|Page 1 of 3:||  |
|Index||22 reviews in total|
I guess I'm one of the few who remembers this very funny show. The turn of the century Old West, with technology about to change the frontier forever, made for a very interesting setting, and the cast did a good job of getting into the period, pulling it off without being camp. Garner was great, Margot Kidder was delightful, and John Beck made a terrific villain. The show was of such high quality it's no wonder it lasted such a short time.
NBC was putting out a lot of good product when this series came out,
but none of it was getting viewers. At least according to their
executives who wisely canceled good shows like Star Trek & My World &
Welcome To It because of low ratings. NBC's advertisers were getting a
bargain from NBC's ignorance.
This show stands out as the only time James Garner wasn't enough to get viewers. It is ashame as this show had an excellent support cast from Stuart Margolin (later Angel in the Rockford files), to Neva Patterson to Margot Kidder.
It was set in a 1900 western town. Garner was playing a sheriff who did not want to use violence to do his duties. It was small town stuff, but it was excellent. It wasn't long after this that Jim Rockford brought Garner back to success, but for my money, this show was good enough, it just wasn't in the right time, right place, or given the right opportunity.
The show was so good that most of the folks who worked on it also got jobs on Rockford.
I, too, considered "Nichols" to be James Garner's best TV work. It was witty and superbly written. Regarding the reason for the show's short run and surprising ending, I'm sure I remember reading that Garner did it himself; that he was upset with management sticking their noses in and so he wrote himself out of the series by having his character killed off in the opening scene. If you remember, he never carried a gun and always outwitted the bad guys with his quick mind and smooth talk. He was called to the saloon to keep a bad guy from shooting the place up and, as he stepped up to the door, got blown back into the street. Whatever the reason for canceling the show, I miss it and the excellence it represented. But, then again, if all TV was always that good I'd never get anything done.
The first time I remember seeing James Garner was in this series. It was
set in the late 1800s and he played a sort of smart-alec who inherited the
name of the founder of the town but basically nothing else. The people of
the town kind of looked down on him. He rode around town on a motorcycle,
which in those days was like a moped in that it had pedals like a bicycle
(in fact that's how you started it).
It was hilarious and I was very disappointed when it was canceled. When I saw Rockford, I thought "wow, that's the same guy that was in Nichols, I wonder if this show will be any good."
Margot Kidder was in this too. I hope someday I get to see reruns to see if it's as good as I remember.
I, too, loved this show as a kid, but as other posters have written, no one else seems to remember it. Its setting -- an Arizona town at the twilight of the wild west era, but before the First World War -- was one reason that made it so compelling. Another was the odd horn solo theme music that I could still hum decades after the last time I heard it. A couple of years ago I managed to track down a recording of the tune from an online guy who specializes in old TV show themes. He was not familiar with the show or its music until I asked him to find it. He later told me that a few episodes had recently aired on TV Land or some other nostalgia TV channel. Years after Nichols was canceled, I read or heard somewhere that it was James Garner's favorite show. Go figure.
As I recall, my family made a point to stay home on the night "Nichols" was on (Mondays? Tuesdays? NBC?). It was a superb vehicle for James Garner, very well written, great ensemble cast. His character very much like the "Support Your Local..." films: Retired gambler with mysterious past settles into town and has adventures every week. In fact, it seemed fairly obvious that it was the same character. It was just a charmer of a TV show. A sleeper, like "My World And Welcome To It", which may have been its contemporary--I forget. I dearly wish these shows would be made available on DVD. It was Just Good TV. Perhaps "Briscoe County Jr." come close, but only by a mile.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This seems to be a forgotten series, but like the other comment I remember
being really taken by it.
What I will never forget is the series finale. Very unexpectedly, James Garner's character (Nichols)is killed. I forget the details, but he was shot and blown off his feet some distance.
That made an impression on me at time.
The twist was that Nichols had a twin who appeared to be taking over the lead of the story. I guess they were considering retooling the show and keeping it on the air with a character with a different personality.
That didn't happen, but it was as series finale that I'll never forget!
This show was a really good one in many ways, although certainly an atypical Western with the hero (?) riding around on a motorcycle rather than a horse, due to the 1914 setting, very "late" for a Western, which tend usually to be set between 1866 and 1890. I remember some controversy about its cancellation at the time but didn't really watch it during its time on NBC. When I came to see it and love it was a decade later when I was in the Army stationed in Germany and it was shown every week from the beginning on Armed Forces Television. By then, Margot Kidder was famous as Lois Lane but I'll also always think of her as Nichols' girlfriend. In a lot of ways, Nichols was a lot like Maverick; both were much more attracted to getting rich with little effort than they were fighting. It was in the little TV magazine that they distributed at the PX (not really an authorized edition of "TV Guide" but made to resemble it as closely as possible without getting into copyright trouble) that I first learned the real story behind the cancellation. I really wonder what the next season with the more violent twin would have been like if they had really made it as planned. Of course, by the time this show was made the "Western era" of TV had been in decline for around a decade; someday I hope to be able to write that the "reality era" has been in decline for that long! While "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza" were still running, they were both nearing their ends and it had been years since a new Western had really caught on; I think that this trend did a lot to hold "Nichols" back, and was the main reason that NBC executives doubted that it would ever find a large audience But to me, a good Western, unlike a show set in contemporary times, is somewhat timeless, as are other "period" shows; changing fashions and the like do nothing to make them look any more "dated" than they were supposed to be, and I think that watching this show, 10 years after it was produced, is really what brought this point home to me. Also, this show is an early pairing of Garner and Stuart Margolin, who is really one of the all-time great sidekicks, and not just in Westerns.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As I remember Nichols, he rides into town after retiring as a sergeant in the army...early 1900's. He rides in on an Indian motorcycle. He winds up as sheriff, with Stuart Margolin as his deputy, and the Ketchum's (Ma and son) as the "bad guys...kinda". Margo Kidder is his girl...sorta. He never uses his gun; he talks people out of causing trouble. He was Maverick. And then the final episode. He is killed before the credits run in the last episode while trying to keep two old koots from killing each other. Some time passes in the town...his twin brother rides into town. It is the James Garner that plays Wyatt Earp in the movie (mean...never smiles....bad attitude). He cleans up the town, rights the wrongs, and rides out of town on his brother's Indian. Great ending. Great show.
Garner played Garner as only Garner can. For this short lived series, he was a disreputable sheriff in one horse western town in the early 20th century. The great Margot Kidder played the saloon keeper, a sorta equivalent of Kitty on Gunsmoke. It was clear, however, that her saloon offered more than a drink and a song. Above all, Nichols was really funny.
|Page 1 of 3:||  |
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|