From: "RG Naylor"
Date: Sat, 23 Oct 1999 20:26:28 -0700

Here we are, Rockford fans. I know it's been a while since our last review, but I'm now back to jog your memories once again. I think that from now on, I will only commit to one episode per month. I may do more than that, but that's all I'm committing to.

I'm saddened to say that the "Summer of Rockford" is now officially over, but we now have before us the "Autumn of Rockford." It's time to dissect another Rockford episode. I think you're gonna like this one. It's called "In Pursuit of Carol Thorne," starring Lynette Mettey as Carol Thorne, and Robert Symonds as Miles Keeley. It first aired November 8, 1974. This is the first con game episode, although Jim doesn't initiate the con, rather he is the unwitting pawn to one. It's entertaining, so sit back and enjoy the humor.

The show begins at some women's prison called, "California Institute." A blonde woman exits the prison, obviously just released. As she climbs into the bus to leave, we see a shifty looking man in a brown Dodge beginning to follow her. Cutting back to the inside of the bus, Jimmy is seated a couple of rows back from her, wearing hat and glasses. As the woman gets off the bus, so does Jim, and the man in the Dodge waits across the street. The woman notices a beauty salon, and crosses the street to check it out. So Jim and the other guy use this opportunity to make phone calls at nearby payphones. From the phone conversation, the other man is supposed to be on the lookout for Rockford, and tells whomever is on the phone he hasn't seen him. They were expecting him to follow the bus. Jim calls Rocky, who's at a payphone as well, and is complaining about the trouble he went through to keep this certain payphone clear. Jim cuts to the chase, and gives Rocky his location so that Rocky can arrive at the payphone, and wait for Jim to call him from Jim's new location.The blonde parolee leaves the salon, and goes to a rental car dealership, where she picks out a Chevy Nova. Those of you who are paying close attention will notice that she takes one look at a gold Firebird just like Jimbo's, and rejects it. Jim calls Rocky at the payphone he was just at, and we see a phony warning note on the glass of that payphone, put there by Jim to keep people from using it. Here he gives Rocky the final location, and waits for Rocky to arrive. The timing is just about right. Jim yanks Rocky out of his car, leaving him stranded, and follows Miss Blondie down the road, waving to the Dodge guy as he goes. The Dodge tries to give chase, but soon finds out two of his tires are completely flat, courtesy of Jimmy boy.

Inside one of those seventies restaurants with the booths, Jimmy tries a scam on Miss Blondie to get in with her. He pretends to have lost his wallet in that booth, and when she isn't looking he slips it under the table for her to find. When he tells her that his wallet is imitation alligator, he has to cover for that slip up by claiming to be a conservationist. He then lets it casually slip out that he bets on horses. After she "finds" his wallet, the conversation turns to betting on the ponies, and what Jimbo does for a living: "I'm a sports, uh investment manager specializing in off track arrangements." She retorts: "A bookie." Jimbo: "I, uh, freelance a little." with a smile that's ear to ear. She tells him she's from Detroit, recovering from a divorce--B.S. She talks him into taking on some action, but he calls Rocky instead of really placing a bet. The conversation is classic. Rocky says: "You been drinkin'? Stay off the freeways, huh?" LOL.

Now we're at Jim's motel room. A couple of guys knock on the door, and the blond one claims their with the police, but he flips that wallet open and closed so quickly, you have to be suspicious. The blond "cop" asks to come in, that he doesn't like standing in the hall, and Jimbo says: "Then you shouldn't a joined the force." They bring up Jim's record, and push comes to shove, Jim decides it would be better if he let them in. Mr. Blond asks about Carol Thorne, the gal Jim's been investigating. Jim decides to play dumb when they tell him she's an ex con. They warn him to stay away from Carol Thorne. As they're leaving, Jim asks to see the badge again, pretty certain these guys are not with the police: "Say, could I see that badge again?...I didn't get too good a look at it, it looked like one of those things they hand out a Disneyland." Mr. Blond refuses.

The next scene is his clients' cozy little white house with the picket fence. His clients are an elderly couple who have hired Jim to try and find their son, Cliff Hoad. Apparently, Mrs. Hoad has put off an operation in hopes of finding their son first. The Hoads persuade Jim to tell Carol about the visit with the "police," thinking that that would lead them straight to Cliff. As soon as Rockford leaves, the "Hoads" revert back to a couple of savvy con artists, who are using Jim as a mark to find Cliff Hoad. As Miles leaves, to "keep tabs" on Jim, he tells Dixie that there's some "cold beer in the ice box." Jim and Carol are now on a date at a favorite restaurant of Jimmy's. The waiter knows Jim, and gives him a tip on a horse. Carol is looking pretty fine. Jim shows her that the wine list he was given is actually the odds for the tracks across the country. She has more picks for him, and he has dire predictions for her bets. He makes a crack about the food: "You don't order in here, you eat the corned beef hash. Ya eat anything else in here, eight to five that you die." Then Carol makes mention of her "divorce", and Jim decides to lay the cards on the table about the visit by the "cops." He tells her he knows she just got out of the joint, and tells her they told him to stay away from her. Jim makes a statement that reflects the attitude of the whole series: "...As far as I'm concerned, if you haven't been in the joint, you're not completely trustworthy." They end up bonding closer as a result of this revelation.

Early the next morning, Jim is waiting outside Carol's motel room as she quickly scats out of town in a white outfit, with Jim in tow. Later on in the day, as Jim is sleeping in his motel room, Carol knocks on his door, aware that he is following her, and pointing a gun at him. She says: "In," and he says, "Oh, we're not aloud to have girls in our room." Ha ha. She wants to know who he is, and why he's following her, and he retorts, with poise, that he's an "agent of the P.R.W." That's the "Parole Rehabilitation Watch." She doesn't believe his shuck and jive, and demands his wallet. It's got his real I.D., and she now knows he's a private investigator. He tells her, with some prodding, that he's working for Cliff Hoad's parents. She asks for a description of Mr. Hoad, and deduces that he's a con man named Miles Keeley, not Cliff's father. It turns out that Cliff, Miles and some others hit a Marine Corps payroll, and now they're using Jimbo to find Cliff because Cliff ended up with the money. Now Jimmy needs a little convincing, so she tells him to verify it through 411, and he does. Meanwhile, she's still got the gun on him. She offers to cut Jim in for 20% of the recovery fee for the money, and he agrees, reaching his hand out as if to shake hers, and snatching the gun out of her hand. He ties her up, and tells her to open her mouth so he can stick a handkerchief in it, and she refuses, so he stomps her foot, and then stuffs it in her open mouth.=20 While Jimmy's on his way over to her motel room to get her stuff, Miles Keeley and Mr. Blond are rifling through her belongings looking for clues to Hoad's whereabouts. They hear Jim coming, and are waiting for him when he enters. They demand to know where she is, and Jimmy refuses to tell them. They search him, and find his motel key. A banter goes back and forth between Jim's and Miles' con man egos, and Jim denies that Carol is at his motel room. They decide to take Jim with them, threatening his life if he gets out of hand. As they're leaving the motel room along the corridor, two conventioneers are ahead of them, and Jim sidles of to them and attempts to blow Keeley and Mr. Blond's cover, and escape their grasp down the stairs. Keeley sees Jim start to make a break for it, so he says to Jim: "We better not, Jim. We've gotta pick up Margaret and the girls." and Jim says, as he shoves past the two innocent businessmen: "Oh, Margaret still has the flu and the girls can stay with your sister." This gives Jim enough time to exit the premises and pick up Carol at his motel room. They catch up while Carol's getting into the car, and Jim manages to ditch them. They stop somewhere, and Carol cuts Jim's percentage of the recovery fee in half. Jim says: "For ten percent, I don't risk my neck, I just stand around--look tough." and Carol retorts: "Well I hope that'll have a calming effect on your driving."

Inside the local cop shop, Keeley is scamming the sheriff into putting an APB out for Rockford's car, claiming he is Jim Rockford, and that a couple stole his Firebird. He fakes an illness that requires medicine that's supposedly in the glove box of Jimbo's car, so that they are forced to take Keeley and Mr. Blond with them when they spot Jimbo's car.

A little later on, somewhere outside of town, Jimbo's being pulled over by a sheriff's deputy. The sheriff holds them on the hood at gunpoint till the Sheriff can arrive. The sheriff arrives momentarily, and Keeley makes like Jim is his son, thereby explaining the mixup. Mr. Blond pretends to get the meds out of the glove box, and Jim goes along with the scam, no doubt impressed with this guy's tenacity and gumption. In any event, the sheriff is not fooled, but he's got other things to do, so he leaves them with the warning: "Stay out of my county." As the cops round the bend, Jim tries to grab for the gun in the car, but Mr. Blond is way ahead of him. Now Carol goes turncoat on Jim, claiming he forced her to bring him to Cliff Hoad at gunpoint. They decide they'll have to cut Jim in, and opt to have it taken out of Cliff's end.

So they all hop into Jim's Firebird, and Mr. Blond has his gun pointed intently at Jim. Jim and Carol pressure the two of them to throw the guns out of the car. Jim asks why Keeley hasn't thrown his gun out, and Carol remarks that he doesn't have one because he's "afraid" of them.

At Cliff Hoad's house, the four of them have evidently broken in and are waiting for him to return. When he does, he's understandably startled by their presence. Keeley and Hoad have an exchange where Keeley accuses him of ripping them off, but he doesn't hold it against Hoad. Hoad wants to know who Jim is, and Jim makes up a story about being the inside man. Hoad doesn't believe this, and doesn't want to cut him in, especially since it's coming out of his share. So Keeley says: "Sorry, Jim, I guess you're out." Jim replies: "What ever happened to honor among thieves?" Jim tries to weaken the other players hands by telling Hoad that the statute of limitations had run out on the crime, and he can turn the money in himself, and collect the reward. Keeley tries to raise reasonable doubt in Cliff's mind, telling him the statute runs out in seven years, not three. Jim tells him to call a lawyer. Cliff gets angry, and tells everyone to get out, and Mr. Blond knocks him over the back of the head, while Keeley pulls out his gat. Jim says: "Oh, now, we were supposed to get rid of our guns." Keeley retorts, with a crooked smile, a trainload of cynicism, and a smidgen of sheepishness: "I cheat." Can you say laughter?

So they tie Jim and Cliff up, and search the house. Jim asks Cliff if they'll find the money, and he says "no". He tries to convince Cliff to cooperate with these guys.

Apparently, Cliff took Jim's advice, and took them out to a valley where Cliff had hid the loot. Cliff starts getting hysterical, because he hadn't been back to the place in three years, and it now appears that a reservoir has taken the place of the valley and right over his hiding place. So they all appear to give up, and go their separate ways. Back at Cliff's pad, maybe a day or two later, Jim pulls up in Cliff's classic Chevy stationwagon. Cliff complains that the seats have been all cut up by the Feds, when they were retrieving the money that Cliff and Jimbo turned in. Jim gives him a check for $5,000, and tells him they didn't get the %10 they were supposed to, they got 1%. Jim asks Cliff if he wants to see a receipt to prove that what Jim is telling him is true, but Cliff trusts Jimbo:"...Well I trust you--you're my friend." Jim leaves saying: "See ya Cliff. And uh, stay out of trouble, will ya?" as he raises his eyebrows and leaves.

When he returns to his trailer, he opens the door to find Carol Thorne, holding a gun on him, asking him how much he got. Jim denies getting anything from any Feds. He asks her to put the gun away, and she does. She says: "You're not much of a guy." and he says: "The feeling's mutual." She decides to bait him, accusing him of welshing on his bets, which brought a strong denial from Jimbo: "I never welshed on a bet. That's different." She got him, hook, line and sinker. "Then pay me $3,000." It turns out that she won three of the bets she had him "place" while he was being a bookie. He checked the math on it, and she was right. He dutifully pays her. He says: "You're really hard on a man's ego." to which she replied: "Take me to dinner and I'll fix that." He says: "You're on." and then that sentimental music plays, signaling the end to another episode. Be sure to tune in next time when we review episode 10, The Dexter Crisis. Until then, Rockford on!