In the summer of 1975, production began on Switch (CBS, 1975-1978), a caper series, starring Robert Wagner and Eddie Albert, that was produced by Glen Larson. Hoping to emulate the blend of action and humor that made The Rockford Files into a big hit, Larson asked Rockford co-creators and fellow Universal contract producers Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell to provide him with a few scripts that could help him incorporate elements of the Rockford style into episodes of Switch. One of the scripts that Huggins and Cannell provided Larson was “This Case is Closed,” a ninety-minute episode of Rockford, co-written by Huggins and Cannell, that originally aired in October 1974.
On Dec. 2, 1975, CBS aired “Death by Resurrection,” an episode of Switch that was strikingly similar to “This Case is Closed” in plot, style, and manner—including the use of flashback techniques to tell part of the story. Even some of the dialogue was the same in both episodes. Larson, however, took sole writing credit for “Death by Resurrection,” without acknowledging that he had actually based that episode on “This Case is Closed.”
The morning after “Death by Resurrection” aired, Huggins and Cannell fired off a memo to Universal Television executive Frank Price that detailed the extent to which Larson had appropriated elements of their Rockford script without attribution. This set the stage for one of the most colorful episodes in Rockford Files history—one that ended with James Garner, quite literally, taking matters into his own hands.