Monday, October 25, 2010

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

At the start of its 1960-61 season, the TV western Maverick was having to cope with the loss of its star, James Garner, who had quit the series after a messy contract dispute with Warner Brothers, the studio that produced the program. The show’s producers added another Maverick to the family to help out co-star Jack Kelly (Bart Maverick, who now became the show’s star) in the form of future Simon Templar-James Bond Roger Moore, who played the Maverick brothers’ British cousin, Beau—he would be introduced in the fourth season’s opener “The Bundle from Britain” (09/18/60).

But it’s the second show from that season that I’m drawing attention to—one which is scheduled to air tomorrow on the Encore Westerns channel at 8:00am EST. In “Hadley’s Hunters” (09/25/60), Bart runs afoul of a rogue sheriff played by Edgar “Uncle Joe” Buchanan (and future Academy Award-winner George Kennedy plays his deputy) who’s running a lucrative racket hunting down innocent men by claiming they’re outlaws and cashing in on the reward. Midway through the episode, Bart is informed that unless he locates a man whom he inadvertently let escape, he’s going to have to take his place. (The “outlaw,” by the way, is played by actor Brent Colbert—who would later turn up as brother Brent [and James Garner clone] in a pair of episodes toward the end of this season before disappearing into the same televisual void that claimed the likes of Davey Gillis, Eugene Barkley, etc.)

In hunting down the wanted man, Bart tries to enlist the assistance of marshal Dan Troop (John Russell) and deputy Johnny McKay (Peter Brown) from Lawman; Cheyenne Bodie (Clint Walker), Bronco Layne (Ty Hardin) and Tom Brewster (Will Hutchins) from Sugarfoot—none of which are of any real help. There’s also a quick reference to Warner Brothers’ other hit western, Colt .45 (which had been only recently been cancelled) and a funny bit from an actor who was prominently featured on 77 Sunset Strip, constantly combing his hair. (You get three guesses…and the first two don’t count.)

It’s the cameos from these Warner’s westerns stars that make “Hadley’s” a fun watch; those of you who follow this blog on occasion know that while I remain a James Garner partisan when it comes to Maverick Jack Kelly could be equally effective, and this is one of my favorite Bart escapades. (I think the reason why I’m not 100% in Kelly’s corner is because when I first got the opportunity to see the show in reruns after years of aching to see it, it always seemed to be a Bart repeat.) But I’ve changed my opinion on Kelly, who in later years proved that he was a real class act—he used to always remind interviewers: “Garner was Maverick—I was just his brother.” (And he was still one of the best things in that 1991 TV-movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw.)

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5 comments:

Toby O'B said...

One of my faves and a key part of the Toobworld concept.

But there's another reference/connection that comes up near the end of the episode in the scene with Herb Vigran as the barkeep. It involves a key prop.....

Laura said...

Needless to say, I loved your post and I'm so glad you've come to appreciate Jack Kelly's (underrated) contributions to MAVERICK. I met him on a couple occasions when he was on the town council of a neighboring city, and he was very gracious, as was Mr. Garner when I had the good fortune to meet him. Two class acts.

Best wishes,
Laura

Scott said...

I never cared for Kelly on Maverick, having a similar experience to Ivan's (whenever I had a chance to watch it -- usually when I was too sick to go to school -- it was always a Bart episode). But he was a solid actor, and to be fair, 9 out of 10 thespians would come up short when forced to compete with the preternatural charm of James Garner. In Forbidden Planet, which is pretty much a tribute to Solid Actors, he shines as Leslie Nielsen's second-in-command and rival for the hand of Anne Francis.

Hal said...

I always thought Kelly was quite good on MAVERICK. No, not as good as Garner, but to be fair, didn't Garner get the first choice of scripts? Anyway, some of my favorite Kelly episodes were from the final season: "Three Queens Full" was a very good BONANZA parody, while not as good as the riotous "Gun-Shy", it was still hilarious in its own right. "Poker Face", also from the underrated final season, about as good an exploration of racial and class tensions as one could get out of a TV western in the early 60's.

Kelly's the Shemp of the MAVERICKs IMO. :) Not as good as the original but deserves more credit than he gets.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Kelly's the Shemp of the MAVERICKs IMO. :)

Oh, I like that. As a Shemp fan, I heartily endorse that concept.

I actually think "Three Queens Full" is funnier than "Gun-Shy"--but admittedly, this is because I'm far more comfortable watching Bonanza being sent up than I am Gunsmoke.