Warner Home Video just released Maverick: The Complete Second Season on DVD and I had a chance to take a look at it before it hit the streets.
This 1957 series stars James Gardner as Bret Maverick, a professional gambler who roams the Western United States in search of a good game but usually ends up finding only trouble. To keep things interesting, the series also features Jack Kelly as brother Bart – an almost carbon copy of Bret who was brought on board to allow the series to produce more episodes in a timely manner.
As you move through the episodes, it does seem that the role of Maverick was written to go either way, but Gardner and Kelly both get props for trying to differentiate between the two characters. The main difference between the two is the comedy. The series leaned toward the lighter side and that was more Gardner’s forte than Kelly’s – which is probably why I prefer the Kelly episodes.
When I first cracked open the DVD box, I was again struck by the Alias Smith and Jones tie-ins. The first episode of the second season is called “The Day they Hanged Bret Maverick.” The first episode of Alias Smith and Jones’ second season is called “The Day they Hanged Kid Curry.”
Near the end of the season is “Two Tickets to Ten Strike.” Smith and Jones has “21 Days to Tenstrike.” But, if you watch the Maverick episode “Yellow River,” it has almost the same plot as S&J’s Tenstrike. Not a coincidence.
“Yellow River” also features a very young Robert Conrad in a secondary role. I’m sure his castmates at the time never imagined he’d go on to become a pop culture icon!
This season also features guest appearances by a young Clint Eastwood, Roger Moore (who would later join the series as another Maverick), Martin Landau, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Bonanza’s Dan Blocker.
Not every episode in this season is a hit, but they’re solid, character-based pieces that use good storytelling instead of action to keep things rolling along.
Warner Home Video just released Maverick: The Complete Second Season is available now at Amazon.