Saturday, September 20, 2014

Maverick: The Complete Fourth Season - A Warner Archive TV Series Review

I've recently been happy to spend more time with my favorite TV series, MAVERICK, as I have reviewed the beautiful Season 4 release of the show from the Warner Archive.

I reviewed the Season 3 set in late July. Whereas Season 3 contained 26 episodes in one case, Season 4 comes in two cases, "Part One" and "Part Two," with each case containing 16 episodes on four discs.

Like Season 3, Season 4 is a very fine-looking set. MAVERICK fans will be delighted to own it, and I encourage those who don't yet know the series to check it out.

James Garner had left the show by this point, and the very first episode of Season 4, "The Bundle From Britain," introduces Cousin Beau Maverick, played by Roger Moore. (Yes, it's explained why a Maverick has a British accent!) Moore proved to be a fine addition to the show; like costar Jack Kelly (Bart Maverick), Moore was at home in both the lighthearted episodes and the more dramatic stories.

Near the end of the season the show also introduced Robert Colbert as brother Brent Maverick in two episodes, "The Forbidden City" and "Benefit of Doubt." (He's seen below with Kelly and Moore.) Colbert seems to have been chosen for his resemblance to Garner, but the less said about his flat and uninspired performance, the better. Colbert has had a long and successful career as a working actor, including an extended run on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, but he was simply the wrong fit here.

Season 4 also has one final Garner episode, "The Maverick Line," which had been intended as the season premiere before it was realized Garner would leave the show. It's a fun episode with both brothers and Buddy Ebsen as a genial outlaw.

Chief among the Season 4 highlights is "Hadley's Hunters," a Jack Kelly episode with several Warner Bros. TV Western stars making cameos, including Clint Walker, John Russell, and Ty Hardin. The great cast also includes Edgar Buchanan, George Kennedy, and perennial '50s Western villain Robert J. Wilke.

Other favorites include Moore and guest star Merry Anders in "The Town That Wasn't There," in which an entire town moves and then moves again; "Bolt From the Blue," a Moore episode written and directed by Robert Altman; Jeanne Cooper and Michael Pate in "Flood's Folly," a Moore episode with travelers stranded by a blizzard; the Kelly episode "Dodge City or Bust"; and "Triple Indemnity," another Kelly episode which marked Peter Breck's first appearance in his recurring role as Doc Holliday, taking over from Gerald Mohr who played the part twice earlier in the series run.

I especially enjoyed revisiting "Substitute Gun" for the first time in years. When I watched the series years ago, the name of guest star Coleen Gray meant nothing to me. Since then I've come to appreciate her film career, seen her speak on two occasions, and had the pleasure of an hour-long phone interview. It was a lot of fun seeing her play opposite Jack Kelly in the episode.

In addition to being a good-looking set, the discs have a nice robust sound quality. The closing theme song sounds terrific.

While it's true that the first two to three seasons of the series are the strongest, for me any season of MAVERICK stands head and shoulders over most other television. I've watched these episodes countless times, and I'll be watching them again in the future, thrilled to have them on DVD at last.

Highly recommended.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD collection. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website. Please note that the initial sets of this series sold at the Warner Archive site are traditionally replicated (pressed) rather than burned on demand.


Blogger Terence Towles Canote said...

Great review, Laura! Alongside Have Gun--Will Travel and The Wild Wild West, Maverick is my favourite TV Western. I love Hadley's Hunters for the cameos of all the Warner TV stars (even Edd Byrnes from 77 Sunset Strip)!

3:30 PM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Was Brent actually another brother? It seemed so, but when I watched those two episodes I found it just a little vague (deliberately, I hope). I'd more readily accept him as another cousin, and I think this was the one serious mistake ever made on MAVERICK. For me, the foundation of the whole show was Bret and Bart as brothers (the ONLY Maverick brothers)--I always liked Kelly as well as Garner but regret Garner leaving simply because it deprived us of more "brothers" episodes like "The Maverick Line" which was most enjoyable as their final one together and Garner's last. I thought Moore was just fine as a cousin, but that they just should have considered longer about what to do after he left because Colbert was not going to work and didn't. Jack Kelly sustained the show well to the end through the briefer final season and though I don't think Peter Breck was as made for Doc Holiday as Gerald Mohr had been--it's a lighter version of the character so he could be recurring--he did kind of make it his own. And I'll add I have a place in my heart for Breck, who carried off one of the more dramatic lead roles in any movie of the 60s in "Shock Corridor" (1963; Samuel Fuller)--however, that movie is light years away from MAVERICK so I'm going way off trail.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks so much, Terry! While I saw THE WILD WILD WEST as a kid, thanks to my brother's interest, I've yet to catch up with HAVE GUN - WILL TRAVEL. On my future list!

Best wishes,

4:43 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Blake!

Yes, Brent was a brother, but you have the right idea -- when I first got to know the show I called him "Cousin Brent" because I was never going to accept or believe him as a Maverick brother! LOL. The poor guy was in so far over his head, and the writing of those shows wasn't so good either. I agree, it's the only serious mistake the show ever made.

I don't know that Breck movie at all! It's fun that two MAVERICK semiregulars, Breck and Richard Long, went on to costar on THE BIG VALLEY.

Thought of you watching the "Dutchman's Gold" episode -- the theme music is bizarre, but I've always liked Mala Powers thanks to first meeting her in this show.

Have planned to drop you a line and catch up, hope you are well and hope to see you soon!

Best wishes,

4:47 PM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

I remember the "Hadley's Hunters" episode from when it was first broadcast with great affection. I loved that it had star guests from the other WB western series.

Talking of which, and referring to Blake's comments, I also remember a good episode from the "SUGARFOOT" TV series "Trial Of The Canary Kid" that also featured star guests similarly PLUS Adam West as Doc Holliday. So there is another actor playing Doc in a WB episode from that time.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for the info about the SUGARFOOT episode, Jerry! That sounds really fun. :)

Best wishes,

6:43 PM  

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