Sunday, February 25, 2007


I was watching "Quickie Nirvana," the fourth-season episode included as a bonus/preview with season 3 of The Rockford Files (the complete season 4 will be out later this year). It's a David Chase script about Rockford working for an aging New Age cultist played by Jane Curtin's cousin Valerie Curtin; as always, the job leads to a big stash of money turning up unexpectedly, and Rockford getting into more trouble than he anticipated when he took the case -- the usual.

But one thing that struck me as interesting was the ending, where Rockford meets the Curtin character again and finds that she's now given up all the sensory-deprivation-tank lifestyle and turned to handing out leaflets for a Christian preacher. The scene openly -- and, let's face it, kind of heavy-handedly -- posits that there's no real difference between Christianity (or at least some varieties thereof) and cultism.

The interesting thing was that nobody involved seemed to think this was a problem, or potentially controversial. Nowadays, you couldn't get this scene on the air without a lot of controversy (Aaron Sorkin's whole misbegotten Studio 60 made a whole arc out of the fact that you can't put a "Crazy Christians" sketch on the air). And even five years later, you couldn't have done it without controversy, because within five years TV producers would become obsessed -- I mean literally, unambigously obsessed -- with fear of the so-called Moral Majority. So the scene is, unwittingly, a sort of cultural time capsule from 1977.


Bill Crider said...

I saw this episode on cable a few weeks ago and wondered if a TV show today would dare to film that scene. And I wondered what kind of protest it might meet if it was shown as part of a current series.

Todd Lucas said...

I just watched this episode myself. It's one of my favorites in the entire Rockford Files series. Lots of laughs.

I really don't think the final scene is such a big deal though. It never appeared to me that the writers were trying to portray Christianity as a cult, so much as Sky's predictable approach to it. She previously got mixed up with a shady holy man and, now, has managed to do it again.