Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Television: Jim Rockford's Answering Machine

Friday night, NBC television network, 9pm. You hear a recorded voice coming out of one of them newfangled answering machines (a novelty in 1974, when The Rockford Files debuted)..."This is Jim Rockford, at the tone leave your name and message, I'll get back to you".

Considered one of the greatest television series of all time, Rockford was also one of the best written mystery/crimes shows in tv history. Sadly, after it's first season (1974/75) where it achieved the position of #12 in the ratings, it began a decline, losing position every following season until its end in 1979. Friday night in general was never a good slot for intelligent shows, and usually spelled their death (NBC did it to Star Trek) so it's a wonder the James Garner series lasted at long as it did. It was finally done in more by Garner's own health problems (brought on by doing his own stunts) than anything else, though the network claimed the series was losing money and cost too much to produce, which may or may not have been true, but probably signaled that it wouldn't have lasted much longer on the air anyway.

James Garner discusses the end of "The Rockford Files"

Too bad, because it was so well written, acted, and filmed, and provided enjoyable mysteries and escapist entertainment. You can get the show on DVD or watch it on Netflix, but in the meantime, back to the show's intro, which basically required a new answering machine gag each week just before the theme music kicked in...

Rockford Files - Intro from Bret Leduc on Vimeo.

Some of the weekly answering machine jokes can be heard in the video below...

Or, you can read all six seasons worth here: List of Jim Rockford's answering machine gags

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