Gunsmoke (tv)

The Boston Phoenix

DIRECTED BY: Marshall Dillon

REVIEWED: 12-01-97

Gunsmoke was the most popular of the dozens of Westerns that flooded prime-time in the late '50s, and it still holds the record for the most number of episodes (635) among prime-time series with continuing characters. Many Gunsmoke knockoffs tried to distinguish themselves with gimmicks (such as a special type of gun), but these wore thin after a few episodes. Gunsmoke took a different approach that ensured its 20-year run: it explored "contemporary" themes, such as the rights of minorities, within a noncontroversial setting. Moving beyond black-and-white (hat) clichés also made Marshal Matt Dillon a deeper character, as he sometimes had to agonize over his decisions.

Taken from The Boston Phoenix's "50 Years and Counting," a retrospective of the most influential programs from television's first half-century. Click here for the full article.

--Robert David Sullivan

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