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The Rockford Files: Crime and Punishment

The Rockford Files: Crime and Punishment (Wed.(18), 9-11p.m., CBS) Filmed in Los Angeles by MGB Prods. in association with Universal Television. Executive producers, Chas. Floyd Johnson, Juanita Bartlett, James Garner; supervising producers, Stephen J. Cannell, David Chase; producers, Mark R. Schilz, Mark Horowitz; director, Chase; writer, Chase; director of photography, Steve Yaconelli; production designer, Sandy Getzler; editor, Pam Malouf-Cundy; art director, Ann Harris; sound, Sean Rush; music, Mike Post, Pete Carpenter. Cast: James Garner, Kathryn Harrold, Joe Santos, Bryan Cranston, Vladimir Skomarovsky, Ramy Zada, Richard Kiley, Stuart Margolin, Ilia Volokh, Elena De'Burdo, Grace Una, Johnny Williams, Jack Garner, Heather Ehlers, Lyndsay Riddell, John Christian Graas, Ruben Groove, Lilyan Chauvin, Charlene Simpson, Natalia Lapina, Callan White, Don Gettinger, Russell Young, Stephen Berra, Stacy Greene, Grinnell Morris, Steve Monroe, Scott Denny. This last installment of the six-pack of telefilms revisiting "The Rockford Files" series is perhaps the group's best, as scripter David Chase has crafted an interesting and intricate tale that shifts gears as often as a speeding Firebird in Malibu Canyon. In addition to mining dramatic gold from principals James Garner and Kathryn Harrold, show crackles with nostalgia as Rockford rekindles a long-lost romance begun during the series' web run that by show's end is sure to foster warm and fuzzy feelings from viewers about the beachfront shamus. Classy story tackles the impending demise of Patrick, an obnoxious entertainment industry wannabe (Bryan Cranston) who makes a pact with Russian mobsters and in the process gets his cousin Meg (Harrold) and Rockford caught in the crossfire, literally and figuratively. For series aficionados, telefilm also explains the cause of Harrold's blindness, which adds an emotional lump to the show's collective throat and serves as the explanation for many of the characters' motives during the taut, two-hour program. Outrage felt by Meg's wealthy tenpercenter father Frank, aptly played by Richard Kiley, over Patrick's lifelong m.o. and its emotional toll on Meg, serves as one of show's most galvanizing moments. Adding to viewer's comfort zone is the return of Lt. Becker, played by Joe Santos, who will forever be associated with this role and has clearly made it his own by adjusting the character's righteousness like a thermostat. In this offering, the normally uptight, stickler-for-details Becker is unusually lax with LAPD procedures and permits Rockford to hang at his elbow. He even lets the prescient private eye extract a pound of flesh from a borscht-belching bad guy as payback for an earlier encounter. Chase also deserves high marks for incorporating well-placed pokes at the industry, a tap into the Internet and some flashback footage, to cover all the emotional and visceral bases. D.p. Steve Yaconelli telegraphs show's mood with keen shot selection, including a quickie of a framed tabletop photo of Rockford's father, Rocky (the late Noah Beery), toward show's end that almost by itself captures the emotional underpinnings of the episode. Production designer Sandy Getzler backs up the solid dialogue with equally strong visuals that help advance the story. With Chase's steering of the able cast into avoiding the typical "Rockford Files"-esque jocularity and letting it surface only infrequently primarily through the antics of mainstay Angel Martin (Stuart Margolin) the result is an exposition of a softer than usual side of Rockford, but one that is enjoyable nonetheless. Adam Sandler

The Rockford Files: Crime and Punishment (Wed.(18), 9-11p.m., CBS) Filmed in Los Angeles by MGB Prods. in association with Universal Television. Executive producers, Chas. Floyd Johnson, Juanita Bartlett, James Garner; supervising producers, Stephen J. Cannell, David Chase; producers, Mark R. Schilz, Mark Horowitz; director, Chase; writer, Chase; director of photography, Steve Yaconelli; production designer, Sandy Getzler; editor, Pam Malouf-Cundy; art director, Ann Harris; sound, Sean Rush; music, Mike Post, Pete Carpenter. Cast: James Garner, Kathryn Harrold, Joe Santos, Bryan Cranston, Vladimir Skomarovsky, Ramy Zada, Richard Kiley, Stuart Margolin, Ilia Volokh, Elena De’Burdo, Grace Una, Johnny Williams, Jack Garner, Heather Ehlers, Lyndsay Riddell, John Christian Graas, Ruben Groove, Lilyan Chauvin, Charlene Simpson, Natalia Lapina, Callan White, Don Gettinger, Russell Young, Stephen Berra, Stacy Greene, Grinnell Morris, Steve Monroe, Scott Denny. This last installment of the six-pack of telefilms revisiting “The Rockford Files” series is perhaps the group’s best, as scripter David Chase has crafted an interesting and intricate tale that shifts gears as often as a speeding Firebird in Malibu Canyon. In addition to mining dramatic gold from principals James Garner and Kathryn Harrold, show crackles with nostalgia as Rockford rekindles a long-lost romance begun during the series’ web run that by show’s end is sure to foster warm and fuzzy feelings from viewers about the beachfront shamus. Classy story tackles the impending demise of Patrick, an obnoxious entertainment industry wannabe (Bryan Cranston) who makes a pact with Russian mobsters and in the process gets his cousin Meg (Harrold) and Rockford caught in the crossfire, literally and figuratively. For series aficionados, telefilm also explains the cause of Harrold’s blindness, which adds an emotional lump to the show’s collective throat and serves as the explanation for many of the characters’ motives during the taut, two-hour program. Outrage felt by Meg’s wealthy tenpercenter father Frank, aptly played by Richard Kiley, over Patrick’s lifelong m.o. and its emotional toll on Meg, serves as one of show’s most galvanizing moments. Adding to viewer’s comfort zone is the return of Lt. Becker, played by Joe Santos, who will forever be associated with this role and has clearly made it his own by adjusting the character’s righteousness like a thermostat. In this offering, the normally uptight, stickler-for-details Becker is unusually lax with LAPD procedures and permits Rockford to hang at his elbow. He even lets the prescient private eye extract a pound of flesh from a borscht-belching bad guy as payback for an earlier encounter. Chase also deserves high marks for incorporating well-placed pokes at the industry, a tap into the Internet and some flashback footage, to cover all the emotional and visceral bases. D.p. Steve Yaconelli telegraphs show’s mood with keen shot selection, including a quickie of a framed tabletop photo of Rockford’s father, Rocky (the late Noah Beery), toward show’s end that almost by itself captures the emotional underpinnings of the episode. Production designer Sandy Getzler backs up the solid dialogue with equally strong visuals that help advance the story. With Chase’s steering of the able cast into avoiding the typical “Rockford Files”-esque jocularity and letting it surface only infrequently primarily through the antics of mainstay Angel Martin (Stuart Margolin) the result is an exposition of a softer than usual side of Rockford, but one that is enjoyable nonetheless. Adam Sandler

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The Rockford Files: Crime and Punishment

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