Classic "Rockford," starting off deceptively slow and easy before the threads of the plot all come together for the payoff. What helps this already-strong story is dynamite guest performances from Cleavon Little (of "Blazing Saddles") and Simon Oakland (veteran character actor and Vincenzo from "Kolchak: The Night Stalker"). They become Rockford's clients in a story that raises the stakes for Rockford when a friend of his murdered.
These two play friendly rivals of Rockford's in the PI racket, but both have recently lost their licenses after being set up by the same mysterious woman. The trail leads Rockford to a sophisticated detective/security agency, the Waterbury Agency; Rockford discovers Waterbury's agenda to run the "low-rent" private eyes out of business so they can corner the market. When another friend of Rockford's is killed by Waterbury's enforcers, he and his crew go to work to bring Waterbury down.
The chemistry among Garner, Little and Oakland is great, and it makes you wish these characters came back later in the series. We see Jim's commitment to his friends and his profession; he doesn't like it when someone messes with either one. No Angel and no Beth, but the guest stars make up for it. My favorite "Rockford" of Season Three and one of my all-time favorites.