Rockford teams up with a gun-toting, yahoo of a country singer after hijackers put Rocky in the hospital. "Heartaches of a Fool" has a little more action (particularly the opening big-rig smash-up) than a typical episode, but it also has the trademark "Rockford" humor and a lot of heart.
Even though the regular recurring characters aren't in this one, it still ranks as a classic. The Jim/Rocky relationship takes center stage as Jim tries to restore his dad's livelihood. Anyone who has had any experience with parents or grandparents fearing the loss of their driver's license will get a pang of familiarity when Rocky voices his fears. But it's not all pathos - the two get some great "sonny" comedy moments, especially when it comes to country singer Charlie Strayhorn, who Jim is fighting with minutes after meeting him. The relationship grows though, and I wound up really liking Charlie, and also Taylor Lacher's performance as the good ol' boy.
I wonder how much the Charlie Strayhorn character was influenced by country star and sausage magnate Jimmy Dean. Granted, Dean was never involved with the Chinese mafia and a crooked union, but still...
The only (and it's slight) complaint about this otherwise "A+" episode is the singing. As great as it is to hear Willie Nelson doing the songs in this show, he sounds nothing at all like Charlie Trayhorn. The sudden switch (especially on the "live album" Rocky is listening to at the opening) in voices is jarring, but I guess it's not too bad if we get to hear some Willie.