It Shoulda Been Cheyenne

Stage West Maverick the Hero

Roy Huggins created the TV show Maverick to upend viewers’ expectations of what a western ought to be.

Instead of being a heroic central character, Bret Maverick, when asked by a beautiful lady for help, would direct her to the sheriff’s office. He was a poker-playing con man, who professed to be a coward, and was not especially fast on the draw, and when he found himself with a large wad of money, he would keep it rather than give it away to some worthy widow or orphan.

Stage West Edd ByrnesIn fact, Huggins was annoyed that the studio forced him to make Maverick give away the money in the pilot episode because he felt that that was out of character for the slightly anti-hero that he wanted to present.

So how to explain episode 6, “Stage West”, of the first season, based on a Louis L’Amour story, where Maverick comes striding into the scene like a traditional western hero and essentially takes charge of the situation? There’s no poker game, nor humor, although there is a bit of a con taking place near the end, but once again totally out of character Maverick gives away the money.

It should have been an episode of Cheyenne, which did have a traditional western hero.

Meanwhile, it does feature a good villainous performance by Edd Byrnes, who had not yet assumed the Kookie persona of the following season’s 77 Sunset Strip. In fact, it’s not a bad episode at all. It’s just not an episode of Maverick as originally conceived by Roy Huggins. 

Stage West James Garner

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