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    Maverick: The Complete Second Season DVD Review

    DVD Warner TV Reviews

    Apr 16 2013 02:45 PM | Richard Gallagher in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    "If its season opener is any indication of what's to come, ABC's Maverick will tighten the ratings noose around the collective necks of Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen and all the big name armies both can muster throughout the coming season. It is with a high degree of technical proficiency and dramatic punch that this series has launched its new season. A zinging self-confidence seems to emerge from the results of last season, when it forged well into the lead of the Sunday night rating race. This is not a Western, per se; it is a highly mature dramatic presentation that combines the best elements of mystery and action with a professionally subtle sense of humor. Its appeal is not limited by age or sex barriers. If the quality is sustained, there seems to be no foreseeable reason why its audience acceptance will diminish." - Daily Variety

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Warner Brothers
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 480I/MPEG-2
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Audio: English 2.0 DD
    • Subtitles: English SDH, French
    • Rating: Not Rated
    • Run Time: 21 Hr. 18 Min.
    • Package Includes: DVD
    • Case Type: DVD Flip Case
    • Disc Type: DVD-9 (dual layer)
    • Region: 1
    • Release Date: 04/23/2013
    • MSRP: $39.98

    The Production Rating: 5/5

    "If its season opener is any indication of what's to come, ABC's Maverick will tighten the ratings noose around the collective necks of Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen and all the big name armies both can muster throughout the coming season. It is with a high degree of technical proficiency and dramatic punch that this series has launched its new season. A zinging self-confidence seems to emerge from the results of last season, when it forged well into the lead of the Sunday night rating race. This is not a Western, per se; it is a highly mature dramatic presentation that combines the best elements of mystery and action with a professionally subtle sense of humor. Its appeal is not limited by age or sex barriers. If the quality is sustained, there seems to be no foreseeable reason why its audience acceptance will diminish." - Daily Variety

    The Daily Variety review was prescient. The ratings for Maverick increased by nearly 30% during its second season, averaging an astounding audience share of 45%. It was the most successful season of the show's five-season run, and this DVD set includes some of the most beloved episodes of Maverick. James Garner (Bret Maverick) and Jack Kelly (Bart Maverick) returns as the amiable, poker-playing brothers who would rather win an argument with a witty retort than with gunplay, and who would rather run a con than use violence to recover stolen property. As was the case with Season One, most of the episodes feature either Bret or Bart, but occasionally both appear in the same episode. To audiences Bret was always the more popular brother, owing to Garner's charisma and effective, understated acting. Nevertheless, Jack Kelly held his own and always turned in fine performances.

    These are some of the more memorable shows in Season Two:

    "The Day They Hanged Bret Maverick" is the season opener which inspired the Daily Variety review that is referenced above. An outlaw breaks into Bret's hotel room and plants evidence which frames Bret for a murder-robbery. Bret is convicted and is sentenced to hang. Whitney Blake, Ray Teal and Jay Novello are guest stars.

    "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres" features both Bret and Bart, although in decidedly different roles. Bret deposits his poker winnings in the local bank, but when he tries to withdraw the money the next day the banker (John Dehner) denies that the deposit ever took place. Bret hatches an elaborate con to get his money back, and then spends the rest of the episode sitting on a porch doing wood carving while Bart carries out the scam. Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Diane Brewster, Richard Long and Leo Gordon are among the guest stars.

    "The Jail at Junction Flats" is one of the more unusual episodes in the series, and it proved to be off-putting to many fans of Maverick. The problem was the ending. The audience had become accustomed to happy endings, so quite a few viewers were disturbed by this episode's not-so-happy ending. Series creator Roy Huggins received many irate letters and the show's Nielsen rating temporarily dropped the next week. This episode also features Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

    "Gun-Shy" may be the best-remembered episode in the entire run of Maverick. It is a parody of Gunsmoke which was written by Marion Hargrove (the author of “See Here, Private Hargrove"). Bret and a grifter named Freddie Hawkins (Reginald Owen) arrive in Elwood, Kansas in search of $500,000 in buried Confederate gold. While in Elwood they run afoul of the local Marshal, Mort Dooley (Ben Gage). The episode includes some references to other popular television Westerns of the era, as when Mort asks the local doctor if he remembers a gunfighter who passed out business cards.

    The list of guest stars that appear during Season Two is long and impressive. In addition to those mentioned above, the list includes Martin Landau, Gerald Mohr, Bethel Leslie, John Litel, Edgar Buchanan, Roger Moore, Neil Hamilton, Abby Dalton, Clint Eastwood, Robert Conrad, Louise Fletcher, Julie Adams, Connie Stevens, Adam West, Lyle Talbot, Ruta Lee, William Schallert, and Dan Blocker.

    Season Two is comprised of the following episodes.

    1. The Day They Hanged Bret Maverick
    2. The Lonesome Reunion
    3. Alias Bart Maverick
    4. The Belcastle Brand
    5. High Card Hangs
    6. Escape to Tampico
    7. The Judas Mask
    8. The Jail at Junction Flats
    9. The Thirty-Ninth Star
    10. Shady Deal at Sunny Acres
    11. Island in the Swamp
    12. Prey of the Cat
    13. The Spanish Dancer
    14. Holiday at Hollow Rock
    15. Game of Chance
    16. Gun-Shy
    17. Two Beggars on Horseback
    18. The Rivals
    19. Duel at Sundown
    20. Yellow River
    21. The Sage of Waco Williams
    22. Brasada Spur
    23. Passage to Fort Doom
    24. Two Tickets to Ten Strike
    25. Betrayal
    26. The Strange Journey of Jenny Hill

    Each episode has a running time of approximately 49 minutes, which indicates that these episodes are complete and uncut.

    Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

    The video of these 1.33:1 black and white episodes is on a par which Season One, which is to see that they look very good. I have not been able to watch all 26 episodes, but I have at least sampled each and they demonstrate good sharpness, excellent contrast and fine shadow detail. I see no evidence of excessive compression or digital anomalies. There are minor specks here and there, but nothing which is distracing. The prints from which these transfers were made seem to be in excellent condition, particularly considering their age.

    Audio Rating: 3/5

    The Dolby Digital mono audio is satisfactory, and certainly as good as could be hoped for from a 55-year old television series. The dialogue is clear and understandable, and the audio is free of distortion. There are English SDH and French subtitles.

    Special Features: 1/5

    The only extra is a four-page episode guide.

    The 26 episodes are spread over 6 dual-layer discs (Season One, which had 27 episodes, was released on 7 discs). Season Two comes in a flipper DVD case.

    Overall Rating: 4.5/5

    Fans of Maverick will be delighted that Warner has decided to continue the series with high-quality pressed discs. Season Two contains some of the show's finest episodes, so this is a must-buy which hopefully will sell sufficient units to encourage Warner to release the entire run of Maverick.

    Equipment used for this review:

    Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
    Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specification 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:



    15 Comments

    Photo
    Joseph Bolus
    Apr 16 2013 09:25 PM
    Thanks for the great review!

    This is one of my favorite series of all time and I agree that this is the season which featured the most consistent quality of the five -- so I've had this set on pre-order for quite some time.

    Practically every episode of this season is a winner. But in addition to the episodes you’ve already mentioned, fan favorites include "Duel at Sundown" co-starring Clint Eastwood with his hilarious "Mav-er-rick" pronunciation of Bret's name; and "Two Beggars on Horseback" which is really too big for a single episode. "The Saga of Waco Williams" was actually re-done on "The Rockford Files" as "White on White and Nearly Perfect" with Tom Selleck playing "Lance White" -- a character patterned after Waco Williams.

    Can’t wait for this one!

    Maverick is one of my long standing most desired series and it's good to know its progressing so well. 

    Photo
    Richard Gallagher
    Apr 17 2013 10:13 AM

    Thanks for the great review!

    This is one of my favorite series of all time and I agree that this is the season which featured the most consistent quality of the five -- so I've had this set on pre-order for quite some time.

    Practically every episode of this season is a winner. But in addition to the episodes you’ve already mentioned, fan favorites include "Duel at Sundown" co-starring Clint Eastwood with his hilarious "Mav-er-rick" pronunciation of Bret's name; and "Two Beggars on Horseback" which is really too big for a single episode. "The Saga of Waco Williams" was actually re-done on "The Rockford Files" as "White on White and Nearly Perfect" with Tom Selleck playing "Lance White" -- a character patterned after Waco Williams.

    Can’t wait for this one!

     

    I agree, all of the episodes which you mentioned are excellent. I had forgotten about the fact that the character of Lance White was based upon Waco Williams. "White on White and Nearly Perfect" is one of my favorite Rockford episodes.

     

    I am optimistic that we will see Season Three, but Season Four could be a problem since Garner appeared in only one episode, and of course he did not appear at all in Season Five. Another problem is that Season Five had only 13 episodes. Maybe Warner could fill that out by including the 17 episodes of the 1981-1982 series Bret Maverick. Here's hoping.

    Photo
    Joseph Bolus
    Apr 17 2013 10:34 AM

    I agree, all of the episodes which you mentioned are excellent. I had forgotten about the fact that the character of Lance White was based upon Waco Williams. "White on White and Nearly Perfect" is one of my favorite Rockford episodes.

     

    I am optimistic that we will see Season Three, but Season Four could be a problem since Garner appeared in only one episode, and of course he did not appear at all in Season Five. Another problem is that Season Five had only 13 episodes. Maybe Warner could fill that out by including the 17 episodes of the 1981-1982 series Bret Maverick. Here's hoping.

     

    Season four is still pretty darn good.  Roger Moore filled-in for James Garner for most of the season and did a pretty good job.  The one episode that Garner did appear in -- "The Maverick Line" which was a "Bret" *and* "Bart" ep -- is also a "fan favorite" which co-stars Buddy Ebsen.

     

    I *really* like your idea of including the "Bret Maverick" complete series with Season Five, but I really doubt that that would happen.   Thirteen one-hour episodes is still quite a lot.  Perhaps they could include the two hour "Bret Maverick" pilot "The Lazy Ace".  I could see that happening.  The only Maverick that we got in Season 5 was Bart (Jack Kelly) but he did an admirable job; and we also got sporadic appearances from "Doc Holliday" in about 5 of the 13 eps.  The "Bonanza" spoof was also part of Season 5.  I can see Season 5 as a viable release, but including "The Lazy Ace" would really "seal the deal"!

    Photo
    Richard Gallagher
    Apr 17 2013 05:15 PM

    "The Maverick Line" was supposed to be the season opener for Season Four, but it was temporarily shelved because of Garner's contract dispute. Warner treated its actors pretty shabbily in those days. Clint Walker and Edd Byrnes are two other Warner actors who got into bitter contract disputes while they were appearing on hit shows.

    Photo
    Randy Korstick
    Apr 19 2013 05:50 AM

    I have no doubt we will see the whole Series. My guess is Season 3 will probably still be a retail release and then Season 4 and 5 will be through the Warner Archives.

    I have this on order. I've got about 7 or 8 episodes left to finish season 1. I also look forward to season 3; not sure about the other 1-1/2 seasons.

    Photo
    Steve Mayhem
    Apr 21 2013 10:36 PM

    Thanks for the informative review, Richard.   The show really did hit its stride in season 2.  As Joseph Bolus suggested, the Clint Eastwood episode alone (Mav-er-rack) is worth the price of admission.

     

    Warner Brothers had a tendency to recycle script ideas for their cookie-cutter detective shows and Westerns, and while that might have applied to Maverick as well, the show still seemed far less formulaic than other Warner series from this era.

     

    It's interesting to compare the Bret Maverick character of the second season with the earliest episodes of the series, which featured a somewhat more reserved and muted Maverick persona.  By the second season, the writing was more assured, and the performances more relaxed.

     

    I'm really looking forward to watching these again.

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    Robert Crawford
    Apr 22 2013 02:20 AM

    Thanks for the review.  Recently, I bought the First Season for 16.99 and I can patiently wait for the Second Season to have similar pricing as it will take me a year to watch the entire First Season.

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    Richard Gallagher
    Apr 22 2013 10:59 AM

    Thanks for the review.  Recently, I bought the First Season for 16.99 and I can patiently wait for the Second Season to have similar pricing as it will take me a year to watch the entire First Season.

     

    I held off on buying Seasons 13, 14, 15 & 20 of The Simpsons and picked them up last week for $16.99 apiece at Amazon.

    I'll be getting this!   I have curiously never liked James Garner in his films or on Rockford Files, but on "Maverick" he was always fun to watch.

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    Hollywoodaholic
    Apr 27 2013 11:02 AM

    Sweet. Arrived this week and and I can't wait to dig in. I also just finished Garner's memoir, "The Garner Files" and could not recommend it enough. It's just as breezy and entertaining as the characters he plays, but when you read his background, you will be amazed at how he can pull that off after such a tough road. He deserved every bit of success he had. And was one of the few who called Hollywood on their 'creative accounting,' sued, and won, and it didn't destroy his career. You will admire him much more than his characters when you read about his true one.

    Photo
    Richard Gallagher
    Apr 29 2013 06:24 PM

    Garner's memoir is now available in hardcover for $6.95 here:

     

    The Garner Files

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    Steve Mayhem
    Jun 12 2013 11:42 PM

    I also watched season one in broadcast order, and it's fascinating to watch both the character and show itself develop.  Season two is more polished and satisfying overall, but the first season is still a lot of fun.

     

    While I'm a big fan of the Budd Boetticher Westerns, I didn't think much of the first three Maverick episodes, which were directed by Boetticher.  Over plotted and plodding, it's fortunate the show survived these dull dramas.  ( I don't think these efforts diminish Boetticher's legacy in any way, shape or form.  Given the formulaic nature of television, it's not easy to separate the roles played by the creative forces behind the screen).

     

    While a general template was in place for the Maverick character, (reciting homilies from Pappy, the thousand dollar pinned to the inside of his coat, etc.) the scripts for the earliest tales could have as well been assigned to Cheyenne, Bronco, Sam Colt, or any of the Warner Brothers TV stock good-guys.  Maverick as a labor organizer in episode one is waaaay beyond the scope of the likable, but self-serving, and less than heroic cardsharp that shaped the character into a Western icon. (In fact, the humorless Boetticher  episodes would have been better suited for the straighter Jack Kelly Bart Maverick character).

     

    It's the episodes just prior to the introduction of brother Bart, which were directed by Leslie H. Martinson, that the audience is first introduced to the sometimes cowardly, duplicitous and self-deprecating side of Maverick. 

     

    Incidentally, the theme music plays without lyrics in season one.  I'd be curious to know if the words were written later for the melody, or simply not recorded or used originally. 

    Photo
    Richard Gallagher
    Jun 16 2013 09:30 AM

    Incidentally, the theme music plays without lyrics in season one.  I'd be curious to know if the words were written later for the melody, or simply not recorded or used originally. 

     

    Apparently it's the latter. There is an excellent book about the show with a complete episode guide called "Marverick: Legend of the West" by Ed Robertson. He writes, "Surprisingly, however, [Paul Francis] Webster's lyrics did not officially become a part of the series until the second season.The first season episodes used only an instrumental version of the song to accompany the closing credits."

     

    Roy Huggins, who created the series, didn't care for the lyrics, but executive producer Wiliam T. Orr loved them.