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The Rockford Files: The Trees, the Bees and T.T. Flowers (1)

As Rocky visits his old friend T. T. Flowers, T. T.’s daughter and her husband arrive, along with people from Horizons Crest, a nursing home. They haul the old man away, claiming “diminished capacity.” Rocky wants Jim to investigate, but Jim considers it a family matter and legal. Finally, he agrees to look into it. After working his way around roadblocks, Jim visits T. T. at Horizons Crest and discovers him raving. Clearly, he has mental problems and may belong in an institution. So why, when Jim leaves Horizons Crest, does someone try to kill him? Returning to T. T.’s home, Jim discovers T. T.'s son-in-law ransacking the place, and a developer named Muellard who's also very interested in the properly. Jim has to figure out how all these people are related...


Episode Info


Episode number: 3x14
Production Number: 45012
Airdate: Friday January 21st, 1977



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Special Guest Stars
Alex RoccoAlex Rocco
As Sherman Royle
Recurring

Guest Stars
Strother MartinStrother Martin
As T. T. Flowers
Recurring
Karen MachonKaren Machon
As Cathy Royle
Recurring
Scott BradyScott Brady
As Jack Muellard
Recurring
Richard VentureRichard Venture
As Dr. Ben Christ
Recurring
Roy JensonRoy Jenson
As Winchell
Recurring

Co-Guest Stars
Fred StuthmanFred Stuthman
As Homer Hodgson
Recurring
Jack StaufferJack Stauffer
As Brubaker
Recurring
Bob HastingsBob Hastings
As Hank Gidley
Recurring
Linda RyanLinda Ryan
As Maid
Recurring
June Whitley TaylorJune Whitley Taylor
As Nurse
Recurring
Paul SylvanPaul Sylvan
As Steve Fisher
Allen WilliamsAllen Williams
As Dr. Fellows

Uncredited
David S. Cass, Sr.David S. Cass, Sr.
As Mort
Recurring
Fred LernerFred Lerner
As Lou
Recurring
Episode Notes
Nitrous oxide is better known as “laughing gas” because when inhaled it can create a sense of euphoria. This is the reason Jim was laughing when he wrecked his car.

David S. Cass, Sr. and Fred Lerner are uncredited in this episode. However, their characters appear in part 2 (the next episode) and are credited there.



Episode Quotes
Answering Machine Message: Jimmy, ol’ buddy-buddy! It’s Angel! You know how they allow you one phone call? Well, this is it.

Rocky: You’re going to have to face up to the fact that these apartments are getting closer.
T. T. Flowers: I’ll never face up to it. I was here first. Never know it, though, the way the county treats me, with all their fines and citations and taxes. I ain’t gonna pay ‘em.
Rocky: You ain’t paid your taxes?!? They’re way overdue!

T. T. Flowers: I don’t believe in lawyers. They’re like... drone bees. Only one in a hundred is any good. (spotting his son-in-law) And that goes for stockbrokers, too.

Cathy Royle: Benjamin Christ is a very prominent psychiatrist, and besides... he’s had T. T. under constant observation for the past month.
Jim: He convinced you that T. T. isn’t capable of handling his own affairs and testified at the hearing?
Cathy Royle: It’s called senility, Jim. And it’s tragic when it happens to someone you love. What are you going to do about Rocky if that time ever comes?
Jim: Well, I don’t know. Whatever I do, I don’t think I’ll do it behind his back.
Cathy Royle: I know. I don’t feel good about that, either. Tom Brockmeyer says that’s the way it’s usually done. Tom is Sherm’s lawyer. He said it would be easier on T. T. if you weren’t there at the hearing.

Jim: I’d like to see T. T.
Cathy Royle: No. That’s out of the question. Doctor Christ says that visitors disrupt the smooth transition into institutionalized life. Please, Jim, just stay out if it. It’s hard enough on him as it is.

Ben Christ: The chlorpromazine is wearing off, now. We’ll start him on half a dose of lysergic acid today, double it tomorrow, then finish with it off with ECT on Thursday.
Norman Fellows: I don’t like it, Ben.
Ben Christ: You never do, Norman. Now, let’s get started. I want him paranoid and disoriented by nine a.m. Friday.

Jim: Why are you in here?
T. T. Flowers: (raving) ‘cause my cells are grey with foul brood. Cause the barren queen cuts the nectar flows to the north.

Jim: (about T. T. Flowers) He can’t hold a thought long enough to complete a sentence.
Rocky: You’ve got to be wrong, sonny. He’s as sane as I am. He sure don’t belong in there.
Jim: Dad, I’ve done everything I can do. I tried.

Rocky: What happened?
Jim: (holding up the nitrous oxide cylinder) Oh, someone wanted me to die laughing. So something’s wrong somewhere.

Jim: What do you know about T. T.’s son-in-law?
Rocky: Oh, he’s a rich stockbroker is all I know. Of course, T. T. says that he’s nothing but a con man with a diploma and a place to hang it.

Jim: Who are you?
Jack Muellard: My name is Jack Muellard. And I never better hear your name again, Mister.
Rocky: The fella that bought most of T. T.’s land, here? Built these apartments?
Jack Muellard: That’s right, and I’m starting construction on the rest of it the day after tomorrow.
Jim: You don’t waste much time.
Jack Muellard: You waste time, you waste life. I schedule a job right down to the last nail the day it’s going to be used, and it’s never driven by an overtime hammer. You just cost me... (he checks his watch) ... one minute. Mort?
(Mort drives a punch into Jim’s stomach.)
Jack Muellard: Alright, alright. Go to work, Mort. You louse up my schedule again, Rockford, you’ll get the second chorus.

Norman Fellows: He’s an old man, Ben. The LSD took a lot out of him. Any more, he may not be alive for the public guardian’s interview.
Ben Christ: Alright. We’ll back off tomorrow, but we’ll come in heavy with ECT the next day. Add a dash of retrograde amnesia to his disorientation, and, we’ve created a textbook case of chronic brain syndrome.

Jim: That’s quite an act.
T. T. Flowers: Ain’t much of an act, son. I’ve been some places today, way out in space and all over the ocean. But, I’m back on dry land now. They’re going to try a new drug on me day after tomorrow – it’s, uh, ECT.
Jim: That’s not a drug, T. T. It’s electro-convulsive therapy.

Dennis Becker: Let me get this straight if I can. What you’re saying is that: a Beverly Hills psychiatrist, an Encino stockbroker, a San Marino lawyer and the biggest subdivider in the next county all got together to do an old man out of three acres without the daughter’s knowledge, but with her consent and full cooperation.

Jim: The SEC’s onto Sherm?
Dennis: Was. They got word that he ran short against a box with some stocks that the company held in trust. He guessed wrong, and he took the pipe in a rising market.
Jim: Well, that could become very, very expensive.
Dennis: Milt’s information was that Sherm lost $400,000. By the time the SEC got to the books he’d already covered his losses.
Jim: He had to mortgage his socks to do it. This guy’s in debt up to his neck. He blew $400,000, he could only borrow $300,000, which makes him $100,000 shy. He needed it in a hurry, now, where’d he get it?
Dennis: That’s too steep for a shark. What’s he going to use for collateral?
Jim: T. T.’s land.

Cathy: C’mon. Sherm’s a brilliant businessman. He’s not going to sell something he doesn’t own.
Jim: Oh, just land that he doesn’t own, to cover the bath that he took for selling stocks that he doesn’t own.

Jim: I’m finished Dad. And so’s T. T. I did everything I could except break him out of there...



Episode Goofs
The tank of nitrous oxide is clearly marked ‘Inflammable’ which means that it is a fire hazard. In fact, nitrous oxide does not burn. In addition, it’s highly questionable whether Jim could have received a sufficient dose to impair him from the small nozzle on the tank, with his driver’s window open as it was. Finally, the pressure gauge decreased far too quickly for the size of the tank and the size of the nozzle.

It is illegal to conduct business in the manner Sherman Royle did, and the fact that he borrowed money to repay the loss does not mitigate his crime. The SEC would have stripped him of his license and forbidden him the right to operate in the equities business at the least.

Jim drops an appliance into a toilet bowl and the resulting short circuit kills the lights all over Horizons Crest. In a large, commercial building (and even in a residence) there are many circuits. A short will trip the breaker in a particular circuit, killing power to it, but other circuits will still have power.



Episode References
This story concludes in the next episode.



Analysis
The biggest mistake most perpetrators seem to make in detective shows is assuming the detective knows more than he actually does. This episode turns on that mistake. Had the Horizons Crest people not attempted to kill Jim with the nitrous oxide, most likely Jim would have dropped his investigation and T. T. Flowers would become just another statistic. But, fearing what he might have learned, the criminals did make the attempt, and that just convinced Jim his father was right, and something hinky was going on at Horizons Crest.



Warning: The Rockford Files season 3 episode 14 guide may contain spoilers
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