ABC (ended 1962)



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out of 10
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157 votes

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Show Summary

Maverick told the story of the Maverick brothers, Bret and Bart, card sharps who lived during the Old West era. The show was originally a straightforward adventure tale, but it evolved when the writers began adding comedy to the scripts. Bret quickly became the television western's first quasi-mercenary, a character who would help the forces of justice but usually only if he stood to profit from doing so. When he resorted to gunfire, he wasn't the West's finest marksman. In fact, he was much more likely to outsmart his opponent or slip out the back door once trouble began. The writers also added a foil for Bret - his brother Bart. Bart was more conservative than the devilish Bret, but just as unlikely to join any fight that could be avoided. The two characters began alternating as leads on the show as they journeyed through small towns with odd names like Oblivion and Apocalypse. Along the way, they associated with fellow card sharps like Dandy Jim Buckley and Gentleman Jack Darby. There was also Samantha Crawford, a lovely female rogue who loved to challenge the Maverick brothers to see who could out-con the other.

All these elements helped make Maverick a television western that stood apart from the crowd. Audiences responded to the mix of traditional Western adventure and good-natured humor, making the show an instant hit. Bret Maverick, in particular, became a hero for many armchair cowboys. As a result, the writers began to play up the comedy elements even more, expanding the storylines to satirize other prime time programming. Maverick lampooned everything from Gunsmoke to Dragnet. The show would also use actors known for other roles, like Edd "Kookie" Byrnes from 77 Sunset Strip, for cameo roles designed to make viewers' heads turn.

Maverick continued to enjoy solid ratings through the end of the 1950's, but hit a snag in 1960 when James Garner left the program over a contract dispute. To replace him, the producers introduced a new Maverick cousin, Beau. Beau had been sent to London for disgracing the family name during the Civil War (by winning a medal). Beau would be played by Roger Moore, who would later move on to greater fame as James Bond. The show also briefly added another brother, Brent, played by Robert Colbert, before finally ending its run in the summer of 1962. Since then, Maverick has continued to be a popular member of the cult television pantheon. Its enduring status as a beloved show led to two short-lived follow-up series, Young Maverick and Bret Maverick. There was also a 1994 movie version of Maverick which featured James Garner alongside Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster. The follow-ups proved that the magical Maverick mixture of laughter and tumbleweeds was an enduring, age defying source of great family entertainment.

Aired Sunday nights at 7:30pm on ABC. The final season aired Sunday nights at 6:30pm

  • R.I.P.

    Maverick and The Rockford Files Star James Garner Is Dead at 86

    The legendary actor passed away on Saturday of natural causes.


    AOL, WB prepare free vintage TV for broadband

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    • A unique Western featuring intelligent dialog, interesting characters, superb acting, and intriguing history.

      Maverick is unique in the annals of TV Westerns. Eschewing the usual soap-opera-esque formulae of lawmen, ranchers, et al, Maverick features the brothers Maverick, who were raised by their old "Pappy" to be footloose and fancy-free card players – until they were 38 years old, at which point, we are told, they were supposed to settle down and raise a family. Not only that, the poker-playing brothers tend to win a variety of interesting pots, ranging from Mexican cantinas to Arabian camels. Thus, the writers were free to set their stories wherever their fancy took them within the historical constraints of the period, specifically, the 1870's, i.e., post-Civil-War America. Given this broad stage, the writers provide the audience with a wide range of settings, ranging from elite San Francisco drawing rooms to cattle drives, and from ocean voyages to gold-mining towns (desperately in need of cats…). Historical situations and characters, such as the Comstock mine and Doc Holliday, are often featured in the show's story lines. In addition to the variety of settings, we are treated to a range of colorful characters, including charming grifters of both sexes, fugitive French aristocracy, and salty sea captains. The usual assortment of sheriffs (crooked and scrupulous), gunslingers (honorable and otherwise) and dance-hall beauties of all stripes are also in evidence. New viewers will appreciate guest spots by such notable (later) stars as Clint Eastwood, Martin Landau, and Buddy Ebsen. Especially memorable is a very young Joel Gray playing Billy the Kid. And although the Maverick brothers are resolute bachelors for the duration, they are invariably gentlemen towards the various beautiful, ambitious, and intelligent women they encounter in each episode. On the other hand, Indians are often portrayed as randomly homicidal, albeit with a few thoughtful exceptions. Also, African American characters are eerily absent from the series, even from episodes set in New Orleans, presumably a sign of the times (the "times" in question being the late 1950's). With those caveats, this reviewer heartily recommends Maverick to all viewers who enjoy intelligent dialog, historical enlightenment, and engaging, thought-provoking plotlines.moreless
    • Changed television forever

      I was 11 when the series began. So prime time in making an impression on me. I liked westerns plenty. Maverick was a cut above the rest but I didn't appreciate how much better until American Life (Free-To-Air on C-Band) replayed the series on Thursdays some years ago. Now that they're on Encore Westerns weekdays, in morning singles and evening pairs, I get a quicker overview. I can barely watch the other Warner Brothers series because they seem staid, self-important. Maverick had an ironic perspective that remains fresh.

      Unlike many other fans I have equal respect for all the seasons. For me the scripts kept to a high standard. I share the view of some that Jack Kelly was an under-appreciated talent. He steered the storylines admirably and with personality. It's a kick to see Roger Moore in his pre-Bond days. His Maverick was like his Bond, a diluted version of the archetype but comfortably watchable.

      The slew of recurring characters (Dandy Jim, Gentleman Jack, etc.) offered a cohesion that extended the family. WB also lavished care on the series by bringing in new talent to fill bit parts. Many of these starters had durable careers subsequently. One of the kicks is spotting them and tracking their growths.

      As its current editor wrote me: "People will relate to this show when cars fly." No doubt.moreless
    • A classy western classic, well ahead of its time ...

      Thanks to Encore's Western Chanel, Maverick rides again! And yes, the episodes appear to be both uncut and commercial free - running in order according to TV.Com's episode guide. As of Tuesday, Aug. 19th : the AM showing is episode #13 from Season 1, and the PM showing is episode 32 from Season 2.

      Maverick was ahead of its time in that the brothers used wit and intelligence to handle the strange situations that they found themselves in week after week. They could ride and shoot and there was often plenty of action, but their pappy didn't raise no foolish children, these boys used their big muscle. They were gamblers and con men, and yet honest and trustworthy - both heroes and anti-heroes, well-before that was considered the cool, 'in' thing.

      Standards were kept high for the writers, the stars and the first rate guest stars that appeared week after week. Unfortunately, as Mad_Buck pointed out in his review, things went downhill a bit once James Garner left the show to concentrate on movies, but it was great fun while it lasted - especially when brothers Bret and Bart were both in the same wild episode.

      This is great stuff, whether you're from the 1950's or not. Although I'm not a fan of b&w or mono sound, this show (with all three brothers : James Garner, Jack Kelly and Roger Moore) is a well-written, high quality classic. Enjoy, Pardnermoreless
    • James Garner James Arness Ken Curtis Milburn Stone Gene Barry

      We need Westerns on TV Today. They showed young children a little about the Old West, and that the Bad Man always came out on the short end of the stick.

      James Garner and James Arness were 2 of the Greatest TV Stars and John Wayne was truly the Best in Movies.

      Back then, the story lines had Real Plots and very Very Interesting to watch. I still watch the Reruns of these shows, including Bat Masterson.

      I GREATLY MISS the Westerns, and I think that Gunsmoke and Maverick were truly the Best on Television. That is just as True Today as it was in the 1950's and Early 1960's.moreless
    • This was a classic TV Western drama.

      James Garner was perfect as Bret Maverick.

      Maverick was and is one of the best westerns to ever appear on television. Even beyond that, it is one of the better shows on television period. The writing was so good that it still holds up to today's standards. The regular cast was outstanding. The guest starts were absolutely fantastic. In this time period of television many famous actors would make appearances on great television shows such as this. Then there were the up and coming actors that would go on to become huge stars and used this as a springboard of sorts. All in all a great show that can still be watched today without missing a beat.moreless

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