CBS is slowly rolling out on DVD television's longest running show, Gunsmoke. Season 7 (Volume 1) of this 20-year series continues the saga of Dodge City, Kansas, where American western tropes are hashed out—and rehashed—each week. There are cowboys, prostitutes, and outlaws galore in this surprisingly heartwarming series.
Just like Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, too, has an episodic formula. Each episode features a small group of new characters who in some way get involved with Dodge City and the main characters of the show. Usually they cause trouble that requires the attention of Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness) and almost always results in the death of one of the guest stars. Other main characters include saloon-owner Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake), Doc Adams (Milburn Stone), and Dillon's deputy sidekick Chester (Dennis Weaver). While there are no real recurring stories, there are solid relationships between the main characters that keep viewers engaged—especially the relationship between Dillon and Miss Kitty.
In this 5-disc set, the most entertaining episodes usually involve Miss Kitty. The episode "Miss Kitty" involves some intrigue with a boy who could potentially be her son. And in "Marry Me," a mountain man kidnaps her Seven Brides for Seven Brothers-style to force her to marry him. But for every remarkable episode, there are plenty of unremarkable—and often repetitive—ones.
It's easy to see, even by today's standards, that Gunsmoke was a great show (and it has plenty of Emmys to back it up). At its heart, though, it is an iconic American series about a truly American genre.
The discs include episode previews for select episodes.
"Gunsmoke the Seventh Season: Volume 1" is on sale December 11, 2012 and is not rated. Western. Directed by Andrew V Mclaglen, Harry Harris, Ted Post. Written by John Meston, Kathleen Hite, John Dunkel. Starring Amanda Blake, Dennis Weaver, James Arness, Milburn Stone.