UPDATE: Maverick is currently showing on the Heroes & Icons cable/digital tweener channel, at 11 AM Eastern. If you've never seen this show or missed some of them, be sure to set your DVR if you have one. *****************************************************************
This is the role that made James Garner, and as much as I like his later work, for me he would never be this much fun to watch again (exception: Support Your Local Sheriff, but that was unquestionably written to capitalize on his Maverick role).
I remembered liking Maverick when I was a kid, but after 40 odd years I didn't remember a single episode or plot line. I can't tell you what a pleasure it was to find this series resurrected on Good Life (Now American Life) TV. Sadly, after a few years ALTV abandoned the excellent B&W series they had been showing, and began airing very inferior color series from later years. Yep, I'll take Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip over Time Tunnel and Lost in Space .... EVERY time.
However, when it aired on ALTV, discovering each episode's charm brought my wife and I months of entertainment, and expectation for the next week.
Among some classic episodes to look for are:
* "War of the Silver Kings", this is the first episode and unquestionably one of the best
* "Gun Shy", an absolutely hilarious take off on Gun Smoke
* "A Fellow's Brother", an entertaining story throughout that made me fall out of my chair laughing when presented with the twist that resolved the crises
* "Shady Day at Sunny Acres", in which Bret Maverick spends the majority of the episode in a rocking chair on the town's boardwalk, whittling and uttering the line, "I'm workin' on it"
* "Pappy", wherein you meet the originator of all of Bret's "My old Pappy used to say ..." lines. Garner of course plays dual roles in the episode and does a great job. (So the movie is only the 2nd time he got to play Bret's father!)
I've heard Bret Maverick described as a "coward" and the show described as a western spoof that gets its humor from the cowardice of the hero. I think this is totally wrong.
A decade before Star Trek introduced its "Prime Directive"- that they shouldn't interfere with the development of the civilizations they encounter, a rule they had to repeatedly break if there was to be any story, Bret Maverick was exercising his own "Prime Directive". All that advice from his "Pappy" adds up to one thing: mind your own business and if everyone else minds their own business, you'll be fine. When Maverick is at a gaming table, he's fine. He knows what's going on and can manipulate things to his advantage. When he gets involved in other things, he has the tread water just to keep up.
He's no coward. He can get angry and be aggressive, (especially in the early episodes, when Roy Huggins was still doing much of the writing). He just doesn't want his life to get too messy and would rather use his wits to resolve his problems rather than tactics that are likely to get somebody hurt. He saw too many people get hurt in the war and wasn't impressed.
But, as with "The Prime Directive", if Bret, (or Bart), was allowed to stick to this, there would be no story. So the writers had to come up with something to him involved in other people's business- or them in his.
The first option was to invoke rule #2: Bret doesn't let anybody cross him. If he gets cheated or conned, he will go far out of his way and bend all other rules, if necessary, to get what's coming to him and make sure the cheaters get what's coming to them. The second option was to introduce an attractive female- who may or may not be trustworthy and have her, intentionally or not, seduce Maverick into helping her solve her problems. Then, there's always money. Everybody has to bend rules when they are broke and a gambler frequently finds his luck running against him and will be willing to take a job- even a dangerous- one in such circumstances. Finally, there are occasions when, against his-and Pappy's better judgment, Maverick just has to do the right thing. These weaknesses and inconvenient strengths endear the character to the audience.
So does Maverick's generally sunny disposition. When he's minding his own business, he figures things will work out. Even when he's in trouble, he somehow always seems to figure he will get out of it somehow and takes temporary defeats in stride. Someone said that "Maverick" is "The Rockford Files" out west. Of course, "Maverick" came first. There are similarities. But Rockford is more world-weary, lest trustful of what the future may bring. A stretch in jail will do that do you. With him, avoiding complications is even more important. He does detective work because it's what he knows but he really just wants to make enough money to go fishing with his Pappy. Maverick stills see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
"Maverick" ran for only five seasons. Early on, it was decided that the series would be best served by having two Mavericks, Bart, played by James Garner and Bret, played by Jack Kelly. By alternating the two leads, the productions for each's scripts could be shot at the same time. This led to the show's technical peculiarity. It had only one supervising producer and script supervisor, Roy Huggins, who was its creator; and he used four female assistants as script supervisors. Also, he employed 36 directors, 39 different writers, 17 cinematographers, 40 film editors, 8 art directors and 7 property masters all under Perry Ferguson as chief art director, 20 set decorators, 10 makeup personnel and 31 second-unit directors. This classic B/W show featured satires, dramas, adventures and comedies. It was inexpensively made sometimes, but offered attractive costumes and good actors, utilizing narration by the leads and clips from the Warner Brothers film library to avoid having to stage elaborate scenes. The Maverick brothers were designed by Roy Huggins to violate the Code of the West. While they could fight, and shoot, very bravely and effectively, they preferred not to fight, not to save people at great risk, not to do foolish things on a dare and not to keep up appearances. The show's creator also innovatively employed sidekicks for his leads, unusually frequently, and hired talented lead guest actors plus developing a stock company of continuing characters including Diane Brewster as larcenous and lovely Samantha Crawford, Kathleen Crowley as Melanie Blaine, Mike Road as Pearly Gates, Leo Gordon as Big Mike, and Gerald Mohr as Johnny Balero. Later, in 1960, Roger Moore played Beau Maverick, and Robert Colbert was added as cousin Brent in 1961, when Garner left the series. The leads played Texas men, a maverick being a name given to unbranded cattle in that part of the country. They gambled professionally, and continually sought after a large-enough prize to satisfy their hopes--which always eluded them somehow. Because of budgetary constraint, the writing and directing for the show were its hallmarks of quality, plus its fine guest stars. Memorable among these to me, who saw the original series, were Julie Adams, Mona Freeman, Buddy Ebsen, Abby Dalton, Ben Gage, Ruta Lee, Arthur Shields, Tol Avery, Gage Clark and many others. The ranks of the series' writers included TV stalwarts Ron Bishop, Carey Wilber, George Slavin, Gerald Drayson Adams, Wells Root, James O'Hanlon, Irene Winston, Marion Hargrove and Leo Townsend. The episode each week might be light-hearted or a dangerous mystery; frequently one Maverick or another sought a monetary prize at some risk or was cheated, kidnapped or involved in a hazardous business. Garner, with his touch for comedy, was usually given more laughs per hour. In his scripts; he fought, romanced, played cards, observed, commented and was misused. But the narrative lines of Jack Kelly's scripts were every bit as good or better, although he avoided the physical with more dexterity. The hallmark of the series I suggest was that it was about objectivists--purposive men who dealt with reality as they found it, without employing denial, wishful thinking or conventional or religious self-delusions. "My 'ol Pappy used to say," one of the brothers would drawl, and then he would proceed to state the truth, setting wisdom against the usual way men looked at things. The show is was pure Roy Huggins; he employed noted directors and talented producers such as Coles Trapnell, William P. D'Angelo, Howie Horwitz, Arthur W. Silver, William L. Stuart plus fine actors to get the result he wanted. Without him, "Maverick" would not be the "legend of the West" it has become; along with "Cheyenne", "Bonanza" and "Gunsmoke", the program was a towering hit and a trend-setting show at a time when the character-based western was deservedly eclipsing all other genres. The series was adult,American and a delight, at a time when individualism was still a desirable philosophical goal to U.S. citizens and not a buzzword for its opponents to misuse while they attacked the concept. The man who lives by his own standards is only dangerous to the bad guys; the Maverick outsmarted the honest and cheated only criminals. They went "riding the trail to who knows where" as their theme song said, with luck as a companion and an intelligent gamble as their way of life. We loved them in 1957; we who enjoyed their adventures then miss them today. They and their self-assertive sort.
It's amazing how many "cool"" guys there were in the late '50s playing the heroes in television westerns. There was the "king of cool" Steve McQueen as "Josh Randall" in "Wanted: Dead Or Alive," Richard Boone as "Paladin" in "Have Gun, Will Travel," and more.
That more included James Garner as "Maverick." He was one of those guys the ladies thought was attractive and the men liked, too, a man's man and a ladies' man at the same, time. "Brett Maverick" was hip, cool under pressure, a fast-talker with quick wit, a great poker player, suave and sophisticated but physically tough if all else failed. However, he preferred to use his brains over his brawn.
Maverick's humor, I think, endeared him to the public the most of all his attributes. You can thank James Garner for that, because he was always funny in any movie role that asked for humor. He downgraded his acting ability, but we all know better. Garner made this a very, very popular show.
Eventually, brothers Bart and Beau were introduced in the series but I was disappointed if I saw Garner wasn't going to star that week.
It was appropriate he had a role in the 1990s movie starring Mel Gibson, who did Garner's character proud.
My hope is that some day individual Mavrick seasons will come out on DVD.
I still remember as a lad when Maverick made its debut on the ABC network. It was on Sunday nights at 7:30 and with that early half an hour start, it knocked the stuffings out of Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen who had their shows begin at 8:00 in the Nielsen ratings.
Maverick was unlike any western that had been on television before. Previously you had heroes stand tall and tangle with villainy head on. Maverick was no coward, but he never went looking for trouble and he never would look for a face to face confrontation if a little back channel maneuvering would work as well.
The show started the precedent that Law and Order, Criminal Intent is using now to give star Vincent Donofrio some rest with having Chris Noth and another female partner solve crimes on alternate weekends. James Garner was the original Bret Maverick and later Jack Kelly was brought in as brother Bart. Later on we had cousin Beau and another brother Brent played by Roger Moore and Robert Colbert.
Those last two we never even see the episodes with them. James Garner wanted a feature film career and Maverick helped launch him in one. His best efforts have always been when he's played a variation on Maverick and that would include his later hit series, The Rockford Files.
Unfortunately Jack Kelly never got the same break as Garner. But Bart was also pretty good at thinking on his feet as well. Still he was good performer and the Bart episodes do hold their own. And the shows they did together, pure magic.
Maverick was not only one of the greatest westerns ever, it was one of the greatest TV shows ever. It had just the right combination of action, adventure, comedy, and drama. It is a series that would do well in any generation. You could make a case for Bret being TV's first anti-hero. He admits to being a coward, he pulls scams, he gambles, and he loves money. However, when the situation calls for it, he will step up and do the right thing. Plus, most of the people he scams are people who are scam artists themselves. This is James Garner's signature role, and it is just amazing to watch how good his performances are. He is just so charismatic that you can't help, but root for him. Contrary to what some might have you believe, the series was not just about Bret. Along the way he is joined by his brother Bart, played by the very talented and under-appreciated Jack Kelly. It is amazing, because Kelly's appearance was only supposed to be a one-shot deal, but he and Garner had so much chemistry that they decided to keep him on as a regular. My favorite episodes are the ones that feature both Bret and Bart. After Garner left the series in 1960, Kelly did a great job of keeping the Maverick brand going for two more years. While Bret had his fair share of female companions, Bart was more of the ladies' man. It was actually kind of funny just to see how easily he would fall in love. After Bret left, then came cousin Beau, played by future 007, Roger Moore. This must of been one of his first big roles in America. Although, he was only there for one season (15 episodes), Beau proved himself to be worthy of carrying on the Maverick tradition. There ended up being a third Maverick brother, Brent, played by Robert Colbert. However, he only lasted two episodes, and I truthfully didn't think much of him. To me, he just did not have the charm and charisma that Bret, Bart, and Beau displayed. If you have Encore Westerns, it is something definitely worth checking out.
My old pappy says this is a signature series of the 50's that lives up to its name. It took the producers time to figure out that gold lay not in the direction other Westerns were taking, but in an untraveled direction. In 1958, a Western with a comedic format was still a foreign concept since it was hard to build up to a gunfight with belly laughs. Of course, the matinée cowboys (Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, et al.) included a side-kick for comic relief, but the lead cowboy was always the truest and the fastest on the block. Probably no movie genre stuck more closely to formula than the American Western. That is, until Maverick. Nonetheless, the signature tongue-in-cheek took time to evolve; like a strong friendship, it didn't suddenly spring forth with the first installment.
By my reckoning, the first 30 or so entries had parts that looked like any other Western of the day, ie. gunplay, fist-fights, etc, and it wasn't until episode # 37 "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres" that we got 60 minutes of pure Maverick. Here it was a battle of wits from beginning to end with sly running gags, colorful characters, and nary a drop of blood in sight. It's at this point that the series discovered itself, and likely the audience discovered a very different kind of Western.
The biggest problem the series had was keeping lead actor James Garner from jumping ship into the better-paying world of movies. Likely, it was Garner's exceptional comedic skills that moved the series in a humorous direction in the first place. He had such an obvious flair that I think the format came to fit him rather than vice-versa. But TV had a reputation of "using up" actors before casting them aside. So, it's understandable that Garner would use his new leverage to negotiate into the more stable environment of film. But that created cast problems for the producers. The series was pretty much identified with Garner's Bret character. Jack Kelly was an able second banana, but lacked the skills to carry the show. Thus the lead casting bounced around some, depending on Garner's availability. As a result, we came to find that the Maverick family has a number of off-shoots, including Beau (a smooth Roger Moore) and Brent (a rather inept Robert Colbert).
Often overlooked is how well the series tapped into a neglected aspect of Americana. During the Cold War Americans were told the Soviets had a popular advantage, because their national game was chess, a highly cerebral contest of move and counter-move that requires great concentration and sometimes hours to complete. Aside from prodigy Bobby Fischer, the US produced few chess players of note. No, our national game is not the prestigious pursuit of chess, but a case can be made for America's love for good old plain-faced poker. Thousands of neighborhoods enjoy a low-stakes version, as well as the high-stakes casino variety. Surprisingly poker turns up rarely on the screen, perhaps because it's a game of chance associated with gambling, an activity condemned by many. Now chance does play a role in poker, otherwise known as "the luck of the draw". But knowing how to play your cards requires real skill, and just as importantly, being able to "read" your opponent.
Note in Maverick how many pearls of wisdom are drawn not only from dear old Pappy, but from how to play a good hand of poker. I think people enjoyed hearing pearls like "never draw to an inside straight, except...", especially when combined with the usual Maverick dose of wry good humor. So how surprising is it that millions of amateur players tuned in weekly to see their game legitimized on the screen and maybe pick up a few pointers at the same time.
It wasn't all aces, of course, especially in regard to production values. After all, the show was, like most of the day, modestly budgeted. Going into the wide open spaces usually meant crossing the tree line from the Warner Bros. sound stages to the backlot and moving around some of the many fake boulders. But that was okay since the show's appeal wasn't authenticity or scenery. What wasn't okay, in my book at least, was the sloppy matching of stock shots with the backlot footage. Thus, we'd get a shot of someone riding across backlot trees and foliage and the next progression shot of him riding across the barren red rock country of Arizona! Maybe that happens on Mars, but not on planet Earth. I could understand this lack of continuity from an independent production, but not from a big-time studio like Warner Bros.
The show never relied on big-name stars or celebrities to boost its appeal, unlike, say, the popular Wagon Train or Bonanza. That meant, for one, that the scripts had to be unusually good. The writers could not rely on stock situations to drive the plot once the format shifted from melodrama to sly tongue-in-cheek. But now, the screenplays had to come up with contests where the Maverick boys could outwit opponents and generate some laughs at the same time. Scriptwriters didn't always succeed, but when they did, the result was unlike anything else at the time. In fact, if memory serves, ABC even scheduled the show opposite CBS's perennial Sunday evening blockbuster, The Ed Sullivan Show. Pretty fast company for an hour that started off as just another Western.
All in all, however, I think the best measure is that over the years, "Maverick" managed to dig not only a small niche into popular consciousness, but also into the traditional fund of American folklore. Even people who've never seen the show think "sly poker player" when they hear the name. I guess the producers knew how to play the game, after all.
(See my review of "A Fellow's Brother", episode 11, season 3, for discussion of the series' slyly subversive content.)
This was one of the best TV Westerns to come out of the golden age of the 1950's television. For the five seasons that it ran on the ABC-TV network from 1957 to the final episode in early 1962,"Maverick" was in a class by itself especially with the performance given by James Garner as the suave and sophisticated man of the West-Bret Maverick,a gambler,all-around gentlemen with the ladies,and a man who was quick with a gun when it came to handling difficult situations. In some of the episodes,some of the situation that Maverick would get into and sometimes he would get out of them as well would be set toward his facial expressions;a virtual three-ring circus of sorts was something to look at,even though that was a Western,but a TV western that was aimed at adult audiences,but kids were watching it too. But "Maverick" had something that the other Westerns lacked-a flair for comedy,and during James Garner's tenture,his genius for comedy was inspirational not to mention having his character become a rather "cool" for taking care of business situations while at the same time,having a serious like businessman approach. This would work well during James Garner's second TV series-"The Rockford Files",years later. After Garner's departure,the solo outings from various actors,would prove that when watching them,you can see just how good "Maverick" really was. However,the other actors,including Jack Kelly as Bret's brother Bart along with Robert Colbert(as Brent Maverick),and their British cousin Beau Maverick(played by Roger Moore)including others that would make their stride including Richard Long and Efrem Zimbalist,Jr. during the show's five year-run. This was a string of TV Westerns that ABC-TV and Warner Bors. cranked out including "Cheyenne","Sugarfoot",and the Western adventure,"The Alaskans" during the early years of television.
During the 1950's and part of the early 1960's,there were mainly several types of shows;you had the regular quiz show/game show concept, family oriented comedies,crime dramas,action-adventure fare,and westerns. During its run,Maverick brutally satirized two of the most popular Westerns of their day;Gunsmoke and Bonanza,in different episodes,not to mention it also satirized another show too;Wagon Train, which was in another episode. Recently cable's TVLand,brought back these episodes after years out of circulation,and their rerunning these episodes every so often,so catch them when you can.
James Garner's acting on 1957's TV series "Maverick" is superbly inspired but usually underrated because he memorably told the press at the time that he "can't act. I'll learn if I have to, but so far I haven't had to." This modest refusal to champion himself publicly resulted in his performances being taken much more for granted, but viewed today, it's apparent that here was a world-class talent throwing himself into every scene, registering a virtual three-ring circus of facial expressions; there is always something going on to look at, in severe contrast to most of the other TV western leads of the era. Jack Kelly, normally a more pedestrian performer, lights up to incandescence in his scenes with Garner and their astonishing chemistry vaults the series' fantastic entertainment value phenomenally, although Kelly's solo outings aren't in the same league and his acting seemed to deteriorate along with the quality of some of the scripts in the wake of Garner's departure. Kelly was completely and utterly lacking Garner's genius for comedy, except when working directly with Garner.
I always thought of Garner's character's warmth as being his hallmark trait, perhaps as a result of years of seeing "The Rockford Files," but upon recently studying the "Maverick" tapes it became apparent that his character was basically cool and chilly, almost businesslike with an Indiana Jones-like seriousness in his routine comportment, but quite warm with friends. This surprised me. When people refer to Bret Maverick as "cool," they're actually much more correct than I ever would've assumed.
Unlike most reviewers, I watched "Maverick" when I was a little girl and enjoyed it. However, many of the reviews distort what this series was about, thinking that because James Garner became a star as a result of it, he was the entire show, and that Jack Kelly wasn't any good, let alone Roger Moore. Garner definitely was NOT the whole show although he was obviously a world-class actor who was superior in his reaction to situations. The strength of the show was not with any particular actor- -it was in the writing. The writing was top-notch and clearly tongue- in-cheek. You don't see this type of writing in modern television programs. "Maverick" was the jewel of the crown of the great Warner Brothers westerns of the late 1950s.
Garner left in a contract dispute after the third season, but I have found the Kelly shows during the first three seasons and thereafter were just as good as any of the Garner episodes. I also enjoyed watching the Roger Moore episodes of the fourth season. When I was younger, I, like most of the reviewers, tended not to watch the episodes with Kelly and Moore and focused only on Garner. That was my loss, for these shows were consistently good no matter who the lead actor was.
I believe if you are going to review a television series that had rotating lead actors as this one had, you should watch the entire series, not pick out episodes because a particular actor is in it.
I just finished watching the last part of a February 1959 episode that had Clint Eastwood as a guest and it was great like most of the shows were. This show reminds me of how good television can be (but rarely is).On a personal level, it reminds me that this show was one of the few good things about the so-called good old days.
In the 50s (when I was young), there were mainly two types of shows: quiz show and westerns. Maverick brutally satirized two of the most popular, Gunsmoke and Bonanza, in different episodes. Watching either of these alone is enough to demonstrate just how good Maverick really was.
Catch it on TVland when you get the chance. It's worth it...
Although I grew up watching classic television I somehow completely missed Maverick until 2015. Thus while Maverick is an older series it was very new to me. I suppose that is the wonderful thing to realize that there are still great series out there to discover.
I started to watch Maverick specifically because of James Garner. I had recently re-watched the Great Escape (a favorite film of mine) and wanted to see more from Garner. Garner is absolutely wonderful here in his first starring role and it's no surprise that he had a long and very rich career.
However a real surprise for me was Jack Kelly. Before Maverick I had absolutely no idea who Jack Kelly was which is not surprising because while he did a lot of small roles and guest spots, Maverick was definitely the highlight of his career. I am also happy I went into Maverick blind and did not read the many grossly inaccurate reviews that Garner was all there was to Maverick. You will notice that most people who say Kelly did not measure up to Garner admit they "skip the Kelly episodes". Another trend I notice that those who do give Kelly the most credit say they have reevaluated Kelly as an adult and realize they underrated him.
Pretty much with the first 3 seasons whether you watch a Kelly or Garner episode you can't lose. Garner tended to have the best comedy and Western parody scripts while Kelly got the better dramatic and drawing room comedy scripts. It was the contrast between Kelly & Garner that made the series so great along with well written scripts that still stand up as classics today. However the very best episodes had Garner and Kelly together, their chemistry was pure magic and one of the shows biggest mistakes was not giving us more episodes with them together.
Seasons 4 and 5 aren't bad but they definitely don't measure up to the previous 3 seasons (the best of which is season 2). Not only because you have lost Garner at that point but Roy Huggins the producer and creator of the series left at the end of season 2. Most of the best writers also left with him.
For a short time Roger Moore joined the series as cousin Beau. Moore put up a good effort despite weaker scripts but the series would never be the same without Garner. Although if my previous paragraphs were not clear I feel if Kelly had been the one to leave the show he also would have left an irreplaceable hole. Garner of course started the series without Kelly but in those very early episodes the show was still finding itself and is also not the best Maverick has to offer.
However even at its worst, Maverick is still pretty entertaining if not as clever and witty as it once was. You only notice the decline in the later seasons when you have just finished watching the superior earlier seasons.
When Commercial Television raised its head on the scene following the successful conclusion of WORLD WAR II, the Hollywood Studio Moguls seemed to be Hell Bent on the notion of steering clear of the small screen. And, why if we didn't know better, you'd think that there was some sort of conspiracy in force, attempting to stunt the growth, if not kill the hatch-ling Networks.
Well we all know that this could not be. Afterr all, that would be an unlawful business practice, a violation of Anti-Trust Laws. No one here would enter into a pact with those like minded in the "Business' to manipulate the market place so as to give it an unfavourable climate for another entry's conduct of business. This would be a sort of Cartel of Motion Picture Studios.
They did not want their "Stars" to be appearing even as Guest Stars on the small Screened Picture Tube, either* It was an appearance by Humphrey Bogart (Old "Bogey", Himself!) as Guest on "THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM" that seemed to break down the opposition and start the little flow, which would soon be a deluge of Prominent and Currently Popular Film Stars to appear on various Variety and Anthology Comedy and Dramatic shows on the "Tube".
So then came the changes, slowly at first, but decisively and for keeps. At first there the "Big Studio" Weekly Anthology Series. The key here was to present an hour long drama/comedy, often a shorter adaption of a successful Feasture Film. Much like Radio's Lux Hollywood THEATRE, the presentation of the story was newly filmed, but shorter, abridged version, often having changes initiated out of pure necessity.
This 'Anthology' business had worked quite well for Mr. Walt Disney with his "DISNEYLAND" being shown weekly on ABC TV. It was used to show original programming as well as older Theatrical Releases. Walt also used any opportunity to present "behind the scenes" that, also, served as an excellent promotional instrument.
Before long we had "WARNER BROTHERS PRESENTS"' THE 20th CENTURY-FOX HOUR" and "THE MGM PARADE". All three functioned just the same way, and did so well.
The next step was to series TV, and Westerns were tops! Warners gave us "CHEYENNE", "COLT .45", "LAWMAN", "BRONCO", "SUGARFOOT", "THE ALASKANS" and of course, "MAVERICK".
Of them all, "MAVERICK" proved to be the most entertainingly fresh and the most beloved to the viewers, right down to the present. It really had a simple formula at its foundation. It followed the exploits of two brothers, Bret Maverick (James Garner) and Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly). They were not Cowboys or Gun Fighters and certainly not Pioneers, by any stretch of the imagination. They were soft-handed, manicured with clean finger nailed, GAMBLERS! You know, Card Sharks, Tin Horns!
As their Surname would imply and the great Series Theme Song states, they were out there in the West, playing Poker for a living and thus getting themselves into all sorts of situations, Each week it would a different story,with Bret one week the next being Bart's turn. Occasionally a show would team-up the two brothers, then a more complex Story would be the order of the day. There were even some two parters, that were continued to the next week, but not often.
"MAVERICK" enjoyed a lot of Humor, Parody and even some Satire on their weekly play book. And that probably explains why the programs seem much better to this writer when viewed again today, nearly a half a century after their original run.
After several seasons, James Garner walked away from the series, but the the Brfain Trust at Warners TV had an answer. They "imported" an English Couisin. Roger Moore came on board as Cousin Beau Maverick.
Finally in its last season, Robert Colbert was introduced as Brent Maverick, yet another brother.
The series made good use of recurring little bits, that they would go back to every once in a while. For one, James Garner would portray their "Pappy", Beau Maverick. He did an excellent job at it, much like Hal Holbrook's MARK TWAIN one man show, albeit in a more comical impersonation.
Also they used recurring characters like "Dandy Jim" Buckley (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.) and "Gentleman Jack" Darby (Richard Long)were a couple of grifters who the Maverick boys tried to avoid, to no success. One of their best shows had both con-men, as well as some others from previous stories in an episode that involved a'Big Con', which was very much like Universal Pictures' THE STING(1973), the Theatrical Film with Paul Newman & Robert Redford.
NOTE * Quite to the contrary, the Big Studio Brass never seemed to feel the same way the use of Network Radio Shows in helping promote their Pictures by allowing (or even requiring)their Contract Players to appear there. Which means that there would always be an announcement something like "....Be sure to see (STAR's NAME ) in the current (STUDIO's NAME)production of (MOVIE's TITLE), now at your Local theatre!"
The original con men, the Maverick clan usually resolves their issues through brains over brawn.In a time where most westerns were all "shoot em ups" the mavericks would rather con their way into a solution. This was a time where writers actually needed to think about the plots and romance did NOT require explicit camera shots. A refreshing change of pace.
You could say that this is James Garner's Rockford File Prelude. It is much more than that. This series was one of Warner Brother's most successful TV western's which competed successfully against an over weighted number of western series in the late 1950's.
Jack Kelly and James Garner alternated as the star of this show. Late in the series Roger Moore got worked into the mix as well. Every support player usually came out of Warner's movie studio for the most part, but that was plenty of talent in the late 1950's. It took charisma and a smile and a wink to make this work. All the series stars fit the bill.
The scripts for this were well written and allowed the cast to hone their acting for later efforts. Sometimes the show was too good. This show is a logical prelude to The Wild Wild West too though the stunt work on this series and the action stuff was quite a bit tamer here.
The theme song and the animation figures in the opening credits drew in viewers for over 5 years. The poker theme and the riverboat gambler both get glorified in this series. It is an enjoyable look back at the old days, with solid actors anchoring the ride.
Meet the gunslinging, poker-playing, woman-chasing, Maverick brothers, Bret and Bart.
Each week, on TV's Maverick, these 2 handsome, rugged, wisecracking, bachelor dudes of the Old West found themselves in one wild and challenging adventure after another.
Always managing to meet up with a vast array of villains and damsels in distress, the brave and cunning Maverick boys never failed to right the wrongs and, as expected, get down to playing yet another "high stakes" game of poker.
Filmed in b&w, this rip-roaring, good TV Western, from the late 1950s, was a star-studded show that boasted appearances by such well-known actors as Clint Eastwood, Robert Conrad and Roger Moore, to name but a few.
I Would like to see a good quality DVD set of the Maverick series. I know of none. I have been watching on Encore and Would be interested in good a decent quality DVD set of the series. I bought the 22 DVD set from DVDMediastar.com in Canada www.dvdmediastar.com for $USD $79.95 and was very disappointed and returned it. I have seen other sets that are on other web sites and auction sites and have looked at a couple, but they all seem to be the same set or a copy of the set. Quality of these obviously unauthorized DVDs is nothing like the episodes shown on Encore (many show the channel it was taped from in the corner). I doubt that Warner Brothers will release the whole series in an authorized release.
I have just recently found Maverick on TV. I loved this show when it first came on. This was my favorite western on TV in the 50's. Sad to say, but I have gotten older and depend on the closed captions for watching the show since my hearing has long ago mostly left me. I was wondering why some of the shows have closed captions and some do not. Maverick is one of the very few shows left that is not filled with smut. Children can watch this show and not be exposed to the filth that is so common, even in cartoons, these days. I hope more old shows will be rerun. Parents would't have to block so much TV if the old ones came back. I would certainly watch them all, (that is if they have closed caption). I am hoping this will be on all the episodes of Maverick soon. Thank you, Lowell Garland