Season One of THE ROCKFORD FILES came to a close with "Roundabout," which was the next-to-last episode to film. Three days of shooting in Las Vegas enliven the story a bit, as does some good humor, some of it quite clever.
An insurance company hires Rockford (James Garner) to find a young woman named Nancy Wade (Jesse Welles), whose late mother left her a $10,000 inheritance. Jim pursues her to Vegas, where thugs working for mobster Robertson (Ron Rifkin) knock him out and steal the check. Nancy is a lounge singer locked into an iron-clad contract with Robertson, whose front is a record company, and he keeps her captive to ensure she doesn't escape.
Since Rockford left his Firebird in L.A., the episode's big car chase finds him behind the wheel of Nancy's green Volkswagen, using its small size to his advantage in shaking the heavies' bigass Cadillac. An even wittier chase, directed by Lou Antonio as a spin on the show's usual tire-screeching chases, has Rockford and Robertson huffing and puffing their way on foot from the top all the way to the bottom of Hoover Dam.
Writer Mitchell Lindeman, not a ROCKFORD regular, must have called in co-writer Edward J. Lakso for a polish, as the series' trademark character-based humor raises its head concerning Rockford's lunkheaded choice of "Geronimo" as a codeword to summon the cops. Even better is a clever in-joke in which Jim warns Nancy not to sign a five-year contract with annual renewal options—which is likely the deal Garner had with Warner Brothers in the 1950s that led to his groundbreaking lawsuit against the studio (which he won, getting him out of MAVERICK).