‘Maverick’: Here’s Why James Garner Thought the Original Series Wasn’t ‘That Good’

by Madison Miller
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Over the years, James Garner had appeared in a number of series that tapped into the world and the character Bret Maverick originally seen in “Maverick.”

But the actor favored some of the later series he appeared in as the character over the original series. In an interview with Panorama Magazine in 1981, Garner explains why he was never a fan of the original series as much.

“If you go back and look at the original series, maybe the shows weren’t that good. They were fine for what they were at the time, but hardly any were original scripts. A lot were rewritten, cut-down Western movies, and we used a lot of stock footage from those old movies. That saved a lot of money,” Garner said about “Maverick.”

Reboots Versus ‘Maverick’

“Maverick” lasted for five seasons and was on from 1957 to 1962. The Western show with comedic overtones was popular with viewers at the time. A few years later, the show spawned several spinoffs.

The first was “The New Maverick” in 1967. It was a TV movie that reprised both Garner and Jack Kelly in their roles. The movie also featured Charles Frank as Ben Maverick, the son of cousin Beau. This TV movie served as the pilot to “Young Maverick.” Ben Maverick was set to be the star of this show. Garner’s character appeared only briefly during the first episode.

The 1979 series was a major flop and some episodes were never even broadcast on U.S. television. In 1981, “Bret Maverick” was created. The show followed Bret as he has now grown from 29 to 53. He has settled down in Arizona after winning a saloon in a poker game. The series lasted one season and was canceled despite decent ratings. Lastly, “The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw” is a 1991 TV movie and was the last opportunity to see the actor reprise his “Maverick” role.

One of Garner’s Favorite Roles

“Maverick” is considered a Western classic. This is why nearly 20 years later Garner was asked to star in the series “Bret Maverick.” Promoting the reboot in a 1984 interview, Garner revealed he favored the reboot over the original in terms of quality.

“God we had talent on that show. Anyway, we were dead the first night we showed the pilot to the Chevrolet people in Detroit because some executive’s wife didn’t like It. She said, ‘Well, that’s not ‘Maverick!’ Well, of course, it wasn’t ‘Maverick!’ It was better than ‘Maverick,’ humorous, with social satire. But we got preempted eight times out of twenty-four shows because of Nixon running for election … Hell, the show lasted one year, I swear to you, if they would have it on another year, it would still be running today. It was just too damned original,” Garner said in an interview with The Stacks Reader in 1984.

Garner would go on to star in several other TV and movie roles during his career. In fact, he has called the show “Nichols” from 1971 one of his favorites.

Garner had also become popular for his role on “The Rockford Files.” It was also created by Roy Huggins and was meant to be a remake of “Maverick,” but as a modern-day private detective. The series recycled some of the plots from “Maverick” as well.

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