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Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Tom_mkfty, Mar 1, 2005.
No sign of them?
I know we will see Gunsmoke at some point although I'm not sure Paramount knows what to do with a series of that size. I don't think season sets are likely with a show with so many episodes. As for Car 54, well, its in the category of other black and white shows from that era like Dobie Gillis, Patty Duke Show, Hazel, etc., none of which we have heard even whispers about. I think if we ever start to see some of the more popular black and white sitcoms of the era like Donna Reed and Father Knows Best then there may be hope but not before.
I liked Car 54 when it was on Nick At Nite several years ago. Since it only went for 2 seasons and has only 60 episodes, it shouldn't be too complicated to release. Alot of guest stars appeared on the show too, stars like Shari Lewis, Rocky Graziano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Charles Nelson Reilly, Jake LaMotta, Ossie Davis, Margaret Hamilton, Larry Storch, Tom Bosley, David Doyle, Mitch Miller, Simon Oakland, Alice Ghostley, Maureen Stapleton, Hugh Downs, Carl Ballantine, Charlotte Rae, Jan Murray, and Wally Cox to name but a few...I'd buy it for sure!!
It seems like for some reason or another, the popular comedy shows like Car 54, The Phil Silvers show, and McHale's Navy are being ignored when at one time they were all over NICK and Comedy Central. I definitely will buy all of them if they give us the chance. Paul
Sunday's USA Weekend magazine (insert in Sunday papers) had an ad on the back cover for the new Columbia House TV on DVD Club. One of the titles listed as available was Gunsmoke and in small print it said "Season One Five Pack." Don't ask me what this means, but it sounds encouraging.
GUNSMOKE has been put out by Columbia House through mail order for many years. Originally on VHS (45 volumes, and I bought 15 of them in no particular order since I chose the tapes with the episodes I wanted). The series was released on DVD last year for the first time, but only the early 1/2 hour episodes from the 1950s are available as far as I know. I haven't purchased any of those yet. At least on VHS they went all over the place with hour-long B & W and color episodes from the 1960s and 70s as well. What was odd is that they had the 1969 opening theme song on the 1966 episode "The Jailer" (with Bette Davis, Bruce Dern, and Tom Skerritt), which makes no sense because Buck Taylor wasn't a regular yet when that episode was made, and his Newly O'Brien character wasn't introduced until the following season.
Gunsmoke may be the finest show and certainly the best western ever produced for television. I live for the day when they begin releasing season sets of the series. I find that Gunsmoke still holds up like it was made yesterday. The few Bonanza episodes that I've seen recently have not held up nearly so well. The sets and everything about it looks fake. Gunsmoke will never be equaled.
A Gunsmoke anthology set. I would buy such a set. Chester, Quint, Festus. I remember the first Quint and Festus episodes. Did Chester ever have an exiting episode?
As with all GUNSMOKE characters in the original series, Chester was never given a send-off. But he did get to meet Festus in 2 episodes filmed in late 1963, one of which was coincidentally his last appearance. After he left, Chester's name was never mentioned again!
Watching all those b&w 'hour' episodes on Encore Westerns of late, it always seemed to me that Festus wasn't specifically replacing Chester, but was rather 'gradually' inheriting the second-banana spot. But, I'm certainly no expert on the series' history (much as I love the show). I'd go whatever way Paramount might decide with "Gunsmoke" ... half-hour episodes, b&w, or color. I like 'em all. I guess I'd probably prefer seeing the oldest, half-hour ones released first. Yet, I always found the first season, owing to its use of radio scripts (as good as they were), just a mite static and stagey. Episodes starting just two years later, around 1957, though, are routinely first-rate, with some real knockout episodes. I seem to recall episodes like "Potato Road" and "Buffalo Man." Grim, suspenseful stuff. I'd love to have those seasons on dvd. They are very deserving of the format. Plus, there are still many episodes I haven't seen! Oh, and "Car 54?" Bring it on, too! Silly but good-natured fun.
Although old characters never were given a farewell episode on GUNSMOKE, a few new characters were introduced in episodes that were truly their own. Festus Haggen first appeared on GUNSMOKE in 1962 in an episode entitled "Us Haggens". It was a year before Dennis Weaver quit the series, although Dennis is not in that particular episode. Chester was slowly phased out of the series. He was in some episodes but not in others, and even before he left the stories in which he didn't appear the name Chester wasn't briefly uttered by any of the characters! The first episode in which Chester and Festus appear together from late 1963 is "Prarie Wolfer", in which Festus returns to Dodge City even though in his first episode Matt, Festus, Denver Pyle, etc. are nowhere near Dodge and Festus had yet to visit the town. The second was "Once a Haggen". After Burt Reynolds (as Quint Asper) left in early in the 10th season in 1964 and Roger Ewing (as had Greenwood) quit in 1967 -- both having been on the show for two years each, their characters were also forgotten by Matt, Doc, Kitty, Festus, and everyone in Dodge City!
I remember reading that Dennis Weaver actually left GUNSMOKE a few times between 1961 (the year the series expanded to one hour) and 1963. Dennis got some guest work on other CBS series, such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents in "Insomnia" and The Twlight Zone in "Shadow Play". Apparently the man had some pilots that went nowhere, and he was waiting for a TV series of his own. It wasn't until 1964 when Weaver got one: "Kentucky Jones", a present day show about a veteranarian. It failed after 1 year. Half-breed blacksmith Quint was designed as a semi-regular character to fill in for Chester too, but since he showed up in 1962, Dennis and Burt worked in several episodes together. Yet the Quint / Festus episodes were more fun because Festus frequently called him "Comanche" instead of by name and the two were at odds in a friendly way almost as much as Festus and Doc Adams.
Lest some of the love for Car 54 be lost amid all the Gunsmoke, I'd just like to add my vote for this series to be released to DVD. Although unrelated to The Phil Silvers Show, it's from the same stable and gives prominence to second-string performers in that show, like Joe E Ross (ooh, ooh). Munsters fans will also appreciate seeing 50s-era Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis out of monster costume. A crucial sitcom of its time, IMO, and still very funny.
Great thread, folks! -- Another great half-hour episode: "The Guitar," with Aaron Spelling. One I'd like to see: the outrageously titled "The F.U." -- I've taped all the 1-hour b/w Gunsmokes from Encore, and those look fantastic and ready for DVD right now (actually, I'd prefer some other seasons on DVD, since I already have the Encore eps!). Some from the final b/w season even had sponsor logos in the end credits, which I was a little surprised to see outside of a store-bought or Columbia House tape. -- I love the Festus/Quint chemistry, especially that one episode where each one ends up driving a wagon while the other practically hangs off the back. I think that's the one where Festus sings some song about not being able to trust Comanches. One note on Ken Curtis: he appeared as other characters in the half-hour episodes, appeared as Festus once in the ep cited above, then as another character, then exclusively as Festus. -- Speaking of the supporting cast, there's one episode among the 1-hour b/w's where Matt, Chester, Doc, Kitty, Quint and Festus all appear, with all those actors' names crammed below Arness' in the closing credits. And also re the supporting cast: no matter how many times Stone, Blake, or Weaver may have appeared overall--if they didn't appear in an episode, then they were not credited. That changed with the final b/w season, when they switched from the four-act format to a prologue and four acts, with the supporting cast finally credited (whether they appeared or not) at the beginning of the show, after the prologue. -- There's another hour b/w ep from late in the Chester era where the camera dwells on Chester for an extremely long time as he slowly walks out of the Long Branch (I think), across the street and away from the camera, before the fade-out. It would have been a great "exit" for him, but it's not the final Chester ep. -- Car 54 got an eight-volume, 16-episode VHS release by Republic several years ago, but that's about it for home video. Never on Columbia House and not syndicated much since the earlier Nick at Nite days, sad to say. I think the Republic tapes, which are hard to find beyond the first one or two, were in episode order. -- We must not forget two important Car 54 facts: the Bilko connection (same creator: Nat Hiken) and supporting-cast member and classic game-show (especially Pyramid) favorite Nipsey Russell.