Gunsmoke, in all of its 20 seasons, making it the longest running prime-time drama of all time, has such a strong legacy that it feels odd to review it. Thankfully the challenge is an enjoyable one as the show is at a full head of steam in its fourth season (it was ranked #1 at this time) and each episode is still as engrossing today as it was over 4 decades ago.
James Arness plays Marchall Matt Dillon, and is the law of Dodge City. Both him and the local doctor have rather stony demeanors when it comes to death, and death seems plenty common in 1800s Kansas. More often than not the criminal behind each episodes story is shot dead by the quick draw of Dillon before they could ever see a trial. I suppose that just makes the opening narration all the more suiting as many episodes start with a stock scene of Dillon wandering through a graveyard as Dillon narrates his musings on those that have made one too many mistakes and earned themselves a spot in that yard.
Each episode contains a mystery that Dillon has to unravel. This format may resemble that of a Western pre-cursor to contemporary cop shows to new viewers.
I am struggling to find more to say because a show this immense, and having ended so long ago, there is simply no way to praise it in ways that it hasn’t been already; nor does it give me any reason to criticize (the occasional and extremely dated Western stereotyping of Native Americans aside). The stories are as entertaining as ever and worthy of gaining a new audience with its DVD release.
1:33 Fullscreen. An extremely nice transfer to DVD. Shown in its original black & white, the picture is very crisp and clear. As good as one could hope from a show this old. The original masters were obviously very well kept (I suppose it doesn’t hurt being a legendary show).
English Mono, which is par for the course when it comes to revived shows like this. Despite the simple track, the sound quality is very strong. Such as when I wrote about the video quality, this really is as good as one could hope. Whatever aging has shown is perfectly forgivable, but none of it is disrupting in the least.
“How to Cure a Friend” from Season 2: The Season 2 DVD boxset had mistaking substituted a season 4 episode instead of this one, and so they are trying to rectify that by including the misplaced episode in this set. An interesting problem with a satisfying solution.
Sponsor Spots: For Remington shavers and L&M cigarettes, amusing commercials done by the cast of the show for these products. Included for historic reference only.
Between the amusing characters, the mystery angle to the stories and the ruthless life or death attitude of this Western setting, it is hard to not get hooked on this show.