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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Behind the Scenes Isn't So Much Fun

In 2002, The Rockford Files was ranked #39 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

Universal began syndicating the show in 1979 and aggressively marketed it to local stations well into the early and middle 1980s.

This accounts for its ever-presence on afternoon and late-night schedules in those days.

 From those showings, Rockford developed a following with younger viewers,

with the momentum continuing throughout the 1990s and 2000s (decade) on cable.

NBC and Universal claimed the show was generating a deficit of several million dollars,

a staggering amount for a nighttime show then,

although Garner and his production team Cherokee Productions claimed the show turned a profit.

Garner told a story to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show

that the studio once paid a carpenter $700 to build a shipping crate for a shoot-out on a boat dock, though there were shipping crates on the dock.

The script often called for Garner to damage his car, so the car could be sold, repaired, and repurchased for each episode.

The dispute was settled out of court in Garner's favor,

but the conflict meant that the Rockford character would not re-emerge until 1994.

Rockford had a close relationship with his attorney, the idealistic, tenacious Elizabeth "Beth" Davenport (Gretchen Corbett).

 It is implied that the two become romantically involved for a time.

After Corbett was dropped from the show following the fourth season

(allegedly due to contract disputes between Universal, which owned her contract, and Cherokee Productions, Garner's company),

the show was never quite the same for me.


  1. Hi Roland .. I've seen a few of the Rockford files and enjoyed their story lines ... but it's an interesting story in the ups and downs of production and those behind the scenes aspects ... cheers Hilary

  2. Dig this show, knew nothing about the goings on in the behind the scenes.

  3. It's always interesting to find out what happens behind the scenes and how it effects the show. Hmm, there's a writing lesson there...

  4. Hilary:
    Universal stole prime years from the viewers with their antics. :-(

    Behind the scenes is what makes or breaks our favorite shows without our even knowing it!

    Yes, there certainly is. :-) Darn my N key mostly won't work these days. Makes typing really frustrating!!

  5. OKAY, this one is mine. Rockford Files is #1 in my lineup. Then and now. In fact. I have wanted to marry James Garner all my life. Yes, he was way too old for me and is currently dead, but I still think of him as mine. P.S. He was ruggedly cute. :)

    I'm so with you on what you said about the myth of Roots, but there being no myth to slavery. Sometimes it's difficult living in the rural area that I live in, where there is still racism. Makes me cross and mean. :)

  6. Never watched much of this show, it might have been during my anti-tv years when I never watched any sitcoms or regular shows except SNL.

  7. Teresa:
    Yea! Another Rockford Files fan! I always loved James Garner, too. It was his sense of humor I think. :-)

    Sadly, racism is alive and unwell down here as well. But down here it wears different colored faces, too. :-(

    Anti-TV? Say it isn't so! Nowadays, I could understand that! :-)

  8. I never watched the Rockford Files, but I always liked James Garner. A very natural actor and apparently a decent guy in real life. I know he flew to Washington D.C. to take part in the famous Martin Luther King civil rights rally there (Was that '63? 64?)

  9. $700 for a crate? Was the studio run by the government?
    I thought it was an awesome show.