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Bret Maverick

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Bret Maverick
Developed byGordon Dawson
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes18 (list of episodes)
Production locationCalifornia
Running time60 minutes
Production companyWarner Bros. Television
Original release
ReleaseDecember 1, 1981 (1981-12-01) –
May 4, 1982 (1982-05-04)

Bret Maverick is an American Western television series that starred James Garner in the title role, a professional poker player in the Old West. The series aired on NBC from December 1, 1981, to May 4, 1982. It is a sequel series to the 1957-1962 ABC series Maverick, as well the short-lived 1979 TV series Young Maverick, and that series' pilot, the 1978 TV movie The New Maverick, all of which starred Garner in the same role (though he appeared only briefly in Young Maverick). In the two previous series, Bret Maverick had been a solitary rounder who travels from riverboat to saloon looking for high-stakes games. In this series, Maverick has settled down in Sweetwater, Arizona Territory, where he owns a ranch (The Lazy Ace) and is co-owner of the town's saloon (The Red Ox). However, he is still always on the lookout for his next big score, and continues to gamble and practice various con games whenever the chance arises. The series was developed by Gordon Dawson, and produced by Garner's company Cherokee Productions (mistakenly dubbed "Comanche Productions" on the end credits) in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Series overview


Almost two decades after the original Maverick series, and a few years after his appearance in the 1978 TV movie The New Maverick, Bret Maverick has put down roots in the frontier community of Sweetwater, Arizona Territory where he is now the silent partner of the Red Ox saloon that he won in a card game. Maverick's still a gambler, and is not above running various con games to help make the money he needs to keep his businesses afloat. Because of this, he is viewed with suspicion by many of the town's more prominent citizens, especially the town's newly appointed sheriff.

Bret's business partner is Tom Guthrie (Ed Bruce), the town's former sheriff and co-owner of the Red Ox Saloon. (Actor Ed Bruce, a noted country singer, also co-wrote and performed the show's theme song.) Bret's penchant for organizing cons and money-making schemes of questionable legality means that he and ex-sheriff Guthrie are often at odds with each other, although they still remain friends. Also seen as series regulars are Richard Hamilton as Cy Whitaker, the aging but feisty foreman of Maverick's ranch; Ramon Bieri as prosperous local banker Elijah Crow; Darleen Carr as Mary Lou "M.L." Springer, the fetching owner, editor, and photographer of the local newspaper; David Knell as Rodney Catlow, M.L.'s young assistant; and John Shearin as Mitchell Dowd, the town's arrogant and ineffectual sheriff.

Also seen frequently are three actors who were carryovers from Garner's previous series The Rockford Files: Stuart Margolin, who played Angel on The Rockford Files and appeared with Garner in the 1971–1972 series Nichols, appears in a recurring role as crooked Native American Philo Sandeen; Jack Garner, James's brother and a frequent Rockford Files bit player, plays the role of Jack, the Red Ox's bespectacled bartender; and Luis Delgado, Garner's longtime stand-in, and Officer Billings on Rockford, plays Red Ox employee Shifty Delgrado. Semi-regulars included Tommy Bush as the inept but friendly Deputy Sturgess, and Marj Dusay as Kate Hanrahan, the town's madam.

U.S. television ratings

Season Episodes Start Date End Date Nielsen Rank Nielsen Rating Tied With
1981-82 18 December 1, 1981 May 4, 1982 34[1] N/A N/A

Cancellation and aftermath


Despite respectable ratings, the show was canceled by NBC at the end of the first season, airing only eighteen episodes. Writer/producer Roy Huggins, original creator of the title character but otherwise unconnected with this series despite Garner's request that he come aboard mid-season, speculated that one reason the new show didn't quite work was that Maverick, traditionally a drifter, had settled down in one place. Also, several costumes and hairstyles, particularly of series regular Darleen Carr, reflected the style of the 1980s and not the old west in which the show was set. Jack Kelly, who had alternated the lead with Garner and later Roger Moore in the original 1957–62 Maverick series, had been slated to return as Bret's brother Bart Maverick in the second season, and briefly appeared at the very end of the only season.

A number of scripts for the following season had been written and presented to Kelly, according to subsequent interviews; Bart was going to look after the saloon in Arizona while Bret ranged across the West, thereby making this series closer in conception and tone to the original Maverick. The series' final episode also included a number of other changes to the series set-up: notably, Tom Guthrie was re-elected as sheriff, and sold his interest in the Red Ox to Kate Hanrahan, who immediately reinvented the establishment as an upscale brothel. As well, Mitchell Dowd was appointed to a government position as an inspector of bars and hotels throughout the Arizona territory, where he promised to remain a thorn in Maverick's side.

The 2-hour first episode was eventually trimmed and repackaged as a TV movie for rerunning on local stations under the title Bret Maverick: The Lazy Ace. Additionally the series' only two-part episode was similarly repackaged as Bret Maverick: Faith, Hope and Clarity. NBC took the unusual step of rerunning the episodes two additional times - in the summer of 1988 to help provide 'new' programming during a writers strike, and in the summer of 1994 to play off publicity surrounding the Mel Gibson movie remake of the original Maverick series also featuring Garner.[2]

As a tribute to the character featured on this television series and on Maverick, on April 21, 2006, a ten-foot bronze statue of James Garner as Bret Maverick was unveiled in Garner's hometown of Norman, Oklahoma, with Garner present at the ceremony.

Regular cast

James Garner as Bret Maverick and Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick in the series Maverick

Episode list

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"The Lazy Ace"Stuart MargolinGordon T. DawsonDecember 1, 1981 (1981-12-01)
3"Welcome to Sweetwater"Rod HolcombGordon T. DawsonDecember 8, 1981 (1981-12-08)
4"Anything for a Friend"Ivan DixonLee David ZlotoffDecember 15, 1981 (1981-12-15)
5"The Yellow Rose"William WiardLee David ZlotoffDecember 22, 1981 (1981-12-22)
6"Horse of Yet Another Color"Ivan DixonS : Geoffrey Fischer;
S/T : Lee David Zlotoff
January 5, 1982 (1982-01-05)
7"Dateline: Sweetwater"William WiardIra Steven BehrJanuary 12, 1982 (1982-01-12)
8"The Mayflower Women's Historical Society"Ivan DixonLee David ZlotoffFebruary 2, 1982 (1982-02-02)
9"Hallie"John PattersonMarion HargroveFebruary 9, 1982 (1982-02-09)
10"The Ballad of Bret Maverick"Jeff BlecknerGordon T. DawsonFebruary 16, 1982 (1982-02-16)
11"A Night at the Red Ox"William WiardLee David ZlotoffFebruary 23, 1982 (1982-02-23)
12"The Not So Magnificent Six"Leo PennS : Shel Willens;
T : Geoffrey Fischer
March 2, 1982 (1982-03-02)
13"The Vulture Also Rises"Michael O'HerlihyT : Gordon T. Dawson;
S/T : Rogers Turrentine
March 16, 1982 (1982-03-16)
14"The Eight Swords of Dyrus and Other Illusions of Grandeur"John PattersonS : Larry Mollin;
S/T : Gordon T. Dawson
March 23, 1982 (1982-03-23)
15"Faith, Hope and Clarity: Part 1"Leo PennS : Paul L. Ehrmann;
S/T : Lee David Zlotoff
April 13, 1982 (1982-04-13)
16"Faith, Hope and Clarity: Part 2"Leo PennS : Paul L. Ehrmann;
S/T : Lee David Zlotoff
April 20, 1982 (1982-04-20)
17"The Rattlesnake Brigade"Fernando LamasT : Barton Dean;
S/T : Geoffrey Fischer
April 27, 1982 (1982-04-27)
18"The Hidalgo Thing"Thomas CarterGordon T. DawsonMay 4, 1982 (1982-05-04)

DVD release


On April 22, 2014, Warner Bros. released Bret Maverick: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time, via their Warner Archive Collection. This is a manufacture-on-demand release, available exclusively through Warner's online store and only in the United States.[3]



The series has rerun on Encore Westerns since fall 2008. On December 30, 2018, U.S. TV network getTV started rerunning the series.[4]

Currently, it airs on getTV on the weekends.

See also



  1. ^ "The TV Ratings Guide: 1981-82 Ratings History -- Primetime is Awash in a Bubble Bath as Nighttime Soaps Become the Rage". Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  2. ^ "What Are the Best Fictional Gamblers?". The Gazette. 28 November 2023. Retrieved 15 December 2023.
  3. ^ "'The Complete Series' Starring James Garner is Now on DVD!". Archived from the original on 2014-04-23.
  4. ^ "James Garner Returns as Bret Maverick on GetTV". Retrieved 30 December 2018.