Today, among other things, I watched my favorite episode of the Rockford Files ("The House on Willis Avenue") since there was nothing on TV, and I felt like vegging out for a bit. I might have never caught this episode, but back in 1998 "The Rockford Files" was in syndication on KSTW, a UPN affiliate here in the Seattle area. My dad watched this series when it was originally on NBC in the late '70's and early 80's, and in fact, it was an impetus for him to buy our first VCR (to tape it with) in 1980, which was pretty cool at the time. (He later took it back for some reason; I don't remember exactly why, but we didn't get VCR again until 1984.) Anyway, after coming home from my first patrol in the Navy, I discovered the show on daytime TV in a standdown period, and I started taping it, obstensibly with the idea of turning the tapes over to my dad at some point. (Later, my dad and I went through a pretty crappy period where we weren't talking, so that never happened.) So, now I have somewhere between a dozen and 14 VHS cassettes, with 6 episodes of the Rockford Files on each of them. The taping continued for a bit when I went on my second patrol, but shortly thereafter, daylight savings time was over, and the VCR didn't get reset. I wound up with some tapes of "In the Heat of the Night," which I never thought was a very good show; they got taped over in rather short order.
So anyway, I like this episode for a variety of reasons. The first is that it is a more "serious" episode of the show. Angel (Stuart Margolin) is not in the show for comic relief, and that's fine with me because I never really cared for that character that much. Some would say that's blasphemy, but it's just the way I see it. In this episode (which is actually a two-parter, so it's long), we see quite a bit of the L.A. area, including some areas in the "noise abatement zone" of LAX where they check out suspicious houses. My understanding is that these houses have since been removed. We also see places that were under development at the time; I bet someone who actually grew up in L.A. could identify some of these places and it might be interested. I'm fascinated with L.A. and the SoCal area, although I don't think I'd ever want to live there. I also like the guest character "Richie Brockleman" who helps Rockford solve the murder of a mentor of both of them. Some people didn't like the character and felt that Rockford and him didn't interact well but I thought it was a good match. (On a related note, does anybody have any copies of the Richie Brockleman spin-off show?) Lastly, the subject material is interesting (spoiler here): they take down a conspiracy that is setting up a computer center with national networking, so that they can maintain personal information of people, presumably for data mining operations. At the time, this sort of thing was just getting started, and this must of scared one of the writers to death, resulting in the episode. At the conclusion of the episode is text (which I paraphrase) "As of now there are already private data centers which keep your personal information and that which you have no right to know about." While this sort of thing is common now, what made the people doing it in the episode "bad" was that they were using it so as to blackmail or slander people of interest. I think that this episode, although rather dated from a technology perspective (they were using teletype terminals molded into desks in one part), is still relevant today. While I don't off the top of my head know of any cases where people were intentionally defamed in such databases (credit or otherwise), plenty of mistakes do happen, and it's hell to get them straightened out.
I got the idea to dust off the Mini-DV camcorder that Lisa got for me last Christmas, and transfer this episode over to Mini-DV so that I have a copy that shouldn't degrade too much. I might hook up the firewire connection and capture it on the computer as well. When I set everything up to do the transfer, I asked myself if I wanted to skip the commercials or not, and I decided against it. I think watching the older commercials is half the fun of watching taped TV, and it's one of the reasons I still keep the Betamax around.
Did I mention that I have a bunch of "Knight Rider" episodes on tape as well? These however were taped during the SciFi channel syndication, and they're not as good. I don't watch them very much since Knight Rider is pretty cheesy from an adult perspective but they're good for the odd laugh every now and then.
I was going to put more info on current happenings in this blog, but as it is, it's really long, and maybe it's best that I end it now. I'll try to blog tomorrow as time allows.