“The Rockford Files”: Close to my heart

Rockfordfiles Frankly, forget the Emmys. I’m far more worried about the plan to redo “The Rockford Files for NBC — much as I have a deep appreciation for David Shore’s talent as a scribe and showrunner.

But “Rockford” is special. James Garner is special beyond words (and easy on the eyes too). Stephen J. “Badass” Cannell and Roy “I created ‘Maverick,’ ‘The Fugitive’ and ‘Rockford’ so don’t mess with me” Huggins caught lightning in a bottle with the character, the cast, the backdrop. You just can’t recreate it with a rights deal and the best intentions. I was heartened when Shore told me that “Rockford” was one of the shows that made him want to become a writer. It’s a good sign.

Jim Rockford, pound for pound, is TV’s coolest private eye ever. David Chase, who worked on “Rockford,” agrees with me. Once backstage at the Emmys after Chase won a writing award for “The Sopranos” I asked him if he concurred on the Rockford-is-the-coolest question. It was a little reckless, for sure. The mercurial Mr. Chase might’ve gotten mad and made me feel like an idiot. But he smiled big and answered emphatically in the affirmative. (I think he was relieved to change the subject after a string of inane “Sopranos” questions.)

There are too many great things about “Rockford” to begin to list here. (For starters, how about Stuart “Angel” Margolin and Noah “Rocky” Beery Jr.? And don’t forget the Firebird.) But one oddball thing that always comes to mind when I think about “Rockford” are the segs in which Isaac Hayes guest starred as a prison buddy of Jim’s, calling him “Rockfish” the entire time. Hayes’ wardrobe from those segs would probably fetch about $3 million on Ebay right now.

Ah, they don’t make ’em like that anymore. Not even for $200 a day plus expenses.

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