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The Rockford Files: New Life, Old Dragons

In halting English, Pham Van Mai asks Jim to find her missing brother Vinh. Jim suggests the police, who are better equipped for finding the lost. Offered cash, Jim reluctantly agrees to help. Vinh’s sponsor’s address is a vacant lot, but Jim continues to probe, and gets a reaction: he returns home in time to catch two men fleeing. They hit Rocky and ransacked Jim’s trailer. When Jim asks Mai what she has gotten him into, she only offers more money. The next day the goons return to ask Jim questions. Pressed, Mai says she doesn’t know the men, but she might know their motive: Vinh worked for an Army ranger camp in Vietnam, and when a Viet Cong rocket attack killed many Rangers, the survivors blamed him. But the truth may be more complicated...

Episode Info  

Episode number: 3x18
Production Number: 45019
Airdate: Friday February 25th, 1977

Guest Stars
Charles NapierCharles Napier
As Mitch Donner
Charles SiebertCharles Siebert
As Gary Stillman
Luke AskewLuke Askew
As Benson Kelly / Robert Coffee
Kathleen NolanKathleen Nolan
As Kathy Hartman
Irene Yah-Ling SunIrene Yah-Ling Sun
As Pham Tan Mai
James T. CallahanJames T. Callahan
As Leslie Hartman (as James Callahan)

Co-Guest Stars
Al StevensonAl Stevenson
As L. J.
Luis DelgadoLuis Delgado
As Officer Billings
Bruce TuthillBruce Tuthill
As Officer
Jim IshidaJim Ishida
As Pham Van Vinh
Herbe KaydeHerbe Kayde
As Guard
Jay GerberJay Gerber
As Deputy Chief
Robert PhalenRobert Phalen
As Will Dunning
Episode Quotes
Answering Machine Message: It’s Pete! Hope you enjoyed using the cabin last week. Only next time, leave the trout in the refrigerator, huh? Not in the cupboard!

Pham Van Mai: Brother refugee. Stay Camp Blanchard. Come from Vietnam. Last night, take bus. I meet, no Vinh. I call sponsor, no answer.
Jim: Well, maybe he just took the wrong bus. Maybe he got off at the wrong station.
(Phan Van Mai shakes her head know, then sets her face and holds out Rockford’s ad, which she tore from a telephone book.)
Pham Van Mai: You promise! You find!!

Jim: Hi, Dennis.
Dennis: What are you doing here?
Jim: Sorry if I caught you at a bad time, but I need some help. I’ve been trying to run down a guy by the name of, uh, Robert Coffee. I called his house, he doesn’t answer his phone, and, uh, the address that I have is a vacant lot.

Pham Van Mai: You find Vinh?
Jim: Well, not yet, no. But I... I have to tell you, I’m... I’m not too happy with the way things are turning out. Someone broke into my trailer and searched it. And what they found was my father. They knocked him cold. (Mai does not understand.) They hit him.
Pham Van Mai: Your father hurt?
Jim: Well, not as bad as he could be. Mai... is there something about your brother that you haven’t told me?

Mitch Donner: Keep stalling, Rockford, and you’re going to wind up on a wheelchair basketball team.

Pham Van Mai: Night I go meet Vinh, guard say two men chase, maybe catch, maybe torture.
Jim: Why didn’t you tell me this? Even better, why didn’t you tell the police?
Pham Van Mai: You find. You no find, they kill Vinh.

(Seeing Nguyen's injuries)
Jim: Who did that to you?
Nguyen: Two men. Americans. They took Vinh. We found, but they had guns.
Jim: You think you could describe them for me?
Nguyen: One was a big man. The other was taller, thinner.
Jim: Sounds like old friends.

Nguyen: Mai said she would pay one thousand dollars to do no more than describe them to you. Give you information to help you find them, but not reveal what they wanted. She’s rich... she has many American dollars. But she doesn’t want to tell you. That is what they want.

Pham Van Mai: Mr. Rockford... wait, wait, where you go?
Jim: I’ve got a coiple of tickets for the Lakers game. I thought I might use them.
Pham Van Mai: You’re going to a basketball game? Didn’t you hear what Nguyen said? They have Vinh! Look, I paid you seven hundred dollars. That ought to buy more than a quick brush off.
Jim: (noticing Mai is suddenly speaking fluently) Crash course in Berlitz?
Pham Van Mai: Alright. I speak English. I also speak French.
Jim: Ah, but pidgin English, that’s where you really shine...

Pham Van Mai: I didn’t know if I could trust you. Now I think I can.
Jim: Well that’s too bad, ‘cause now I don’t trust you.

Pham Vam Mai: I couldn’t let you tell the police.
Jim: Well of course you couldn’t. My father gets clobbered, I get clobbered, Nguyen gets beat up, your brother gets kidnapped. No, what do we need the police for – let’s just call in the coroner!

Benson Kelly: Rockford.
Jim: Yeah.
Benson Kelly: Your lady friend’s got something belongs to us. Sounds to me like the makings of a trade, how’s it sound to you?
Jim: Like kidnapping – twenty to life.
Benson Kelly: When you’re dealing for half a million, what’s a couple of years?
Jim: She’s got half a million, we’ve got her brother. Let’s not play games.

Jim: You CIA? Army Intelligence?
James Callahan: Army CID. Attached to the Colonel Tranh / Benson Kelly money conduit. We almost got them, too. But the poor colonel was vaporized when his jeep hit a Claymore.
Jim: That’s when you decided to cross the line.
James Callahan: Well... the way was ending. Just another ex-soldier without any prospects. I knew Vinh had wound up with a half a million dollars, but I couldn’t locate him. I mean, everything was coming down – it was pure chaos over there. So I talked Kathy into bringing our little Mai stateside. I thought he had the money. But I knew she and the kid would connect up with each other one day.

Jim: He’ll have to fence the money. We just have to find out who the fence is.

Dennis: When anybody calls me and tells me that an allegedly rational adult would go to a kidnap exchange with no backup and no money, well I find that hard to swallow.
Jim: Well, I wasn’t too crazy about it myself.

Episode Goofs
Clyde Kusatsu’s character is credited as “Nuyen” but the correct spelling, given that he is Vietnamese, is almost certainly Nguyen. The ‘g’ is silent, so the mistake is easy to make.

Cultural References
At one point, Jim asks Mai tongue-in-cheek if she took a crash course in Berlitz. He’s referring to the Berlitz Language Schools, famous for teaching second languages via an immersion technique that Berlitz and Nicholas Joly discovered accidentally. Today, Berlitz International runs about six hundred schools in about fifty countries.

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