This 1978 made for TV film is heavy on nostalgia and charm but weak on plot. James Garner, who had played Brett Maverick in the original "Maverick" series from 1957 to 1960, returned to the role after 18 years. Fans of Garner and/or the original series will be pleased to see him back in the role that made him famous. Overall, however, "The New Maverick" is a disappointment, suffering as it does from a conflict of purpose.
The film introduces Charles Frank as Ben Maverick, son of cousin Beau Maverick (played by Roger Moore in the original series). The ostensible goal of "The New Maverick" was to serve as a pilot for a series starring Frank, but Garner steals the show, such as it is. Frank can't begin to match Garner's charm and wit. The paper-thin plot revolves around the Mavericks entering a chase for a shipment of stolen gatling guns. Jack Kelly returns as Brett's brother Bart, but his arrival with only 14 minutes left in the film has the feeling of an extended cameo. Susan Sullivan shines in a supporting role as Poker Alice, a card player who is Brett's match at the table.
The "Young Maverick" series that this film spawned lasted all of eight episodes the next season. Television executives finally realized the public didn't want Maverick without Garner, and he returned to the role one more time for a revival of the series in the 1981-82 season. (Trivia: Hy Averback, who directed this film, also directed several episodes of M*A*S*H* and was the voice heard over the camp loudspeaker in that series.)--William C. Hall