Description of GUNSMOKE DVD Complete Series
"Gunsmoke is an American television Western drama series created by director Norman MacDonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West.The television series ran from September 10, 1955 to March 31, 1975 on CBS for 635 episodes. Until 2005, it was the longest run of any scripted primetime series with continuing characters in American primetime television.Gunsmoke was TV's No. 1 ranked show from 1957 to 1961 before slipping into a decline after expanding to an hour. In 1967, the show's 12th season, CBS planned to cancel the series, but widespread viewer reaction (including a mention in Congress and pressure from the wife of the head of programming at CBS) prevented its demise. The show continued on in a different time slot: early evening on Mondays instead of Saturday nights, canceling the popular Gilligan's Island in the process. This seemingly minor change led to a spike in ratings that saw the series once again reach the top 10 in the Nielsen ratings until the 1973-1974 television season . In 1975, the show was finally canceled after a long twenty-year run. Gunsmoke was the show that ushered in the age of the adult Western, and although over 30 Westerns came and went during its 20-year tenure, Gunsmoke outlasted all of its imitators and was the only Western still airing when it was canceled.Conrad was the first choice to play Marshal Dillon on TV, having established the role, but his increasing obesity led to more photogenic actors being considered. Losing the role embittered Conrad for years, though he later starred in another CBS television series, Cannon (1971-1975). Denver Pyle was also considered for the role, as was Raymond Burr who was ultimately seen as too heavyset for the part. According to a James Arness interview, John Wayne was offered the role, but wouldn't do it; Wayne was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, and at that time, working in television was seen as a huge step down in prestige for a star actor.In the end, the primary roles were all recast, with James Arness taking on the lead role of Marshal Matt Dillon upon the recommendation of John Wayne, who also introduced the first episode of the series; Dennis Weaver playing Chester Goode; Milburn Stone being cast as Dr. Galen ""Doc"" Adams; and Amanda Blake taking on the role of Miss Kitty Russell, owner of the Long Branch Saloon. MacDonnell became the associate producer of the TV show and later the producer. Meston was named head writer. Arness, in his role on Gunsmoke, achieved what no other actor at the time had ever matched: he played the same character on the same scripted series for 20 years - at the time the longest uninterrupted period a primetime actor had played the same role in the same show."