DVD Review: Gunsmoke (The Fifth Season, Volume 2)

Viewers of Me-TV were shocked when the network lost Marshal Dillon to a pay-channel. Marshal Dillon was the name given to the 30 minute black and white Gunsmoke episodes when they were syndicated. What was once free on a broadcast digital subchannel is now costing fans. Me-TV’s still showing Gunsmoke, but the devoted grumble at missing out on the early years. Those needing a fix of Marshal Dillon can pick up Gunsmoke: The Fifth Season, Volume 2. This wraps up the penultimate season before it went an hour.

“Hinka Do” gets things off to a proper start when Matt (James Arness) gets a hunch that the new owner of the Lady Gay saloon might have used a hostile takeover. Can he find the body of the previous manager? Does she have enough ammo to expand on Miss Kitty’s bar? “Moo Moo Raid” involves a trail boss and his lead cow being victims of murder. Why would anyone kill a cow without at least turning it into a BBQ? It’s the best way to hide the bovine body. “Kitty’s Killings” gets Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake) taken hostage. Can Matt save the woman he doesn’t quite love? “Jailbait Janet” unites a father and his daughter in a mutual activity. They’ve become revenge railroad robbers. They think a train caused the fire that torched their crops. Outlaw justice does seem faster than a drawn out lawsuit. “Unwanted Deputy” features the classic story of angry man showing up in Dodge City looking to avenge his brother’s death. He wants a showdown in the street with Marshal Dillon. Instead of going straight for his holster, the bother wants to get the lawman’s goat. He acts as his own version of law and order in Dodge City. Matt doesn’t like competition to wear the badge.

“Crowbait Bob” makes Miss Kitty hated by the kin of the title character. They’re expecting to pick apart his estate, but the guy leaves everything to Miss Kitty. She really knew how to make people feel happy at the saloon. “I Thee Wed” addresses spousal abuse. A wife won’t press charges no matter how hard Matt wants to bust the guy for busting her up. “The Lady Killer” isn’t the second part of the previous episode. A gal working for Miss Kitty kills a witness in town for a trial. Why would a sweet girl commit such a dirty crime? Will she be hanging around in Dodge City with a noose? “Belle’s Back” returns a notorious resident after three years. Belle (Nita Talbot) claims to reformed her wicked ways. But the neighbors don’t think so. “Old Flame” is the best of the 19 episodes since it has Lee Van Cleef (The Good, the Bad and The Ugly). Matt’s old lover returns to town claiming she was roughed up by Lee. Will Matt teach 
“The Bad” a lesson about how to treat a lady? “Cherry Red” is a strange love tale of a man wanting to marry a recent widow. What he’s not really wanting to disclose is that he killed her outlaw husband during a stagecoach robbery. Sounds like a love confession perfect for a Jerry Springer Show episode.

Gunsmoke: The Fifth Season, Volume 2 packs plenty of love, killing and horses in less than 30 minutes. It’s easy to see why viewers would be passionate about the more concise format. Marshal Dillon vanishing from Me-TV should be taken as a lesson. Fans of any TV series must take ownership when episodes are available on DVD. It’s easy to believe the show will always be on TV, Hulu or Netflix, but it’s not true. You really want to whine to a helpless TV programmer or a website that doesn’t care for comments? Don’t waste your time when the solution is to purchase Marshal Dillon to maintain law and order in your DVD collection.

The Episodes

“Hinka Do,” “Doc Judge,” “Moo Moo Raid,” “Kitty’s Killing,” “Jailbait Janet,” “Unwanted Deputy,” “Where’d They Go,” “Crowbait Bob,” “Colleen So Green,” “The Ex-Urbanites “I Thee Wed,” “The Lady Killer,” “Gentleman’s Disagreement,” “Speak Me Fair,” “Belle’s Back,” “The Bobsy Twins,” “Old Flame.” “The Deserter” and “Cherry Red.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The black and white transfers bring out the detail in the Marshal’s office. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The mix is fine for a TV show. The bullet shots pop out of the speakers. The episodes are subtitled.

There are no bonus features.

Gunsmoke: The Fifth Season, Volume 2 keeps up the tight Wild West action. Marshall Dillon has his hands full of murdering saloon girls, ex-lovers and Lee Van Cleef. There’s only one more season of the thirty minute episodes left before 14 seasons of the hour-long Gunsmoke.

CBS DVD presents Gunsmoke: The Fifth Season, Volume 2. Starring: James Arness, Dennis Weaver, Milburn Stone and Amanda Blake . Boxset Contents: 19 Episodes on 3 DVDs. Released on DVD: December 13, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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