Tuesday, August 24, 2010

DVR-TiVo-Or whatever recording device strikes your fancy-alert!

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 8:00am EDT; 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.

Bookmark and Share

10 comments:

Toby O'B said...

Leaving the "flying turkey" episode of 'WKRP in Cincinnatti' off their 50 greatest funniest episodes didn't help their karma either.....

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Leaving the "flying turkey" episode of 'WKRP in Cincinnatti' off their 50 greatest funniest episodes didn't help their karma either.....

I was not aware of this--but then again, I haven't thumbed through an issue of the Guide in ages. Man, you just can't screw around with the forces of television like that and not expect to reap what you sow.

Brent McKee said...

Ah come on Ivan. Everyone knows that top 10 or 50 or 100 lists are drawn up by people who just left puberty and don't believe that anything good was made before they were able to turn on the TV, radio, iPod, etc.

Laura said...

So glad you called attention to this episode. That line is definitely heard in our household too. :)

I recently completed my MAVERICK collection thanks to Encore!

Warner has been promising to release this on either regular or Archive DVD for years now, but it never happens...I don't get it. The last I heard, Warner had changed its mind about releasing it via Warner Archive and was going to give it a regular DVD release...but that was months ago.

Best wishes,
Laura

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I recently completed my MAVERICK collection thanks to Encore!

Well, to borrow that line again--"I'm workin' on it." I bought a Maverick set from a reputable bootlegger (turn away. kids) sometime back but I'm re-recording the shows for better copies. The copy of "Hadley's Hunters" that was in the set is extremely rough condition -- so I know I'll call attention to that one when it turns up in the rotation.

Encore Westerns should absorb the blame for the downturn in my classic movie watching, since I've been recording classic TV oaters left and right since I agreed to sign up for Showtime.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Ah come on Ivan. Everyone knows that top 10 or 50 or 100 lists are drawn up by people who just left puberty and don't believe that anything good was made before they were able to turn on the TV, radio, iPod, etc.

I find your lack of faith disturbing, young Jedi master...and yet, as always, you are 100% on the money.

Stacia said...

Based on this post, I recorded this and just watched it! I remember dad telling me how Bret Maverick would sit and whittle while he was thinking and say "I'm working on it," but my kid brain thought that was a series-long gimmick. Had no idea it was from this specific episode! It's an absolute classic.

Speaking of "WKRP", I saw the Thanksgiving episode as a little kid when it first aired. That final post-credits line was one of the few times I saw my dad laugh so hard I thought he would hurt something. (Another time was a "MASH" episode where Col. Potter, formerly of the cavalry, wrecks his jeep and then shoots it as if it were a wounded horse.) It's a shame "WKRP" won't ever be released unedited; my old copies were recorded on bad quality VHS> They're from before music copyrights expired, but 7 or so eps were never syndicated so I don't have those.

I don't watch a lot of TV, but I think I'm going to add "Maverick" to my recording list.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I remember dad telling me how Bret Maverick would sit and whittle while he was thinking and say "I'm working on it," but my kid brain thought that was a series-long gimmick.

My dad was over at the house today and I mentioned to him that "Shady Deal" was on that very morning. The look on his face was a textbook example of "shit-eating grin" as he remembered the episode fondly. Mom's trying to talk him into coming over for the weekend while my sister Kat is laid up from a surgical procedure and I may have to put it on...while we eat on TV trays, like he did in the old days.

Speaking of "WKRP", I saw the Thanksgiving episode as a little kid when it first aired. That final post-credits line was one of the few times I saw my dad laugh so hard I thought he would hurt something.

Switch to the female gender and the same scene happened at our house (my mom was in hysterics). To this day, it's not Thanksgiving unless someone quotes Arthur Carlson's classic closing line.

Stacia said...

I like to say "The Hillsdale Shopping Mall has just been BOMBED with live turkeys. Film at 11:00" just to mix things up a little.

I meant to mention before that "The Great Blue Lake Land and Development Company" episode of TRF is one of my favorites. Also, having just seen "The Sting" again on TCM recently, it is COMPLETELY stolen from "Shady Deal." Someone is owed some royalties.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Also, having just seen "The Sting" again on TCM recently, it is COMPLETELY stolen from "Shady Deal." Someone is owed some royalties.

I revisited this the other night, too. The Sting was the first PG movie I ever saw, and at the time I was a little young to follow the intricacies of the plot...but with the eventual aging process, I understood it more--and that it shamelessly swiped its plot from the Maverick episode.