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Re: Thirty Years of the Rockford Files

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  • dghprobe3
    Hi Chris: Thanks for your post about Robertson s Rockford book. I ll just throw out some thoughts and reactions about some of the different items you
    Message 1 of 5 , Apr 23, 2008
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      Hi Chris: Thanks for your post about Robertson's Rockford book.
      I'll just throw out some thoughts and reactions about some of the
      different items you mentioned.


      > "In comparing the pilot test results for "Rockford" with those
      > of "Nichols", the Program Test Report from NBC's Program Research
      > Division noted:
      >
      > Fortunately, as Jim Rockford, Garner projects the image of an
      > intelligent man who outsmarts his enemy, rather than fight him head
      > on.

      Over the years, some have had that reaction to Doug McClure's Grover
      character, who would tend to try to talk his way out of a fight at
      first, but then would be pushed into it anyway. The earlier episodes
      of Search also reflected Leslie Stevens' desire to stay away from
      gunplay. The later Search episodes tended to have the Probe agents
      be quicker with a gun. Rockford tended to eschew guns too, keeping
      his in a cookie jar, but he would use a gun as necessary. So much of
      Rockford, though, stems directly from his character in the previous
      Maverick series. Maverick would try to talk his way out of fights
      and disliked guns similar to Rockford.


      > As we have continually seen over the past two pilot seasons, and
      > through "Probe" (an unsuccessful detective series produced for NBC
      > in 1972), the viewing audience is growing weary of the detective/
      > investigator format. Consequently, in order to achieve success, a
      > detective program must strive to have some distinguishing
      > characteristic that will separate it from other detective programs."
      >
      > That really caught me off guard that Probe/ Search was mention and
      > in he context it was. I thought Search did distinguished itself
      > from detective shows. Perhaps, a lot was expected from Search and
      > it did not live up to the standards.

      This was interesting to read, and obviously we would like to know
      more about it. But so much is probably lost to the sands of time.
      TV networks are big places. There are so many different departments
      and people involved, it is a wonder that anything gets done at all
      sometimes. The department that would test audiences for shows would
      logically be closer to knowing what the content of the shows would
      be. Search may have tested highly with certain audiences. The
      article doesn't make it clear, but you do get the idea that NBC or
      someone at NBC had high hopes for the show.

      We've discussed this so often over the years, but Search should have
      been scheduled earlier in the evening. On Wednesdays in 1972-73, you
      started with Adam-12, then went to the 90-minute Mystery Movie. That
      was two hours of police-detective shows, then we were to follow that
      with another hour of Search. They should have scheduled Search after
      Adam-12 and placed the Mystery Movie after Search. You would have
      better captured a younger audience. It would have been nice if they
      have only tried that a few times. This was the same thing that
      happened to Star Trek a few years earlier. NBC was astounded to see
      the ratings Star Trek pulled on local stations during the 1970's
      simply because it aired at an earlier, more accessible time period.

      Also, the series competing against Search, the Cannon and Owen
      Marshall series, were into their second seasons, and they had found
      their audiences. Search naturally floundered against these other
      established shows because NBC did not know what they had or how to
      market it.

      Yes, the earlier episodes of Search had enough to distinguish itself
      from the other police-detective shows on the air. But my local
      station complained to me once that they felt Search was a 'gimmick'
      show. Many stations across the country also pre-empted Search in
      favor of their own local programming.

      Leslie Stevens' approach was for Search to be a romantic crime caper
      formula. Find some episodes of Robert Wagner's "It Takes a Thief."
      The attitude and pace of that show more closely matches the attitude
      and pace of Search than any other show I've seen so far, especially
      the early Search episodes.

      The later episodes of Search (the last eight episodes) had the format
      change, and it became almost a copy of Cannon. Cannon with
      computers. Faced with a choice between the two, many viewers
      probably opted for Cannon because they had trouble identifying with
      the sci-fi nature of the Probe Control computer setup.

      > Another interesting thing was that with the exception of the first
      > season, The Rockford Files did not do that great in the Nielsen
      > ratings, however it did win it's time slot, it is was well written
      > show, and the strength of the James Garner likeable factor. Seems
      > to me in the latter season, Rockford may have done as well as
      > Search in the ratings, however Rockford also won numerous Emmy
      > Awards while was never even nominated.

      Rockford had it's best ratings during the first season of 1974-75,
      and the ratings seemed to go down steadily as it ran. Nobody knows
      quite why that was. Sometimes an episode or two would go up, but the
      overall trend was down.

      > By the way, has anyone been able to uncover were Search finished in
      > the 1972-1973 Nielsen ratings yet?

      When "Honeymoon to Kill" aired in January 1973, there was an item in
      our local paper saying that Search was 35th in the ratings that week
      out of some 55 or 60 shows. It was in the middle of the list. I've
      never been able to find more complete ratings information on how the
      rest of the Search episodes did, so I can't give information as to
      how the overall ratings trend went. Maybe one day someone will find
      the info.
    • dghprobe3
      Something I forgot to mention in my previous post. Some Rockford fans have mentioned that James Garner seems to act like Tony Franciosa in the early Rockford
      Message 2 of 5 , Apr 23, 2008
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        Something I forgot to mention in my previous post.

        Some Rockford fans have mentioned that James Garner seems to act like
        Tony Franciosa in the early Rockford episode, "The Dark and Bloody
        Ground."

        I've seen the episode, and I can see where Rockford fans would have
        that observation. Especially Franciosa as he appeared in "The Name of
        the Game." Of course, Garner got away from that as the Rockford series
        wore on.

        You'll have to get the first season Rockford DVD set, or wait for
        Sleuth or WGN to run the episode to find out.
      • probecontrol@wowway.com
        Thanks for your thoughts, Chris and Don. Very interesting reading. Jim Alexander ================================== On Wed, 23 Apr 2008 18:36:40 -0000,
        Message 3 of 5 , Apr 23, 2008
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          Thanks for your thoughts, Chris and Don.

          Very interesting reading.

          Jim Alexander

          ==================================

          On Wed, 23 Apr 2008 18:36:40 -0000, dghprobe3 wrote
          > Hi Chris: Thanks for your post about Robertson's Rockford book.
          > I'll just throw out some thoughts and reactions about some of the
          > different items you mentioned.
          >
          > > "In comparing the pilot test results for "Rockford" with those
          > > of "Nichols", the Program Test Report from NBC's Program Research
          > > Division noted:
          > >
          > > Fortunately, as Jim Rockford, Garner projects the image of an
          > > intelligent man who outsmarts his enemy, rather than fight him head
          > > on.
          >
          > Over the years, some have had that reaction to Doug McClure's Grover
          > character, who would tend to try to talk his way out of a fight at
          > first, but then would be pushed into it anyway. The earlier episodes
          > of Search also reflected Leslie Stevens' desire to stay away from
          > gunplay. The later Search episodes tended to have the Probe agents
          > be quicker with a gun. Rockford tended to eschew guns too, keeping
          > his in a cookie jar, but he would use a gun as necessary. So much of
          > Rockford, though, stems directly from his character in the previous
          > Maverick series. Maverick would try to talk his way out of fights
          > and disliked guns similar to Rockford.
          >
          > > As we have continually seen over the past two pilot seasons, and
          > > through "Probe" (an unsuccessful detective series produced for NBC
          > > in 1972), the viewing audience is growing weary of the detective/
          > > investigator format. Consequently, in order to achieve success, a
          > > detective program must strive to have some distinguishing
          > > characteristic that will separate it from other detective programs."
          > >
          > > That really caught me off guard that Probe/ Search was mention and
          > > in he context it was. I thought Search did distinguished itself
          > > from detective shows. Perhaps, a lot was expected from Search and
          > > it did not live up to the standards.
          >
          > This was interesting to read, and obviously we would like to know
          > more about it. But so much is probably lost to the sands of time.
          > TV networks are big places. There are so many different departments
          > and people involved, it is a wonder that anything gets done at all
          > sometimes. The department that would test audiences for shows would
          > logically be closer to knowing what the content of the shows would
          > be. Search may have tested highly with certain audiences. The
          > article doesn't make it clear, but you do get the idea that NBC or
          > someone at NBC had high hopes for the show.
          >
          > We've discussed this so often over the years, but Search should have
          > been scheduled earlier in the evening. On Wednesdays in 1972-73, you
          > started with Adam-12, then went to the 90-minute Mystery Movie. That
          > was two hours of police-detective shows, then we were to follow that
          > with another hour of Search. They should have scheduled Search after
          > Adam-12 and placed the Mystery Movie after Search. You would have
          > better captured a younger audience. It would have been nice if they
          > have only tried that a few times. This was the same thing that
          > happened to Star Trek a few years earlier. NBC was astounded to see
          > the ratings Star Trek pulled on local stations during the 1970's
          > simply because it aired at an earlier, more accessible time period.
          >
          > Also, the series competing against Search, the Cannon and Owen
          > Marshall series, were into their second seasons, and they had found
          > their audiences. Search naturally floundered against these other
          > established shows because NBC did not know what they had or how to
          > market it.
          >
          > Yes, the earlier episodes of Search had enough to distinguish itself
          > from the other police-detective shows on the air. But my local
          > station complained to me once that they felt Search was a 'gimmick'
          > show. Many stations across the country also pre-empted Search in
          > favor of their own local programming.
          >
          > Leslie Stevens' approach was for Search to be a romantic crime caper
          > formula. Find some episodes of Robert Wagner's "It Takes a Thief."
          > The attitude and pace of that show more closely matches the attitude
          > and pace of Search than any other show I've seen so far, especially
          > the early Search episodes.
          >
          > The later episodes of Search (the last eight episodes) had the format
          > change, and it became almost a copy of Cannon. Cannon with
          > computers. Faced with a choice between the two, many viewers
          > probably opted for Cannon because they had trouble identifying with
          > the sci-fi nature of the Probe Control computer setup.
          >
          > > Another interesting thing was that with the exception of the first
          > > season, The Rockford Files did not do that great in the Nielsen
          > > ratings, however it did win it's time slot, it is was well written
          > > show, and the strength of the James Garner likeable factor. Seems
          > > to me in the latter season, Rockford may have done as well as
          > > Search in the ratings, however Rockford also won numerous Emmy
          > > Awards while was never even nominated.
          >
          > Rockford had it's best ratings during the first season of 1974-75,
          > and the ratings seemed to go down steadily as it ran. Nobody knows
          > quite why that was. Sometimes an episode or two would go up, but the
          > overall trend was down.
          >
          > > By the way, has anyone been able to uncover were Search finished in
          > > the 1972-1973 Nielsen ratings yet?
          >
          > When "Honeymoon to Kill" aired in January 1973, there was an item in
          > our local paper saying that Search was 35th in the ratings that week
          > out of some 55 or 60 shows. It was in the middle of the list. I've
          > never been able to find more complete ratings information on how the
          > rest of the Search episodes did, so I can't give information as to
          > how the overall ratings trend went. Maybe one day someone will find
          > the info.
          >
          >

          --
          WOW! Homepage (http://www.wowway.com)




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • probecontrol@wowway.com
          P.S.  I picked up a copy of Thirty Years of The Rockford Files  (signed by the author) about three months ago, off of Amazon.  I haven t started reading
          Message 4 of 5 , Apr 23, 2008
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            P.S.  I picked up a copy of 'Thirty Years of The Rockford Files' (signed by the author) about three months ago, off of Amazon.  I haven't started reading it yet, but am looking forward to it.

            Jim Alexander

            =======================

            On Wed, 23 Apr 2008 17:18:43 -0500, probecontrol wrote
            > Thanks for your thoughts, Chris and Don.
            >
            > Very interesting reading.
            >
            > Jim Alexander
            >
            > ==================================
            >
            > On Wed, 23 Apr 2008 18:36:40 -0000, dghprobe3 wrote
            > > Hi Chris: Thanks for your post about Robertson's Rockford book.
            > > I'll just throw out some thoughts and reactions about some of the
            > > different items you mentioned.
            > >
            > > > "In comparing the pilot test results for "Rockford" with those
            > > > of "Nichols", the Program Test Report from NBC's Program Research
            > > > Division noted:
            > > >
            > > > Fortunately, as Jim Rockford, Garner projects the image of an
            > > > intelligent man who outsmarts his enemy, rather than fight him head
            > > > on.
            > >
            > > Over the years, some have had that reaction to Doug McClure's Grover
            > > character, who would tend to try to talk his way out of a fight at
            > > first, but then would be pushed into it anyway. The earlier episodes
            > > of Search also reflected Leslie Stevens' desire to stay away from
            > > gunplay. The later Search episodes tended to have the Probe agents
            > > be quicker with a gun. Rockford tended to eschew guns too, keeping
            > > his in a cookie jar, but he would use a gun as necessary. So much of
            > > Rockford, though, stems directly from his character in the previous
            > > Maverick series. Maverick would try to talk his way out of fights
            > > and disliked guns similar to Rockford.
            > >
            > > > As we have continually seen over the past two pilot seasons, and
            > > > through "Probe" (an unsuccessful detective series produced for NBC
            > > > in 1972), the viewing audience is growing weary of the detective/
            > > > investigator format. Consequently, in order to achieve success, a
            > > > detective program must strive to have some distinguishing
            > > > characteristic that will separate it from other detective programs."
            > > >
            > > > That really caught me off guard that Probe/ Search was mention and
            > > > in he context it was. I thought Search did distinguished itself
            > > > from detective shows. Perhaps, a lot was expected from Search and
            > > > it did not live up to the standards.
            > >
            > > This was interesting to read, and obviously we would like to know
            > > more about it. But so much is probably lost to the sands of time.
            > > TV networks are big places. There are so many different departments
            > > and people involved, it is a wonder that anything gets done at all
            > > sometimes. The department that would test audiences for shows would
            > > logically be closer to knowing what the content of the shows would
            > > be. Search may have tested highly with certain audiences. The
            > > article doesn't make it clear, but you do get the idea that NBC or
            > > someone at NBC had high hopes for the show.
            > >
            > > We've discussed this so often over the years, but Search should have
            > > been scheduled earlier in the evening. On Wednesdays in 1972-73, you
            > > started with Adam-12, then went to the 90-minute Mystery Movie. That
            > > was two hours of police-detective shows, then we were to follow that
            > > with another hour of Search. They should have scheduled Search after
            > > Adam-12 and placed the Mystery Movie after Search. You would have
            > > better captured a younger audience. It would have been nice if they
            > > have only tried that a few times. This was the same thing that
            > > happened to Star Trek a few years earlier. NBC was astounded to see
            > > the ratings Star Trek pulled on local stations during the 1970's
            > > simply because it aired at an earlier, more accessible time period.
            > >
            > > Also, the series competing against Search, the Cannon and Owen
            > > Marshall series, were into their second seasons, and they had found
            > > their audiences. Search naturally floundered against these other
            > > established shows because NBC did not know what they had or how to
            > > market it.
            > >
            > > Yes, the earlier episodes of Search had enough to distinguish itself
            > > from the other police-detective shows on the air. But my local
            > > station complained to me once that they felt Search was a 'gimmick'
            > > show. Many stations across the country also pre-empted Search in
            > > favor of their own local programming.
            > >
            > > Leslie Stevens' approach was for Search to be a romantic crime caper
            > > formula. Find some episodes of Robert Wagner's "It Takes a Thief."
            > > The attitude and pace of that show more closely matches the attitude
            > > and pace of Search than any other show I've seen so far, especially
            > > the early Search episodes.
            > >
            > > The later episodes of Search (the last eight episodes) had the format
            > > change, and it became almost a copy of Cannon. Cannon with
            > > computers. Faced with a choice between the two, many viewers
            > > probably opted for Cannon because they had trouble identifying with
            > > the sci-fi nature of the Probe Control computer setup.
            > >
            > > > Another interesting thing was that with the exception of the first
            > > > season, The Rockford Files did not do that great in the Nielsen
            > > > ratings, however it did win it's time slot, it is was well written
            > > > show, and the strength of the James Garner likeable factor. Seems
            > > > to me in the latter season, Rockford may have done as well as
            > > > Search in the ratings, however Rockford also won numerous Emmy
            > > > Awards while was never even nominated.
            > >
            > > Rockford had it's best ratings during the first season of 1974-75,
            > > and the ratings seemed to go down steadily as it ran. Nobody knows
            > > quite why that was. Sometimes an episode or two would go up, but the
            > > overall trend was down.
            > >
            > > > By the way, has anyone been able to uncover were Search finished in
            > > > the 1972-1973 Nielsen ratings yet?
            > >
            > > When "Honeymoon to Kill" aired in January 1973, there was an item in
            > > our local paper saying that Search was 35th in the ratings that week
            > > out of some 55 or 60 shows. It was in the middle of the list. I've
            > > never been able to find more complete ratings information on how the
            > > rest of the Search episodes did, so I can't give information as to
            > > how the overall ratings trend went. Maybe one day someone will find
            > > the info.
            > >
            > >
            >
            > --
            > WOW! Homepage (http://www.wowway.com)
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >

            --
            WOW! Homepage (http://www.wowway.com)




            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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