Monday, April 13, 2020

Bret Maverick

Bret Maverick is an American Western television series starring James Garner in the role that made him famous in the 1957 series created by Roy Huggins and titled Maverick: a professional poker player traveling alone year after year through the Old West from riverboat to saloon. The series aired on NBC from December 1, 1981 to May 4, 1982. In this sequel series, Maverick has settled down in Sweetwater, Arizona Territory, where he owns a ranch (The Lazy Ace) and is co-owner of the town's saloon (The Red Ox). However, Maverick is still always on the lookout for his next big score, and continues to gamble and practice various con games whenever the chance arises. The series was developed by Gordon Dawson, and produced by Garner's company Cherokee Productions (mistakenly dubbed "Comanche Productions" on the end credits) in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Almost two decades after the original Maverick series, and a few years after his appearance in the 1978 TV-movie The New Maverick, Bret Maverick has put down roots in the frontier community of Sweetwater, Arizona Territory where he's now the silent partner of the Red Ox saloon that he won in a card game. Maverick's still a gambler, and is not above running various con games to help make the money he needs to keep his businesses afloat. Because of this, he's viewed with suspicion by many of the town's more prominent citizens, especially the town's newly appointed sheriff.

Bret's business partner is Tom Guthrie (Ed Bruce), the town's former sheriff and co-owner of the Red Ox Saloon. (Actor Ed Bruce, a noted country singer, also co-wrote and performed the show's theme song.) Bret's penchant for organizing cons and money-making schemes of questionable legality means that he and ex-sheriff Guthrie are often at odds with each other, although they still remain friends. Also seen as series regulars are Richard Hamilton as Cy Whitaker, the aging but feisty foreman of Maverick's ranch; Ramon Bieri as prosperous local banker Elijah Crow; Darleen Carr as Mary Lou "M.L." Springer, the fetching owner, editor, and photographer of the local newspaper; David Knell as Rodney Catlow. M.L.'s young assistant; and John Shearin as Mitchell Dowd, the town's arrogant and ineffectual sheriff.

Also seen frequently are three actors who were carry-overs from Garner's previous series The Rockford Files. Stuart Margolin ("Angel" on The Rockford Files) appears in a recurring role as crooked Native American Philo Sandeen; frequent Rockford Files bit player Jack Garner (James' brother) plays the role of Jack, the Red Ox's bespectacled bartender; and Luis Delgado (James Garner's longtime stand-in, and "Officer Billings" on Rockford) plays Red Ox employee Shifty Delgrado. Semi-regulars included Tommy Bush as the inept but friendly Deputy Sturgess, and Marj Dusay as Kate Hanrahan, the town's local madam.

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