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DVD Review: Gunsmoke: The Seventh Season Volume 1

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Our friends out at CBS Home Video, who have really been on a roll with the “retro television” thing, have sent over another slice of fine retro fare for us to review. Specifically, they sent over “Gunsmoke: The Seventh Season Volume 1″, and for fans of old Westerns, you’ve got a whole new reason to be happy.

“Gunsmoke: The Seventh Season Volume 1″ takes us back out to the lawless frontier, where a shot of law is about to be injected into the proceedings by way of Marshal Matt Dillon and his deputy Chester Goode. Together, the duo will keep the peace against a slew of various villains, from bank robbers to kidnappers and beyond, even to those well-meaning if clueless folks who mean to reform the Wild West to the good. Backed up by saloon keeper Miss Kitty and doctor Doc Adams, Marshal Dillon is going to have his hands full…but will still manage to bring law and order to the Wild West, and keep Dodge City safe.

It’s funny, but before settling in to this box set–a massive fourteen hour affair–I’d never really watched much Gunsmoke. Sure, I’d caught a rerun here and there, on TV Land or on local channels specializing in reruns, but this was the first time I really settled in with Marshal Dillon and his various adventures. While it’s quite clearly aged, it’s still pretty sound stuff. Even remastering for DVD and viewed with an upconverter on an HD television can only do so much for footage from the early 1960s, but thankfully, it doesn’t get in the way. In fact, it looks pretty sharp for footage nearly old enough for Social Security. Better yet, the actual adventures of Marshall Dillon et al are of sufficient quality that they really don’t need much in the way of updating to be enjoyable. Sure, it’s a bit heavy as Westerns go, but considering how little Western there is out there these days, that makes this something of a rare bird by comparison. There will be a good mix of stories here, and a little bit of something for everyone. Some straight drama, a few good laughs, more than a little straight-up gunplay…there’s a wide variety here, and should accommodate most tastes without incident.

Special features will be in somewhat short supply here–being as it’s an old television series, that’s not so outlandish, really–but will still feature English subtitles and a set of previews for certain episodes. There will also be trailers available before the main menu, but they will be inaccessible from the main menu itself, a practice I’ve never approved of.

“Gunsmoke: The Seventh Season Volume 1″ should prove satisfying for a variety of different entertainment buffs, from the retro fans to the Western buffs to even the action and drama fans. With that kind of appeal, it’s a safe bet that most anyone will find something to like, and that makes this season–and this series–one worth checking out.

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