Jump to content
Forums forums
PRIMETIMER
Brian Cronin

Gunsmoke

Recommended Posts

I have been watching the series since it looped around on MeTV last year and I'm up to Season 9 and the series has been excellent so far.

I just hit an episode called "Mayblossom" and it really showed the bizarre approach that the show often took to comedy and violence. The conceit of the episode is that Mayblossom (strong performance by Lauri Peters), a cousin of Festus (who has only recently joined the cast officially and Ken Curtis is still slowly developing the character - he's such a fascinating character), has shown up to marry Festus because of an agreement that their parents had made when they were babies. So half of the episode is low hanging fruit comedy. My wife was in the room doing some work while I was watching the episode and she remarked at how silly the show seemed. Then I turned it off when she was done so we could watch some TV together. Later at night, I finished the episode and Mayblossom is then RAPED. Festus then murders the guy who raped her and the episode ends with Matt putting him in jail, with everyone knowing that the jury won't convict him. What a dramatic change of pace! The tone change was shocking. 

Anyhow, I just figured we should have a thread for such an iconic show (it still airs daily on, like, three different cable channels). 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Gunsmoke is among my top three shows of all time along with Bonanza and The Rifleman. It was much more gritty and realistic and still holds up today.

You should watch the early half hour shows. It is always fun to watch a show and see big movie stars when they are first starting out. One of my personal favorites was the episode in 1956 called "The Killer" which starred a young Charles Bronson as the gunfighter and cowardly murderer Crego. 

These half hour shows are great and show how far Hollywood has fallen. They were able to pack a whole story into a half hour. The byplay with a very young Amanda Blake is also instructive. It is obvious that she is a madam and a prostitute in the half hour shows instead of a "saloon keeper" in later years. You have to read the subtext but it is right there.

The shows start in Boot Hill and are just so much more gritty and realistic.

I highly recommend that you check them out.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

By the way Langford Peel was one of the greatest gunfighters of all time and should have appeared in the show as he was a very important part of the history of Virgina City.

They only used him as one off with a character called Langford Poole who was outdrawn by Adam Cartwright of all people. What a farce.

Share this post


Link to post

My other favorite Gunsmoke episode didn't even have Matt or Kitty in it. It was "Drago" where Bubby Ebsen plays a mountain man who goes off on a revenge spree. A really excellent episode.

Share this post


Link to post
On 4/2/2019 at 4:05 PM, langford peel said:

Gunsmoke is among my top three shows of all time along with Bonanza and The Rifleman. It was much more gritty and realistic and still holds up today.

You should watch the early half hour shows. It is always fun to watch a show and see big movie stars when they are first starting out. One of my personal favorites was the episode in 1956 called "The Killer" which starred a young Charles Bronson as the gunfighter and cowardly murderer Crego. 

These half hour shows are great and show how far Hollywood has fallen. They were able to pack a whole story into a half hour. The byplay with a very young Amanda Blake is also instructive. It is obvious that she is a madam and a prostitute in the half hour shows instead of a "saloon keeper" in later years. You have to read the subtext but it is right there.

The shows start in Boot Hill and are just so much more gritty and realistic.

I highly recommend that you check them out.

Oh yeah, the early episodes are the best by far, since they were able to pick the best episodes from the classic radio show version to use (essentially, the radio show had already done the work of figuring out which episodes worked best), but I think the show has had remarkable staying power and is still pretty darn good in Season 9. I have no idea how it will last when it gets into color, but so far, so good. The additions of Quint and Festus have also gone pretty seamlessly. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
On 4/4/2019 at 6:29 AM, Brian Cronin said:

Oh yeah, the early episodes are the best by far, since they were able to pick the best episodes from the classic radio show version to use (essentially, the radio show had already done the work of figuring out which episodes worked best), but I think the show has had remarkable staying power and is still pretty darn good in Season 9. I have no idea how it will last when it gets into color, but so far, so good. The additions of Quint and Festus have also gone pretty seamlessly. 

The early half hour episodes are so good, and it was still pretty great when it went to an hour, but I think the quality really started to drop off a year or two after it went to color in season 12, which also coincided with James Arness reducing his role considerably. Often he would only appear in the first or last couple of minutes of the episode, and Festus was really the lead character at that point. That was in the late 1960s and the first episodes I remember watching as a kid. Until I started rewatching it a few years ago on DVD starting with season 1, I remembered it as being mostly an action show with a lot of shootouts and saloon fights where, when two people started fighting, everyone else in the Long Branch would hilariously pair up and start fighting too.

Those early seasons are all quality drama and good writing though. I loved Dennis Weaver, whose Chester could be delightfully deadpan (for example, the time someone was in in the jail cell loudly complaining and Chester said to the Marshal, "do you want me to go hit him with a stick or something?"). It was also fun to see Ken Curtis playing non-Festus roles, where he was all clean-shaven and handsome.

  • Like 2
  • Useful 1

Share this post


Link to post
On 4/2/2019 at 3:57 AM, Brian Cronin said:

I have been watching the series since it looped around on MeTV last year

Me too!  There was a Gunsmoke forum at Previously but it felt weird to comment in a forum that basically had not had activity in years.  It's been fascinating for me to watch this show in episode order like this. I never watched it as a kid, but  I am pretty familiar with the radio series (because Mr Rat is a radio collector) , which I first listened to around 15 or so years ago.   BTW as you may or may not know in general the fans of the radio series don't like the TV series, partly because of the perceived softening of the characters/stories, and partly because of the recasting. 

I have so many thoughts, but I'll start with these few.

One of the coolest things about the TV show is that nobody ever mentions that Chester has a physical disability.

It's odd that Miss Kitty so rarely asks Sam the bartender to bounce anybody out of the Long Branch.  Jeez! Glenn Strange was a huge guy with such a long history of playing Western heavies, not to mention Frankenstein's monster!

Another of the oddities of the show is that none of the horses ever have names.  Especially since Matt Dillon's horse is quite distinctive looking and easily distinguished from anybody else's horse.  Apparently John Meston was afraid that if horses and dogs and such were given names that Gunsmoke would somehow immediately turn into a children's Western.  Supposedly at some point Matt mentioned that his horse's name was Buck, but as of the beginning of season ten this hasn't happened.  Of course Festus's mule is called Ruth, thus I suppose underlining Festus's comic character status.

Wow, it's good to have somewhere to talk about my obsession with this ancient old show.😄

Edited by ratgirlagogo
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×