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The Rockford Files (1974-1980) is not only the greatest television show ever made; its lead character is the greatest American ever brought to the small screen. The Sopranos, The Shield, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Lost… All are fantastic television shows, and I could name many others, but none tops a 1970s private eye series that ran for six seasons on NBC.
Created by Roy Huggins (the genius behind The Fugitive and Maverick) and Stephen J. Cannell (the genius who would go on to create — or co-create — The A-Team, The Greatest American Hero, Wiseguy, Hunter, Riptide, 21 Jump Street, The Commish and countless others), the original idea behind Rockford was to bring Huggins’ Bret Maverick character to life as a 20th century, Los Angeles-based private investigator.
Seasons - Huggins - Maverick - Television - Maverick
For five seasons, from 1957 to 1962, Huggins’ Maverick changed television, for it was Maverick that introduced the idea of the TV anti-hero.
You see, back in the fifties, TV’s Western heroes (and there were literally dozens of them) were all unfailingly honest, brave, noble, and selfless. That doesn’t mean they were simple-minded Dudley-Do-Right types. If you give Gunsmoke or Bonanza or Wagon Train an un-jaded chance, you’ll find plenty of nuance, complicated characters, and moral dilemmas. Those programs ran forever for good reason: they are very well crafted and written.
Difference - Bret - Maverick - Sheriff - Patriarch
The difference, though, is that Bret Maverick isn’t a sheriff or patriarch or leader of any kind. He doesn’t hold a regular job. He’s a rounder, a cardsharp, a gambler, a coward, and always reluctant to do anything that won’t immediately benefit Bret Maverick. You see, Bret Maverick doesn’t want to right society’s wrongs; he wants to fleece the table, get the **** out of town, and spend those ill-gotten gains on whiskey and women.
Unfortunately for him, almost every episode sees Bret pressed into a situation...
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