January 18, 2008


I bought a DVD set of the first season of Gunsmoke, and was presently ambushed: the first episode (and series) was introduced by the great John Wayne!

The show went twenty seasons — beginning with a Marshall Dillon, a Doc and a Kitty who were so young as to be hardly recognizable from the much later hour-long episodes. And Chester didn’t look anywhere near as old as McCloud!

Gunsmoke is one of my favorite TV series’ of all time, so I know I’m going to enjoy watching these DVDs.

by @ 2:56 am. Filed under Recreation
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21 Responses to “Gunsmoke”

  1. Gayle Says:

    I loved Gunsmoke, Seth. Have you ever noticed the similarity between Matt Dillon (James Arness) and Fred Thompson? Check your e-mail!

  2. BB-Idaho Says:

    According to Chester, “Most people just don’t know how to make good coffee. In the first place, they boil the water before they put the coffee in. Any fool knows you gotta put the coffee in the cold water and bring them both to a boil together. That way you get all of the flavor. Worst thing they do, they throw away the old grounds after using them once. What they don’t know is that they are throwing away the best part. You got to keep them old grounds and you add alittle fresh coffee every morning and let her boil. Shoot, you don’t make a cup, you bui;ld a pot. You don’t really get a good pot until you’ve been usin’ it about a week. Then it’s coffee!”
    …which is probably why Doc had a steady stream of customers…..

  3. MariesTwoCents Says:

    I loved Gunsmoke myself. But I’m really a Clint Eastwood old western fan. Well I guess I love anything Clint Eastwood :-)

    But enjoy your Gunsmoke westerns, you should have fun

  4. Seth Says:

    Gayle –

    I’m damned if you’re not right on target — Fred looks more like he could be James Arness’ brother than Peter Graves does!

    BB –

    That sounds a little like my own coffee management, except I don’t re-use the grounds, I simply don’t wash the carafe from my coffee maker too often. I picked this up from my mother, who, like me, was a coffee fanatic (you won’t find a can of Folgers, Maxwell House or their ilk on the premises, and instant wouldn’t even be mentioned). Traces of the old coffee seem to season the new. Old codgers in westerns are especially fond of saying that the secret to their great coffee is that they never wash the coffee pot.

    I use a 4 cup coffee maker (basically, barely two normal sized cups’ worth of java). On mornings when I am desperately in need of bolt-upright consciousness, I make a super-strong pot, then after pouring the first cup, I pour more water through the grounds, which makes the second cup perfect after the first one has come on like methamphetamine gangbusters.

    Just don’t, however, get Chester a job managing a Peet’s Coffee & Tea location!

    Marie –

    I’m definitely enjoying the first season — I hadn’t even recalled that the earlier seasons were comprised of 1/2 hour episodes, which were nonetheless great shows.

    I’ve been having some computer issues the last few days — Vista interacts differently, somehow, with some venues, and some things I needed to resolve involved spending time on the phone with Dell XPS tech support (XPS gets tech support treatment akin to VIP lounge access, ahem!). A tech rep I was dealing with, who sounded like he was somewhere in his twenties, told me I needed to defrag, which meant an unknown amount of involved time. I joked that it was okay, I had the first season of Gunsmoke to watch, and he blew my mind by saying, “I have the DVD set, it’s been out for three months, and the second season’s available now as well, I got it at Wal-Mart for twenty bucks.”

    All I could say was, “Wow!”

    Clint Eastwood has his own special niche in the scheme of things. I love his “spaghetti western” era, his Dirty Harry era and pretty much anything else he’s done. Look how much mileage, in other films and TV shows, “Do you feel lucky, punk?” has gotten, or phrases like “Make my day” have been repeated. Even Ronald Reagan employed the latter, LOL!

  5. Gayle Says:

    I’m very good with faces, Seth, and the first time I saw Fred Thompson I was reminded of James Arness. :)

  6. Seth Says:

    Gayle –

    You certainly got that one on point!

    Truth to tell, whether it is Fred Thompson or Marshal Matt Dillon, the stability, spinal fortitude and strength of either would do our country proud from the White House.

  7. Ken Taylor Says:

    Gunsmoke, The Rifleman and Bonanza. All weekly must see when I was growing up. Talk about a treat to have the Duke with the introduction, that is like going to cowboy heaven.

    I have the Stars package on cable and from 7 - 8 M- F there are two episode of The Rifleman each night. Between that and TV Land with Gunsmoke, Bonanza and also on Stars Bat Masterson, with Gene Barry, I feel like a kid again. Those my friend are classics that will NEVER be matched!

  8. Seth Says:

    Ken –

    I also used to love watching Laredo, Bronco, Cheyenne and Sugarfoot. Especially Laredo. Neville Brand (who played Reese on Laredo) was one of my favorite TV western actors.

    Having the Duke cowboyed up in the series introduction is definitely a treat.

    At the end of the first DVD is Marshal Dillon doing some commercials that were shown on the program, one for electric shavers, two others for L & M cigarettes.

    Bat Masterson was also a show I watched regularly. “When the west was very young, there lived a man named Masterson…”

    One thing that strikes me about series’ like Bonanza and Gunsmoke is that the writers tended to explore a lot of real human tribulations in the context of the times and do so with the clarity to equate them with their modern equivalents. Today, they are rehashed, almost like cosmetically treated copies, by contemporary screen writers. You know, those folks who are on strike because they want more…

  9. Shoprat Says:

    I wonder if any show on Television today has that kind of staying power. With today’s emphasis on youth and beauty, I just can’t see it.

  10. wordsmith Says:

    I grew up on “Big Valley”, “Wild, Wild West”, and “Bonanza”. I only caught some Gunsmoke when I was very young, and don’t remember a great deal from it. Amazing it went for 20 years!

  11. Americaneocon Says:

    I used to watch it once in a while when I was a kid, mostly on the weekends, when just hanging out.

    Hope you’re well…!

  12. Seth Says:

    BB –

    The episode featuring Chester’s coffee quote is in the first season, titled “How To Die For Nothing” (the title has nothing to do with the coffee, per se). :-)

    Shoprat –

    I tend to agree with that assessment. What little I’ve seen of modern fiction shows seem pretty shallow, and those are being overrun by “reality TV”. Not counting all those cursed soaps on daytime TV that have droned on forever, it’s hard to believe that anything produced now is substantial enough to make it for very many seasons.

    Wordsmith –

    I used to watch those three as well.

    Not only did Gunsmoke go two decades, but the fact that it was expanded from a half hour show to a full hour show indicates the extent of the popularity that kept it on the air for so long.

    Americaneocon –

    I even had a Gunsmoke lunch box as a kid. :-)

    Thanks, all is well, except a cold that will hopefully go away once I become acclimated to this Chicago winter. Hope all’s good with you as well.

  13. Jeff Says:

    Sad….. Seth, I hope you watch something filmed in the past 10 years at some point! Does Gunsmoke even come in surround sound? A guy at work (x Navy) talkes about watching Mash everynight…yuck.

  14. Seth Says:

    Jeff –


    Older TV programs/ films: much better scripts, infinitely better acting, funnier comedy, more wholesome content.

    Most of today’s flash-in-the-pan TV series’ will be forgottten 20 years from now, whereas there is still a market for the older stuff 30+ years down the road.

    Does Gunsmoke even come in surround sound?

    Imagine that, LOL! Actors and directors actually being able to put out quality work using 100% skill and talent without the crutch of high-tech enhancements! :-)

    I’ve had some young people tell me that they don’t watch old movies and TV because they “wouldn’t be caught dead watching anything in black & white”. More’s the pity, as they’ll never know what true quality is, setting their standards instead on today’s generally lower quality entertainment output. In short, they do not even give themselves the opportunity to know what they are missing out on.

    >>> I watch 24, but I wait for it to come out on DVD in order to watch a season at my leisure and avoid the 20 minutes of commercials in each 60 minute episode.

  15. BB-Idaho Says:

    Should you tire of Gunsmoke, which is unlikely, am passing on a link. Am still trying to keep up with the “Lionheart UK” min-flurry of a fortnight back and find this http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=28652_Lionheart_Drops_the_Mask#comments ..wherein
    LGF sort of skewers LH and 504 posts appear in the comment section. Not sure what to make of it, since
    the blogosphere (termed by one Canuck liberal site as the moronosphere) was burning hot for a couple days and then poof? BTW, an advantage of instant coffee
    crystals is the rapid caffein high of direct ingestion without the niceties of hot water..’course
    that was long after Chester…

  16. Seth Says:

    BB –

    Having spent considerable time following your link, reading the various linked posts and the interview material, I admit to being just a smidgeon confused.

    Lionheart expresses concern over his country’s inundation by aggressive Islam and, while denouncing bigotry in no uncertain terms, claims to support a spin-off of the BNP that is attempting to reform the organization by ejecting the white supremacists and their ilk, and bringing the party more in line with the sensibilities of the average Brit.

    LGF takes umbrage with, from what I gather, any defense whatsoever on the part of Lionheart endorsing any members or ex-members of the BNP.

    If I read this right, it is a case of two parties who, while agreeing to disagree, find their country, its citizens and their way of life endangered by a mutual enemy. Should they hang together, or hang separately? Perhaps they should join forces to vanquish their common enemy, then address their own differences afterwards.

    In short, while I pride myself on being pretty good at figuring things out, I am at a loss as to why LGF and Lionheart find themselves on opposite sides here.

    I will say that while I keep LGF in my blogroll as it is a great site, I don’t visit the blog much as I learned, at least 5 years ago, that when a blog reaches superblog status, its owners tend to swell up a little and pontificate.

    I used to read “Command Post” religiously and comment there daily, then they decided that they were the Second Coming. Most of the commenters who made their threads active, lively and enjoyable are no longer there, and when I occasionally visit to see “what’s up”, the comment sections make me think of tumbleweeds blowing along the streets of ghost towns.

    Having said all that, I still see no reason to doubt Lionheart’s motives.

    Instant! Coffee crystals, you mean Folger’s? What a terrible way to die!

  17. BB-Idaho Says:

    Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch, or blogospherian effect, but could the LGF-LH spat be part of an overall election year phenomenon? I have been watching loyal conservative bloggers start to rip each other up over Fred, Mitt, Huck, McCain, Rudy, (and dare I mention) Paul. We used to have conservatives: now Ronulans, FredHeads and Hucksters…and they really don’t like each other. We probably agreee that they will coalesce and ‘hold their nose’ in the end, but the harshness and enmity is a little surprising to me. And sort of fun, because, well, you know :) BTW, Folger’s is an Idaho staple..you ever try to find a
    Starbucks deep in the Bitteroot Range?

  18. Seth Says:

    BB –

    While I tend to be sure of a political choice I make before I share that choice with others, I understand that others, including kindred spirits, have their own criteria — if it weren’t for these differences, society would be awfully boring.

    That said, while I can’t believe that any right-thinking person would endorse anyone but Fred, for example, I realize that from the viewpoints of those who support other Republican candidates, they probably can’t believe that any of us would endorse anyone but their chosen candidate. I respect their opinions and while I might disagree with them, I certainly won’t attack them for it.

    I would have to say I’d find it shameful to see conservatives behaving thus; Infighting is more a trait found among the political left than on the right, which is to be expected as various factions attempt to show which hates our country, our President and our Constitutional form of government the most.

    I suppose an election year does bring out the worst in all too many people.

    BTW, Folger’s is an Idaho staple..you ever try to find a Starbucks deep in the Bitteroot Range?

    Why try to find a Starbucks anyplace, when you can simply get online and buy real coffee from these folks?

  19. jim g Says:

    I watched the first ten minutes of a Gunsmoke episode on TV-Land this morning, and I could have sworn that one of the extras in the episode (you know, a character that is not there week in and week out) was FRED THOMPSON!!! I checked Wikipaedia for guests that had appeared on the show and his name wasn’t mentioned as ever having been a guest, but if he’s been mostly bald for the last 40 years and aged slowly, I’m guessing it HAD to be him!!! :)

  20. Seth Says:

    jim g –


    Thompson didn’t begin his TV/film acting until the mid 1980s, a decade after Gunsmoke went off the air. This does not necessarily mean it wasn’t him, though, as many actors seem to go uncredited in older TV shows, especially “unknowns” playing minor parts. If he was just an extra, he wouldn’t have gotten credited either, just a few bucks and maybe lunch. :-)

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