Saturday, April 19, 2008

Just An Accident

Oddly, THE ROCKFORD FILES followed up "The Four Pound Brick" with an episode with an identical premise. Just as in the previous week's episode, "Just an Accident" has a widowed mother (Louise Hartman, played by James Garner's former NICHOLS co-star Neva Patterson) hiring Jim Rockford (Garner) when she believes the car accident that caused her son's death may have been murder. This time, the son, Billy Joe (Joey Aresco), is a demolition derby driver involved in insurance fraud who is killed when he threatens to quit the gang.

While the plot by ROCKFORD newcomers Charles Sailor and Eric Kaldor, whose best known work may be the nutty TV-movie THE HOSTAGE HEART, about terrorists who take over a hospital while a millionaire is undergoing heart surgery, may be no great shakes, they (or script polishers Juanita Bartlett and/or Stephen J. Cannell) do provide some terrific individual scenes, such as Rockford's run-in with a disagreeable civil servant (Fritzi Burr, who was such a good foil for Garner that she came back several times to play similar characters), some extraneous interplay with a woman who wants to use Rockford's pay phone to place a bet on a horse, and a bit where he fast-talks a buddy (Gordon Jump) at a used car lot into providing a loaner while his Firebird is in the shop. Yep, fans of the tan Pontiac may sob when it's run off a cliff, but Jump promises to put it back together good as new.

E.J. Peaker (LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE) appears as Jeannie Szymczyk, whose name provides Rockford with a vital clue, but the big mystery is what the character's purpose is. It appears as though her relationship with Billy Joe is a plot point, but what it may be, I can't guess.

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