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Marshall Matt Dillon is responsible for keeping the law and respectability in Dodge City in this western action-drama. Gunsmoke captured the courage, character and spirit of the Western Frontier.
A TV series doesn't get a more auspicious launch than did Gunsmoke, the first episode of which, broadcast on Sept. 10, 1955, was introduced by none other than John Wayne ("Some of you may have seen me before"). In this historic prologue (included in this first-season round-up), Wayne hypes Gunsmoke as "honest, adult, and realistic." Of James Arness, starring as United States Marshal Matt Dillon, Wayne predicts, "He'll be a big star, so you might as well get used to him." Viewers did more than get used to him. "Mr. Dillon," as his sidekick Chester (Dennis Weaver) calls him, became a television icon who literally stood tall as a steadfast, incorruptible symbol of justice through two of America's most tumultuous decades. The Bravo network ranked him among TV's 50 greatest characters. Gunsmoke was television's longest running Western, and Arness's 20-year stint as Dillon would be matched only by Kelsey Grammer's Frasier Crane (and, by the way, Milburn Stone, who costarred with Arness as crusty, "vinegar face" Doc Adams).
For those who grew up with Gunsmoke's full-hour color episodes, this first season will be something of a revelation. The show is in black and white, and, at a half-hour, lean and gritty. Not that Dodge City is Deadwood, by any means, but its reputation as "the Gomorrah of the plains," as Dillon notes in the first episode, is well earned. Most episodes begin with Dillon setting the stage, Dragnet-style, like a frontier Joe Friday. "A man will choose his gun quicker to make a point than he'll draw on his logic," he ruminates at one point. "That's where I come in." Gunsmoke has its share of shootouts and traditional Western action, but the best episodes are gripping psychological dramas. In "Reward for Matt," the embittered widow of a racist Dillon was forced to gun down puts a price on his head. In "The Killer," Dillon exposes a gunslinger (guest star Charles Bronson) for the coward he is. Even an otherwise light-hearted holiday episode, "Magnus," in which Chester's backwards, backwoods brother comes to visit, is darkened by a twisted man gunning for "wicked" dance hall woman Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake), queen of the Longbranch saloon (and a close friend of the marshaljust how close is only hinted at). John Wayne was right: More than 50 years later, Gunsmoke remains "the best thing of its kind to come along." --Donald Liebenson
More TV Westerns
50th Anniversary Collection
I wouldn't say this was television at its best but many episodes have some interesting aspects to them. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Vernon B Rose
This was a Christmas gift for a relative that drives a tractor trailor and is on the rood a lot and wanted these movies for Christmas. He loved it.Published 1 month ago by Nokie Huffman
Better that I thought it would be. If I can find them at a good price, I'll buy more seasons.Published 1 month ago by Pablo
Gunsmoke is timeless! The video and sound is great. Also westcoastmedia delivered the DVD as promise!Published 1 month ago by BEN W.
So few people are around who actually saw these episodes when they came out on TV, and they are really the best of the series. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mem Morman
|Topic||From this Discussion|
|Gunsmoke radio show?||
May 1, 2009 by sokpuppbane | See all 3 posts
|In What Season Did the Hour-Long Programs Start?||
Raisyn, You're in for a treat. The 30 minute episodes comprised the first six seasons of Gunsmoke and are packed with everything a person could want in a tv series. I had not seen any of them, hardly knew they existed, until a couple of years ago. My first thought was that they were nothing... Read More
May 27, 2007 by Caroline Spencer | See all 15 posts
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|Wagon Train Season1 coming to DVD in November||Be the first to reply|