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The Rockford Files - Season One

4.5 out of 5 stars 296 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Dec 06, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The world's most unlikely detective comes to DVD for the first time ever in all 23 thrilling Season One episodes of The Rockford Files. Emmy winner James Garner stars as the offbeat Jim Rockford, an ex-con-turned-private-investigator who would rather fish than fight, but whose instinct on closed cases is more golden than his classic Pontiac Firebird. From his mobile home in Malibu, this wisecracking private eye takes on the cases of the lost and the dispossessed, chasing down seemingly long-dead clues in the sun-baked streets and seamy alleys of Los Angeles. Including an interview with James Garner himself, this phenomenal DVD set contains 23 TV hours of classic Rockford action and includes such stellar guest stars as Lindsay Wagner, James Woods, Abe Vigoda, Suzanne Somers and Ned Beatty. The Rockford Files are now open and declassified for mystery fans everywhere!

From the premiere of its first hour-long episode on September 13, 1974, The Rockford Files was a critical and commercial success that gained a large and loyal following. Like other private-eye shows of the 1970s (such as Columbo and David Janssen's Harry O), the series offered smart mystery plots in the hardboiled-sleuth traditions of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Rex Stout, given a sunlit spin in contemporary California. But ex-convict turned private investigator Jim Rockford (who served time for a crime he didn't commit) was anything but a conventional gumshoe; for one thing, he rarely carried a gun, and resorted to violence only when he'd exhausted his options. As played to perfection by James Garner (in what would become his signature role, surpassing his previous success as Maverick), Rockford preferred wisecracks over violence, and his going rate ("$200 a day, plus expenses") was typically applied to cold cases, missing persons, and family disputes, frequently leading to entanglements with organized crime and L.A.P.D. Sergeant Dennis Becker (Joe Santos), whose friendship with Rockford lent the series one of its pivotal character relationships. As Rockford pursued the truth from his rusty trailer-home on the Pacific Coast Highway, his inherent warmth and compassionate sleuthing were further enhanced by engaging interplay with his retired ex-trucker father "Rocky" (Noah Beery, Jr.), his lawyer and on-and-off girlfriend Beth Davenport (Gretchen Corbett), and his weasely former cell-mate "Angel" Martin (Stuart Margolin), a trio of supporting players as memorably appealing as any in '70s television. As a loose-knit ensemble, they followed Garner's capable lead with intelligent dialogue (the best of it written by series cocreator Stephen J. Cannell and frequent contributor Juanita Bartlett) and occasionally burst of stunt-laden action, typically involving Rockford's expert driving of a versatile Pontiac Firebird. (As Garner fondly recalls in the disc 1 bonus interview, "That car could do anything.")

With a catchy Mike Post theme song, The Rockford Files began each week with a new message on Rockford's telephone answering machine, usually a humorous indication that Rockford's life was always in some kind of financial disarray. Garner played this angle to the hilt, portraying Rockford as a nice guy who knew all the scams and wasn't above using them if it aided his case. His portrayal, and the show's excellent writing, attracted a wide variety of new and established guest stars, and these 23 episodes (24 if you count the two-part "This Case Is Closed," originally broadcast as one 90-minute episode) feature appearances by Joseph Cotten, James Woods, Sharon Gless, Lindsay Wagner, James Cromwell, Suzanne Somers, Ned Beatty, and others, along with lesser-known but familiar TV regulars like Sian Barbara Allen and Mills Watson, all adding flavor to a series that was routinely hailed by mystery writers as one of the best private-eye shows in TV history. Speaking of mysteries, one can only wonder why Universal failed to include the series' 90-minute pilot (originally aired in March 1974), and while this reviewer experienced no playback problems with these three double-sided DVDs (four episodes per side), many consumers have reported DVD freeze-ups likely resulting from lower-quality players less capable of handling high-compression DVDs. These caveats aside, season 1 of The Rockford Files is a bona fide treat, setting the tone for even better episodes that followed in subsequent seasons. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

Disc 1:
  • James Garner On-Camera Interview

  • Product Details

    • Actors: James Garner
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 3
    • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: December 6, 2005
    • Run Time: 2314 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (296 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B000BGR1B4
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,402 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "The Rockford Files - Season One" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: DVD
    Typical Universal treatment of a hot property: no effort made in any kind of stylish packaging, extras, star treatment, for this beloved '70s TV series.

    Then there's the dreaded double-faced discs. I found this set actually functioned, unlike so much recent Universal product. Well, almost... if you're watching individual episodes, you can't skip the closing credits to get back to the episode list. The disc will freeze up, and the only way you can continue viewing is to shut off your DVD player, restart it, and sit through all that opening crap again.

    I swear, I HATE that Universal logo to pieces. I shut the sound off so I don't have to hear those self-congratulatory horns.

    Like all modern Universal product, this has great content and crap treatment. But at least it's functional, aside from the menu-freeze problem.

    I just wish Anchor Bay or someone else who cares had put this out. Just imagine how packed with bonus materials it would be, and how much nicer the packaging would be...
    1 Comment 107 of 112 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    The Rockford Files in my opinion was the best TV series ever, and without a doubt was definitely the best TV detective series.
    From his trailer office to his home made business card printer, Rockford was truly unconventional. That is what set him apart from his other 70's detective peers. The best part about Rockford was that he was human. He was frequently wrong in his assumptions, he got beat up a lot, and unlike other macho types, he didn't always get "the girl." Angel played by Stuart Margolin added hilarity to the show, and Rockford's dad, played by Noah Beery, gave it a nice family feeling as well. Overall, this was simply an outstanding show, and compared to some of the shows from the 1970's that are already out on DVD, it really makes no sense that this show is not yet out on DVD, and I look forward to the day when The Rockford Files is finally out in DVD format in all 6 of its wonderful seasons.
    4 Comments 179 of 194 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    James Garner's laconic charm as Jim Rockford kept us coming back for more each week and finally won him an Emmy in 1977. Garner, who would have been a star in any era, and sometimes seemed as if he would have fit more into films of the 1940's, finally found the perfect role on television as Jim Rockford, an ex-con given a full pardon when it was discovered he was innocent after all. Working as a P.I. and parking his gold Firebird in front of his trailor on the L.A. beach, Rockford could never quite shake the ex-con tag, nor could he shake his old cellmate, Evelyn "Angel" Martin.

    Stuart Margolin was simply fantastic as the scheming Angel, always with an angle, and always certain to get Rockford into trouble when it backfired. Like Rockford, you just couldn't stay mad at Angel, no matter what con had blown up in his face or how much trouble he would get our favorite TV detective in from time to time. Rockford and Angel remained friends because of that unspoken bond all ex-cons have, and because deep down, Angel was a stand-up guy, though you couldn't always tell it from looking at the surface.

    Except for the 90 minute pilot episode, "Backlash of the Hunter," starring Lindsay Wagner as Sarah Butler, who would resurface in another episode from the first season, "Aura Lee, Farewell," Noah Beery Jr. portrayed Rockford's lovable dad, Rocky. Rocky was a retired trucker who loved to fish, and passed on the hobby to Jim. It was the little moments like fishing that were really the heart and soul of this show when you stop to think about it. There were always a few slice-of-life moments mingled in with the great car chases, glorious con games, and other assorted mischief, as Rockford tried to solve a closed case and stay out of jail at the same time.
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    Comment 105 of 114 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: VHS Tape
    This episode of "The Rockford Files" was originally cast as the prime time "pilot" for the series. Although some of the details had yet to be worked out, it was (and still is) truly remarkable TV. This is from what I call the "best of TV" and James Garner is an actor without peer. The storyline was way ahead of anything else in its day, and Garner was the only one who could pull it off. Couple this with a talented (and very young) Lindsay Wagner and you have a recipe for success. Definately worth buying/watching as are the rest of the series tapes. It's easy to see why Garner and Co. had such a hot commodity in the '70s with this one.
    Comment 28 of 29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    Like many others here, I was looking forward to finally seeing what I think is arguably the best detective show ever made, The Rockford Files, appear on DVD. Well, now that it's here and I've purchased it, I'm still looking forward to seeing it, or at least parts of it.

    My first set of discs had some minor freezing on disc one, no problems on disc two, but serious issues with disc 3, with several episodes ("Claire", "Just By Accident" and "Roundabout") being unplayable. A second set following a return exhibited exactly the same problems in exactly the same places, so now I am going to have to return that as well. My DVD player is a newish Panasonic, not a cheapy, and in any event my backup player, a cheap Citizen that is a few years old, exhibited the same problem. Given the comments of others having similar problems, I can only assume there is a bad batch of discs in the pipeline. This is totally unacceptable for Universal and I can only imagine how James Garner -- who had his own little war with Universal about the series after it ended -- must feel about their handling of it.

    For what I could actually watch, the content is excellent. Prints are sharp, colors are good, and the sound is generally acceptable for a series of that era. The shows themselves are priceless. I particularly liked "Aura Lee, Farewell", with the lovely Lindsay Wagner guesting. But the quality problems with the discs really soured me on this set. Universal must do something about the quality of their DVDs, and hopefully the folks at Amazon and other large retailers who will have to deal with unhappy customers will be able to exert some influence to get them to clean up their act.
    1 Comment 27 of 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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