User Reviews (23)

  • McVouty30 August 2001
    Closing of the frontier was never funnier
    I guess I'm one of the few who remembers this very funny show. The turn of the century Old West, with technology about to change the frontier forever, made for a very interesting setting, and the cast did a good job of getting into the period, pulling it off without being camp. Garner was great, Margot Kidder was delightful, and John Beck made a terrific villain. The show was of such high quality it's no wonder it lasted such a short time.
  • DKosty1237 July 2007
    Handicap- It Had No Must See TV ERA on NBC
    NBC was putting out a lot of good product when this series came out, but none of it was getting viewers. At least according to their executives who wisely canceled good shows like Star Trek & My World & Welcome To It because of low ratings. NBC's advertisers were getting a bargain from NBC's ignorance.

    This show stands out as the only time James Garner wasn't enough to get viewers. It is ashame as this show had an excellent support cast from Stuart Margolin (later Angel in the Rockford files), to Neva Patterson to Margot Kidder.

    It was set in a 1900 western town. Garner was playing a sheriff who did not want to use violence to do his duties. It was small town stuff, but it was excellent. It wasn't long after this that Jim Rockford brought Garner back to success, but for my money, this show was good enough, it just wasn't in the right time, right place, or given the right opportunity.

    The show was so good that most of the folks who worked on it also got jobs on Rockford.
  • rlquall31 August 2006
    A fine show that should have run longer
    This show was a really good one in many ways, although certainly an atypical Western with the hero (?) riding around on a motorcycle rather than a horse, due to the 1914 setting, very "late" for a Western, which tend usually to be set between 1866 and 1890. I remember some controversy about its cancellation at the time but didn't really watch it during its time on NBC. When I came to see it and love it was a decade later when I was in the Army stationed in Germany and it was shown every week from the beginning on Armed Forces Television. By then, Margot Kidder was famous as Lois Lane but I'll also always think of her as Nichols' girlfriend. In a lot of ways, Nichols was a lot like Maverick; both were much more attracted to getting rich with little effort than they were fighting. It was in the little TV magazine that they distributed at the PX (not really an authorized edition of "TV Guide" but made to resemble it as closely as possible without getting into copyright trouble) that I first learned the real story behind the cancellation. I really wonder what the next season with the more violent twin would have been like if they had really made it as planned. Of course, by the time this show was made the "Western era" of TV had been in decline for around a decade; someday I hope to be able to write that the "reality era" has been in decline for that long! While "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza" were still running, they were both nearing their ends and it had been years since a new Western had really caught on; I think that this trend did a lot to hold "Nichols" back, and was the main reason that NBC executives doubted that it would ever find a large audience But to me, a good Western, unlike a show set in contemporary times, is somewhat timeless, as are other "period" shows; changing fashions and the like do nothing to make them look any more "dated" than they were supposed to be, and I think that watching this show, 10 years after it was produced, is really what brought this point home to me. Also, this show is an early pairing of Garner and Stuart Margolin, who is really one of the all-time great sidekicks, and not just in Westerns.
  • buddavis22 December 2005
    Did garner write himself out of the show?
    I, too, considered "Nichols" to be James Garner's best TV work. It was witty and superbly written. Regarding the reason for the show's short run and surprising ending, I'm sure I remember reading that Garner did it himself; that he was upset with management sticking their noses in and so he wrote himself out of the series by having his character killed off in the opening scene. If you remember, he never carried a gun and always outwitted the bad guys with his quick mind and smooth talk. He was called to the saloon to keep a bad guy from shooting the place up and, as he stepped up to the door, got blown back into the street. Whatever the reason for canceling the show, I miss it and the excellence it represented. But, then again, if all TV was always that good I'd never get anything done.
  • mmiscione4 January 2005
    Loved the theme music, too!
    I, too, loved this show as a kid, but as other posters have written, no one else seems to remember it. Its setting -- an Arizona town at the twilight of the wild west era, but before the First World War -- was one reason that made it so compelling. Another was the odd horn solo theme music that I could still hum decades after the last time I heard it. A couple of years ago I managed to track down a recording of the tune from an online guy who specializes in old TV show themes. He was not familiar with the show or its music until I asked him to find it. He later told me that a few episodes had recently aired on TV Land or some other nostalgia TV channel. Years after Nichols was canceled, I read or heard somewhere that it was James Garner's favorite show. Go figure.
  • tfornear1 February 2006
    Nichols was great...where is it?
    Warning: Spoilers
    As I remember Nichols, he rides into town after retiring as a sergeant in the army...early 1900's. He rides in on an Indian motorcycle. He winds up as sheriff, with Stuart Margolin as his deputy, and the Ketchum's (Ma and son) as the "bad guys...kinda". Margo Kidder is his girl...sorta. He never uses his gun; he talks people out of causing trouble. He was Maverick. And then the final episode. He is killed before the credits run in the last episode while trying to keep two old koots from killing each other. Some time passes in the town...his twin brother rides into town. It is the James Garner that plays Wyatt Earp in the movie (mean...never smiles....bad attitude). He cleans up the town, rights the wrongs, and rides out of town on his brother's Indian. Great ending. Great show.
  • benzene31 May 2001
    Best series James Garner was in
    The first time I remember seeing James Garner was in this series. It was set in the late 1800s and he played a sort of smart-alec who inherited the name of the founder of the town but basically nothing else. The people of the town kind of looked down on him. He rode around town on a motorcycle, which in those days was like a moped in that it had pedals like a bicycle (in fact that's how you started it).

    It was hilarious and I was very disappointed when it was canceled. When I saw Rockford, I thought "wow, that's the same guy that was in Nichols, I wonder if this show will be any good."

    Margot Kidder was in this too. I hope someday I get to see reruns to see if it's as good as I remember.
  • Joseph Harder22 June 2010
    Brilliant, almost completely unknown, revisionist Western
    James Garner starred in two of the most celebrated, popular, and delightful Television Shows ever, Maverick and The Rockford Files. However, they were not his only contributions to our TV heritage. One can think of the wonderful, but rapidly canceled God, The Devil, and Bob, in which he was utterly convincing Deity. However, his most shamefully overlooked TV show was this startling comedy western, which my family loved. Set in the dying old West of 1914, and starring , in addition to Garner, Henry Darrow, Margot Kidder and Stuart Margolin, this show poked fun at most of the conventions of the western genre. It was wonderfully written, directed and acted. Perhaps not surprisingly,it was canceled, in an act of network stupidity ranking right up there with the cancellations of East Side / West Side, Slattery's People, Star Trek, My World And Welcome To it, and The Rogues.
  • dougadams-118 August 2006
    "Nichols" Great Garner Vehicle
    As I recall, my family made a point to stay home on the night "Nichols" was on (Mondays? Tuesdays? NBC?). It was a superb vehicle for James Garner, very well written, great ensemble cast. His character very much like the "Support Your Local..." films: Retired gambler with mysterious past settles into town and has adventures every week. In fact, it seemed fairly obvious that it was the same character. It was just a charmer of a TV show. A sleeper, like "My World And Welcome To It", which may have been its contemporary--I forget. I dearly wish these shows would be made available on DVD. It was Just Good TV. Perhaps "Briscoe County Jr." come close, but only by a mile.
  • Judger19 July 2003
    What an ending!
    Warning: Spoilers
    This seems to be a forgotten series, but like the other comment I remember being really taken by it.

    What I will never forget is the series finale. Very unexpectedly, James Garner's character (Nichols)is killed. I forget the details, but he was shot and blown off his feet some distance.

    That made an impression on me at time.

    The twist was that Nichols had a twin who appeared to be taking over the lead of the story. I guess they were considering retooling the show and keeping it on the air with a character with a different personality.

    That didn't happen, but it was as series finale that I'll never forget!
  • jdumpert4 December 2002
    I loved it too
    Garner played Garner as only Garner can. For this short lived series, he was a disreputable sheriff in one horse western town in the early 20th century. The great Margot Kidder played the saloon keeper, a sorta equivalent of Kitty on Gunsmoke. It was clear, however, that her saloon offered more than a drink and a song. Above all, Nichols was really funny.
  • ksdinc25 February 2008
    I remember Nichols too!
    Hey, you are not alone! I remember Nichols! I was just 17 when it was on. I remember James Garner was one of the coolest actors, and Nichols was such a great show. I couldn't believe it was on such a short time, wish I could remember the last episode, I probably didn't see it...there were no vcr's back then so it when it was on you saw it, and if you missed an episode it was gone forever unless it came back on summer reruns. Anyway, sure would be great if it came out on DVD, but I don't think that many people even knew about it. What a shame.

    Garner would hit it big a few years later with Rockford Files, and he brought along his buddy Stuart Margolin from Nichols to play his sidekick Angel.
  • irearly16 February 2008
    Strangely, I agree with everything that has been said so far. This really was a different kind of television show. Great cast with an impossibly hot Margot Kidder and excellent stories, I especially remember one about a madcap treasure hunt that had so many twists, turns and reversals that it quite rightly turned out to be a dream. And just to prove I've been there: as already reported the last episode killed off the Nichols character and replaced him with his brother the only difference between the two being the new brother's full on black mustache. The whole episode the brother seesaws about whether or not he'll stay and take over for his dead brother. Finally he goes to the barber shop and looks at his mustache in the mirror, putting his hand over it as if to visualize what he would like like without it (i.e., take over for his dead brother and keep the series going).

    "Naw", he says and leaves the town of Nichols ending the show.
  • aramis-112-80488029 December 2016
    Short-Lived Western and it's Easy to See Why
    Warning: Spoilers
    When the cavalry becomes too mechanized Nichols (first name never used, though he has one) goes back home to a town his family founded, Nichols, AZ. He thinks he can fit right back into the swim after fifteen years, but Nichols (the town) has changed. Though Nichols' family founded the the place, it's now run by the mean-spirited Ma Ketchum and her ne'er-do-well son (played by John Beck). Thanks to some debts Nichols incurs with her, Ma Ketchum forces him to work it off--as Sheriff.

    "Nichols" plays almost like what would happen to James Garner's character from "Support Your Local Sheriff" after that movie; or, since it's set in the early twentieth century were they have cars, motorcycles and telephones, perhaps his son.

    Star James Garner had one of the winningest personalities in television history. First monkeying with the role of a western hero in "Maverick" (which he parlayed into a successful film career in the 1960s, including the best western spoof ever, "Support Your Local Sheriff") Garner went on, after Nichols, to change the idea of the t.v. private eye in "The Rockford Files." "Nichols" is Garner's first return to the small screen when his film career began puttering out, and it lasted one season. It's easy to see why.

    Television was changing in the early 70s but the direction was unsure. Like another casualty of 1971, "The Jimmy Stewart Show", "Nichols" was a quality show, but . . . well, strange. "The Jimmy Stewart Show" was a family comedy that experimented with doing away with a laugh track, which may have confused people who have to be cued when to titter. "Nichols" went another experimental way that did not pay off.

    In the 1960s comedies were half-hour affairs, drama shows (medical, cop, "adult" westerns--which meant that at the end someone wound up being taken away draped over the back of a horse) were one hour. In the 1970s "comedies" ventured into "issues" and became less funny while hour-long "dramas" became sillier ("Kolshak"; "Charlie's Angels"; "The Rockford Files", etc.). Nichols was an early exemplar in this direction, being very funny in taut, dramatic situations.

    Every episode of "Nichols" was like a take on "Support Your Local Sheriff." Garner was at his best when he played the huckster or conman with the welcoming smile and the laid back ways, delivering his lines like it's almost too much work to talk; but who, when the chips were down, always let himself be talked into doing the right thing over his better judgement. "Nichols" exploited this to the fullest, with Nichols begin a sheriff able to use a gun or his fists, but willing to avoid it whenever possible. Not because he had scruples about hurting people, but because they might shoot him.

    But it's hard to show "thinking" on the screen. Nichols might have outwitted one foe after another, but it was the dramatic showdown with the bad guys that let "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza" run so long. "Nichols" could use more action which, unfortunately, means violence. Too, the western had almost run its course by the time "Nichols" came along.

    The series starts badly. Its pilot is one of the dullest I've seen. Perhaps trying to make the town feel like a town, "Nichols" has too many characters. Guest stars (Jack Elam, Strother Martin, etc.) livened individual episodes, but some of the shows are simply uninteresting. And after a while the formula begins to drag. And for all its quality "Nichols" often feels under-rehearsed and slapdash. And almost every show has too much extraneous dialogue that means nothing and goes nowhere.

    One season was all "Nichols" got, but I doubt the formula would have lasted much longer. "Support Your Local Sheriff" had been made and did not need to be remade week after week. Then, in the last episode of the first season, the show took a revolutionary direction that never materialized since it never got a season two. But the new direction was shocking in its inception. A desperate play to grab an audience, it had Nichols . . .


    . . . killed and a soap-opera look-alive brother brought in (I think in Season Two it would prove to be the first Nichols, but we'll never know).

    One good thing, this show was Garner's first pairing with Stuart Margolin, who went on to be Jim Rockford's Angel Martin.

    This series is only for people who, like me, won't overdose on Garner's folksy charm.
  • rudyardk27 February 2016
    Fondly remembered show doesn't hold up
    Nichols was essentially unseen for 40+ years or so -- and the vast majority of reviews on IMDb are from those years, with people fondly remembering the show they watched back in 1971/72 but hadn't actually viewed in decades.

    Now that it's out on DVD? If you watch, it still might raise a grin or two on occasion -- but looked at dispassionately, without the warm glow of nostalgia, this is awfully thin beer. Nichols veers uncomfortably between (sometimes) ver-r-r-y broad Western humour and ham-fisted attempts at social relevancy. As well, the supporting cast is mostly a series of one-note caricatures that are usually very funny at first, but fail to develop or grow, and the plots and writing are often slapdash.

    The pilot is probably the show's strongest episode -- it's funny, and has heart. (Although most modern audiences will rightly react poorly to a very peculiar scene dropped into the middle, in which Nichols goes on a weirdly sexist rant.) After that? Nichols becomes mired in a somewhat predictable rut.

    So far from tuning out because Nichols wasn't Maverick, or because the lead character wasn't a traditional hero, it's pretty easy to see that the audiences of '71/'72 tuned out because Nichols just wasn't that good a show. It wasn't *terrible*, mind you, and had its moments...but it was certainly no classic, then or now. The charismatic performances were much stronger than the material, and the warm feelings audiences had for James Garner, Stuart Margolin and Margot Kidder are probably what kept this show alive in the minds of its fans.

    Garner and Margolin did much better with their next series, The Rockford Files, which featured much sharper writing. Too bad Kidder didn't show up there too!
  • Shawn Spencer14 September 2015
    Vastly Overrated
    I love James Garner. I love offbeat Westerns like Butch Cassidy, Silverado, Blazing Saddles, Maverick and Support Your Local Sheriff). I love Stuart Margolin playing any kind of slimy con- artist.

    So why don't I love Nichols?

    1) Not nearly enough Garner. In the episodes I watched, Garner got maybe 20% of the screen time. Margolin got a couple lines here and there. The other actors/characters just aren't strong enough to carry the show the other 80%. 2) Terrible scripts. Offbeat is one thing, but completely lacking in coherence and believability is another. 3) Lack of focus. The producers/directors/writers had no clear idea of what the show was about. It shifted from anti-Vietnam rants to F-troop style gag humor, to earnest social commentary. 4) Just NOT funny. Brevity is the soul of wit. Too many of the scenes went on and on with no clear purpose and no really funny lines.

    I'm sure the network thought an offbeat Western with James Garner set in the era of Butch Cassidy couldn't miss. They thought wrong.
  • perry_cooper8 January 2004
    Wow! I have finally tracked it down
    I remember this series vividly from grade 8 or 9 in Canada. I remember that it was my favorite series and was shocked when it ended - but what a last episode. I have searched everywhere for reference to it but never been able to find it. I have also always been astounded that no one I spoke to about it ever heard of it. Will it ever be shown in reruns? What a cult classic! I really miss it and would really love to relive my early years by seeing it again. Has there ever been an issue on video or DVD?
  • timmyb7416 November 2001
    Loved the series!
    This was a very good series in my estimation. James Garner played a somewhat shady character with a line he could sell to anyone. In that way it was similar to the role he played in Maverick. Nichols was better written and funnier than Maverick, but just didn't catch on. I would love to see some reruns sometime!
  • links3 April 2002
    Great show, Garner was fantastic.
    I remember how funny it was and how hard I would laugh at this series. It was all James, a perfect fit. I also recall how terribly shocked I was watching the final episode. I have never found anyone else who recalls this series, it was so great how could this be possible?
  • babe28 June 2004
    Simply one more great series from Mr. Garner
    I loved this show but then I don't remember ever not loving anything he did, starting with "Americanization of Emily". A town sheriff who keeps trying to steal the town blind and ride off to Mexico, gotta love it. Like everything he does it has a tongue in cheek flavor that brands it as a Garner product. James plays the same character in lots of his shows and movies but somehow it never gets stale.

    P.S. re: Killing off the main character

    If I remember right the "good" brother was killed off and replaced with the "evil" twin in an effort to increase the ratings i.e.; make it more like every other western on TV at the time. I think this show was too far ahead of its time and I still miss it. TV without a Jimmy G show is missing something.
  • bcbcbc-5286614 April 2018
    Skip buying the Niochols DVD !!!
    This show is poorly written, slow moving, and just plain BORING. Spend you money on 1981 Bret Maverick instead, which was a GREAT one season show.
  • sheena195916 November 2011
    Great Sho
    Funny to read all the other reviews and see that I was not alone in loving this show. I would have only been about 12 years old, but it made an impression on me. Simply put: it just wasn't anything like other shows. The violence was low key, the acting was sublime. The "cowboy" hero road on an old motorcycle. The lead man was shot out of know where on the last episode. I mourned the end of this show. It was an early "alternative" show, almost like a European film. I've been thinking of this show for years but finally got around to checking up on it. Thanks to all those others who shared their love of this show.

    Wonder if somewhere there are copies?
  • Greg H30 October 2014
    Quirky fun show
    The show had a quirky theme song. Does anyone know what it was? It reminds me of "Can't get used to losing you" by Andy Williams. OK, to continue on with the ten line minimum, I recall the old lady. Was she Nichols' mother? I have the impression she owned the only car in the entire area and ruled the town in some manner. OK, to continue with the ten line minimum, I recall Nichols, James Garner, was reluctant in his job as sheriff but would persevere with a stylish aplomb. I don't quite recall this but I believe there was an on and off again love interest with Margot Kidder. Mainly, though, I am interested in knowing more about the quirky theme song and if it had anything to do with Andy Williams' "Can't Get Used To Losing You." It had an almost syncopated rhythm.