This one almost slipped past me: TVShowsOnDVD.com announces that The New Maverick, a 1978 TV-movie that served as the pilot for a short-lived western on CBS entitled Young Maverick (1979-80), is coming to DVD May 20th courtesy of Warner Home Video. (Why Warner is releasing this and not the old Maverick is a question that still goes unanswered.) The movie, which did extremely well ratings-wise when first broadcast, reunited the stars of the popular 1957-62 western—James Garner (Bret) and Jack Kelly (Bart)—and included a new character named Ben Maverick, played by actor Charles Frank. (Ben was apparently the son of Beau Maverick, the British cousin of Bret and Bart’s that was played by Roger Moore before he became Simon Templar and later 007.) The New Maverick is a pretty entertaining western, though this might be colored by the fact that I’ve always been a fan of the Maverick series. (I remember Garner appeared briefly in the first episode of Young Maverick but unfortunately any further visits were curtailed because he was still appearing in The Rockford Files at the time. Other than that, the only other thing I can recall about Young Maverick’s brief run was that OTR veteran John…excuse me…Mister John Dehner played the sheriff who was never quite convinced that young Ben was on the up-and-up.) TVShowsOnDVD.com points out that The New Maverick was actually the pilot for two series; after Rockford finished its six-year-run, Garner revived the Maverick character in Bret Maverick, a 1981-82 comedy-western that was, again, a fave of yours truly…which is why it lasted just one season.
TVShowsOnDVD.com notes that the New Maverick release would make an ideal Father’s Day gift…which is funny, because I always associate Maverick with my father. Maverick was the only television show my father ever watched in the 1950s and 1960s (or so he claims); he would go over to his brother Don’s place every Sunday and they would eat dinner on TV trays and watch the program. (Maverick was sponsored back then by Kaiser Aluminum…the company Dad went to work for in 1972 in Ravenswood, WV—talk about kismet!) His fondness for Garner also spread to The Rockford Files, which he and I would never miss on Friday nights in the ‘70’s—I’ve bought him all the DVD releases of that show but he hasn’t been too curious to dig into them (he’s not much of a rerun fan). I remember trying to get him to check out Bret Maverick during its original run but for some reason he never took to it, but when the program had a brief revival in the summer of 1990, he gave it a second chance only because The History Channel hadn’t been invented yet. I remember the wide-eyed reaction of my folks when they watched (Bret) Maverick’s final episode, “The Hidalgo Thing,” because I told them to expect a big surprise at the end (I’m not going to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it).