Granted, there had already been the pilot movie, but this was the first "regular" episode of "The Rockford Files," and the show really hits the ground running. We have a plot worthy of a Chandler short story, with the rich client who knows more than he is telling, and is using Rockford as a means to an end. We have the mob figures roughing Jim up, and the girl who has her own agenda. James Woods plays Larry Kirkoff, and he and Garner would reunite in later TV movies. With their chemistry and Woods' smarmy performance, it's no wonder that "The Kirkoff Case" is one of the episodes that James Garner remembers to this day. "Godfather" veteran Abe Vigoda plays the mob boss with memorable line marking the distinction between a "goon" and a "labor organizer." We also get some of the first instances of Rockford talking too big and getting punched in the mouth for it.
This show perfectly set up the formula for the series to follow, and is one of the best episodes of Season 1.