Sunday, September 11, 2005


Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of 'Gunsmoke'. I have to admit it's a little disconcerting to think that this sturdy old warhorse of a TV show is younger than I am!

Hundreds of fans have gathered this weekend in Dodge City, Kansas, to mark the occasion, although none of the surviving cast members are expected to be there.

(At 82, James Arness apparently isn't well enough to travel anymore. I haven't heard any reasons why Dennis Weaver or Buck Taylor won't be there.)

Having a life-span of 20 seasons, 'Gunsmoke' is the longest running series ever, although it will more than likely be surpassed one day by either 'The Simpsons' or the original 'Law & Order'.

And yet in all that time, it was pretty insular as far as the rest of the TV Universe was concerned. It only had one spin-off, 'Dirty Sally', and that oddity lasted less than a season.

So any other connections to Toobworld's other denizens has to be based on conjecture.

For instance:
Dirty Sally's traveling companion across the Western frontier was an ex-gunslinger named Cyrus Pike. It's my belief that Pike was the identical half-brother of Jeff Sonnett. (Such things are possible with tele-genetics!)

Jeff Sonnett was travelling with his grandfather, Will Sonnett, in search of his father, James Sonnett, a notorious gunslinger. To bolster my claim, I like to point out that on 'The Guns of Will Sonnett', James Sonnett was shooting off more than just his guns across the wild, wild West.

And Cyrus Pike would be the founder of the family tree which would lead to Christopher Pike, the captain of the starship Enterprise before James T. Kirk ('Star Trek').

Back in Dodge, based on the town's history in the "Trueniverse", I posited a theory back in August ("Bat/Matt Begins") that US Marshal Dillon's office was right across the street from that of the town sheriff, a position that was held by Bat Masterson.

And if we consider the definitive Bat Masterson of Toobworld to be played by Gene Barry, then we're very well connected to the rest of the TV Land frontier thanks to the fourth 'Gambler' TV movie. "The Luck Of The Draw' featured plenty of the characters from the shows that once ruled the Warner Brothers stable.

So here's a tip o' the Stetson to 'Gunsmoke' which ruled the CBS airwaves for 20 years and is still popular in TV Land reruns. I think of it as the cornerstone in the depiction of our American mythology, as far as the TV Universe is concerned.



Anonymous said...

Don't forget that there is a connection from Gunsmoke to Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. During the CBS @ 50 sweeps, several then-current shows had links to old CBS hits which were basically zonks or dreams (Fran on the Nanny dreamed she was with Lucy). However, one of the few that fit within the show was on Dr. Quinn, where Matt Dillon was having a drink in the saloon and talked briefly to Hank.

Through the Cineverse, there is the Bob Hope film _Alias Jesse James_, which had Dillon, Seth Adams of Wagon Train, Tonto of the Lone Ranger, Davy Crockett, Annie Oakley, and Wyatt Earp of their own respective shows.

There's always a way to make links "happen."


Toby said...

Thank, Hugh! I did indeed forget that appearance!

I'm sure our little buddies over in the Westphallian Universe wouldn't like the idea of adding in the Bob Hope movie.

But then again, they've yet to find a way to bring any of the TV Westerns into Tommy Westphall's mind......

Anonymous said...

Well, as you know, I go for as anything that allows shows to be put into the combined universe. _Alias Jesse James_ doesn't really allow modern shows to be brought in (unless one counts "time-hopping" Roy Rogers), but the Gambler mini-series does, thanks to the inclusion of Caine from Kung Fu. Oh wait--Cheyenne is in the Hope film and was on KF: The Legend Continues. Unfortunately, Walker: Texas Ranger (which is part of the Westphall universe) never seized the opportunity to have Walker meet Caine. They missed a golden opportunity too.