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    Maverick: The Complete Fourth Season DVD Review

    DVD Warner TV Reviews

    Jan 07 2014 12:39 PM | Richard Gallagher in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    Warner Brothers continues to follow up on its pledge to release the entire series of Maverick on DVD with the release of Maverick: The Complete Fourth Season. As with Season Three, this set is being released under the Warner Archive imprint. Season Four introduces Roger Moore as cousin Beauregard "Beau" Maverick, who had spent the previous five years living in England. Moore, of course, was a replacement for James Garner (Bret Maverick), who was released from his commitment to Warner Brothers after he won a landmark breach of contract lawsuit filed by the studio. Season Four also features a brief and ill-advised attempt to introduce a Garner look-alike, Robert Colbert, as younger brother Brent Maverick.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Warner Brothers
    • Distributed By: Warner Archive
    • Video Resolution: 480I/MPEG-2
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Audio: English 1.0 DD (Mono)
    • Subtitles: None
    • Rating: Not Rated
    • Run Time: 26 Hr. 40 Min.
    • Package Includes: DVD
    • Case Type: Two Flipper DVD Keep Cases
    • Disc Type: DVD-9 (dual layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 01/07/2014
    • MSRP: $49.95

    The Production Rating: 4/5

    Warner Brothers continues to follow up on its pledge to release the entire series of Maverick on DVD with the release of Maverick: The Complete Fourth Season. As with Season Three, this set is being released under the Warner Archive imprint. Season Four introduces Roger Moore as cousin Beauregard "Beau" Maverick, who had spent the previous five years living in England. Moore, of course, was a replacement for James Garner (Bret Maverick), who was released from his commitment to Warner Brothers after he won a landmark breach of contract lawsuit filed by the studio. Season Four also features a brief and ill-advised attempt to introduce a Garner look-alike, Robert Colbert, as younger brother Brent Maverick.

    For the uninitiated, Bret Maverick (James Garner) and Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly) are poker-playing brothers who roam the West looking for gambling action, and Beau Maverick (Roger Moore) is their cousin. Although all three are handy with a gun, they prefer to use their wits to get out of the scrapes in which they invariably get involved. Their code of conduct is largely shaped by the aphorisms which they learned from Bret and Bart's father, "Pappy" Maverick. An example of Pappy's wisdom is "No matter what a man does with his life, he always has a guilty conscience. But the smart man suffers his guilt pangs in luxury."

    To fully understand the evolution of Maverick it is necessary to review what happened between Warner Brothers and Garner. In January, 1960, the Writer's Guild of America went on strike over a dispute about the refusal of the Hollywood studios to pay royalties on the sale of movie rights to television networks. Around the same time the production of the fourth season of Maverick was underway, and by March one episode, "The Maverick Line," had already been filmed. Warner Brothers then informed Garner and co-star Jack Kelly (Bart Maverick) that they were being suspended without pay pursuant to a clause in their contracts which allowed the studio to stop paying them if "extraordinary circumstances" forced the studio to shut down production of the show. Warner Brothers argued that there were no scripts due to the writer's strike, so additional episodes of Maverick could not be produced.

    However, the studio picked a fight with the wrong actor. Garner had already been chafing at the restrictions which his contract placed upon his career. Among other things, he had to appear in whatever projects the studio assigned to him, and he could not accept movie offers from other studios without permission from Warner Brothers. Furthermore, Garner knew that the studio's position that there were no scripts to produce was a lie. In fact, Warner Brothers had a stable of more than a dozen writers who also had the title of "producer." They were considered part of management and therefore were not on strike. It came to light that at the same time the studio was claiming to have no writers, the writer-producers were churning out scripts under the pseudonym "W. Hermanos." Garner seized upon his suspension as an opportunity to notify Warner Brothers that his contract was null and void because the studio had refused to pay him during the strike, effectively declaring himself a free agent. The studio sued Garner for breach of contract and he counter-sued. It soon became evident to Warner Brothers that Garner was not going to return to Maverick regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, so Moore was signed to replace the show's star for Season Four. "Warners made a big mistake when they suspended Jim," said Maverick creator Roy Huggins. "They were always trying to take the fullest possible advantage of their personnel, but they did something with Jim that they really had no right to do. And Jim got a lawyer who was able to prove it."

    Consequently, "The Maverick Line" is the only Season Four episode in which Bret Maverick appears. The departure of Garner was not the only negative development which afflicted the show. Warner Brothers was a notoriously stingy studio in those days, and many of the writers who had produced sparkling scripts in the early days of Maverick, such as Roy Huggins and Marion Hargrove, had left for greener pastures. Even so, there is still much to like in Season Four. Roger Moore proved to be more than capable as Beau Maverick. Robert Altman wrote and directed an excellent episode entitled "Bolt From the Blue." Another memorable episode is "Hadley's Hunters," which features a bevy of Warner Brothers guest stars, including Clint Walker, Edd Byrnes, John Russell, Ty Hardin, and Will Hutchins (ironically, Walker and Byrnes had their own highly-publicized contract disputes with Warner Brothers). The low point of Season Four proved to be the introduction of the character Brent Maverick. The studio dressed actor Robert Colbert in the same costumes which Bret Maverick wore, but the audience didn't buy it.

    The following is a list of the 31 Season Four episodes of Maverick (32 episodes if you count the two-part season finale as two episodes). The list identifies most of the show's prominent guest stars.

    1. The Bundle from Britain
    Original Air Date: September 18, 1960
    Jack Kelly, Roger Moore, Max Baer

    2. Hadley's Hunters
    Original Air Date: September 25, 1960
    Jack Kelly, Edgar Buchanan, George Kennedy, Clint Walker, John Russell, Will Hutchins, Edd Byrnes, Peter Brown, Ty Hardin

    3. The Town That Wasn't There
    Original Air Date: October 2, 1960
    Roger Moore, Merry Anders, John Astin

    4. Arizona Black Maria
    Original Air Date: October 9, 1960
    Jack Kelly, Joanna Barnes, Alan Hale

    5. Last Wire from Stop Gap
    Original Air Date: October 16, 1960
    Jack Kelly, Roger Moore

    6. Mano Nero
    Original Air Date: October 23, 1960
    Jack Kelly, Myrna Fahey, Gerald Mohr

    7. A Bullet for the Teacher
    Original Air Dae: October 30, 1960
    Roger Moore, Kathleen Crowley

    8. The Witch of Hound Dog
    Original Air Date: November 6, 1960
    Jack Kelly, Wayde Preston

    9. Thunder From the North
    Original Air Date: November 13, 1960
    Roger Moore, Andra Martin, Richard Coogan, Gary Conway

    10. The Maverick Line
    Original Air Date: November 20, 1960
    James Garner, Jack Kelly, Buddy Ebsen

    11. Bolt From the Blue
    Original Air Date: November 27, 1960
    Roger Moore, Fay Spain, Will Hutchins

    12. Kiz (a.k.a. Portrait in Terror)
    Original Air Date: December 4, 1960
    Roger Moore, Kathleen Crowley, Whit Bissell

    13. Dodge City or Bust
    Original Air Date: December 11, 1960
    Jack Kelly, Roger Moore, Howard McNear

    14. The Bold Fenian Men
    Original Air Date: December 18, 1960
    Roger Moore, Sharon Hugueny

    15. Destination: Devil's Flat
    Original Air Date: December 25, 1960
    Jack Kelly, Peter Breck, Merry Anders

    16. A State of Siege
    Original Air Date: January 1, 1961
    Jack Kelly, Ray Danton, Slim Pickens

    17. Family Pride
    Original Air Date: January 8, 1961
    Roger Moore, Karl Swenson, Denver Pyle, Stacy Keach

    18. The Cactus Switch
    Original Air Date: January 15, 1961
    Jack Kelly, Fay Spain, Edgar Buchanan, Robert Logan

    19. Dutchman's Gold
    Original Air Date: January 22, 1961
    Roger Moore, Mala Powers

    20. The Ice Man
    Original Air Date: January 29, 1961
    Jack Kelly, Andrew Duggan, Bruce Gordon, Virginia Gregg

    21. Diamond Flush
    Original Air Date: February 5, 1961
    Roger Moore, Roxane Berard, Sig Ruman, Anna Lee

    22. Last Stop: Oblivion
    Original Air Date: February 12, 1961
    Jack Kelly, Suzanne Lloyd, Buddy Ebsen

    23. Flood's Folly
    Original Air Date: February 19, 1961
    Roger Moore, Jeanne Cooper

    24. Maverick at Law
    Original Air Date: February 26, 1961
    Jack Kelly, James Anderson

    25. Red Dog (a.k.a. The Cave)
    Original Air Date: March 5, 1961
    Roger Moore, John Carradine, Sherry Jackson, Lee Van Cleef

    26. The Deadly Image (a.k.a. Killer Maverick)
    Original Air Date: March 12, 1961
    Jack Kelly, Gerald Mohr, Dawn Wells, Robert Ridgely

    27. Triple Indemnity
    Original Air Date: March 19, 1961
    Jack Kelly, Peter Breck

    28. The Forbidden City (a.k.a. The Guilt-Edged Bond)
    Original Air Date: March 26, 1961
    Jack Kelly, Robert Colbert, Nina Shipman

    29. Substitute Gun
    Original Air Date: April 2, 1961
    Jack Kelly, Coleen Gray

    30. Benefit of Doubt
    Original Air Date: April 9, 1961
    Robert Colbert, Slim Pickens, Mort Mills

    31. The Devil's Necklace (Two-Part Episode)
    Original Air Dates: April 16, 1961 and April 23, 1961
    Jack Kelly, John Dehner, John Hoyt, Chad Everett

    Each episode has a running time of approximately 50 minutes.

    In spite of the show losing James Garner, there is much in Season Four for fans of Maverick to enjoy. As for Season Five, Roger Moore left the show after filming "Red Dog" and Robert Colbert was not retained, so Jack Kelly soldiered on as the only Maverick. Season Five also features the notable episode "Three Queens Full," a spoof of Bonanza with guest star Jim Backus as the head of the "Wheelwright" family.

    Currently Season Four is available only through Warner Archive, although I see that Amazon is currently selling Seasons One and Two for $15.49 apiece.

    Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    The video of these 1.37:1 black and white episodes is on a par with Seasons One through Three, which is to say that they look very good indeed. I obviously have not yet been able to watch all of the episodes, but I have sampled each and they demonstrate good sharpness, excellent contrast and good shadow detail. I see no evidence of excessive compression or digital anomalies. There are some occasional minor speckles, but nothing which is distracting. Season Four is spread across eight dual-layer DVDs, each disc containing four episodes, and the entire series is packed in two flipper keep cases, four discs per case. The cover art on each case is identical, as shown above, with the cases labeled "Part One" and "Part Two." The episode titles are listed on the discs rather than on a printed insert.

    I believe that the initial run of Season Four is on pressed discs, as was Season Three, although Warner Archive does not explicitly say as much on its website. This review will be updated if we can get clarification on that point.

    Update: Warner Archive has confirmed that the initial run of Season Four is indeed on pressed discs, so readers interested in getting this set may want to order it soon while the pressed discs are still available.

    Audio Rating: 3/5

    The Dolby Digital mono audio is fine and viewers could hardly ask for more from a 54-year old television series. The dialogue is clear and understandable, and the audio is free of distortion. The only drawback is that there are no subtitles, which is going to be an issue for some viewers.

    Special Features: 0/5

    There are no extras with this set.

    Overall Rating: 4/5

    Fans of Maverick will be delighted that Warner has announced that it will complete the series, even though Seasons Four and Five are not up to the standard set by the first three seasons. Roger Moore does a nice job as Beau Maverick, and Season Four includes the last episode in which James Garner appears.

    Maverick obviously has had strong sales, and it appears that it will not be long before we see releases of Young Maverick (1979-1980) and Bret Maverick (1981-1982).

    Equipment used for this review:

    Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
    Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specifications by Gregg Loewen
    Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
    BIC Acoustech speakers
    Interconnects: Monster Cable

    Reviewed by: Richard Gallagher
    Support HTF when you buy this title:



    9 Comments

    Thanks!  Nice review and I hope I'll be able to purchase and enjoy another season!  I watched this *some* as a kid and in early syndication packages but really don't remember ever seeing episodes with Moore.  I've been enjoying revisiting the series on DVD!

     

    You should be able to tell if they are pressed or not by looking at the data side of the discs.  Generally, if pressed, it *should* be silver and if MOD it'll be purplish.  But I'm sure you already know this and are looking for clarification from Warners.

     

    I *really* want to know if they are pressed as that will be the primary determination as to whether or not I pick up this season.

    Photo
    Richard Gallagher
    Jan 08 2014 08:48 PM

    Thanks!  Nice review and I hope I'll be able to purchase and enjoy another season!  I watched this *some* as a kid and in early syndication packages but really don't remember ever seeing episodes with Moore.  I've been enjoying revisiting the series on DVD!

     

    You should be able to tell if they are pressed or not by looking at the data side of the discs.  Generally, if pressed, it *should* be silver and if MOD it'll be purplish.  But I'm sure you already know this and are looking for clarification from Warners.

     

    I *really* want to know if they are pressed as that will be the primary determination as to whether or not I pick up this season.

     

    The set they sent me is silver. The only reason I hesitated to say anything definite is that Warners made a point of saying that the initial run of Season Three was pressed but as of today they have said nothing about Season Four. I'm reluctant to tell people that they will get pressed discs if they order now without knowing for sure that is the case.

     

    I have sent an e-mail to my contact asking for clarification.

     

    I'm sure that you'll enjoy Season Four. I believe that even introducing Brent Maverick would have worked if they hadn't made such an obvious attempt to make him look like Bret. They even had him wear his hat pushed back, just like Bret.

      • BobO'Link likes this
    Richard Gallagher, on 08 Jan 2014 - 10:48 PM, said:

    The only reason I hesitated to say anything definite is that Warners made a point of saying that the initial run of Season Three was pressed but as of today they have said nothing about Season Four.

     

    That's not quite right.  The newsletter from yesterday (1/7/14) says "Initial quantities of this release will be traditionally replicated (pressed) in anticipation of high consumer demand."

     

    ---------------

      • BobO'Link likes this
    Photo
    Richard Gallagher
    Jan 09 2014 08:38 AM

    That's not quite right.  The newsletter from yesterday (1/7/14) says "Initial quantities of this release will be traditionally replicated (pressed) in anticipation of high consumer demand."

     

    ---------------

     

    Thanks for the update. The website listing has not been updated with that information.

    That's not quite right.  The newsletter from yesterday (1/7/14) says "Initial quantities of this release will be traditionally replicated (pressed) in anticipation of high consumer demand."

     

    ---------------

    Thank you *very* much!  That's the first I've seen of this statement and, as Rich indicated, the site hasn't updated the "Replicated discs" page to reflect this.  For some reason I've not been receiving the newsletter from them either so this is welcome news indeed especially with Rich indicating his review set is pressed! :)

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    Hollywoodaholic
    Jan 09 2014 02:17 PM

    As much as I've enjoyed the scripts and stars of seasons 1-3, my Maverick journey will probably end there. I didn't like Moore as Bond (pretty boy, no physical threatening presence), or as a Maverick. But he was very cool as The Saint.

     

    Thanks for the background story on James Garner's dispute with WB. His autobiography is a real treat for anyone who read it, but he doesn't go into as much detail of the dispute as Richard does here.

    Photo
    Richard Gallagher
    Jan 09 2014 07:02 PM

     

    Thanks for the background story on James Garner's dispute with WB. His autobiography is a real treat for anyone who read it, but he doesn't go into as much detail of the dispute as Richard does here.

     

    You're welcome. In his autobiography Garner says that he sued Warner Brothers, but that's not the whole story. Warner Brothers actually sued him, and he filed a counterclaim. The case was Warner Bros. Inc v. James Bumgarner.

    Photo
    Richard Gallagher
    Jan 09 2014 07:09 PM

    This evening Warner Archive confirmed to me that the initial run of Season Four is indeed on pressed discs, as forum member Scott reported. The review has been updated to reflect this information.

    ^As soon as I saw your post in the "Looks like Maverick will head to DVD..." thread I placed an order using the RETAILME20P code to save 20% (which only works at wbshop.com and *not* the archives site).  I'd actually gone to the thread to post the code, saw your post, and that Bob Gu had beat me to the punch on the code. :) 

     

    Warners *still* hasn't updated the "Replicated Discs" section *or* the listing to reflect the pressed status.

     

    Thanks again for the review and information!

      • Richard Gallagher likes this