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.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: Warner Archive
Video Resolution and Encode: 480I/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 1.0 DD (Mono)
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 26 Hr. 40 Min.
Package Includes: DVDTwo Flipper DVD Keep Cases
Disc Type: DVD-9 (dual layer)
Release Date: 01/07/2014
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 BritainOriginal Air Date: September 18, 1960Jack Kelly, Roger Moore, Max Baer2. Hadley's HuntersOriginal Air Date: September 25, 1960Jack Kelly, Edgar Buchanan, George Kennedy, Clint Walker, John Russell, Will Hutchins, Edd Byrnes, Peter Brown, Ty Hardin3. The Town That Wasn't ThereOriginal Air Date: October 2, 1960Roger Moore, Merry Anders, John Astin4. Arizona Black MariaOriginal Air Date: October 9, 1960Jack Kelly, Joanna Barnes, Alan Hale5. Last Wire from Stop GapOriginal Air Date: October 16, 1960Jack Kelly, Roger Moore6. Mano NeroOriginal Air Date: October 23, 1960Jack Kelly, Myrna Fahey, Gerald Mohr7. A Bullet for the TeacherOriginal Air Dae: October 30, 1960Roger Moore, Kathleen Crowley8. The Witch of Hound DogOriginal Air Date: November 6, 1960Jack Kelly, Wayde Preston9. Thunder From the NorthOriginal Air Date: November 13, 1960Roger Moore, Andra Martin, Richard Coogan, Gary Conway10. The Maverick LineOriginal Air Date: November 20, 1960James Garner, Jack Kelly, Buddy Ebsen11. Bolt From the BlueOriginal Air Date: November 27, 1960Roger Moore, Fay Spain, Will Hutchins12. Kiz (a.k.a. Portrait in Terror)Original Air Date: December 4, 1960Roger Moore, Kathleen Crowley, Whit Bissell13. Dodge City or BustOriginal Air Date: December 11, 1960Jack Kelly, Roger Moore, Howard McNear14. The Bold Fenian MenOriginal Air Date: December 18, 1960Roger Moore, Sharon Hugueny15. Destination: Devil's FlatOriginal Air Date: December 25, 1960Jack Kelly, Peter Breck, Merry Anders16. A State of SiegeOriginal Air Date: January 1, 1961Jack Kelly, Ray Danton, Slim Pickens17. Family PrideOriginal Air Date: January 8, 1961Roger Moore, Karl Swenson, Denver Pyle, Stacy Keach18. The Cactus SwitchOriginal Air Date: January 15, 1961Jack Kelly, Fay Spain, Edgar Buchanan, Robert Logan19. Dutchman's GoldOriginal Air Date: January 22, 1961Roger Moore, Mala Powers20. The Ice ManOriginal Air Date: January 29, 1961Jack Kelly, Andrew Duggan, Bruce Gordon, Virginia Gregg21. Diamond FlushOriginal Air Date: February 5, 1961Roger Moore, Roxane Berard, Sig Ruman, Anna Lee22. Last Stop: OblivionOriginal Air Date: February 12, 1961Jack Kelly, Suzanne Lloyd, Buddy Ebsen23. Flood's FollyOriginal Air Date: February 19, 1961Roger Moore, Jeanne Cooper24. Maverick at LawOriginal Air Date: February 26, 1961Jack Kelly, James Anderson25. Red Dog (a.k.a. The Cave)Original Air Date: March 5, 1961Roger Moore, John Carradine, Sherry Jackson, Lee Van Cleef26. The Deadly Image (a.k.a. Killer Maverick)Original Air Date: March 12, 1961Jack Kelly, Gerald Mohr, Dawn Wells, Robert Ridgely27. Triple IndemnityOriginal Air Date: March 19, 1961Jack Kelly, Peter Breck28. The Forbidden City (a.k.a. The Guilt-Edged Bond)Original Air Date: March 26, 1961Jack Kelly, Robert Colbert, Nina Shipman29. Substitute GunOriginal Air Date: April 2, 1961Jack Kelly, Coleen Gray30. Benefit of DoubtOriginal Air Date: April 9, 1961Robert Colbert, Slim Pickens, Mort Mills31. The Devil's Necklace (Two-Part Episode)Original Air Dates: April 16, 1961 and April 23, 1961Jack Kelly, John Dehner, John Hoyt, Chad EverettEach 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.
The Production Rating: 4/5
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.
Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA
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.
Audio Rating: 3/5
There are no extras with this set.
Special Features Rating: 0/5
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 playerPanasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specifications by Gregg LoewenYamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround ReceiverBIC Acoustech speakersInterconnects: Monster Cable
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher
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