The go-to cable channel for classic television oaters, Encore Westerns, will be showing the classic Maverick episode “Shady Deal at Sunny Acres” tomorrow at ; if you’ve seen this one before you’ll naturally not want to miss it (or record it, if you haven’t already done so) but if you haven’t…here’s the skinny, courtesy of Wikipedia:
“Shady Deal at Sunny Acres,” starring James Garner and Jack Kelly, remains the most famous and widely discussed episode of the Western comedy television series Maverick. Written by series creator Roy Huggins and Douglas Heyes and directed by Leslie H. Martinson, this 1958 second season episode depicts gambler Bret Maverick being swindled by a crooked banker (John Dehner*) after depositing the proceeds from a late-night poker game, then recruiting his brother Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly) to mount an elaborate sting operation to recover the money.
As Huggins noted during a lengthy discussion of the episode in his Archive of American Television interview, the first half of the 1973 movie The Sting seems obviously based on Huggins' script. While Bart and all of the series' recurring characters join forces to energetically flim-flam the banker ("....if you can't trust your banker, who can you trust?"), Bret sits whittling in a rocking chair across the street from the bank every day, responding to the amused and patronizing queries of the local townspeople curious about how he plans to recover his money, "I'm working on it."
"Shady Deal at Sunny Acres" is always the first episode that Garner mentions in interviews and was subsequently remade by writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell into a 1975 Rockford Files installment called "The Great Blue Lake Land and Development Company" (a combination of "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres" and another Maverick episode entitled "Maverick Springs").
The episode is also the only one featuring brief appearances by all of the series' early semi-regular recurring characters, including Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as Dandy Jim Buckley, Diane Brewster as Samantha Crawford, Leo Gordon as Big Mike McComb, Richard Long as Gentleman Jack Darby, and Arlene Howell as Cindy Lou Brown.
As I once commented in a June 2009 post about a list of what the Western Writers of America, Inc. considered the fifty greatest television westerns in the history of the boob tube, my father couldn’t give you the title of this episode if the fate of the free world depended on it. Yet to this day, whenever mi madre starts riding him about some sort of household task/chore he promised to do that has not been completed to her satisfaction, he’ll invariably remark: “I’m workin’ on it.” (I say it along with him—I can’t help it, it’s a conditioned reflex.)
Laura at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings pointed out at the same time that TV Guide left “Sunny Acres” off its list of “Top 100 Television Episodes of All Time.” I like to think that the magazine’s current wretched, pathetic state is a result of neglecting to do so.
*Clearly, the Wikipedia people are unaware that here at TDOY, we refer to the radio/television/movie character great as Mister John Dehner, a joke between my Savannah buddy Chief and I that refers to his billing on the radio version of Have Gun – Will Travel.