Repost from March 27, 2008 (RIP James Garner)
Some time after we bought out HDTV I discovered RTN, the Pittsburgh Retro channel. There have been a lot of discoveries that I’ve made. For instance, I had no idea that Michael Douglas was in Streets of San Francisco. Also Magnum P.I. has its share of bad acting. If I didn’t have to work, I think that I would like to watch Mission Impossible. My main RTN viewing is The Rockford Files. I have vague memories of watching this show as a child, and at some later stage I must have seen a fair number of reruns because all the characters are pleasantly familiar. I had, however, forgotten how much Jim Rockford smoked.
My kids can’t figure out my interest in the show. This works to my advantage for relaxing in the evening because they have no interest in staying up late to watch it with me. Part of my fascination is that Jim is such an enjoyable character. He’s kind of grumpy, kind of tough, kind of suave, but, in classic Greek fashion, none of these are in excess. For example, while Jim can take and give a punch like nobody else (on TV), he isn’t going to play the martyr for his job; he’s quick to throw the hands up and cough up the information when someone pulls a gun on him.
But last night lying in bed contemplating the writings of (Second) Isaiah in my Anchor Bible volume I had an epiphany about The Rockford Files: it isn’t pleasant memories of watching this show, but that this show actually reminds me of my childhood. The police lieutenant’s suit looks just like the suits men wore to church. The plaid jackets and brown pants remind me of dad at work.
Except for the smoking and the gold necklaces, Jim Rockford is my new hero, displacing Sir Richard Burton. Jim seems easier to emulate. I’ll never learn 20 odd languages, and in the current state of the world I have no interest in sneaking myself into Mecca. But fishtailing a Pontiac Firebird in a vacant lot, or pretending to be an insurance adjuster, that I can dream of.