Sunday, June 2, 2019

The "Cult" of Maverick! :)


Yet another book just joined the Kellection. It's Cult TV by John Javna.

No, it's not about a television network owned by an obscure guru. "Cult" as defined here means TV shows that fans crave, or, as the subtitle proclaims "A Viewer's Guide to the Shows America Can't Live Without!!".

"Cult" usually denotes a film or TV series which wasn't widely watched or appreciated in its day (such as Star Trek), but later attracted a fiercely devoted following. However, these days one need not be a "Trekker" to recognize phrases like "Beam me up, Scotty!" or to understand what an Enterprise crew member's red shirt foreshadows. Although the original Star Trek series ran only three seasons on NBC, the show and its later iterations can now be viewed around the clock, even without a television. It's no longer "cult tv"; it's an institution.

To me, a cult classic is something more esoteric, like Dark Shadows, the long-canceled gothic soap opera which still has a strong following but is also somewhat "niche". It's in this book, but most of the programs here (Star Trek, I Love Lucy, Gunsmoke, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, etc.) are perennially popular shows that virtually everyone is familiar with. They've become part of our collective consciousness and lexicon. Who hasn't quipped "You got some 'splainin' to do!" at some time in our life? You don't need a book to 'splain that.

Today, there are several networks devoted to classic television, not to mention streaming services, DVD box sets, YouTube channels, websites, blogs, Facebook fan groups and conventions such as Comic-Con. Anyone can binge, tweet or share their favorite TV shows just about anytime they want.

But, Cult TV was published in 1985 B.I. (Before Internet), when many of the shows it spotlights could be seen only in reruns on local TV (if at all) after their original runs ended. "Retro" programming was in its infancy in 1985. For instance, "Nick At Nite" debuted in July 1985 and its spinoff network "TV Land" didn't sign on until April 1996.

I remember watching Maverick in syndication many moons ago on one of our local cable channels. And, yes, it's one of the cult classics featured in Cult TV.

Unfortunately, the author is of the "James Garner Was Maverick--Jack Kelly Was Just Maverick's Brother" school.

He introduces the lead actors: "Starring James Garner."


Not "Starring James Garner and Jack Kelly".

Nope, there's a standalone "And..."

Followed by: "...Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick, Bret's equally larcenous, but not as sexy brother."

(SAY WHAT??!!)

The author further downplays JK's contribution to Maverick by making comments like: "Kelly had been filming a movie in Hong Kong, so he'd never even heard of Maverick. When he finally saw it, he wasn't sure he could step in as proposed, because he thought Garner was so good" and "Kelly was accepted by fans of Maverick (despite the confusion it created) but never developed the cult following that Garner had."

But, we know now that JK does have his fans (you're reading this blog, aren't you?) and, "cult following" or not, he was the official star of Maverick alongside James Garner. He wasn't simply an "and" or a secondary sibling.

Also, were fans of Maverick actually confused when "Brother Bart" showed up? Didn't they have TV Guide or read newspapers? I can just imagine a befuddled couple watching the show back in the day:

"Hey Martha, is this the same guy who usually plays Maverick?"

"No, dear, that's the brother."

"The actor's brother?"

"No, Maverick's brother."

"Oh. Does he have a sister, too?"

Anyway, the author also provides some trivia about Maverick which is now pretty well-known:

Well, please stay tuned to TDS! :)