Unlike other “Gunsmoke” DVD sets that include such extras a vintage commercials with cast members hawking L&M cigarettes, Sixth Season Volume 1 contains no bonus features, but the many great stories and performances more than make up for that shortcoming.
Unfortunately, when the show expanded to an hour the following season, the series began to run low on narrative bullets and Arness — by then an associate producer on the show — became increasingly absent, leaving his supporting players to serve as focal points of many episodes.
And Weaver — whose Chester was usually the most interesting and amusing of the continuing characters — finally left the program in 1963 to pursue other acting interests.
Still, “Gunsmoke” went on to become the United States' longest-running prime time, live-action TV drama with 635 episodes through 20 seasons.
But these 30-minute gems from the first six seasons remain some of the finest and most original dramatic entertainment in the history of the medium.
Dodge City in its black-and-white days is well worth a visit.
— Gene Triplett