James Garner had earlier struck television immortality with his performance in Maverick. Sadly, he left that series after three seasons to do film work. He made several very good movies but by the early 70's his film career was beginning to dry up. Thus, Mr. Garner decided to return to series television. The Rockford Files was the result and we can all be glad for the finished product.
This show wasn't your typical private eye drama and Jim Rockford wasn't your typical private eye. He preferred to use his wits instead of his fists and didn't always succeed on his cases or get paid by his clients. Plus, unlike many other like shows, Jim had a personal life and we got huge glimpses of it. The viewer got to know Jim Rockford as a person instead of just as a private investigator.
What made the show click was Garner and his marvelous supporting cast. You had Noah Beery as Jim's somewhat befuddled father, Joe Santos as his harried police sergeant buddy, Gretchen Corbett as his attorney/girlfriend, and James Luisi as his police lieutenant/antagonist. Plus the greatest supporting character of them all---Stuart Margolin as the legendary Evelyn "Angel" Martin, Jim's ex-con prison buddy who always had an angle and seemingly always tried to con Jim out of something. Margolin was the epitome of brilliance in this role. The scripts themselves, though usually of a left-wing bent, were mostly literate and intelligent. And there was plenty of humor thrown in as well. It was almost as if Bret Maverick had gotten re-incarnated and come back to life as a 20th century private eye. But that's another review for another time.