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Maverick (TV series)

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Maverick TV Series: Duel at Sundown (1965)

Maverick is an American Western television series with comedic overtones created by Roy Huggins. The show ran from September 22, 1957 to July 8, 1962 on ABC and stars James Garner as Bret Maverick, an adroitly articulate cardsharp. Eight episodes into the first season, he was joined by Jack Kelly as his brother Bart, and from that point on, Garner and Kelly alternated leads from week to week, sometimes teaming up for the occasional two-brother episode. The Mavericks were poker players from Texas who traveled all over the American Old West and on Mississippi riverboats, constantly getting into and out of life-threatening trouble of one sort or another, usually involving money, women, or both. They would typically find themselves weighing a financial windfall against a moral dilemma. More often than not, their consciences trumped their wallets since both Mavericks were intensely ethical. When Garner left the series after the third season due to a legal dispute, Roger Moore was added to the cast as their cousin Beau Maverick. Robert Colbert appeared later in the fourth season as a third Maverick brother, Brent Maverick. No more than two of the series leads ever appeared together in the same episode, and usually only one.

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Maverick is an American Western television series with comedic overtones created by Roy Huggins. The show ran from September 22, 1957 to July 8, 1962 on ABC and stars James Garner as Bret Maverick, an adroitly articulate cardsharp. Eight episodes into the first season, he was joined by Jack Kellyas his brother Bart, and from that point on, Garner and Kelly alternated leads from week to week, sometimes teaming up for the occasional two-brother episode. The Mavericks were poker players from Texas who traveled all over the American Old West and on Mississippi riverboats, constantly getting into and out of life-threatening trouble of one sort or another, usually involving money, women, or both. They would typically find themselves weighing a financial windfall against a moral dilemma. More often than not, their consciences trumped their wallets since both Mavericks were intensely ethical.

When Garner left the series after the third season due to a legal dispute,Roger Moore was added to the cast as their cousin Beau Maverick. Robert Colbert appeared later in the fourth season as a third Maverick brother, Brent Maverick. No more than two of the series leads ever appeared together in the same episode, and usually only one.

Budd Boetticher directed several of the early episodes of the first season.

The show was part of the Warner Bros. array of Westerns, which included CheyenneColt .45LawmanBroncoThe Alaskans, and Sugarfoot.

Cast – James Garner as Bret Maverick

Bret Maverick is the epitome of a poker-playing rounder, always seeking out high-stakes games and rarely remaining in one place for long. The show is generally credited with launching Garner’s career, although he had already appeared in several movies, including Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend with Randolph Scott, and had filmed an important supporting role in Sayonara with Marlon Brando, which wasn’t released until December 1957 but had been viewed by Huggins and the Warner Bros. staff casting their new television series. Maverick often bested The Ed Sullivan Show and The Steve Allen Show in the television ratings.

280px-James_Garner_Bret_Maverick_Jack_Kelly_Bart_MaverickJames Garner as Bret Maverick and Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick

Huggins inverted the usual cowboy hero characteristics familiar to television and movie viewers of the time. Bret Maverick was vocally reluctant to risk his life, though he typically ended up being courageous in spite of himself. He frequently flimflammed adversaries, but only those who deserved it. Otherwise he was honest almost to a fault, in at least one case insisting on repaying a questionable large debt (in “According to Hoyle”).

None of the Mavericks were particularly fast draws with a pistol. Bart once commented to a lady friend, “My brother Bret can outdraw me any day of the week, and he’s known as the Second Slowest Gun in the West.” However, it was almost impossible for anyone to beat them in any sort of a fistfight, perhaps the one cowboy cliché that Huggins left intact (reportedly at the insistence of the studio).

Critics have repeatedly referred to Bret Maverick as arguably the first TV anti-hero, and have praised the show for its photography and Garner’s charisma and subtly comedic facial expressions. Nonetheless, most TV anti-heroes, such as Eddie HaskellDr. Zachery Smith, and J. R. Ewingare at heart self-serving and egocentric, a description that does not fit any Maverick.

Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick

Though Garner was originally supposed to be the only Maverick, the studio eventually hired Jack Kelly to play brother Bart, starting with the eighth episode. The producers had realized that it took over a week to shoot a single episode, so Kelly was hired to rotate with Garner as the series lead, using two separate crews (while occasionally appearing together). In Bart’s first episode, “Hostage!” in order to engender audience sympathy for the new character, the script called for him to be tied up and beaten by an evil police officer.

280px-James_Garner_Jack_Kelly_Maverick_1959James Garner and Jack Kelly as Bret and Bart Maverick

According to series creator Roy Huggins in his Archive of American Television interview, the two brothers were purposely written to be virtual clones, with no apparent differences inherent in the scripts whatsoever. This included being traveling poker players, loving money, professing to be cowards, spouting intriguing words of advice their “Pappy” passed down to them, and carrying a $1,000 bill pinned to the inside of a coat for emergency purposes. There was however, one distinct—but accidental—difference between the two. Garner’s episodes tended to be more comedic due to his obvious talent in that area, while Kelly’s were inclined to be more dramatic. Huggins noted in the aforementioned Archive of American Television interview that Kelly, while funnier than Garner “off camera,” dropped a funny line on it “like a load of coal”. Garner, at 6 feet 3 inches (1.9 m), was also two inches (5 cm) taller than Kelly, leading a character in one episode (“Seed of Deception”) to refer to Garner as “the big one” and the 6’1″ Kelly as “the little one.”

To get disappointed viewers used to the idea of a second Maverick, Garner filmed a series of brief vignettes that aired at the beginning of the Kelly-only episodes, where he would introduce the evening’s story. To foster as much parity as possible, Kelly did the same in a Garner-only episode, “Black Fire,” by appearing in the opening vignette to introduce the story and narrating the remainder of the episode.

While Kelly developed a following among the show’s female fans, not everyone was happy with his addition to the cast. The chairman of Kaiser Aluminum, the series’ main sponsor at the time, became so perturbed when Kelly was brought in (saying, “I paid for red apples and I get green apples!”) that ABC had to make a new deal that cost the network a small fortune.

The episodes featuring both Garner and Kelly were audience favorites, with critics frequently citing the chemistry between the Maverick brothers.  Bret and Bart often found themselves competing for women or money, or working together in some elaborate scheme to swindle someone who had just robbed one of them.

Though it was never said explicitly, Bret appears to be the older, stating once in response to someone mentioning lightning striking twice in the same place, “That’s just what my Pappy said when he looked in my brother Bart’s crib.” In real life, Kelly was seven months older than Garner. Kelly wound up being the only Maverick to appear in all five seasons of the series in the wake of Garner’s departure after the third season to successfully pursue a film career.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maverick_(TV_series)

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