Who wins: Rockford, the '70s P.I. who lives a frugal hand-to-mouth lifestyle, or Magnum, the '80s P.I. who lives a life of decadent luxury? Please post your thoughts in Ye Olde Commente Sectionne.
You could say, by the way, that the difference between '70s and '80s pop culture is pretty much summed up by the difference between these two TV detectives. Rockford lived in a trailer, struggled to get paid, and his best buddy was a fellow ex-con; Magnum lived in a tropical paradise, riding high on the largesse of
Also by the way, the DVD set of the second season of "Rockford" is a big improvement over the first: single-sided discs instead of double-sided; the complete series pilot, with Not-Noah-Beery playing Rockford's dad, is included (and looks terrific), and the episodes are all uncut and look very good, once you adjust for the fact that these early '70s Universal shows don't have the most stunning production values. Whereas other studios had a certain gloss and glamour in their TV work -- Fox and Paramount liked to make things look as pretty as possible -- Universal tended to go for a grittier look, with lots of real but unspectacular-looking L.A. locations and sort of harsh sound recording. But adjusting for that, the prints used for this set are quite good, much better than I've seen in syndication.
The bonus feature is a nine-minute interview with Stephen J. Cannell about the origins of the series. I'm not sure how much of his stories are true -- he seems to downplay the fact that the show was conceived as a spinoff of "Toma," ignores the rumour that other people were offered the part of Rockford before Garner got involved, and doesn't address how much the finished product was influenced by Garner's movie Marlowe. (This was an updated version of Chandler's The Little Sister that lent a lot of its style to "Rockford"; an early episode of "Rockford" even lifted a line, "Does your mother know what you do for a living?", from Marlowe.) But he's a fun talker and has a lot of fun things to say about the show, the style of it, how hard it was to come up with answering machine messages, and other such matters.
Assuming season 3 gets released soon, that will be the start of the golden "Rockford" period, because season 3 is when David Chase joined the writing staff -- few shows have ever had three writers as good as the "Rockford" trio of Cannell, Juanita Bartlett, and Chase.