Richie Brockelman, Private Eye and The Rockford Files

Richie Brockelman, Private Eye (1978)
The Rockford Files (1974-1980)
Type: Crossover

   Man, the creators of Richie Brockelman sure were in love with the character. That's the impression I get at least. They bent over backwards to give this guy his own show but he just never caught on.

   Richie Brockelman was a detective. A very YOUNG detective. That was the gimmick. Would you trust a matter important enough to hire a P.I. for to Doogie Howser P.I.? Hmm? Well just like folks always underestimated the seemingly lost but in fact brilliant Columbo, folks also took one look at Muppet-Baby P.I. Brockelman and underestimated him. And like Columbo, he took advantage of that.

   Richie did a number of crossovers with the very successful The Rockford Files. The Rockford Files starred James Garner as the kind of character he does best Jim Rockford, the hero with nerves of aluminum foil. Not that Rockford wasn't brave or didn't want to solve his cases. Its just that, just like Garner's other big TV character Maverick, if it came down to a tough one on one confrontation or weaseling out to fight another day... well, weasel away. I guess a nicer way would be to say discretion is the better part of valor. Or most simply, Rockford liked his skin, had grown attached to it and wasn't going to risk losing it if he didn't have to.

   Most folks actually think Richie Brockelman is a spin off of The Rockford Files but I have to call that a mistake. Okay, Richie Brockelman's show did premiere and had a short run after the character appeared on The Rockford Files, in fact taking over Rockford's spot on the schedule for it's short run.

   Sounds like a spin off? Sure. But wait. Before his appearance on The Rockford Files in 1978, Richie Brockelman had already appeared in a made for TV movie in 1976 - a pilot film for the show. Since Richie disappeared for 2 years before popping up on The Rockford Files two parter "The House on Willis Avenue", its obvious the pilot didn't get picked up. I'm guessing Richie B. popped up on The Rockford Files in an attempt to draw attention to the character and get him another shot at a show of his own. Even after Brockelman's show's short run the character again showed up on The Rockford Files in a two parter called "Never Send a Boy King to Do a Man's Job (a.k.a. The Return of Richie Brockelman)". My guess would be again that the producers were still trying to get the audience hooked on the character to get his show brought back (purely speculation on my part). But you can't make the public embrace something they don't want to and they didn't embrace Richie. Wouldn't even give him a pat on the back. He disappeared into the footnotes of TV history.

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