Friday, February 17, 2017

A Classic Reborn: Bret Maverick (1981)

For the 2nd time in a four year span, Warner Bros. decided to revive Maverick, this time on NBC, under the title, Bret Maverick, with James Garner, not too far removed from The Rockford Files, reprising the first of his iconic roles.

NBC slotted Bret Maverick on Fridays, not at the same exact time as Rockford, but they figured that Garner's drawing power, assuming he had any left, would be enough opposite CBS' Dukes of Hazzard, a WB stablemate. Wrong! NBC made the same tactical mistake they'd made earlier in the year with the sitcom, The Brady Brides, thinking that the sequel to The Brady Bunch, airing on the same night as the original series, would find the same audience. Apparently, program mogul Fred Silverman never read the works of George Santayana.

The other problem was this. The original Maverick was in syndication in some parts of the country. Local cable viewers could find it on WSBK in Boston, for example. This time around, Bret is going solo, as brother Bart (Jack Kelly) & cousin Beau (Roger Moore) aren't around. Moore, of course, had long moved on, and had starred as James Bond in "For Your Eyes Only" earlier in '81.

I seem to recall my parents sampling Bret Maverick, but I didn't see enough of the show to give it a rating. Following is a sample teaser and the intro. Co-star Ed Bruce, otherwise a prominent country singer of the period, performs the title song.



Bruce & Garner recorded a version of the theme song for an album. Bruce does sound a wee bit like a cross between two other country singers, Waylon Jennings and Don Williams, at least to my ears, and as we've previously noted, Garner later recorded a duet with Jennings.


6 comments:

Mike Doran said...

According to my references (and my memory), NBC aired Bret Maverick in '81 on Tuesday nights.
BM did eventually air on Fridays - but in reruns, almost ten years later (summer '90).

hobbyfan said...

And you'd be correct, meaning Bret was airing opposite Three's Company. Same result.

Hal Horn said...

BRET MAVERICK actually had fairly good ratings after taking over the timeslot oppostite HAPPY DAYS on ABC in the Spring of 1982. HAPPY DAYS was an aging show but wouldn't finally be knocked out until THE A-TEAM came along a season later.

It was a bubble show that was one of the higher rated cancellations in 1981-82. If it had been renewed, Jack Kelly was set to rejoin the cast as Bart for Season Two.

hobbyfan said...

Thanks for the heads-up.

Hal Horn said...

A bit more info: Marilyn Beck's April 30, 1982 column contained more info on the cancellation, for which demographics were cited. BRET MAVERICK was NBC's seventh highest rated show for the 1981-82 season, but was pulling an older audience than that desired by Grant Tinker and Brandon Tartikoff. The show ranked 34th out of 105 series for the season with a 27 share, was NBC's highest ranked freshman series of the season, and the network only had 4 of the top 30. (The latter, per Ron Aldridge's May 4, 1982 column.)

With a 27 share, BRET MAVERICK outranked seven series that NBC elected to renew, including QUINCY, M.E., DIFFRN'T STROKES, CHiPS and FATHER MURPHY. Curious decision if you ask me: was FATHER MURPHY really considered a good bet to attract that young, urban audience that Tartikoff desired?

hobbyfan said...

More than likely, it was protected because of Michael Landon, but it didn't last much longer.....