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The Complete Series

            review by Drusilla Blakey


Growing up, I feel like I spent more time at my Grandmother's house than at my own.  Since both my parents worked full-time, my Grandmother would 'watch me'.  But what we actually did was cook, sew, clean, garden and all day long, the TV was on.  She enjoyed her 'stories' and of course, westerns!  The "smokey gun" as she called it, was one of her favorites.  So seeing this amazing release of Gunsmoke: The Complete Series made me happy to relive those fond memories.


Gunsmoke centers around the beloved Marshall Matt Dillon who works to keep the peace in Dodge City.  The town has its main cast of characters such as the deputy (Ken Curtis), the doctor (Milburn Stone), and of course, Miss Kitty who ran the saloon (Amanda Blake). Our characters work together to resolve problems, fight the bad guys that may come to town, and in the end, everything was ok and happy. I enjoy that this group of friends may not always see eye to eye, but they always worked to do what was best for the town.  Plus the Marshall, who had the authority to do whatever he wanted, always took their opinions into consideration.  He was a true leader and friend.  Did everyone always get along? Of course not, but that's one of the things that makes this show so good.  It was real, honest, simple and to the point.  There wasn't any over dramatization needed.  The drama came from the bad guy of the week or from being in an old school western environment. But it was just a good show.


The other thing that made the show so good was our two favorite characters, Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty.  James Arness had been in 20+ movies before being cast as Matt Dillon.  He had been in many western films so this seemed to be a very fitting role for him.  Amanda Blake, who played Miss Kitty was one of my favorites. Yes, I understand now that she was a saloon girl, but later in the series she is in charge and running that place.  I really just liked her because she was tough and didn't take crap from anyone.  My kind of gal!


In looking at this special release, I have learned so much about that I didn't know before!  I of course, watched in when it was in reruns as the original show ran from 1955 to 1975. That in itself is an amazing feat especially for that time. It became the longest running primetime drama series in US television history by the time the show ended in 1975.  That record has of course, now been surpassed; but still, it's super impressive.  I also didn't know that the show had started as an old school radio drama.  How fun is that?!  I do remember Grandma telling me about listening to stories on the radio and what it was like when TV first came this new found knowledge really brings our love of the show full circle now for me.


I don't think we get to see too many good western series dramas these days.  Maybe westerns are seen as a thing of the past or for 'older people', but I promise if you give it a chance, you're really going to like this show and will be glad you watched it.  Also, there were several made for TV follow up movies that you will want to check out so that you can see where you favorite characters ended up. Plus, you're going to see a lot of famous actors pop up in different episodes.  It's always fun to see them when they were young and just starting out.  Lastly, you are going to love the sets and the costumes.  The show was in black and white but you can see that they did not skimp on making sure everything looked perfect!  So be sure to check out the "smokey gun"; you'll be glad you did.

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