The Good

A great show from the 1970s translates very well to DVD and should find itself many new fans.

The Bad

This show aired for 6 years and the best Universal can do is one interview with James Garner?

I remember when KDOC, a local station here in Orange County, CA, informed me that one of my favorite private detective shows, Simon & Simon was not having it’s contract renewed. I wrote KDOC in protest and while they responded, they didn’t say that anything was going to change. Upset, I just figured I would turn the channel to TV Land during that hour. Yet, they replaced it with Kojak, and while I was leery at first, I soon got very excited about Telly Savalas as a no-nonsense detective in New York. Shortly after this, KDOC brought on another private detective show to air at 9am.

I didn’t expect much from The Rockford Files. Granted, I am a big James Garner fan, and I love shows about private investigators simply because their work methods are so different and interesting, but I was still hurt over what happened with Simon & Simon. So imagine my surprise when I realized I was slowly being drawn into this show. Episode after episode, Jim Rockford would get in one situation after another, and he was always one step ahead of people trying to do him harm. Whether he had a woman who was trying to use him so he could be framed, or some Mafioso didn’t like the questions he was asking or the way he was snooping around, Rockford always seemed to have a leg up on his competition.

Now, before you deride this show as being simple or contrived, let me just say that I understand. James Garner always gets his man or woman. You know that he is never going to be killed, and that the people he loves will be spared any harm. However, the acting on this show is really good. It is so solid and so interesting that I cannot help but be excited about The Rockford Files: Season One, as well as the future season releases of this show on DVD. Starting in 1974 and going until 1980, it is not surprising that this well crafted show ran as long as it did.

Features

James Garner On Camera Interview

Now this is a real treat. It would have been really nice to have gotten Garner and some of the other cast members to do a few commentary tracks, but I guess I have to take what I am given, right? This is a pretty standard interview in which Garner discusses playing the main character, what it was like to do the show, how they came up with the ideas and situations for his character and a bevy of other things. Still quick witted and possessing that voice that sounds like a fire crackling on the beach, James Garner is a national treasure and someone we should certainly be celebrating as he enters his twilight years.

Video

Full Frame - 1.33:1. This show was shot in an almost overblown way. The inside shots are rarely ever dark, but the outside shots seem particularly bright. Not that any of this is bad or will detract from the viewing experience, but The Rockford Files: Season One is a real timepiece of our country’s history. We get a nice thumbnail look at the kinds of cars that were being driven, the way people dressed, the hairstyles, etc. What I think is also interesting is how James Garner, while very much in the 1970s, plays his role with a sort of 1950s swagger. This is a man who is at all times trying to keep things simple and easygoing, yet also isn’t afraid to dole out justice if he feels the circumstances warrant it.

Audio

English Dolby Digital 2.0. Subtitled in English and Spanish. I wish James Garner would get into doing “Books On Tape”. There is something about his voice, the way he phrases things and the cadences that he uses, that just makes even the slightest sentences that come out of his mouth sound original. Garner is one of those rare actors that I have seen in many different roles and never thought he was acting. He just plays everything natural so that his reactions are the audience’s reaction, and when he takes command we feel good because we would react (or try to react) in the same way.

Package

To top everything off about how good I think The Rockford Files: Season One is, they packed all three discs into three slim digipack cases. The front cover gives us a nice head shot of James Garner with a metallic blue tint. The letters that say The Rockford Files: Season One are a mix of sunny gold, and reddish orange. They also protrude from the box. The back features a description of the show, a “Bonus Features” listing, some pictures of the show’s main characters and some technical specs. The plastic cases all have the same front cover, and the the back features an index of the episodes on the discs as well as brief description.

Final Word

There is something inherently comfortable about the TV shows from our past. I think it might have something to do with being able to watch shows like The Rockford Files: Season One from a distance. We are no longer in the 1970s. The problems and events in our lives that were so important in that time have passed. Even though today, we find ourselves in a completely new world with joys and troubles (manifesting themselves very similarly to the problems of our past), we have gotten past that initial period we see on these DVD. We are able to see that what didn’t kill us ultimately made us stronger people. It’s also interesting to note, and this is off the subject because The Rockford Files: Season One really didn’t get into things of this nature, but all the shows from all the previous decades are still dealing with essentially the same problems. So we can have all this new technology and make great advances in science, yet we still can’t figure out how to live together?

Buy The Rockford Files: Season One. Rent it. Do whatever you have to do to get caught up in this great, thrilling show from the 1970s. If you ever think your life is too much, see some of the situations that Jim Rockford has to deal with.

The Rockford Files was released .