DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: Gunsmoke: The Third Season, Volume 2

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Matt Hough, May 15, 2009.

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  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Gunsmoke: The Third Season, Volume 2
    Directed by Ted Post et al

    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 1958
    Running Time: 523 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
    Subtitles: CC
    Rating: NR
    SRP: $39.99

    Date released: May 26, 2009
    Date reviewed: May 15, 2009


    The Series

    4/5

    The third season of Gunsmoke began the first of four successive seasons with the show at the top of the Nielsen rating charts. And watching the shows again for the first time in decades, I can understand its appeal. The half hour dramas each week are lean and briskly paced affairs with appealing regular characters featuring a constant stream of problems that Marshall Dillon and company must grapple with each week. This three disc set covering the second half of the third season offers ample proof for its at-the-time growing mainstream appeal.

    Gunsmoke is indeed an adult western. It is much more concerned with moral lessons that could be learned in the space of a half hour than it is in presenting non-stop action and firepower. Yes, there are gunfights occasionally, and there are plenty of confrontations with folks both wicked and merely misled. But despite a few action-oriented episodes, most of these stories are more humanistic in nature, allowing wrongdoers to either be punished for their crimes or, if they somehow manage to outwit the law, find themselves worse off for their moral turpitude.

    James Arness continues making a great impression as Marshall Matt Dillon in the third season. So strong was his impact, in fact, that he earned his second Emmy nomination as Best Actor for his work in Season Three. About half of the box’s twenty episodes allow him to introduce the episode waxing philosophically while wandering through Dodge City’s infamous Boot Hill cemetery. Dennis Weaver, who also was Emmy-nominated for his outstanding work this season, is around to steal all his scenes as the sweet-natured, drawling deputy Chester Goode while Milburn Stone continues as the irascible Doc Adams, and Amanda Blake serves up whisky and an attentive ear as Miss Kitty Russell of the Long Branch Saloon.

    Gunsmoke didn’t go the guest star route in casting its series episodes, but quite a few famous faces turn up during the second half of the third season. Among the most familiar faces are Corey Allen, Jack Weston, Werner Klemperer, Phyllis Coates, Murray Hamilton, Claude Akins, Patricia Barry, Harry Dean Stanton, June Lockhart, Glenn Morris, Strother Martin, Virginia Gregg, Kevin Hagen, Barney Phillips, John Dehner, Ross Martin, Peggy McCay, Stafford Repp, Ned Glass, Allan “Rocky” Lane, Jeanette Nolan, Raymond Bailey, Marshall Thompson, Ruta Lee, Simon Oakland, and Jack Cassidy.

    Here’s the list of the second half of season three’s episodes contained in this set:

    1 - Claustrophobia
    2 - Ma Tennis (this haunting episode is my favorite of the season)
    3 - Sunday Supplement
    4 - Wild West
    5 - The Cabin
    6 - Dirt
    7 - Dooly Surrenders
    8 - Joke’s on Us
    9 - Bottleman
    10 - Laughing Gas
    11 - Texas Cowboys
    12 - Amy’s Good Deed
    13 - Hanging Man
    14 - Innocent Broad
    15 - The Big Con
    16 - Widow’s Mite
    17 - Chester’s Hanging
    18 - Carmen
    19 - Overland Express (exciting adventure; one of the best)
    20 - The Gentleman



    Video Quality

    4/5

    The program’s original 1.33:1 aspect ratio is delivered faithfully in these transfers. Though some episodes display heavier grain than others, all are sharp and beautifully restored transfers. The grayscale is perfectly delivered with vivid contrast that brings out deep blacks in the image with excellent shadow detail. There are a few specks here and there and a slight scratch or two, and the lack of anamorphic enhancement means there will occasionally be flashing in jackets and some aliasing, too. Still, these are beautiful looking transfers that belie the age of the original production. Most of the episodes are divided into 5 chapters though some are broken into 6 chapters.

    Audio Quality

    3/5

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is very typical for the era of this show’s production. Some of the episodes feature some light hiss and flutter, but most offer a reasonably solid mono sound experience that’s only occasionally thin-sounding and a bit shrill.

    Special Features

    1/5

    The only bonus item is a montage of two sponsor ads featuring the cast of the show. Arness, Stone, and Blake hawk L&M Cigarettes while Arness sings the praises of Remington shavers. The montage is in 4:3 and lasts 1 ¾ minutes.

    The disc features trailers for The Wid Wild West, Perry Mason, and Mission Impossible.


    In Conclusion

    4/5

    Gunsmoke won the Emmy as the Best Drama Series during the 1957-1958 television season (it also won for film editing), and the episodes contained in this box set of the second half of the season give ample proof why it triumphed. The stories are tightly written and excellently performed. The box set while spare on bonus features offers transfers that belie their more than fifty years of age. Highly recommended!


    Matt Hough
    Charlotte, NC
     
  2. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Can't wait it's On Order..It might be a long while, if Ever before we get anymore..which is a Darn Shame.
     
  3. DeWilson

    DeWilson Cinematographer

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  4. stuartfanning

    stuartfanning Stunt Coordinator

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    Why do people on here assume that CBS have now stopped releasing Gunsmoke DVD's?
     
  5. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Well because it's not on the release radar for 09. As for the Vol 2, is it me or has the releases gotton continually more grainey, the new sets grain is horrendous, and it does'nt even look like native film grain it looks like something introduced in the encoding process.

    A Gunsmoke movie...oh no.
     
  6. stuartfanning

    stuartfanning Stunt Coordinator

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    I think you're right. I have just watched the episodes on Disc 1 so far and it was noticeable, especially if you paused an episode. I hope the indications are wrong vis-a-vis future releases!
     
  7. Gary OS

    Gary OS Producer

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    I actually have a good feeling it's going to pop back up on the radar before the year is out. I don't think it's been abandoned. Wish I could say the same for Rawhide... [​IMG]

    Gary "with the movie coming out I can't see CBS/P abandoning this series" O.
     
  8. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    I just saw Gunsmoke Season Three at Walmart for $24.96, no lie. Don't ask me what I was doing at a Walmart (razor blades), but I specifically noticed this title in the new TV release section. I can't swear it's the whole season, but I think it was.

    They also had a few unusual Fox TV combos for $19.96, including M*A*S*H Season one plus Rat Patrol Season One (?) Angel plus Buffy. Arrested Development Seasons 1/2, and others.
     
  9. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    No they are selling the half season sets there for that. I picked it up at Deep discount for 21.94 for that and Mod Squad it was the best prices I saw on the sets. I seems Rawhide, Gunsmoke and Have Gun will travel all followed the same MO, the laterer the seasons get the worst the prints got. Hard to figure.
     
  10. jdee28

    jdee28 Screenwriter

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    That is good news, Gary! Hopefully, we'll be hearing the same thing about Rawhide come 2010; you can never tell!
     
  11. jdee28

    jdee28 Screenwriter

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    CBS/Paramount releasing Bonanza Season 1 as a split set makes it pretty clear, if it wasn't already, for any hour long show with 30 or more episodes per season, it's going to be split.

    Maybe that's why they started spliting up Gunsmoke, in anticipation of the hour long seasons, where around 36 episodes were produced per season, in the BW years. Of course they have to get there, but if they do, there's no doubt the BW seasons will be split.

    If they want to split season Gunsmoke, maybe they should release the two volumes the same day. It would give some hope that they might actually complete the series in our lifetimes.
     
  12. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    I've got a perfect solution to collecting this series(1 season per year) forever.

    4 mega sets.

    Each set could contain 5 seasons(price point around $130). 1 set per year.

    Problem solved, and everyone is happy.
     
  13. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Well at least if they are going to split them then do what they are doing with Bonanza, release both sets at the same time.
     

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