The Nielsens–add 1

What was "Gunsmoke?"

Oh don’t do this to me.

OK, kids. "Gunsmoke" was an incredibly popular TV show that went off
the air in . . . 1975. (What? Could this be right?  Surely it wasn’t
that long ago). It was something called a "Western," which was the
staple of TV programming in the 1950s and what we had before "Star
Trek" was invented. In fact "Star Trek" was originally conceived as a
knockoff of another Western and was pitched as (Lord help me) " ‘Wagon
Train’ to the stars."

No, I’m serious.

"Gunsmoke" was set in Dodge City and based on a radio show
(Don’t ask. We’re not going there.)  and starred James Arness. He was
"the giant carrot" in "The Thing."  No, the original in glorious black
and white, not John Carpenter’s "The Thing." (Who is John Carpenter? Oh
we’re never going to get through this. You know, John "Halloween" and
"Escape From L.A." Carpenter?). Arness is also in "Them!" That’s the
movie about giant ants attacking L.A. Make that giant flying ants.
The main characters were Marshal Matt Dillon (Arness), Doc (Milburn
Stone) and Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake), who ran the Long Branch Saloon.
For a while, Dillon had a deputy named Chester, played by Dennis
Weaver, who limped and for many years anybody who limped was nicknamed
True confession, kids. I never liked "Gunsmoke" and quit watching when Weaver left the
show because he was replaced by Festus (Ken Curtis), an incredibly
annoying, obnoxious hillbilly who was apparently intended to provide
comic relief. By that time I’d already switched to "Maverick." 

What was "Maverick?"
Oh you kids these days.

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About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Hollywood, Television and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Nielsens–add 1

  1. Sheila Ryan says:

    I never much cared for “Gunsmoke” either, even during the Golden Age of Chester, but the introduction of Festus? That did it. Hey, I may have been a kid, but I knew the signs of a civilization in decline.


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