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The Rockford Files: To Protect and Serve, Part I

On a bright Los Angeles Tuesday, Dennis responds to a hostage situation and ends up having to shoot the suspect. Meanwhile, Jim’s trying to trace a missing woman who fled New York. A couple of goons also want to know what he’s learned, prompting Jim to guess she might have good reason to stay lost. But when Jim tries to quit, his client Michael Kelly threatens to kill him! Later, Dennis meets with Lt. Chapman about the shooting, but Chapman clumsily maneuvers the conversation around to Michael Kelly, in whom the NYPD is interested. Chapman wants Becker to find out why Kelly contacted Jim Rockford. And through it all, a police groupie named Lianne Sweeny inserts herself into the case with lies and half-truths, creating havoc and endangering lives and careers.

Episode Info  

Episode number: 3x19
Production Number: 45027
Airdate: Friday March 11th, 1977

Director: William Wiard
Writer: David Chase

Guest Stars
Joyce Van PattenJoyce Van Patten
As Lianne Sweeny
James LuisiJames Luisi
As Lt. Doug Chapman
Leslie CharlesonLeslie Charleson
As Patsy Fossler
Jon CypherJon Cypher
As Michael Kelly
George LorosGeorge Loros
As 'Anthony Boy' Gagglio

Co-Guest Stars
Pat FinleyPat Finley
As Peggy Becker
Luke AndreasLuke Andreas
As Syl
James Coleman (1)James Coleman (1)
As Officer Haydu
Luis DelgadoLuis Delgado
As Officer Billings
Charles ParksCharles Parks
As Officer Drum
Jason LedgerJason Ledger
As Sergeant Salcedo
Bob PetersonBob Peterson
As Bartender
Episode Notes
Dennis Becker dials 555-2366 to reach Jim at his trailer.

Episode Quotes
Answering Machine Message: This is Esther, your father’s friend. So you help me move, that’s it? You couldn’t call, see if maybe I don’t like the new place, see if maybe there’s some painting to be done?!?

Jim: Dad, it’s a personal problem and it’s confidential, just like all my cases.
Rocky: Confidential? What’s confidential with a father and son? Crooks got personal problems, and I don’t like you running around with people that are always sneakin’ and skulkin’. Five will get you ten this girl is a troublemaker!

Dennis: If we had waited just a little bit for the gas to come – smoked him out, had him too sick maybe to draw down on anybody. Maybe he wouldn’t be hooked up to the tubes like he is down at County Hospital.

Jim: Listen, I really don’t want to push you, pal, but when do you think you’ll get around to looking up that plate for me?
Dennis Becker: You may find this hard to believe but I’ve had other things to do besides trying to bail you out on your skip trace!
Jim: Okay, Dennis, I’m sorry!

Lianne Sweeny: You know, Den’s been busting his buns to make lieutenant. And he will, too. But if he gets caught doing you freebies, using department facilities, it’s going to be like a giant black eye for the guy.
Jim: Hey, I do favors for him, too. We happen to be friends.

Michael Kelly: What have you come up with? I got to say, I’ll getting pretty frantic about Patsy.
(Jim looks at Michael, sitting casually in a sweatsuit, and sneers.)
Michael Kelly: Oh, don’t let this fool you. That’s how I was brought up. We Kellys put on a show of bravery at all costs.
Jim: We Rockfords take people who con us and feed ‘em their tennis shoes. When you hired me, you neglected to tell me about the two cloves of garlic who are also looking for patsy.

Jim: Brothers don’t call their sisters, ‘the broad.’

Michael Kelly: I’m perfectly serious, Mr. Rockford – if you don’t find Patsy by noon Friday, I’m going to have to kill you.

Lt. Doug Chapman: You ever hear of a guy named Michael Kelly?
Dennis Becker: Michael Kelly... no, sir.
Lt. Doug Chapman: Neither had I. He’s a New York attorney. NYPD intelligence informed our intelligence that he was flying out here, and sure enough, he shows up.

Dennis: I know you don’t like him, but Jim does have a code, and for me to pump him about that...
Lt. Doug Chapman: Becker! Sooner or later you’re going to have to make a decision about your life – are you going to be a friend of Rockford’s, or are you going to be a member of this department?!

Dennis: I’m just making an observation, that’s all.
Jim: You sure, Dennis? You’re just about to freshen your drink with a charcoal briquette instead of ice. C’mon, Dennis, you got something on your mind, spit it out, huh? You’re wining me, you’re dining me, you’re as nervous as a third place runner up in a Miss America contest. What’s wrong?

Peggy Becker: (polite on top, chilly beneath it) I didn’t know you went to the bar the other night.
Dennis Becker: Yeah, I had to unwind. I was tensed up like a spring.
Peggy Becker: Oh, really? Uh, just what is a buff?
Dennis Becker: A buff? Well, it’s a citizen who is fascinated by police work, like, you know, people are into CB radios and Broadway shows. These people, or buffs as we call them, they like to spend time around the stationhouse, get to know the fellows, sort of... hang out.
Peggy Becker: Dennis, that’s not a buff, that’s a groupie!

Peggy Becker: I’m just a little curious about why you had to unwind with her. Dennis we have a den in there for you to unwind in. We have nice liquor to help you unwind, and I am here for you to unwind with!

Dennis Becker: I tried, Lieutenant, I really tried. But I think Jim was onto my game. You know, he’s no bozo.
Lt. Doug Chapman: That’s only your opinion.

Syl: They found a friend of Patsy Fossler’s. They whacked her around and the broad told them that she’s hid out in some kind of ranch or something.

Patsy Fossler: Michael sent you, didn’t he?
Jim: Well, he talked me into coming. Yeah, he told me he’d blow my head off if I didn’t.

Jim: Patsy, who are those two guys.
Patsy Fossler: Well, I don’t know the driver of the car, but the other man I’ve seen before. His name is ‘Anthony Boy.’ I don’t know is last name.
Jim: What’s his connection with you?
Patsy Fossler: Well, nothing, really. He delivered some legal papers to Michael once, back at the apartment in New York. He works for Joseph Minnet.
Jim: Of.. the Minnet family? The boss of bosses?!?
Patsy Fossler: Yeah. Michael is Mr. Minnet’s attorney. Didn’t you know that?

Jim: (sarcastically) Oh, yeah, those Minnets. They’re a bunch of cut-ups. That acid blinding of a reporter last year – that had me on the floor.

Jim: What was Michael working on when you left him?
Patsy Fossler: Minnet’s jury tampering trial. He was acquitted. Michael told me two of the prosecution witnesses met with fatal accidents.
Jim: Minnet must have had your bedroom bugged.
Patsy Fossler: Bugged? Why do you say that?
Jim: That’s the only way it figures. Michael pulled a real gaff by telling you family business. Now that you’ve left Michael, Minnet can’t have you running around the world loose knowing what you know.

At the beginning of the episode, Dennis responds to a barricaded suspect call. The abusive ex husband has shot his wife’s new boyfriend and now holds her hostage. When the situation breaks, Dennis must shoot the man to preserve his own life and the lives of other offices, but Chase makes it clear that Dennis did not want that outcome. This scene foreshadows some events that occur in the second half of the story (the following episode) – see the Analysis there for more.

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