A legendary Western that ran for an astonishing 20 years (1955-1975), which still stands as a record run. The series starred James Arness as Marshall Matt Dillon, a lawman who leads the charge against criminals in Dodge City, Kansas in the late 1800's. He's joined by deputy and friend, Chester (Matt Weaver), as well as saloon owner Kitty (Amanda Blake), Doc (Millburn Stone), Quint (Burt Reynolds) - see "Quint Asper Comes Home" - and others.
Each week, Marshall Dillon faced new foes and occasionally, made new friends as he tried to keep the peace out in frontier country. The show's amazing run was due not only to the series offering a marvelous cast that had great chemistry, but keeping the writing fresh. The amount of different situations that the writers came up with is still quite remarkable.
While the first season of the series was released (as well as a 50th Anniversary Edition), fans are dismayed to find that the series will be released in half-season volumes, which seems as if it will make for a long-wait to get the entire (20 seasons) series.
Some of the highlights included in this set are: "Custer" (Having arrested an army deserter for the murder of the rancher, Matt refuses to turn him over for court-marshal), "Poor Pearl" (Matt becomes involved in a quarrel between two men in love iwth the same woman. Written by Sam Peckinpah.), "How To Cure a Friend" (A crooked gambler - Andrew Duggan - sets up a poker game with the richest man in Dodge City) and "The Round-Up" (Trouble follows when Matt closes the bar to a group of drunken cowboys. Also written by Peckinpah.)
40. 2- 1 541 8 Sep 56 Cow Doctor
41. 2- 2 542 15 Sep 56 Brush at Elkader
42. 2- 3 540 22 Sep 56 Custer
43. 2- 4 544 29 Sep 56 The Round Up
44. 2- 5 545 20 Oct 56 Young Man with a Gun
45. 2- 6 546 27 Oct 56 Indian White
46. 2- 7 550 10 Nov 56 How to Cure a Friend
47. 2- 8 547 17 Nov 56 Legal Revenge
48. 2- 9 543 24 Nov 56 The Mistake
49. 2-10 548 1 Dec 56 Greater Love
50. 2-11 554 8 Dec 56 No Indians
51. 2-12 552 15 Dec 56 Spring Term
52. 2-13 551 22 Dec 56 Poor Pearl
53. 2-14 553 29 Dec 56 Cholera
54. 2-15 555 5 Jan 57 Pucket's New Year
55. 2-16 558 12 Jan 57 The Cover Up
56. 2-17 557 19 Jan 57 Sins of the Father
57. 2-18 549 26 Jan 57 Kick Me
58. 2-19 559 2 Feb 57 Executioner
59. 2-20 562 9 Feb 57 Gone Straight
VIDEO: "Gunsmoke" is presented by Paramount in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The earlier episodes are presented in B & W, while the later episodes are offered in color. The B & W editions generally look quite decent, considering the age of the series. Sharpness and detail do vary, although most scenes offer a respectable level of detail and definition.
The presentations do certainly show occasional moments of wear, but these instances seemed isolated and fairly infrequent. Noticed were instances of slight specks, marks, minor dirt and other light debris. Some minor edge enhancement was spotted, as were a few trace instances of artifacts. Some minor shimmering is also seen in some scenes.
The color episodes look average, with a slightly soft and grainy appearance. Colors do flutter at times, and can look a bit smeary.
SOUND: The show's mono soundtrack remained adequate. Dialogue was easily understood, and sound effects seemed fairly crisp, if a tad thin. Some minor hiss was also heard. Overall, perfectly fine, considering the age of the series.
EXTRAS: Only original "sponsor spots".
Final Thoughts: "Gunsmoke" is a classic Western that holds up well years later, thanks to excellent writing and marvelous performances. This set offers fairly good audio/video quality, but minimal extras. The price tag does seem high for only half a season, so fans would be best adviced to wait for an eventual price drop or seek out a sale. Hopefully future sets will offer full seasons.