Gunsmoke (1955–1975)
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Mistaken Identity 

A drifter tries to settle in Dodge after switching identities with a man he found who had been bit by a rattlesnake, but his plans are complicated when that man is brought into town still unconscious.




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Episode cast overview:
Ed Carstairs
Hal Lynch ...
Mel Gates
Jeff Timmons
Cal Dunster
Ted Jordan ...
Nathan Burke


Mal Gates, a traveler, stops by a river to get a drink -- and a rattler chomps onto his face. His screams and his gunshots at the escaping snake are heard by Ed Carstairs, coming to the same watering hole from a different direction. But Carstairs is in no charitable mood. He's wanted in another town for killing a sheriff during a poker game, and justice in that town is notoriously corrupt (Matt later asks two sheriff's deputies snidely: "Was the town boss shot in the hip? Well, isn't that where he keeps the sheriff, isn't it ... in his hip pocket?"). So Carstairs tries to finish what the snake started by kicking Gates unconscious and switching identity papers with him. The ruse seems to work, but shortly after Carstairs arrives in Dodge he spots Gates being dragged unconscious on a litter behind Matt's horse -- Matt, making his rounds, also heard the commotion and found Gates still alive. Carstairs sneaks into Doc Adams' office and tries to smother Gates in his sleep, but jerks the ... Written by Peter Harris

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Release Date:

18 March 1967 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Festus (Ken Curtis) doesn't appear in this episode, with no explanation given. When sometime deputy Thad Greenwood is beaten up late in the episode, Matt deputizes Sam the bartender to help catch the villains. Thus Glenn Strange gets higher-than-usual billing for this episode. See more »

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User Reviews

Good story but lacking action
30 July 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The episode begins when a cowboy named Mel Gates is by a creek and gets bit by a rattlesnake on the left cheek. Mr Gates fires his gun at the snake which only leads to an on-the-run criminal named Ed Carstairs to come to his aid. However Mr Carstairs has other plans than giving first-aid, he changes ID papers with Gates and assumes his identity. By accident Matt Dillon happens up on the snake bit cowboy and takes him back to Dodge City to be treated by Doc Adams.

Meanwhile, the criminal using the name of Gates has went into Dodge City and became friends with some locals. He is upset to see that Matt has brought the cowboy back to Dodge and feels like the cowboy can identify him. However due to the snake bit the cowboy does not remember anything about his past. Thus making all believe that the cowboy is the criminal that shot a sheriff in a nearby town.

From the following information we get the plot of the show that has the cowboy being accused of a murder he did not commit and the criminal trying to make everyone believe that he is just as concern with justice as anyone else. But the plot seemed to be lacking as parts of the show were long and without action.

Perhaps a sub-plot would have help this show --but that did not happen. Instead we have periods of long dialog and uninteresting conversation to fill in for action.

Could have been better with just some interesting aforethought.

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