"Gunsmoke" Matt Gets It (TV Episode 1955) Poster

(TV Series)


User Reviews

Add a Review
7 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
An Adult Western Rides into TV Land
dougdoepke23 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The series' first episode-- and who could have guessed that the show would last another 20 years, becoming the longest lasting dramatic series in TV history! There's little indication of such astonishing success in this first installment. It's a good one with an exceptional moment, but otherwise pretty routine. Gunfighter Grat (Paul Richards) arrives in Dodge behind a sheriff from Amarillo looking to take him back. After that, there's a surprising clash with Matt that caused me a double-take to make sure I'd seen it correctly. There's a nice little character question posed by the script-- is it duty or pride that drives Matt to a final showdown. In fact, the problem of runaway pride amounts to something of a sub-text in this initial entry.

John Wayne does a friendly 60 second introduction to the show and lead actor Arness. No doubt, his most note-worthy comment is that Gunsmoke will try to be both adult and realistic. Given that TV's prior programming of Westerns had been along the lines of Hopalong Cassidy and Gene Autry, Wayne's comment proved highly significant. In fact, Gunsmoke's immediate success ushered in a raft of "adult" Westerns that dominated programming for about another ten years. My guess is that this inaugural entry was selected because of the novelty of a lawman's losing a fast-draw contest; thus demonstrating the show's determination to be, as Wayne put it, both adult and realistic. I also suspect that for those folks who tuned in on that long-ago night, the strategy worked, and worked well for many years to come.
12 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A simple plot to start the long journey
kfo949425 April 2013
I am sure this was a great episode if I had watched the series in order of production. But I was raised on the color episode and then watched the one hour black and white episodes and the character's already had their identity and form of acting. But after going from the last seasons till this first episode I can say that everyone in the cast is real green.

It really is a simple plot about a man named Dan Grat that is a gunslinger that kills people just for fun. After killing a sheriff, the Marshal calls out Grat for arrest. But Grat is faster and shoots Matt in the chest and head.

But thanks to Doc Adams it is not long before Matt, as a lawman, knows what he has to complete the arrest. He again gets into a show-down with the fast Grat.

I giving a pass on this episode due to the fact that the actors are not established in their parts. The acting was green and the story simple. But I guess you have to start basic to develop a loyal following.
12 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Good first episode
gordonl5625 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
GUNSMOKE "Matt Gets It" 1955

GUNSMOKE was the longest running western TV series ever. The series last for 20 years and a total of 635 episodes. (Plus several TV movies) The lead, James Arness, plays Dodge City Marshall, Matt Dillion. Over the years cast regulars included, Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake, Dennis Weaver, Ken Curtis, Burt Reynolds and many others. The list of guest stars is endless.

In this episode, the first of the series, the episode is introduced by none other than, John Wayne.

Dodge City Marshall, James Arness is paid a visit at his office by a Sheriff from Texas. The man, Robert Anderson, is in Dodge looking for a fast gun wanted for shooting an unarmed man. The gunman, Paul Richards, is believed to be in Dodge City. Anderson does not want any help arresting Richards. Anderson is just telling Arness what is going on.

Anderson finds Richards in the saloon and calls him out. Richards steps out into the street with Anderson. Arness and his Deputy, Dennis Weaver are both watching from nearby. Iron flashes and Anderson is the last to clear leather.

Now Arness approaches Richards to put the grab on him. Guns are yarded again, with Arness going down with two rounds in him. Richards calmly holsters and returns to the bar.

The just barely alive, Arness, is hauled off to the town doctor, Milburn Stone. It is touch and go for a bit, but Arness pulls through. He slowly recovers while thinking over how the gunfight had gone. He is sure he noticed something odd about Richards during the fight.

Arness, is soon back on his feet gathering his strength for a re-match. When ready, Arness buckles up his gun belt and looks up Richards at his room at the hotel. He calls Richards out and watches Richards closely. For every step Richards takes toward him, Arness takes one back, keeping a good distance between them. Arness is sure that Richards has a fast hand, but that he needs to be close because of poor eyesight.

Guns are pulled again with Richards, again, the quickest. But this time he misses and Marshall Arness drops him. It is Boot Hill time for Richards.

This is a pretty good first episode, with some nice work from both the cast and crew. The episode was directed by Charles Marquis Warren, who also supplied the screenplay.

The look of the episode is quite sharp with one time Oscar nominated, Ernest Miller, in the cinematographer's chair.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
We're off to a great start!
Michelle Palmer6 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Starting a Western with John Wayne is just ingenious! What's better than the Duke's seal of approval? He promised it was an adult western, so the subjects would be a bit darker and geared away from kids, and they were! I'm not sure what makes Gunsmoke so great, but it is. Like all the other Westerns, it holds a bit of magic in each episode.

Of course, Matt has to get shot in the very first episode. This sets us up for future Matt shootings. How many times did he get shot in his twenty years? In this episode, we meet all my favorite characters: Miss Kitty, Doc, and Chester Good. I love Chester! And right off, we get a true picture of just what the Chester/Matt/Doc relationship is going to be...

The man who shot Matt played in an episode of The Rifleman. I saw him in something else the other day (The Loner, i think). He's great. This is really the first time I've seen him as a "bad" guy.

Great beginning!
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
a semi-auspicious start
grizzledgeezer4 July 2013
This first episode (there is no pilot, as the radio show was presumably the "pilot" *) only hints at would a fine series "Gunsmoke" would become.

It suffers from uncomfortable performances and clunky direction. Though part of this is doubtless due to simple unfamiliarity, a good part has to be due to the script, which sounds like a more or less direct transcription of a radio script. (John Meston is given story credit.)

There are some unintentionally risible lines. When Grat challenges the sheriff sent to get him, he says "If you want me… You come take me.", then "Closer'n that, sheriff, a lot closer… If ya want me." Perhaps what Grat really wants is a date for the next bull dance.

James Arness is remarkably youthful. He looks enough like the comic-book character that he'd have made an excellent Superman. (Note the forelock.) Of course, the point of this episode is to reveal that Matt is not invincible -- which is frankly remarkable, and the thing that makes this episode such a standout.

The music is generally superior to what would come later, with one lapse in taste -- as Chester rides up, we hear a bit of "Turkey in the Straw", to remind us that Chester is a hick. No music credit is given, so the score was probably assembled from existing cues.

For all its minor failings, you'd be hard-pressed to find another 1955 TV oater of this quality.

PS: In the opening scene, as Matt walks through the graveyard, you can see one of the cardboard headstones flapping in the breeze.

* Actually, there is a pilot. It was shown about halfway through the first season. It is, oddly, better-acted and directed, and has distinctly different cinematography.
10 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
There Are Two Versions of this Episode
theartfuldodger20121 February 2017
I had recently watched this episode, for the first time, on MeTV and it blew me away. One of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed in 62 years of watching television. More on why later.

A few weeks later however I noticed that it was being repeated on that same channel during a holiday special run of several back-to-back episodes. Much to my surprise, this was a different version. Same story, but the screen writing was very pedestrian, the directing lackluster and the episode was nothing special at all.

Everything lies in the execution.

But if you ever have the privilege of viewing the version NOT directed by Charles Marquis Warren, you will know what I'm talking about when I say that this is something special.

While Mr Warren isn't much of a director (in my opinion), he is a hell of a writer. The story outlines three themes that will be repeated periodically throughout the 20 year series run:

1. A REAL lawman in the old west couldn't pick and choose his opponents. He had to stand up for the law each and every time, even in situation when he knew he was probably facing certain death. Matt Dillon was such a man.

2. In a gunfight, it isn't only about how fast you can draw. It takes "sand" to stand there and take that extra split second to aim before you squeeze one off. All the while knowing that your opponent is aiming his gun at you with the intention of killing you.

3. Dillon survived as a lawman not only because he was a big man who was quick with a gun, but because he was smart as well. It was his brains that allowed him to survive this episode.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Interesting introduction by John Wayne
Paularoc15 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this show regularly for its entire 20 year run. The best thing about this episode was John Wayne's introduction (to my surprise, he introduced himself as "Wayne" and not his full name). All the main supporting characters for the first several years of the series are introduced: Doc, Miss Kitty and Chester. I suppose it was shocking that the lead was shot in the very first episode but when I watched this episode last week, there was nothing about it to indicate that this would be such a long running series. The show is without an iota of humor (Festus later added a bit of humor), and Arness certainly was no great shakes as an actor. However, the business about pride or duty, as another reviewer mentioned, was intriguing. And maybe because the question even arose is why its referred to as an adult Western.
2 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews