'Gunsmoke - The Second Season, Vol. 1'
(Roy Roberts, Charles Seel, Tom Brown, Hank Patterson, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / (1955) 2007 / Paramount)
Overview: James Arness vaulted into the annals of television history with his iconic portrayal of U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon in the long-running television Western GUNSMOKE. Armed with a quick draw and an even quicker wit, the principled and intelligent Marshal Dillon brought peace and righteousness to the lawless frontier of 1800s Dodge City with the help of his trusted deputy, Chester Goode (Dennis Weaver), his friend Doc Adams (Milburn Stone), and saloon keeper Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake). This collection presents the first volume of the series' second season.
DVD Verdict: With the release of 'Gunsmoke: The Second Season Volume 1,' Paramount has confirmed my worst fears. I was so happy when they finally released the first season in a complete package, but I was concerned that even with 20 singles season sets, we know the studios' propensity to squeeze turnips blood, and I was afraid that greed would eventually rear its ugly head in this situation. And it did!
Why, oh why, would they release a 20-SEASON TELEVISION SHOW IN MULTIPLE SEASON VOLUMES? Didn't they realize that buyers would rebel, and not buy these sets? Or is that part of the plan? Maybe they want us to not buy Gunsmoke so they won't have to risk the money to manufacture and release 20-single sets, so they figure to alienate everyone by doing what they've done, and then when this won't sell, they'll cancel releasing the rest claiming an indifferent public.
No, if it happens, it will be because a tired and cash-conscious public cries "ENOUGH!" This show is wonderful, but it's hard to recommend buying it under these circumstances!
And, as for the actual series - as this is a review, after all(!), the show is (of course) one of the best ever. It is a scandal that James Arness did not make the list of the greatest TV icons. And a great supporting cast, with Amanda Blake, Dennis Weaver, and Milburn Stone. Indeed, 'Gunsmoke' began to truly hit its stride during its second season and the twenty episodes that comprise the first half of that season include several that are among the series' finest entries. Almost all were based upon the most popular episodes of the classic radio series and the installation of Norman MacDonnell as permanent producer for the television version ensured that these episodes would remain faithful to the darker and more "adult" portrayal of the American West that Mr. MacDonnell and writer John Meston had brought to the radio series.
In addition, James Arness, Dennis Weaver, Amanda Blake, and Milburn Stone had established the traits of their respective characters by the time production began on the second season's shows and they were all able to bring increasing depth to their performances. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of Sponsor Spots.