Jump to content



Sign up for a free account to remove the pop-up ads

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and remove the pop-up ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

Photo

HTF Review: Gunsmoke 50th Anniversary Volume 1 and Volume 2

DVD Reviews TV Reviews

  • You cannot start a new topic
  • Please log in to reply
32 replies to this topic

#1 of 33 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

PatWahlquist

    Supporting Actor



  • 735 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 13 2002

Posted December 31 2005 - 05:02 AM

Posted Image
Gunsmoke: 50th Anniversary Volume 1 and Volume 2

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Year: 2005 (Original episodes aired from 1955-1975)
Rated: N/A
Aspect Ratio: 4X3
Audio: English Dolby Digital mono
Subtitles: None
Time: Volume 1: 9 hrs. 4 min.; Volume 2: 10 hrs. 1 min.
Disc Format: DVD-9
Case Style: 3 slim line cases in a slip case

“Gunsmoke” is a television landmark that has a distinction which is about to be broken. It debuted on CBS in 1955 and ran an incredible twenty seasons (that’s 633 episodes), finally wrapping in 1975. No other television series had come close to this run until “The Simpsons” and “Law and Order”, which will more than likely meet and exceed “Gunsmoke”’s long held record. “Gunsmoke” ushered in the adult western genre that has seen its lineage in shows such as “Bonanza” and even HBO’s potty mouthed “Deadwood”.

So what makes a television series last this long? Strong characters, great plots, interesting actors and that little bit of TV magic. “Gunsmoke” arose during the height of the western genre of the 50’s and gave the audience its weekly dose of gun slinging action without having to go to the local theater and laying out any cash. It also allowed the producers to chart new territory and establish rules as to how serialized drama could be done on this fairly new and fledgling medium.

“Gunsmoke” follows the adventures of Marshal Matt Dillon, played by James Arness, as he assumes the role of lawman in Dodge City, Kansas in 1873. His Assistant Deputy Chester Goode, played by Dennis Weaver, and later Festus Haggen, played by Ken Curtis, joins him. Dillon frequents the local saloon, and one would assume, its owner, Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) on a regular basis to mull over his problem of the week and add in a romance angle for the female viewers. Anytime Matt takes a punch or a bullet a little too hard, he is treated by the local doctor, Doc Adams (Milburn Stone).

At this point, Paramount and CBS have yet to commit to full season sets of this show. With 633 episodes, and the potential for as many as twenty box sets, one can hardly blame them. Instead, we are given two, three disc box sets, available separately as Volume 1 or 2, or together in a combined slipcase. The sets have a sampling of episodes from nearly every season and they highlight numerous and notable guest appearances of some young up and comers of the time, such as Burt Reynolds, Angie Dickinson and Bruce Dern. For this review, I watched various episodes from each set and scanned through the rest to evaluate the quality of the transfers.


Volume 1 Episodes:
Disc 1: “Matt Gets It”, “Hack Prine”, “The Killer”, “The Preacher”, “The Guitar” (Season 1); “Legal Revenge”, “Sins of the Father” (Season 2).
Disc 2: “Romeo”, “Doc’s Reward” (Season 3); “Lost Rifle” (Season 4); “The Bobsy Twins” (Season 5); “The Blacksmith”, “Little Girl” (Season 6).
Disc 3: “Chesterland” (Season 7); “Quint Asper Comes Home”, “Ash” (Season 8); “Prairie Wolfer” (Season 9).

Volume 2 Episodes:
Disc 1: “Hung High”, “One Killer on Ice” (Season 10); “Treasure of John Walking Fox” (Season 11); “The Jailer” (Season 12). Episodes from season 12 up are in color.
Disc 2: “The Wrong Man”, “Quaker Girl” (Season 12); “The Pillagers” (Season 13); “The Prisoner” (Season 14).
Disc 3: “Chato” (Season 15); “P.S. Murry Christmas” (Season 16); “A Quiet Day in Dodge” (Season 18); “Trail of Bloodshed” (Season 19).


Video:
Both sets are in 4x3. All of the episodes on Volume 1 are in black and white, which covers the years from 1955 to 1964. Episodes from season twelve up on Volume 2 are in color. Blacks and whites seem to crush into the grays in places and there is noticeable digital noise. Film dirt is evident in most of the episodes, but it is not overly distracting. Edge enhancement was minimal. Color on the color episodes is somewhat muted but flesh tones are accurate and you are able to notice differences in skin tones on the faces of the actors. It almost seems as if the crew was still adjusting to shooting in color since there are many contrasting colors on the costumes, to the point where some of the colors leap out at you, thus making for an inconsistent presentation. This seems to improve in the following seasons/ episodes presented here. Some of the color episodes also appear a bit soft in detail.


Audio:
Both of the sets are in big fat mono. Hiss is evident in the original track, and it is clearly dated. Overall, it still sounds fairly good for a 50 year old television series, but it is not a very dynamic soundtrack.


Bonus Features:
James Arness does brief introductions to each of the episodes pointing out any historic bits of information surrounding the episode, such as guest appearances. He also does similar intros to many of the bonus features. Paramount and CBS have taken the time to add a considerable amount of extras to this sampling of episodes. They should be commended for putting this effort into this historical show. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come if they decide to do full season sets later on.

Volume 1, Disc 1:
Episode introductions by James Arness
The Ed Sullivan Show: James Arness as Matt Dillon. Sullivan introduces Arness; Arness does a scene from the “Gunsmoke” pilot. (6:33)
The Ed Sullivan Show: Dennis Weaver as Chester. Sullivan interviews Weaver as Chester, with optional commentary by Weaver. (9:39)
1958 Emmy Awards: Best Dramatic Series – Westerns Channel Promo features a clip of the presentation of “Gunsmoke”‘s Emmy win.
Westerns Channel “Gunsmoke” Memories (Dennis Weaver on “Gunsmoke” Trio) Weaver reminisces (1:00)
Westerns Channel “Gunsmoke” Memories (Dennis Weaver on James Arness) Weaver reminisces (1:09)
Photo galleries of “Sins of the Father” and “The Guitar”
Commentaries by James Arness on “Matt Gets It”, Dennis Weaver on “Hack Prine”, and Angie Dickinson on “Sins of the Father”.

Volume 1, Disc 2:
Episode introductions by James Arness
Museum of TV & Radio seminar: 1989 Gunsmoke screening and seminar with Arness, Amanda Blake and producer John Manly where they answer questions from the audience. (29.55)
Museum of TV & Radio promo with Kiefer Sutherland (1:05). Nothing specific to “Gunsmoke”
1959 Emmy Awards: Dennis Weaver, Best Supporting Actor (Commentary by Dennis Weaver) (1:50)
Westerns Channel “Gunsmoke” Memories (Dennis Weaver on James Arness) (1:00)
Westerns Channel “Gunsmoke” Memories (Dennis Weaver on his audition) (1:40)
Photo gallery
Commentaries by Barbara Eden on “Romeo”, and George Kennedy on “The Blacksmith”

Volume 1, Disc 3:
Dennis Weaver’s home movies with audio commentary: Behind the scenes from 1963 shot on 16mm film by Weaver. They are in color and he explains where the scenes were filmed, who is present and their relevance to the production. Quality on the reel is very nice for its age! (6:43)
CBS affiliates gag reel – Outtakes from the 1960’s, put together for the affiliates convention. Plus, the sound crew has some fun with Arness. (5:25)
1961 Fall Preview Tuesday and 1962 Fall Preview Saturday (: 31 and 1:22, respectively)
Westerns Channel “Gunsmoke” Memories (Bill Cosby) (1:20)
Westerns Channel “Gunsmoke” Memories (Dennis Weaver on the limp) (2:00)
Westerns Channel “Gunsmoke” Memories (Dennis Weaver gets rid of the stiff leg) (1:15)
Photo gallery
Commentaries by Dennis Weaver on “Chesterland”, Adam West on “Ash”

Volume 2, Disc 1:
James Arness Birthday Surprise Blooper: (: 54)
Amanda Blake on “The David Frost Show” (1972) (3:49) Blake discusses Kitty and her role in the show.
CBS Fall Preview (1963) (2:46) Phil Silvers hosts the preview.
Commentaries by Ed Asner on “Hung High” and Bruce Dern on “The Jailer”

Volume 2, Disc 2:
1968 Emmy Awards: Best Supporting Actor Milburn Stone (2:16)
Westerns Channel “Gunsmoke” Memories (Dennis on Milburn) (1:15)
Westerns Channel “Gunsmoke” Memories (Chester and Newly) (4:00)
Two syndication promos (1:00)
Commentary by Buck Taylor on “The Pillagers”

Volume 2, Disc 3:
Gag reel from 1973: (4:00) Outtakes from the cast wrap party in 1973, and you get to see “a typical CBS cancellation procedure”.
Amanda Blake on “The Mike Douglas Show” (1974) (6:43) Blake talks about leaving “Gunsmoke”.
A CBS executive remembers “Gunsmoke” (4:50)
Photo gallery
Commentary by James Arness on “A Quiet Day in Dodge”


Conclusions:
While we have yet to get full season sets of “Gunsmoke”, we now have something to keep us going until that potentially happens. By giving us a “best of” collection, long time fans are reminded of a simpler time in the American landscape, and new viewers can begin to understand what goes into making a television classic.


Notes:
This review was done on my secondary HT set up. You can see an equipment list by following the link below.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 33 OFFLINE   Tom.W

Tom.W

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 137 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 07 2004

Posted December 31 2005 - 02:24 PM

Pat, thanks for this informative review. Your video and audio discussion was helpful to me. I think the main selling point for long time fans will be the extras. Hopefully sales will warrant season sets down the line.

#3 of 33 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

Dave Scarpa

    Producer



  • 5,298 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 08 1999

Posted December 31 2005 - 03:50 PM

Happy New Year... What the release date of this set ? I'd rather have seasons but I have to reward paramount for doing a bang up job on the Extras for this set. Much better than their efforts for the Honeymooners or Have Gun Will Travel.
My DVD Collection

The Megaplex

#4 of 33 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

PatWahlquist

    Supporting Actor



  • 735 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 13 2002

Posted December 31 2005 - 04:40 PM

Yeah, the extras are pretty nice. It took me a couple days to get through all of them. I believe it's out this coming Tuesday, 1/3.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#5 of 33 OFFLINE   Bob_S.

Bob_S.

    Supporting Actor



  • 661 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 04 2004

Posted January 03 2006 - 05:33 PM

Bought this a couple days ago. I'm thrilled with the set so far. The extras have been great. I really enjoyed the Ed Sullivan segments. I've waited soooo long for Gunsmoke. I guess this will have to do while waiting for season sets. If no season sets, then hopefully more of these volumes.

#6 of 33 OFFLINE   Jeff#

Jeff#

    Screenwriter



  • 1,942 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 29 2005

Posted January 04 2006 - 05:50 AM

CBS Video through their Columbia House division put out a number of GUNSMOKE episodes -- black & white and color, on both VHS and DVD over the years.

In fact, almost all of the half-hour episodes from the first 6 years were on DVD.

Of course those were all much more expensive than any unreleased complete season sets, and didn't have any special features / extras whatsoever. Posted Image

#7 of 33 OFFLINE   Jeff#

Jeff#

    Screenwriter



  • 1,942 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 29 2005

Posted January 04 2006 - 05:57 AM

I don't know why they would include P.S. Merry Christmas. Holiday episodes of a TV show are bad enough, but that one was BORING Some of the others are picked for big-name guest stars, such as Leonard Nimoy in "The Treasure of John Walking Fox", which was one of the last black & white episodes. 1965-1966, the last B & W year was the season that GUNSMOKE "modernized" in terms of filming techniques and music, with a vastly improved opening theme featuring all of the main actors -- not just Arness. I have that and most of the 11th season uncut from the Westerns Channel, as well as earlier hour-long seasons off-air on DVD-RAM discs. I don't remember the Nimoy one being particularly memorable.

#8 of 33 OFFLINE   Michael Alden

Michael Alden

    Supporting Actor



  • 825 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 05 2005

Posted January 04 2006 - 06:01 AM

Any time a show goes the best of route it is never about the best episodes in terms of content but about guest stars most recognizable to the buying public. That's been true going back to the VHS days.

#9 of 33 OFFLINE   Tom.W

Tom.W

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 137 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 07 2004

Posted January 04 2006 - 11:46 AM

As a subscriber to the Columbia House Gunsmoke VHS edition, I found the video quality of the b/w eps to be consistently excellent. Contrast, grey scale, and video signal to noise achieved high standards, at least to my eyes. In addition, audio hiss is at a minimum (even for the early 30 minute segments), which has been more often the case for professionally mastered VHS tapes than of the dvd's I've purchased. (It's been pointed out in another thread that dvd manufacturers create soundtracks with lower volume, presumably to enhance the frequency range without distortion.) I'm happy these were released by Paramount, but it doesn't sound like the quality is better than or even equal to CH's VHS. Almost all of the eps on Vol. 1 were released by CH. Again, the extras are the attraction for people who got em uncut off the Western Channel. Chances are, only the most dedicated fans recorded the Western Channel memories.

#10 of 33 OFFLINE   Randy Korstick

Randy Korstick

    Screenwriter



  • 2,648 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 24 2000

Posted January 06 2006 - 02:02 AM



Unfortunately I can confirm this. The Black and White Episodes are O.K. scatchy and dirty but about the same level as Have Gun Will Travel. But the Color Episodes: Yuckkk!!. I have seen bargin bin $1.00 DVD's look much better than these. These make Lost in Space Season 3 look outstanding. Dirty, grainy and completely washed out colors. These are obviously the same masters prepared for the Columbia House VHS releases almost 20 years ago. DVD is just magnifying the problems with those old masters. Its puzzling that Paramount spent some effort on nice extras but spent no effort in remastering or even cleaning up the episodes. This release shows no respect for the show. No Season Sets and very poor quality episodes.
Skip it or Rent it at best. Posted Image Posted Image
...When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth

#11 of 33 OFFLINE   Doug^Ch

Doug^Ch

    Second Unit



  • 451 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 21 2004

Posted January 06 2006 - 02:44 AM

I have just finished the first disk in the two volume Gunsmoke set, and have to say that I am very impressed. The extras alone are worth the price of the set. I cannot speak to the quality of the color episodes, because I have yet to watch them, but the B&W episodes look great to my eyes. I am as big a Gunsmoke fan as anyone else and have many fond memories of the show - It was the only show my parents would allow us to stay up late to watch during the school week when I was a child. I always looked forward to Monday nights at 7:30 to watch the hour long episodes - I was too young, and until this set I was pretty much unfamiliar with the older B&W half-hour shows. So to my eyes, this set is a treasure trove to be savored and not disparaged. To the purists who will only accept season sets, and to the videophiles who are unhappy with the picture quality - do not protest too much. By discouraging purchase of this set, you will virtually ensure that you will never see the season sets in the PQ that you so desperately wish for.

#12 of 33 OFFLINE   Randy Korstick

Randy Korstick

    Screenwriter



  • 2,648 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 24 2000

Posted January 06 2006 - 03:12 AM

But by accepting it you are sending a message that Gunsmoke fans do not care and will except anything no matter how bad the quality and no need for season sets or any more extras. As I said the Black and White episodes are acceptible. They look about the same as Have Gun Will Travel. Could look better with some remastering but acceptible. The Color episodes are just plain awful and the worst I have seen on a Major Studio TV release and I have many shows on DVD.
...When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth

#13 of 33 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

Dave Scarpa

    Producer



  • 5,298 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 08 1999

Posted January 06 2006 - 03:36 AM

I actually found Season 3 of Have Gun to look a tad worse than the previous 2 seasons, Not awfull just a bit more artifacting. As far as Gunsmoke is concerned I have'nt gotten my set yet. But I remeber the episodes in syndication always looked that way. I never saw them in their original airings but the syndicated color shows always had muted faded colors, so either they were filmed that way or more likely have never been remastered from their original versions.
My DVD Collection

The Megaplex

#14 of 33 OFFLINE   Randy Korstick

Randy Korstick

    Screenwriter



  • 2,648 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 24 2000

Posted January 06 2006 - 03:59 AM

Its definately the latter because many old shows look faded on TV prints but remastered or cleaned up DVD releases have shown great color. All the Hanna Barbera sets would be a great example. Even Lost in Space which also had no remastering or cleanup looks better. Sorry to hear about Season 3 of Have Gun Will Travel. I haven't seen it yet as I'm still on Season 2. But it may be as I feared above that since no one complained about the 1st two seasons they figured they could put even less effort into Season 3 and the fans will still buy it.
...When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth

#15 of 33 OFFLINE   Bert Greene

Bert Greene

    Second Unit



  • 408 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 01 2004

Posted January 06 2006 - 04:54 AM

Regarding "Have Gun, Will Travel," I seem to recall that the syndication prints (from about a decade ago) of the middle-seasons (especially 3rd-season) always looked pretty crummy, compared to both the earlier and final seasons, which looked sharp and crisp. That's why I've been rather interested in the quality of this new 3rd-season set. So far, I've only viewed the first two episodes, and they do look quite decent. And, to "Gunsmoke" fans, there's an interesting episode in this HGWT-3 set, in which Ken Curtis portrays a Festus-like character (although a tad more crazed). If I'm not mistaken, the title of the episode of "The Naked Gun."

#16 of 33 OFFLINE   Mike Williams

Mike Williams

    Screenwriter



  • 1,020 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 03 2003

Posted January 06 2006 - 06:32 AM

I am very sorry to hear about the picture quality of these "Gunsmoke" episodes. When i saw the load of extras that were included with the set, I thought certain that some care went into the episodes themselves as well. Picture quality is very important to me, and I had every intention of buying this set until I've read people's reviews here. I will now -- sadly -- pass on it.

#17 of 33 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

Dave Scarpa

    Producer



  • 5,298 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 08 1999

Posted January 06 2006 - 07:09 AM

Well I thought Season 1 and two were pretty good, these are'nt bad but are just inconsistant from episode to episode some look better than others, and I see a hint of compression.
My DVD Collection

The Megaplex

#18 of 33 OFFLINE   Dan McW

Dan McW

    Second Unit



  • 358 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 12 2004
  • Real Name:Dan

Posted January 09 2006 - 09:28 AM

Someone started a new thread, which probably needs to be combined with this one, and mentioned problems with the one episode I have seen from the Gunsmoke set--"Quaker Girl." Some friends and I watched it the other day, as the ep features three of our favorite actors in William Shatner, Ben Johnson and Timothy Carey. The noise Carey--playing a Brooklyn-accented Apache!--makes in his final scene has to be heard to be believed. The running time was only 46 minutes and change, IIRC, and I think the episode was more time-compressed than cut. The end-credit theme was noticeably compressed. Does anyone know run times for the other eps on the set? If this is the only one with a problem, I might still consider buying the set myself. Heck, the extras alone seem worth it. "Quaker Girl" also had--a la Universal DVDs (e.g., Kojak)--sharp jumps from one scene to the next with no fade-outs and fade-ins. One of the cuts (read: scene transition), immediately following one of Johnson's lines, was very abrupt and made me wonder if something had been cut (read: chopped). I think I noticed this not at the spots for commercial breaks, as with Kojak, but in changes of scene within each act. The color was rather faded, although I've noticed in syndication that the first-season color eps seem more washed out than the later ones. No excuse for giving us the same quality on DVD, mind. The two gag reels were great. I have a public-domain "Star Trek Bloopers" tape that contains--among many non-Trek bloopers--the early-1960s reel hosted by Arness. For the DVD, they trimmed these bloopers down to only "Gunsmoke" ones, as the full reel had Have Gun and other CBS shows represented. The '60s reel as presented on DVD may have had additional bloopers not on my PD tape, but I haven't watched the tape in a while. The Margaret Hamilton blooper on the '70s gag reel was a hoot. Paramount released time-compressed and/or cut "Mission: Impossible" episodes on tape. That, plus the "Quaker Girl" DVD problem, has me worried about future DVDs of MI, Five-0 and other series.

#19 of 33 OFFLINE   Steve...O

Steve...O

    Producer



  • 3,378 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 31 2003
  • Real Name:Steve

Posted January 09 2006 - 11:45 AM

There is reason to be worried about Five-O. When a number of episodes were remastered several years back, they were remastered to syndication length. A number of episodes were never remastered.
Please help UCLA restore the Laurel & Hardy films: https://www.cinema.u...aurel-and-hardy

#20 of 33 OFFLINE   Shatner's Grim Reaper

Shatner's Grim Reaper

    Supporting Actor



  • 565 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 07 2005

Posted January 09 2006 - 12:32 PM

Personally...I was a little disappointed that "Mannon" and "The Badge" were omitted in Volume Two. While I am very fond of Star Trek and the cast....I would have gladly passed on "Quaker Girl". I have not seen “Treasure of John Walking Fox” with Nimoy but I liked "A Man A Day" and "The Search" in which Nimoy appeared but realize these episodes would have fallen into volume one's time frame. Still...I firmly expected "Mannon" and "The Badge" to compliment the fine selection of episodes in Volume One.





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: DVD Reviews, TV Reviews

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users