Maverick: The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons Review: Pappy Says Save This For the Old Folks

A nice set compiling two seasons of this classic show with really good video and audio quality.
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Full confession right at the top:  I’ve never, before this review, seen an episode of Maverick.  I’m too young to have watched it on first run, and I’ve never been interested enough to sit down with reruns.  I have however seen the 1994 Mel Gibson/Jodie Foster movie a dozen times or so, though only once intentionally.  For reasons that probably have to do with  the charisma of its stars, the PG rating, my age at its release date, and the age of various chaperones, I unintentionally caught the movie numerous times on youth retreats, college registrations, and miscellaneous other events where a movie was needed to give us something to do in a manner as to not offend anyone.

It has been a long time since I watched the movie but my impression is that it isn’t all that great.  Or at least I remember being mildly disappointed every time the adults would turn it on for one of those safe events.  Yet at the same time I also remember always sort-of enjoying myself once it got rolling.  So much so that as I was watching the show for review I kept wanting to go buy the film.

Maverick, the TV show, ran for five seasons from 1957 to 1962 for a total of 124 episodes. It initially starred James Garner and Jack Kelly as brothers Bret and Bart Maverick.  It was a dramatic western with lots of comedy and romance thrown in for sport.  The brothers are professional gamblers who wander the wild west making their living, running into loads of trouble and having fun with as many women as possible.  After the third season, Garner quit over a contract dispute and Roger Moore, of all people, came in as cousin Beau Maverick.  In the following season Robert Colbert was added as brother Brent Maverick.  

The show rotates its hero from show to show so that one episode will feature Jack Kelly as the lead and then the next will showcase James Garner and back and forth over and over again.  A few times a season an episode will bring in both actors to play off one another.  A typical episode begins with a cold open in which we get a brief look at our villains and a glimpse at what the episode's big drama is going to be over.  Then the credits and our heroes playing cards.  Quickly, they find themselves entangled with the bad guys or the law and some sort of mischief.  There’s always a girl to flirt with, a couple of big dramatic moments, some good old fashioned violence, lots of silliness, some romance, and then it's all cleaned up by the end so one Maverick or the other is ready to move on to the next town and the next storyline.  

The Maverick brothers (and cousins) are pretty interchangeable really.  They all gamble, drink, and love the ladies.  They constantly get into trouble and get themselves out of it in under an hour while making quips and jokes.  I liked the Garner episodes best but that’s probably because I like Garner as an actor and know his work in other things whereas Jack Kelly is a new face to me.  Roger Moore takes a little bit of time to get into his groove and it's a bit ridiculous that this very English (and soon to be James Bond) actor was enlisted to play a very American character in an old fashioned western, but after a couple of episodes he gets the hang of it and it's easy enough to accept the whole thing (the show explains his accent by having had Pappy sent him away to England for a presumed mistake.)  

At the beginning of this review I admitted I’d never watched this show before and now I must recognize that I’m not really the intended customer for the DVD.  I’m too young and I’ve been spoiled by too much great television over the last decade or so.  Maverick is too old fashioned, too predictable for my tastes.  It's well enough made all things considering and entertaining in its way, but not something I can personally recommend.  The best I can say for it is that were I stuck somewhere without Internet or the ability to do anything else, and there was nothing else on TV then I’d let it stay on Maverick and not hate my life.  Though I’d still flip through the channels during commercials in hopes of something better.

But again I am not the intended audience.  I’m sure that my uncle who likely grew up on Maverick or shows like it would love to have these sets.  He’ll probably chastise me for writing this review.  There are thousands out there just like him.  For those people who watched it either in its original air date or in reruns and enjoyed themselves, this is a nice set compiling two seasons of this classic show with really good video and audio quality.

For the rest of us, well there’s probably a West Wing marathon running somewhere.

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