a restaurant instead. As he leaves, she tells him to "come early." You can tell she wants some a that Jimmie Rockford stuff.

In town, Jim notices a traffic accident, and sees it as an opportunity to ask the sheriff for a little help. Jimmie shows him his investigator's license, and the sheriff says, "L.A. city limits are back there about 400 miles." to which Jim retorts with excellent poise: "Uh, this license was issued in Sacramento, it's good all over the state." He then frisks Jimmie and asks him where his gun is. Jim tells him it's buried in a coffee pot, and explains that the coffee grinds keep it from rusting in the salt air. Jim shows him the picture of Mr. Nelson, and the sheriff says, "I'll see you around." He also threatens to arrest Jim if he "bothers" any of the citizens. When Jim doesn't move quick enough, the guy says, "Shall we get in the car?" A real jerk of a law man.

At the restaurant on his date, Jim goes into the bathroom, and is met by two hired hands who want him out of Almeria. They say they're with the sheriff's office, and that Jim's been in town too long. They've even reserved a bus ticket for Jim to leave at 11:00 o'clock the same night. "...Tell me Rockford. What's funnier? A ride on a bus, or six months in traction?" Jim wittily takes the tickets and says, with a gentlemanly manner: "Well, I'll take the bus I guess." He exits the bathroom after the thugs, and watches them leave the restaurant. Then, he calls the sheriff's department, leaving a message. Back at the table, Marilyn tells him she thought he had skipped out on the bill. He mentions that the sheriff might have been the one who sent the goons to see him, and Marilyn tells Rockford how popular the sheriff is because he keeps the crime down, and that he could make a lot of trouble for poor Jimbo. At her place, Jimbo kisses her goodnight, and they smile affectionately at each other. Done rather nicely.

As Jim begins backing out of the driveway, the two goons from the restaurant block him off, and kidnap him at gunpoint. At the next bus stop out of town, they leave him after beating him up, telling him it's a "nice, pleasant bus ride." He passes out, and Marilyn shows up in his rental car, after seeing the guys take him away. He tells her he's been "thumped by experts." She tells him she knows where one of the guys works, and it turns out that they are not with the sheriff after all. He starts to get up against her protests, and she says: "Is there anything you won't do for money?" And he replies with one of the most famous lines of the series: "Well, there's two things, I uh, I won't kill for it, and I won't marry for it. Other than that, I'm open to about anything."

The next day, Jimbo pays goon number one a visit at the service station where he works. He beats him up, then bribes him into giving up the man who hired him to get him. He says: "That $200, that right now money?" When the guy gives him the name, he starts to walk away without paying the bribe, saying he'll get it if he was telling the truth. The man gets real angry, saying: "...And I DID tell you the truth!" And Jimmie is now satisfied.

The name he gave him was Carl LeMay (Bruce Kirby), who owns an art gallery. Jim pays him a visit, and accuses him of hiring the thugs. The man doesn't own up to it right away, and threatens to call the sheriff if Jim doesn't leave. Jim counters with a threat to charge him with several more serious charges, and the man decides to "close the gallery a little early." Jim shows him the picture of Nelson, and offers $2,000 if he leads him to him. As he's handing the picture back to Jim, he drops it on the floor, and then goes for a gun in his desk drawer. But Jim is too quick, and stops him. Jim says: "Now maybe you should give me some good reasons why I shouldn't call the sheriff myself." Jim picks up the phone, and LeMay begs him to hang up. He then comes clean. He tells Jim that Nancy Frazier used to be his fiancee, and she asked him to get rid of Jim. Jim says: "...You don't really think, a couple of goons beating me up is gonna scare me outta town do ya?" LeMay, "Yes. 99 men out of a 100, it would." Jimbo: "Never heard those statistics before." As Jim leaves he demonstrates his distaste for guns by saying: "And, Mr. LeMay, you really shouldn't keep things like this around."

At Marilyn's, she's nursing his wounds, and says: "I wish you'd stop making a habit of this." Jim retorts dryly: "It brings us together." LOL. Jim starts thinking out loud about the case, and decides that LeMay knows where Nelson is. Jim takes the picture out again and shows it to Marilyn, hoping she can identify him. She actually does, after scribbling a beard and mustache on the picture. She then explains that he's a painter, and gets $2,000 per painting, and is known as a primitive, which makes Jim laugh. So Marilyn tells Jim where to find Nelson, and he comes calling on Nelson's country cabin.

At the cabin, Nelson confronts Jim from behind with a shotgun, and usher's him inside. Nancy Frazier is inside, and tells Jim he had no right to follow her. Jim says she should have paid him for "services rendered." Jim tries to talk his way out of this jam, asking for 15% of the recovery fee, but it doesn't work; Nelson stuffs a handkerchief in his mouth.

At the office of the Mr. Moss, Jim tries to no avail to get some more expense money to try and find Nelson. Then, he figures it out. Nelson made a deal with the insurance company, and that's why Moss doesn't want Jim's services. Jim tries to get the guy to at least pay him back the $200 of his own money that he spent paying off the garage goon, but he has no such luck. Moss smiles slightly at Jim, with a devious look in his eyes. As he's leaving, he turns around as he says: "Mr. Moss, do you know what you are?" Then he chuckles and says: "Yeah, you know don't you?"

Back at the trailer, Rocky's cooking fresh fish he caught. He mentions the "junk" that Jim ordered, and JIm doesn't know what he's talking about. It turns out that Nelson sent him ten paintings. Jim says: "Rocky, this is an original Nelson. He's a primitive." Rocky says: "Does that mean he swings from tree to tree and eats bananas?" When Jim tells him what they're worth, Rocky says: "He does have sort of a nice sense a color, don't he?" Jim says: "You're damn right he has." I love it when Jimmie gets paid.

I give this episode a 3.0 out of a possible 5. Sorry it was a little late, I know how some of you are depending on these reviews. I'm going to try to do a couple ahead of time so that I've always got one ready. Until next time, Rock on.