Gunsmoke: The Fourth Season, Vol. 2 [3 Discs] [DVD]

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Having ended its third season as America's top-rated TV series, Gunsmoke managed to retain that title throughout Season Four, not only because of its own innate excellence but also because of its unusually strong lead-in show on CBS' Saturday-night schedule, Have Gun: Will Travel. Even though the series' "adult western" trappings which had been regarded as daring and innovative back when it first aired in 1955 were now considered commonplace and even cliché-ridden, the show remained a viewer favorite even among non-western fans. Inevitably, however, a bit of friction had developed internally on Gunsmoke. Whereas during the series' first three seasons the leading actors were more than willing to follow the scripts as written, by the fall of 1958 those same actors--James Arness (Matt Dillon), Dennis Weaver (Chester), Milburn Stone (Doc), Amanda Blake)--were now full-fledged stars, and acted accordingly. Without going into further detail, we offer this rueful observation from series coproducer Charles Marquis Warren, as originally published in TV Guide: "It reached the point when I'd arrive on the set in the morning only to have Arness tell me that 'Matt Dillon wouldn't say a thing like that!' Everybody suddenly got to be a self-appointed authority." Small wonder that Warren was no longer associated with the series come Season Four, relinquishing the producing chores to his partners Norman McDonnell and John Meston. Having pretty much exhausted the scripts from the radio version of Gunsmoke (which was still running as of 1958), the series began featuring more and more "originals" during its fourth season, many of them penned by producer John Meston. Among the noteworthy actors making guest appearance this season are Martin Landau, Dan Blocker, Charles Bronson, Ross Martin, Warren Oates, Jack Elam and James Drury. ~ Hal Erickson

Cast & Crew

  • James Arness - Marshal Matt Dillon
  • Milburn Stone - Dr. Galen `Doc' Adams
  • Amanda Blake - Kitty Russell
  • Dennis Weaver - Chester Goode
  • Ken Curtis - Festus Haggen

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