Thursday, April 14, 2016
Gunsmoke is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman Macdonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West. The central character is lawman Marshal Matt Dillon, played by William Conrad on radio and James Arness on television. When aired in the UK, the television series was initially titled Gun Law, later reverting to Gunsmoke.
The radio series ran from 1952 to 1961. John Dunning wrote that among radio drama enthusiasts, "Gunsmoke is routinely placed among the best shows of any kind and any time." The television series ran for 20 seasons from 1955 to 1975, and stands as the United States' longest-running prime time, live-action drama with 635 episodes. In 2010, Law & Order tied Gunsmoke for most seasons for a live action drama series when it finished its twentieth and final season, but the show finished 179 episodes short of Gunsmoke's final total; in terms of prime-time scripted series with continuing characters, The Simpsons is the only program to exceed 20 seasons. At the end of its run in 1975, Los Angeles Times columnist Cecil Smith wrote: "Gunsmoke was the dramatization of the American epic legend of the west. Our own Iliad and Odyssey, created from standard elements of the dime novel and the pulp western as romanticized by [Ned] Buntline, [Bret] Harte, and [Mark] Twain. It was ever the stuff of legend."
Other regular characters were Chester Proudfoot, played by Parley Baer; Kitty, played by Georgia Ellis; and Doc Adams, played by Howard McNear.
The series featured top-notch acting and well-developed scripts that set it apart from many other shows, not only Westerns; however, it was the sound effects that stood out the most. Listen carefully and one can hear many levels of sound that really helps transport the listener back to the old west.
Besides the US version, there was an Austrailian production of Gunsmoke. It began sometime in 1955, transcribed under the Artransa label, and aired Mondays at 7:00 PM on the Macquarie network. It is not known how many shows aired or how long the series ran.