The Brady Hawkes character doesn't tax Kenny Rogers but makes a likable western hero. On the subject of which, this movie introduces some of my heroes from favourite 1950s/60s TV series. At varying times along ride Lucas McCain, Cheyenne Bodie, Bart Maverick, The Westerner, Kwai Chang Caine, Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp all being played by the original actors. Not since the 1959 Bob Hope comedy Western, 'Alias Jesse James' has so many famous cowboy faces appeared as 'themselves'.
As to 'The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw' it is rambling, unsure whether its a comedy, a road movie or a drama and its moments of violence are somehow out of kilter with the lighter side of the bulk of this mini-series. For example when Cade, who almost ends up as a 'pantomime villain' in the San Francisco hotel towards the end of the movie, murders one of his men "for thinking". That said it is beautifully shot and mostly well played.
Reba McIntire and Rick Rossovich shine brighter than most of the others, and Kenny Rogers is always good to have on screen. Clint Walker seemed to actually be driving the Overland stagecoach which at age 64 wasn't a bad feat; and with Gene Barry then 72 - as Bat Masterson, still looked pretty good! Unsurprisingly the other former Western characters from days gone by had not stood the test of time quite so well; this shouldn't be a shock I suppose as Chuck Connors for instance died the following year, as did Dub Taylor and Paul Brineger not too long after this film was made. With those and others reprising long-ago roles why was Doug McClure (who also sadly died early four years later) not billed as Trampas, and James Drury as The Virginian?
All in all this was a pleasant way to spend three hours but 'The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw' will not go down in Western TV miniseries history as a great one or even particularly memorable. Particularly so, as 'Lonesome Dove' had shown two years earlier, how to make a great Western mini-series.