NBC has stopped work on its proposed private-eye series The Rockford Files—as we had suggested would happen.
NBC was underwhelmed by the completed pilot. It then underwent major recutting, which was reportedly done by the editor of one of NBC’s top drama pilots this year, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Chase. But, while an improvement vs. the original cut, the new version of the pilot still didn’t impress NBC brass enough to muster a series order. Still, a redevelopment of the concept is a possibility.
I don’t doubt that NBC will keep pursuing the idea, with different personnel continuing to cycle through the process, but this was definitely not the right group of people for the show. The Rockford Files was obviously a labor of love for all the parties involved, and that seems to be what made it successful despite—and indeed because of—the show’s eccentric nature in blithely ignoring genre conventions and TV traditions while confirming the audience’s basic values.
The people at NBC/Universal would be smarter to hand the project over to the USA Network, where they have a clue about developing successful new TV dramas.
To repeat that success, the new project should be led by people with a real grasp of the private-eye genre—and there are few if any people in TV or the movie business who qualify at this point.