Friday, July 31, 2009

Mulling the new "Rockford Files"

Sigh. I'm torn. Seriously torn. This week, Variety reported that NBC has tapped "House" mastermind David Shore to helm a remake of the classic James Garner series "The Rockford Files" (you can read the Variety article here). I really don't know what to think. On the one hand, I think this is an awful idea. "Rockford" was lightning in a bottle, combining the talent of TV auteurs Stephen J. Cannell and Roy Huggins with Garner's laid back charisma to create something truly special. You can't recapture that. To me, Garner will ALWAYS be Rockford. Always. Plus, it's disheartening to see TV execs mulling yet another remake when they should be focusing their energies on creating fresh new properties.
Still...once I heard about the proposed remake, I began considering the possibilities. If NBC did somehow come up with something as good as the original (unlikely, but maybe not as impossible as I think), it would be really exciting. I also started wondering who would play the shaggy, stubborn PI. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly, and others, have named "Castle" star Nathan Fillion as their ideal Rockford, and Fillion does have a rakish, Garner-like way about him. Other names that have been dropped include Bruce Campbell of "Burn Notice" and Damian Lewis of the canceled NBC drama "Life." I have developed my own list of potential Rockfords. Here's my top 5.
1. Dominic West: My first choice. West, so good as the wily-but-dysfunctional Jimmy McNulty on HBO's "The Wire," would be a perfect fit as Rockford. After all, Rockford and McNulty share a lot of characteristics (and a first name). Both are stubborn, independent-minded guy's guys who rely on their charm to get them out of tough spots. Plus, like Garner, West has a great smile -- a key Rockford component in my book.
2. Adrian Pasdar: I stopped watching "Heroes" mid-season, and have no idea if Pasdar's character, Nathan, is still on the show. I hope not. Like many of the "Heroes" cast members, Pasdar is wasted in a skimpy role. Anyone who saw him on the creepy, short-lived Fox series "Profit" knows how good he can be, and I'd love to see him in another starring vehicle. And, if you doubt he has the charm to pull off Rockford, check out his work as a caddish attorney on the otherwise unremarkable second season of "Desperate Housewives."
3. Josh Holloway: As the new Rockford is only in the planning stages, it probably won't hit the air until "Lost" has completed its run, meaning Josh "Sawyer" Holloway could be free to do it. Like West, he's already shown he can play a complex charmer. Side note: wouldn't Holloway's "Lost" co-star Michael Emerson make a great Angel Martin?
4. Dean Winters: Not a household name, but Winters is an established character actor who has worked his cranky, gravelly-voiced magic on a slew of series, from "30 Rock" to "Rescue Me" to "Oz" to "Life on Mars." He has a nice every-man quality, and I'd really like to see him get a central role.
5. Jay Karnes: Dutch wasn't the flashiest character on the excellent FX drama "The Shield" but, thanks to the talented Karnes, he was every bit as interesting as Vic Mackey and Shane Vendrell. Karnes's dry delivery coupled with a surprising vulnerability could make him a fine choice for Rockford.

Those are my choices. What do you think?


Bill Scurry said...

Wow, Jay Karnes is a brill choice.

TV Writer said...

Yeah -- truth is, MANY people would have better than Mulroney. Matt Dillon was the original choice, I heard, and I would have been fine with him.
Though I also heard Josh Lucas was considered, and I think he's an even worse choice than Mulroney.
Have these people ever seen Rockford?