• What the hell kind of a detective is this? The guy's not strong jawed, self-righteous and brave, and he seldom even carries a gun, much less shoots anyone. Since he consistently gets stiffed by his clients, he has to live hand to mouth in a cheesy trailer in a parking lot. (The trailer, incidently, is only crummy on the outside. Inside, it's comfortable, well furnished and clean, much like Rockford's character.)

    Even the cops in this excellent series are presented as human, not as cardboard heroes. They've got the same pecking order problems at work that most of us have. In fact, ALL of the characters in this series seem to have some depth.

    One of the most amazing things about the show's plots is that they hardly ever had to be resolved by gunfire because the writers were too lazy to come up with anything else.

    Jim Garner's charm was a big part of the show's success, but it was the superb writing that made "The Rockford Files" so consistently entertaining. Many of the stories would have made first rate movies, particularly some of the two parters.

    I'll never forget Angel begging Rockford for help after getting himself thoroughly enmeshed with the mob through his own stupidity and greed. Rockford chews him out, explains exactly why he ought to let him go right down the drain, and challenges him to come up with one good reason he should help him.

    "Because you're my friend," Angel says, leaving Rockford without a comeback.

    A friend like that, I could use.