Picks and Pans Review: The Gambler Returns: the Luck of the Draw

updated 11/04/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/04/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Sun., Nov. 3, 9 P.M. ET)


Kenny Rogers is back again as the Western cardsharp in this comic adventure sequel. This time he's trying to get to San Francisco for the poker game to end all poker games.

Rogers is less stiff than in the past three Gambler movies. Or maybe he just looks good compared with his coworkers. Rick (Sons and Daughters) Rossovich is ridiculous as Rogers's trail partner, a man irresistible to the ladies. (Rossovich must have a Victor Mature clause in his contract. He's stripped to the waist in half his scenes.) And country singer Reba McEntire (see story, page 93) is considerably less than convincing as the envoy for a group of madams who provide Kenny with his stake. NBC also manages to shoehorn in a couple of its sitcom players, Jere (Dear John) Burns and Park (Empty Nest) Overall.

The movie does have one campy casting conceit: a parade of cameos by stars of old TV Western series, including Chuck (The Rifleman) Connors, Gene (Bat Masterson) Barry, Linda (The Big Valley) Evans, Hugh (Wyatt Earp) O'Brian, Clint (Cheyenne) Walker, David (Kung Fu) Carradine, Brian (The Westerner) Keith, Jack (Maverick) Kelly and James Drury and Doug McClure of The Virginian.

(Reba McEntire's character here is called Burgundy Jones. Keith's sidekick in The Westerner, produced and directed by the late Sam Peckinpah, was named Burgundy Smith.)

Ludicrous but fast-paced, the movie, which concludes Monday, is like a bouncy pony ride around and around a familiar corral.

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