The Rockford Files: Tom Selleck Has Doubts About New NBC Series

Tom SelleckTV series remakes aren’t typically very successful, and NBC’s planned redo of The Rockford Files is facing a really big critic in Tom Selleck. Meanwhile, NBC keeps forging ahead with casting the pilot.

The Rockford Files originally ran on NBC for six seasons back in the 1970s, until star James Garner was so physically exhausted that he had to leave the show. He starred as Jim Rockford, a private detective who didn’t see himself as a hero, and seemed to be looking more for the money than the glory. His costars on the show are Noah Beery Jr. and Joe Santos, while Stuart Margolin, Gretchen Corbett, James Luisi, Tom Atkins, Bop Hopkins, Pat Finley, Isaac Hayes, and one Mr. Tom Selleck play recurring characters.

NBC has tapped movie star Dermot Mulroney, star of My Best Friend’s Wedding and Burn After Reading, for the role of Jim Rockford. In this version, the character is a former cop and also spent some time in prison. Garner’s Rockford had been a Korean war vet who spent time in San Quentin for armed robbery, but was pardoned for the crime he didn’t commit. The character is being described as “slightly crumpled, wry-humored, cynical, world-weary, compassionate when it’s called for, and easily irritated by morons.”

Alan Tudyk, star of Dollhouse, Firefly, and V, will play LAPD Sergeant Dennis Becker who doles out favors to Rockford, making him not a popular person on the police squad. It’ll be interesting to see if Tudyk and Mulroney can pull off the same chemistry as Garner and Joe Santos, who played Becker in the original series. Beau Bridges will play Rocky, Jim Rockford’s father and closest friend. He was a semi-retired truck driver who would have preferred Jim to get more stable employment, and was played by Noah Beery Jr. originally.

All of this is well and good, but Tom Selleck, who played Rockford’s rival Lance White in two episodes back in the 1970s, doesn’t see the remake as a totally positive thing. While he finds Mulroney to be a fine actor, he thinks instead of recasting the role of Rockford, they should just use James Garner again. He makes the point that “when you think of Rockford, you don’t remember ‘that episode about the bank robbery,’ you remember [Garner] making you laugh.”

Selleck notes that, “I’m a little prejudiced because he was really a formative influence on me, even a mentor in so many ways, even though he probably wouldn’t admit to it…” He concludes, “[Mulroney] has an uphill battle, and I wish him well.”

The new version of The Rockford Files is being written by the creator of House, David Shore, who is also a co-executive producer with Steve Carrell. If the pilot becomes a series, it’s bound to pick up viewers for the first few weeks as people tune in just to see it. The question is if those viewers will return week after week.

What do you think? Is Selleck correct? Does Mulroney have an uphill battle ahead of him? Would it have been better if he was going to play a completely new character?

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58 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Mike Estrada says

    when I was 18 years old I saw James Garner filming an episode of the Rockford Files on Hollywood Blvd He was so Tall and had this presences about him I was Fan from that moment on there can be no other than James Garner as James Rockford why remake it.
    That would be like repainting the Mona Lisa who wants to see that.

  2. Cathy Hurley says

    I’m a huge fan of “The Rockford Files.” No one but James Garner can ever be Jim Rockford in my mind. Please bring him back . That would be great.

  3. mike niemi says

    I know hes involved with Castle, but did they ever think of Nathan Fillian? His sense of humor as Mal is the same as Jim, hes quick on the draw as he is with the joke. Or just call the show something else and have nice mystery twists like the Rockford files. There will always be just one Firefly, One all in the family, etc. Why not just bring us a good mix of characters? Besides with almost drug war torn LA, I just dont see how the old Italian mob fits in as much. Much of the tension of the old Mob was they took their time. Drug bosses tend to shoot to fast and that doesnt last for an hour. Look at Burn Notice. While Michael Weston faces down bad guys, its really only for 15 minutes or so out of the whole show. what makes burn notice work is the way the story is laid out in facinating detail.

  4. says

    I think it would be terrible to try and have a remake of a classic tv show and someone play Jim Rockford. I think they should forget trying to remake this classic tv series I know it wouldn’t have the same humor and great wit it did back in the 70’s with james Garner.

  5. says

    I agree with Tom. I would like to see bring Garner back and perhaps have a young acter play the part of Rockford’s son or nephew who is trying to make it as a PI. This could allow for some flashbacks from Rockford’s past experiences.

  6. Ja says

    Mr. Garner had long been known for the wit and dry humor he brought to his roles of choice. While a good actor, Mr. Mulroney does not bring those same characteristics to the plate. He, indeed, does have an uphill battle ahead of him should the network proceed with the production.

  7. Bronco46 says

    The only thing this show will have going for it is Beau Bridges. I doubt they will be able to recreate the chemistry of the original.

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