- Series: Maverick
- Season: 1
- Episodes: 27
- Discs: 7
- Cast: James Garner, Jack Kelly
- Network: ABC (Warner Brothers Productions)
- DVD Format: DVD, Black and White, Standard
James Garner plays Bret Maverick a professional gambler. Jack Kelly is his brother, Bart Maverick – a gambler and rogue. The series Maverick mostly centers on Bret but occasionally episodes focus on Bart. On very rare occasions we actually get to see both together. I liked the episodes with both brothers the best, Bret and Bart have great chemistry.
In terms of storylines, this is a semi-anthology show. Stories range from ghost stories and classic mysteries (including a “Five or in this case Six Characters in Search of an Exit” story and an English Manor “and then there were none”-type story) where only the setting is Western but the plots are mysteries or ghost stories. The “English Manor” story, for example, takes place at an isolated ranch, but you still have a bunch of people with nothing in common gathered together and getting bumped off one by one. Other stories are more traditionally “Western” stories, with at least one written by Louis L’Amour. It doesn’t get more Western than something written by L’Amour. There’s even a “12 Angry Men”-type story when Bret gets himself stuck on a jury.
In the first season, we don’t see a lot of stories based on gambling, especially in the second half of the season. Also, this first season, for the most part, is much more serious than what I remember of Maverick from the re-runs I’ve seen on TV. I was expecting more humor in this show, and there is some, but for the most part, this is a semi-anthology with Bart and Bret as flat-arc catalyst characters influencing people around themselves but never actually changing themselves.
There are some interesting women in Maverick. The two meet a woman named Samantha who is as much of a con artist as they are if not more so (she takes Bret for several thousand dollars in a poker game by insisting they play “According to Hoyle” and thus making Bret’s straight an invalid hand. Later, she and Bart end-up being forced together in a complicated attempt to get a reward for some missing engraving plates for US currency. Another interesting woman hires Bret to protect her and a suitcase full of cash for a stagecoach journey. They reach her destination and she deposits the money in a safe deposit box, not a new account. She then gets a loan and opens a newspaper business. Bret, who knows the money is counterfeit, sticks around to see what she is up to. The woman uses the paper to inform the locals that a cattle baron is attacking the local small farmers and running them off their land. Bret falls in love with the woman, so of course, she gets killed in a crossfire. Sigh. Bart also gets to meet some feisty women – but any that he might really care for, die on him. Sigh.
Although Maverick introduces some interesting women, they only survive if the boys, Bret and Bart, show no interest in them whatsoever. The show is much, much worse when it comes to depictions of Native Americans, Hispanics, and Mexicans. Native Americans are depicted as “savages” who only want to kill the “white man”. Hispanics and Mexicans are depicted as bandits and dishonest. This blatant prejudice is pretty disgusting and difficult to watch. It’s also a result of when the show was made more than the time period it depicts, which is probably the 1880s.
Overall, I’m not sure if I’ll buy more of this series. On the one hand, Roger Moore joins the cast eventually, and I think later seasons have more humor. But on the other, I’m not much of a fan of Westerns unless they really aren’t a Western (like The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr or the Wild Wild West).