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"Gunsmoke" Aunt Thede (1964)

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Festus's Aunt Theodore comes to Dodge

7/10
Author: kfo9494 from United States
1 February 2013

Jeanette Nolan (the hardest working woman in 1960's TV) plays Aunt Theodore (Thede) Haggan, kinfolk of Festus, comes to Dodge looking for a husband. But when she arrives she finds out that Festus in a friend of a lawman which does not set to well with her.

Outside of town Thede sets up camp. While there up comes a beautiful young woman named Ivy Norton. Seems the spot she picked out just happens to be where Ivy meets a young man named George Rider. The young people are in love and have to hid the fact from Ivy's father, Webb. Webb has been trying to find out where the two have been meeting so he can put a stop to them seeing each other.

Festus has already had trouble with Webb Norton when he comes into the camp of Thede. Aunt Thede does not take to kindly to strangers looking at her illegal still, so she shoots at him. All this does is cause Marshal Dillon to find out what is going on at the camp site.

When Matt and Festus arrive, Aunt Thede is performing a marriage ceremony between George and Ivy. She has Webb tied up in a chair making him watch. The ceremony is performed on a 'good book' so as Haggans go- they are married. But Matt may have something different to say about Preacher Aunt Thede.

This show was more of a comic relief show rather than action packed. Jeanette Nolan is wonderful as the mountain woman that sees love in the young Ivy's eyes. We also get a small performance from Howard McNear (Floyd from Andy Griffith Show) playing a owner of a General Store that sounds and acts just like Floyd Lawson. -- This was a different type show from the normal that people will either like or dislike. I found the show entertaining enough for a good watch.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

a unique and charming episode

10/10
Author: grizzledgeezer from United States
10 March 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After a bit of mulling, I decided to give "Aunt Thede" (pronounced as one syllable) a 10. It is arguably one of the series' best episodes.

Though leaning in the direction of intentional comedy (a genre "Gunsmoke" almost always botched), "Aunt Thede"'s treatment is quite different from any other comic episode. This is due to Sutton Roley's imaginative and understated direction.

Though Roley is best-known for directing "Combat", he moves this story along in a quiet, even gentle manner, refusing to dot the eyes and cross the tees. We know exactly how the story's going to end, so Roley doesn't bother to create any particular tension or suspense. Roley treats "Aunt Thede" as a //character piece//, and it works. It's perhaps the quietest of all 635 episodes, which is saying something for a series that (other than its violence) is decidedly low-key.

The scene with Festus and Howard (Howard McNear, Doc Adams of the radio series) shows McNear at his comic best, and is photographed in a way no other "Gunsmoke" director ever did (or ever would).

Jeannette Nolan gives an affectionate performance in her "rural elderly female" persona. (She played it many times, most notably as a muskrat in "The Rescuers", Dan Fieldng's mother on "Night Court", and, of course, Dirty Sally.) Roley gives her lots of close-ups and plenty of time to deliver her lines.

We learn a few things about the Haggens, such as why so many of Festus' aunts have male names. (Thede is short for Theodore, and aunt George had been previously mentioned.) We discover (not surprisingly) that Matt has no time for popular literature, as he's never heard of "Little Women". (He probably never heard of "Ben-Hur", either.)

Another reviewer complains about what he sees as a stereotyped presentation of rural (in this case, Appalachian) people. He has a point -- to a degree. If you watch "Moonshiners", you see that most of the 'shiners don't fit the image. (I say most, because Jim Tom definitely does, and the feckless Steven Ray Tickle isn't the brightest bulb on the tree.) They speak clearly, have good vocabularies, and are obviously intelligent (often more-so than the police, some of who appear to be downright stupid).

If you watch "Gunsmoke" chronologically from Festus' first appearance, you see a character who's a "hick" Matt Dillon, almost as sharp, even threatening. This begins to change a few episodes later when Matt saves his life. Festus starts looking and sounding less like Ken Curtis, and grows more comic, probably to separate his personality from Dillon's. He ultimately becomes one of the most-unusual sidekicks ever, providing comic relief while being as smart and capable as his "boss". I don't see this as demeaning.

If one wants to complain about something, why not the suggestion of incest? Incest was supposedly common in Appalachia, and aunt Thede -- who's looking for a husband -- tells Festus that he was on her list before meeting him.

A distinctively different episode, very much worth seeing.

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5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Rather Lame Episode

Author: rbirds from Jacksonville Florida
30 October 2013

The above review quite adequately describes the episode. However, I find the humor of the rather broad Western fashion of humor (numerous fights without any lasting damage, faux authentic rustics uttering humorous regional observations) that wears thin quickly.

Festus plays such a character but he remains Matt's foil rather than the primary thematic thrust of an entire episode. It runs a bit thin for an entire episode, however.

For some reason the music was particularly irritating. Perhaps because it complimented the humorous rustic theme.

There remains underneath the humor is the often-used trope of abused women. Gunsmoke was one of the first series to highlight powerless women abused by men whose only source of power was their gender.

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