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Maverick: The Complete First Season
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Maverick: The Complete First Season
One of the most consistently entertaining shows from Television's Golden Age, this witty meta-Western has lost little of its oomph over the years, thanks to the easy, slightly amoral charm of James Garner, as a hero whose speed on the draw isn't half as important as what's going on underneath his hat. Created by Roy Huggins (The Fugitive), the series follows the adventures of Bret Maverick (Garner), a professional gambler who travels across the plains and prairies looking for the next big game. As the show's popularity increased, the saga expanded with the introduction of Bret's brother Bart (Jack Kelly), a slightly more conservative figure who nonetheless shares his sibling's knack for capitalizing on a double-deal. Admittedly, this introductory season does take a while to distinguish itself from the run-of-the-mill oater, with the first half-dozen episodes functioning as more-or-less traditional genre fare. (The combination of Garner and legendary director Budd Boetticher, however, makes viewing far from a chore.) Once it finds its groove, though, look out, as the show settles into an amiable blend of comedy and action that has rarely been equaled. Throughout these 27 episodes, the wandering nature of the premise allows Maverick to amble into an impressive variety of situations, including ghost stories, adventures at sea (the Bret and Bart combo episode "The Wrecker," based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson), tense saloon standoffs ("The Quick and the Dead," featuring Gerald Mohr as a spooky Doc Holliday), and courtroom dramas (the superb "Rope of Cards," which also introduces Bret's highly addictive variation on solitaire). Entertaining as the plots could be, however, Maverick proves to be at its best when it kicks back and allows its title characters to ply their trade at the tables, especially when the competition includes one of the show's unusually strong female characters, particularly the recurring foil (and fellow cardsharp) Samantha Crawford, played by the delightful Diane Brewster. (Garner, as in the later Huggins-created The Rockford Files, displays particular energy when paired with a costar who gives as good as she gets.) While this compilation features little in the way of extras, Western fans should find it pleasure enough to watch a series whose softly ironic charms have been often imitated, but never quite duplicated. When it's cooking, living on jacks and queens seems like the ideal way to go. --Andrew Wright
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Top Customer Reviews
I normally purchase the complete series of a show rather than individual seasons, but when Season 2 of Maverick is released, I will order it promptly. I just had so much fun watching it the first time over the summer. I started rewatching the series last week, and it is just as much fun the second time.
Money spent on this series is money well spent.
The Mavericks, on the other hand, both Brett and Bart, have very few notches on their guns. Maybe the best show of its time, and one of the best series in TV history, 'Maverick' featured incredibly clever writing and great acting. James Garner is in his prime, playing the slick gambler and original title character. His performances throughout the first three seasons are dead-on, and the character truly was unlike anything the public had seen before. Brett was no gunman, but he could shoot if he had to, and fight as well. But for the most part, he relied on his mind, his imagination, and his charm to extricate himself from dangerous situations. His brother, Bart, played by Jack Kelly, was introduced early in season 1, since the demanding production schedule required that two episodes be filmed simultaneously. Despite being a bit hokey, forgoing the dry, low key wit of Garner for an interesting mix of Jimmy Stewart and Jerry Lewis, Kelly would've been a great solo star. But he came a distant second to Garner, and it took a while for audiences to warm to him. Some of the best episodes featured both brothers, like the classic 'Shady Deal at Sunny Acres' -- which was also the 'inspiration' for the plot of the popular film 'The Sting'.Read more ›