Wednesday, April 18, 2012

And now, something interesting someone else wrote about a work that's represented in my "Ask for Babs" mix: The Rockford Files

Rockford's Firebird is an awesome car in an ugly color that makes the ride look like it's that car that's made out of clay from that SNL commercial parody.
This is an illustration of The Rockford Files that I did for a compilation of my blog posts that I was planning on self-publishing last year, but I decided to pull the plug on the book. I didn't realize until after completing all the artwork for the book that you can't put out a book if there isn't anybody out there who's going to buy it. Well, nobody out there is going to buy it, so for now, the book is dead (like that version of Rockford with Dermot Mulroney as Jim and Beau Bridges as Rocky, perhaps the only role in that unseen pilot that was perfectly re-cast).

When she guest-edited an issue of Magnet, Juliana Hatfield had a few things to say about a certain '70s show that she rediscovered on cable, much like how I rediscovered it on DVD after watching it only once or twice on A&E as a kid.

I think Rockford Files is cool for many of the same reasons Hatfield does, and I assume Universal does too. That's why, despite getting sued by understandably disgruntled Rockford Files star James Garner and feuding with him in court for more than a century, the studio brought the show back in the '90s as a series of TV-movies with Garner and the surviving cast and then tried to remake the show on TV with different stars twice (and ended up failing both times--the second attempt couldn't even find anyone to play Rockford). And now, Universal, perhaps spurred by the comedic film version of deceased Rockford Files creator Stephen J. Cannell's 21 Jump Street, announced the other day that it plans to attempt to reopen The Rockford Files again, but this time as a feature film with Vince Vaughn as star and producer.

Vince Vaughn? Yeah, I can see him as Rockford. Fast-talking con men are Vaughn's forte, and the taco breakfast-craving P.I. could be a fast-talking con man when he needed to be, like in the "Jimmy Joe Meeker" episodes.

But Rockfish got his ass whupped a lot, and he had knuckles made out of Kleenex. If the screenplay retains Rockfish's discomfort with fighting, I'm going to have a helluva hard time buying that Vaughn--who's taller than Garner and whose signature characters are in-your-face and physically intimidating grifter types (the kiss he plants on the shocked priest played by Henry Gibson in Wedding Crashers always comes to mind)--can be overpowered in a fight.

I have no idea who JT Leroy is, but 'I'm Fucking JT Leroy' would make for a fun musical number on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Still, at least it's not Dermot Mulroney.

And now, Hatfield nails exactly why everyone from Mulroney to Vaughn wants to be Rockford:
When I hooked up my analog-to-digital TV converter box a few months ago, I found that I was able to receive a few channels that my rabbit ears had not ever accessed. One of these channels is RTV (the Retro Television Network), which airs The Rockford Files every weeknight at 10. I remember watching it some as a child in the 1970s, but I am enjoying it much more as an adult. (It's not really a show for kids; it moves kind of slowly, and the main characters are not very flashy.) My newfound love for The Rockford Files (and for RTV in general) is partly nostalgia (for my childhood, for the '70s), but part of it is the fact that Jim Rockford, the self-employed private detective ("$200 a day, plus expenses"), is such a great creation. I love that he lives in a run-down trailer in the parking lot of a restaurant by the ocean in Malibu. (How is it even possible that a person can live in a trailer in a parking lot in Malibu? Today, with real estate the way it is, that would not be believable. Today, the likes of Jim Rockford--anyone who is anything other than super-rich--would not be able to afford to live anywhere near Malibu, dilapidated trailer or not.) I love the chummy, sweet relationship Rockford has with his dad, whom he calls "Rocky," as everyone else does. I love that he keeps his gun in the cookie jar and wears polyester wash-and-wear slacks that do not flatter his chubby bum. (This was before people worked out, before TV stars had to be all fit and muscly and healthy and botoxed and facelifted and perfect and inaccessible and unrealistic and cookie-cutter boring.) Rockford smokes and eats dollar tacos and drives without a seatbelt. He's a straight shooter, taking everything as it comes. He's always getting jumped by bad guys, but he never really gets angry; mostly he sighs a lot, grumbles a bit and gets on with it. I like him.

Jim doesn't look too thrilled about some TV show from the future that his 1976 TV set is somehow able to broadcast. The show is called Keeping Up with the Kardashians.


  1. That illustration does not do RF justice. Nice try though. Some interesting details in there though.

    1. That illustration does not do RF justice.

      Uh, I think James Garner's daughter would disagree.