Gunsmoke: The Third Season, Volume One – DVD Review

During the first two seasons of Gunsmoke Marshall Matt Dillon (James Arness) wore his badge with a heavy burden. After intense showdowns, he might doubt if the life of a lawman was his true calling. There always seemed to be a moment when he was willing to toss his badge on the ground and ride off toward a peaceful life. Marshall Dillon on Gunsmoke: The Third Season, Volume 1 is determined to be the law that keeps the order. Hes mature and assured while walking the dusty street of Dodge City. He still doesnt like killing, but hes accepted it as the necessary evil. Hed rather live with blood on his hands than chaos in his territory. Luckily he hasnt cleaned up Miss Kittys Long Branch saloon. They still have the staircase going upstairs and her girls working the tables without delivering drinks to the cowboys. Theres still a wildness to this season of Gunsmoke.

“Crack Up” has John Dehner arrive in Dodge as a hired killer. Dillon knows the guys trade, but wants to figure out his target. Dehners so evil when he goes Michael Vick on a dog. Dehner was the most intense character actor on TV. It was hard to tell if he was going to strangle a cast member or have a heart attack. He was a volcano with a mustache. “Gun for Chester” has Matts sidekick (Dennis Weaver) get paranoid when a face from his past arrives in town. Asa Ledbetter (Thomas Coley) is from a place so evil that if they arrested every guilty man, there wouldnt be enough citizens left to seat a jury. Chester swears Asa is in town to shoot him even though he wont cop to a reason for a gundown besides old school rivalry. Matt thinks his little buddy is overreacting. Drunks leaving the Long Branch fire off their guns. Chester takes a bullet. He claims Asa fired it. Matt wont believe it. Is Chester merely looking for an excuse to take out Asa?

“Kittys Outlaw” brings lusty passion to the towns bar (and discreet brothel) owner. A visitor to the town makes Matt, Chester and Doc (Milburn Stone) suspect hes up to no good. But things get weird since it turns out Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) is all over the stranger. When the bank gets robbed, her man is one of the suspects. Why did she fall for such a bad boy? Did she feed him the info for the heist? “Born to Hang” cuts down a man falsely accused of being a horse thief. In Dodge City he crosses paths with the man that necktied him. Matt tells him to back off and let him take care of dishing out justice. Can this guy relax when threatened with a second trip to the gallows? “Romeo” unleashes forbidden romance on the frontier. Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) seduces the daughter of a powerful cattle baron. Hes upset because Vaughns family is the wrong family in the small town. Its up to Matt to bring peace before this Romeo and Juliet storyline ends up with too many bodies in the grave.

“Docs Reward” opens with a stunner when the old medicine man guns down Jack Lord. Who knew the gruff old coot had it in him to ice McGarrett from Hawaii Five-O? Lord wasnt an innocent lawman, but dont shed a tear for Lord since he rises again in this episode. To be more precise, his twin brother shows up in Dodge City looking for a little taste of revenge. Does Doc got enough grit to give Lord a second lead injection? “Buffalo Man” has John Anderson and Jack Klugman (Quincy) hunting on Indian territory. Matt and Chester drop by their camp to get them to move. However Anderson doesnt like being restricted. Him and Klugman take the lawmen hostage. They decide to leave them tied to the wagon wheel in hopes the Indians will scalp Matt and Chester. Does the Marshall have any pull with the Native Americans? Fans of Klugman will be shocked at how quiet he is as the buffalo hunter. Guess they feared his accent would scare away the wildlife.

Gunsmoke: The Third Season, Volume 1 reveals the Marshall Matt Dillon that led the series to an astonishing 20 seasons. Hes secure in his role as the law. He talks from experience on the topic of human behavior. Hes no longer learning the ropes. He can spot a gunslinger from a normal cowboy. He has little compassion for a dying man. In one episode he declares theyll take an injured robber into town after they find the loot. Hes finally achieved a thick skin to go with his badge.

The Episodes
“Crack-Up,” “Gun for Chester,” “Blood Money,” “Kitty’s Outlaw,” “Potato Road,” “Jesse,” “Mavis McCloud,” ” Born to Hang,” “Romeo,” “Never Pester Chester,” “Fingered,” “How to Kill a Woman,” “Cows and Cribs,” “Doc’s Reward,” “Kitty Lost,” “Twelfth Night,” “Joe Phy,” “Buffalo Man” and “Kitty Caught.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The black and white transfers are sharp enough to expose when theyre on location versus faking it in the studio. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels let you hear Marshall Dillon strap on his gun. Its Closed Captioned.

Sponsor Spots (1:52) features the commercials starring the cast. L&M Cigarettes has Arness pushing the miracle tips. Amanda Blake gives Arness a Christmas designed carton. Theres also a promo for Remingtons Rollectric and Princess models.

Gunsmoke: The Third Season, Volume 1 illustrates the maturing of Marshall Matt Dillon. The half hour format for the series kept the scripts tight. Who needs 60 minutes for the surviving brother to claim revenge?


CBS DVD presents Gunsmoke: The Third Season, Volume One. Starring Dennis Weaver, Amanda Blake and Milburn Stone. Boxset Contents: 19 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released on DVD: December 9, 2008. Available at Amazon.

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