Monday, August 11, 2008

Everything I Need To Know
I Learned From The Rockford Files


I don't know how I came about an iconoclast's mindset. Parents who were upstanding pillars of the community, a neighborhood full of bankers and industrialists, schools that employed dedicated and skilled professionals. Even the Catholic ones.

But something about the Rockford Files' insistence that most figures of authority were somehow suspect appealed to me. James Scott Rockford had enough common sense to know that a Korean War vet with a prison record had to be a lot sharper than the lieutenant and sharper than the all the titled hacks around him. He knew that he kept his friends by always being there, if on a long leash. And, with the amount of insouciant disdain he demonstrated toward "authority," his unabashed love for his dad and those friends redeemed him for all time, no matter what lock he picked or zany alias or plot he concocted to bring justice and sanity to the crazy world surrounding his Malibu trailer at 29 Cove Road, the roads around which he traveled in his Pontiac Firebird over six seasons and a bunch of TV-movies.

One of the people Jimbo introduced to us was his "ex-roommate" Gandolph Fitch. The character of Gandy was all about redemption: seeking it, missing out on it, helping others achieve it, the romance of it. And not one actor in Hollywood could have fumbled through the characterization better than Isaac Hayes, a man who embodied soul right up to his tired eyes that seemed to be looking through slides of indescribable sadnesses and then right through you to something else, something he could never explain to you. Shaft. 'Nuff said.

Gandy wasn't slick in the way Jim was, nor did he have Jim's gift for punchy repartee. But Gandy embodied the Rockford disposition, doing the best he could with the limited resources available.

Only appearing in three episodes with Rockfish and nearly disastrously spinning off with co-star Lou Gossett Jr (I suppose an atempt to capture some jive buddy vibe), Gandy did ultimately seem to find a clumsy kind of redemption as Isaac Hayes turned his brief sojourn as entertaining diversion into a place as an important substantiating and show-legend-building character actor.

Which is a pretty good way to go out.

1 comment:

karie said...

Episode 14. Season 2.
1975.
"The Hammer of C Block"

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Rockford_Files_Season_2/70048963?trkid=438381&lnkctr=srchrd-sr&strkid=1886154860_0_0

You did "Rockfish" well.
It was worth watching, again tonight. (thanks, Netflix)

Bon Voyage, Isaac!