I'm not sure I saw the very first episode of The Rockford Files when it premiered on Friday, 13 September 1974, at 9:00 p.m. I probably did. In 1974, we were living in Kent (214 Willow Street--a nice house then, a not-so-nice place now, but that's another story); Steve was not yet two years old, so we were spending lots of Friday nights at home.
We were also pretty much broke. Although I was teaching in Aurora (at the old middle school--Harmon was in the future), teachers' salaries were not all that great (I just checked: my salary that year was $13,138.27), and both Joyce and I were still finishing our doctorates at KSU--paying tuition, etc. She was a grad assistant, but that brought in only a few thousand. So we spent lots of Friday nights at home, our big excitement--walking down to the end of the block to Little Caesar's where we could get a small pizza (four pieces) for $2.
So the chances are very good we saw the first Rockford. Chances are we were eating Little Caesar's. Steve went to bed at 8 in those days (mean parents), though Joyce or I (most often, Joyce) would read to him until he fell asleep.
We both liked James Garner from his days on Maverick, but there was something about this new show that just got me. The writing was great, for one thing--David Chase was involved--and Stephen J. Cannell and Juanita Bartlett. The acting was wonderful. Garner, of course, and Noah Beery, Jr., who played his father, Rocky. Joe Santos was his friend Sgt. Dennis Becker, Gretchen Corbett was his lawyer, Beth Davenport.
But the greatest of all--one of the great characters in TV history, I think--was Stuart Margolin, who played Angel Martin, Rockford's prison buddy (Rockford, innocent, had served five years in Quentin--then was pardoned). Angel, a two-bit conman, was weak--would betray you for a cup of coffee--but Rockford loved him and couldn't stay angry with him for long.
Well, we watched Rockford till the show went off the air in 1980. Then we watched the re-runs. Then we watched the re-runs again. When the re-runs disappeared, we watched the shows on VHS. When VHS went buh-bye, we got the DVDs. And now we watch them on streaming Netflix. Over and over and over again ... from episode 1 to the end, 121 episodes.
Every year or so, I watch them all in sequence, one a night, in bed, just before sleepy-time ...
Steve grew up watching them--we quote lines to each other often.
Joyce tolerates all of this--even watches some of them, delighting me by chirping, "I think we've seen this one!"