Friday, March 14, 2008

Charlie Harris At Large

Tony Musante, who starred in executive producers Stephen J. Cannell and Roy Huggins' previous TV series TOMA, is the guest star in this episode of THE ROCKFORD FILES, "Charlie Harris at Large." Written by the relatively inexperienced Zekial Marko, who also penned some TOMAs, "Charlie Harris" is an average episode at best, sprinkling several familiar ROCKFORD elements over a lukewarm story soufflé.

Harris (Musante), Rockford's former cellmate at San Quentin, is accused of murdering his rich older wife. On the lam from the cops, he calls Rockford (James Garner) and asks him to track down the woman who can alibi him: Linda Bannister (Diana Muldaur), the wife of a very wealthy man who would be embarrassed publicly if Linda's indiscretions were to be revealed.

"Charlie Harris" feels like a casserole of earlier ROCKFORD episodes. Jim is rousted by the cops and accused of murder, he's awakened in the middle of the night, there's a car chase, he fights with his client over money, he's threatened with death by a rich white man with heavy business connections. Strangely, he isn't beaten up, nor do Rocky (Noah Beery Jr.), Becker (Joe Santos) and Beth Davenport (Gretchen Corbett), Jim's lawyer, play large roles. For that matter, Musante is mostly wasted as well, as Marko doesn't give Charlie much of a character. He doesn't even come across as suave enough to convince as the playboy he's supposed to be.

Directed by Russ Mayberry, "Charlie Harris" is entertaining enough, but strictly second-tier ROCKFORD FILES.

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