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.
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.