Gunsmoke: Season 5, Episode 36

The Bobsy Twins (21 May 1960)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Western
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Two brothers have decided that it is their mission to rid the West of Indians.



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Episode cast overview:
Morris Ankrum ...
Merle Finney
Ralph Moody ...
Harvey Finney
Buck Young ...
Bud Grant
Jean Howell ...
John O'Malley ...
Charles McArthur ...
Paul Hahn ...
Carl Miller
Clem Fuller ...


Two brothers have decided that it is their mission to rid the West of Indians.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

21 May 1960 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ralph Moody, Morris Ankrum, and James Arness had all appeared together previously in 1955's 'Many Rivers to Cross'. See more »

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User Reviews

Before there was Larry McMurtry, there was John Meston...
31 August 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Gunsmoke" was originally intended to be a "hard-boiled" adult Western, what William Paley called "Philip Marlowe of the Old West". When writer John Meston and producer Norman MacDonnell, working on an adult Western of their own, discovered Paley's pilot, the project was revived, and the result was "Gunsmoke".

Meston was the chief (and nearly only) writer for the radio series, and many of his radio scripts were recycled for TV, sometimes censored to remove material considered too "mature" for the TV audience. Though one cannot know Meston's intentions in detail, there's no question he wanted to thoroughly disabuse the audience that there was anything the least-bit "romantic" about the Old West (an anti-theme Larry McMurtry would later embrace).

Meston's stories were often dark, violent, and just plain nasty. One example has the seemingly comic title "Never Pester Chester", in which Chester is roped and dragged nearly to his death by two cowhands who don't care for Chester asking them to behave a bit more politely in Dodge.

There is no motivation -- of any sort -- for their behavior, other than that they're immoral and not-sane. These sorts of characters -- which might be dubbed "Meston maniacs" -- show up throughout his scripts. Meston justifiably assumed there were plenty of such people in the Old West, so there was nothing wrong with using them once in a while to tell a vicious, violent story -- whose sole purpose was to remind the audience just how bad the Wild West was. *

The question (to me) is why CBS's Standards & Practices didn't object to such crude and unmotivated violence. The answer might be that television standards were influenced by motion picture standards. One rule required that evil /always/ be punished, without exception. ** It therefore doesn't matter /what/ the villain did -- however vile, depraved, or disgusting -- as long as he was punished in the end. ***

This is, of course, hypocritical beyond belief -- it's okay to titillate the audience with depravity, as long as the perpetrator eventually "gets it". (DeMille was notorious for this sort of thing.)

One of the oddest things about this episode is that Harvey and Merle murder Grant when he refuses to feed them, claiming he doesn't have enough food. Odd, because in most societies, throughout the world, throughout history, even the uninvited guest has an honored place. (Hagen doesn't immediately kill Siegmund, as it would break the rules of hospitality.) Murder might have been an excessive response, but Harvey and Merle were certainly justified in being offended that they weren't fed.

I haven't decided whether this episode should be rated 1 (because of its utter tastelessness), or 10 (for it being a satirical slap in the face of the American public). Perhaps Meston was just poking fun at himself. The producers clearly thought of it as comedy, as the music attests. (The music should have been written by Bernard Herrmann (think "The Trouble with Harry") but the wonderfully talented Fred Steiner was the perfect substitute.)

Regardless, this is a must-see episode -- and not just for "Gunsmoke" fans.

* It's probably safe to say that /no/ Western hero -- with the possible exception of David Crockett -- would be considered a decent human being or any sort of role model, by modern standards. Even the famous cattle baron, Charles Goodnight, who is often held up as a model Christian gentleman, was a callous murderer. (See TIME-LIFE's "The Cowboys", p62.)

** In Meston's "Passive Resistance" (4.19), a man whose sheep are killed and his house burned refuses to name the perpetrators, because he will have his justice -- as the only power evil has is to destroy itself.

*** In "Buffalo Hunter" (4.33), the titular character murders his hands so he won't have to pay them. He kills one of them by shoving his face into a pot of melted lead. He is eventually horribly tortured by Indians.

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