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Maverick & Magoo

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: July 17, 2008

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THIS week, from opposite sides of the TV spectrum, Alan Keeling presents Maverick and Mr Magoo, two more memorable shows that used to light up the little box in the corner ...

"Maverick was a programme set during the Wild West days of the 1880s, a somewhat satirical poke at its period in history and the laws of the time, which made it a slightly tongue-in-cheek spoof Western. The story lines were based around two self-centred brothers, Bret (James Garner) and Bart (Jack Kelly) Maverick, who roamed the shanty towns seeking rich prey for gambling purposes, but helping people in distress at the same time. James Garner lasted for just three seasons, but Jack Kelly saw the programme through to its natural conclusion.

"In Season 4 Roger Moore joined the cast as cousin Bean Maverick in an episode called 'Bundle from Britain', and was soon followed by another cousin, this time Brent Maverick played by Robert Colbert. Other well known guest stars to appear during the series included Bob Steele, Mike Connors, John (Lawman) Russell, Clint Eastwood, Edgar Buchanan, Robert Conrad, Adam West, Alan Hale, Buddy Ebsen and Jim (Magoo) Backus.

"The hour long shows filmed in black and white were distributed throughout the US in the fall of 1957 and began with two pilot shows, War of the Silver Kings, and Point Blank. The show continued to be broadcast until 1962. It first came to these shores in 1958 when various ITV regions began to screen it, including the Midlands on a Saturday evening, and proved very successful.

"I'm sure there are many Bugle readers who remember the cartoon series Mr Magoo. He was a crotchety, short-sighted, elderly gentleman whose first name few might know was Quincy. The character's first animated appearance took place in a 1949 United Productions of America short, produced for Columbia Pictures and entitled 'Ragtime Bear'. From 1950 onwards until 1960, 52 Mr Magoo cinema shorts were made during which time the programme received four Academy Award nominations and two awards for best script. The voice behind Mr Magoo was always Jim Backus and he continued to provide this service throughout the cartoon character's career, right up to the late '70s.

"Various titles included 'Fuddy, Duddy, Buddy, Matador Magoo, and Magoo Goes West. Some titles, such as When Magoo Flew (1955) were shot in cinemascope which made them unsuitable for TV viewing. In 1959 a feature length Magoo cartoon was produced and released by Columbia entitled 1001 Arabian Nights.

"Magoo finally arrived on TV in 1960 with 130 cheaply made cartoons which also featured his fur-coated nephew Waldo, Charlie the Chinese house-boy, and Mother Magoo. In 1962 Magoo, now a household name, starred in an hour long TV special called 'Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol'. It was based, unsurprisingly, on the Charles Dickens seasonal novel and was screened on BBC1 on Christmas Eve, 1964.

It was so successful a follow up series called 'The Famous Adventures of Mr Magoo', hit prime time viewing in 1965. Twenty-five half hour shows were made, but unfortunately BBC 2 screened only thirteen of them. However Magoo came to life again in 1970 in an hour long special for TV called 'Uncle Sam Magoo' produced for N.B.C.

"Drawing a veil over the life and times of Mr Magoo, the final half-hour TV shows were produced by DePatie Frelong Productions entitled, almost predictably, 'What's new, Mr Magoo'. Thirteen were made before Magoo was finally put to rest. Sadly for British fans, these were never broadcast in the UK."

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