In this Season Five episode of The Rockford Files, Jim Rocko (James Garner) is hired by an industrialist to find his kidnapped daughter. However, Rocco runs into an obstacle in the form of fellow private eye Lance White (Tom Selleck) who, despite claiming to be there just as “a friend”, becomes Rockford’s partner and annoys him with his almost perfect luck.
The episode is a comedy gem. As a series, The Rockford Files was known for having a somewhat cynical view of the world. Lance’s sunny optimism and classic do-gooder hero status clashes beautifully with that attitude, and Rockford’s annoyance with Lance makes for good comedy. Lt. Doug Chapman (James Luisi) is usually quick to bite Rockford’s head off about being involved as a private investigator in police manners. In this episode, he’s ridiculously chummy with Lance, and Rockford’s incredulity is priceless. Rockford has to deal with this sunny optimism while facing off against dangerous criminals and dealing with a client who is not being entirely straight with him.
“White on White and Nearly Perfect” was inspired by a 1959 episode of the Western series Maverick (which starred Garner as Bret Maverick) called “The Saga of Waco Williams”.
Selleck was a lot of fun in this role. His character was written in an absurd way and he leaned into it, making it a memorable outing. The episode is a treat for mystery fans, as Selleck was only a couple of years away from the premiere of his own hit detective series, Magnum, PI. The series features the most popular detective star from the 1970s with the most popular detective star from the 1980s.
This alone makes this a fun viewing experience for fans of vintage television. Add in Selleck’s comedy and this is a definite winner.
Rating: 4 out of 5
This episode can be viewed for free on Tubi on Freevee