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. Dee says

    I LOVED Rockford all the years it was on, and Jim Garner was just perfect, as were all the others; however, I’m willing to give Dermot Mulrooney a chance. He seems to be a cool guy and, people, there are a lot of potential viewers in their 20s, 30s, etc. out there now who did not see the original series and may like this one. We can all just take a look and, who knows, we just may like it. I am also very interested in the new Hawaii 5-0. I hope they do a good job on that too. Again, if we liked the both if the original series, what’s the problem with giving the new ones a try? If we don’t like ’em, we don’t have to watch ’em. I am a true Tom Selleck fan, too, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but maybe he’s wrong. He’s as cool and handsome a guy as there ever was, but he may be pleasantly surprised. I hope we all are!

  2. Sue says

    I am tired of all the remakes of TV shows whether they are movies or TV shows. Garner will always be Rockford to me just as Jack Lord will always be McGarrett. The Dukes of Hazzard was terrible, I could only watch a few minutes of the new Charlie’s Angels and I could go on…but, why?

  3. Shirley says

    I read somewhere that the remake has been axed. But can’t remember where I read about it. I hope it doesn’t get remade.

  4. TJ says

    It’s almost impossible to do a good remake of a great TV show. The young kids don’t like thats its based on an old TV show and the older folks never think its as good as the original. We have heard of lots of TV show that were remade or were going to be remade and it almost never pans out. I remember being excited about the Charlie’s Angels remake Angel’s 88, Since its been 22 years since the remake was coming out I guess that didn’t work out to well either.

  5. Mark O'Neill says

    Selleck should have done Lance White, again, but those Rockford reunions were all missing something, anyway, to me. They should have brought back MANY old villains, fresh out of prison, going after Rockford. And Garner should have dropped a few pounds (like I’m trying to do), and cut his hair. Wrongly, he played the part as the cranky Jim Rockford, rather than the glib, affible Jim Rockford of the first 2 seasons. This crankiness made him seem even older. No fist fights were needed, as many a good rockford episode did not rely on them.

  6. Nick Kitt says

    What’s everybody worried about ?? NBC passed on the show and it’s not on the fall schedule.

    And who cares what Selleck thinks. He refused to do Lance White for the Rockford reunion movies because, as he he put, “it’s a step backward”. So, as far I’m concerned, Selleck has NOTHING to say about it. He’s a jerk.

  7. Shirley says

    Remaking the Rockford Files is a huge mistake.
    James Garner is the one and only Rockford!
    NBC hasn’t learned from their previous remake flops.

  8. boyscout says

    Selleck is right as rain Rockford is Garner all the way. Don’t they create anything new anymore. Isn’t that what writers are supposed to do? Everything is a remake of a remake anymore….

  9. Darla says

    I totally agree with Tom’s point of view. I love Dermot Mulroney, but he will have an uphill battle with the new Rockford Files.

  10. BG says

    NBC has failed with “The Bionic Woman”, “Knight Rider”, and “American Gladiators”. I loved the last two as a kid, as well as “Rockford”. The problem with the remakes were that they took themselves WAY too seriously. The originals were a little (or a lot) campy, and knew it, in a wink-and-a-nod kinda way. “Rockford” wasn’t as campy, but had a bit of humor and didn’t take itself seriously.

    I am very anti-remake, but actually anticipate the new “Hawaii 5-O”, and might give this a shot just to see how they do things…

  11. matt says

    Why do they have to ruin everything? To answer my own question, because no one has the creativity to come up with anything new. You’ve got the “new” little rascals relying on swearing and **** jokes. You’ve got Alvin and the Chipmonks rapping. Nothing is sacred.

  12. Shirley says

    Tony is right. Jim Rockford was never a cop. He had lots of run in’s with copy but was never one.

  13. says

    mulroney is completely wrong for the part, Brad Johnson would be more like it. I don’t see Bridges as Rocky either, This show won’t make it if it stays true to the James Garner style. If it takes a completley different tone , it might find an audience, but will leave fans of the original show in the cold ,including me

  14. Don says

    I’m a veteran myself just like James Garner, hate to break hearts but Rockford was a cop before her was a con. I find cons to be more interesting than cops in general. I ready to duck the doughnut holes let em fly.

    • Tony says

      Don, I’ve watched the six seasons of ‘Rockford’ like two times each, and I think you are mistaken or misinformed. Nowhere does he ever say he served in law enforcement. He served 4 years in the Army during the Korean War, then he got framed for the crime and did 5 years in prison. So again, the redesign of the show did an injustice to the Rockford legacy by making him a cop and not a veteran.

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