This is the premier episode of "Maverick" and is a wonderful introduction to James Garner in his signature role of Bret Maverick. This program had to compete with the Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen variety shows, then considered impregnable, and understandably knocked them for a loop, with neither of them ever completely recovering their former standing in the ratings. Garner and his role are so striking that it's easy to see why; in an era of flat and colorless western heroes, he played a much more adult, complex and chronically fascinating character, making an electrifying impression on viewers of the day. Even though set in the Old West, "Maverick" has as urban a feel as anything on film. All the elements of the character are quickly established and Garner's performance is practically perfected out of the gate, with only a few minor changes made later: in this one Maverick wears a bow tie with his usual black broadcloth gambler's suit and hasn't yet figured out that he basically wears his hat on the back of his head. To kick off the series with a splash, this installment is a kind of rolling extravaganza of everything, with Maverick saving an entire town from the clutches of an mining baron in spite of the townspeople's fears. It is a television masterpiece. Watch it and see if you don't agree.
Stars James Garner as Bret Maverick
Guest Stars: Leo Gordon (Big Mike McComb), Edmund Lowe (Phineas King), John Litel (Joshua Thayer), Carla Merey (Edie Stoller), John Hubbard (Judge Richard Bixby), Robert Griffin (Fennelly), Fred Sherman (John Stoller), Bob Steele (Jackson), Donald Kirke (Crane)
First aired: 22 September 1957
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