Gunsmoke: Season 18, Episode 5

The Drummer (9 Oct. 1972)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Western
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 28 users  
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Dan Shay, a retired Cavalry Sergeant, comes face-to-face with his past as he meets a small Indian boy who's father was massacred in an US Cavalry raid.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Daniel Shay
Sarah Morgan (as Fionnuala Flanagan)
Enoch Brandt
Ike Daggett
Jimmy Morgan
Ted Jordan ...
Woody Chambliss ...
Livery Man


Dan Shay, a retired Cavalry Sergeant, comes face-to-face with his past as he meets a small Indian boy who's father was massacred in an US Cavalry raid.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

9 October 1972 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Victor French gives a fine performance in this episode.
8 January 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In a rather protected script, this episode is saved by the fine performance of Victor French as he plays a salesman that use to be a army officer with a regrettable past. This best thing in this entire show was French's acting that came across with the realism that so many actors strive for in their career. He saved this show from an otherwise recycled plot.

Dan Shay (Victor French) is a drummer (actually a salesman) that tries to sell these new rat traps to Kitty at the Long Branch. A commotion begins outside when a small Indian boy steals Dan's horse. The boy does not get far before falling off the horse and injuring his already handicapped leg. And at this point we get a peek into the former world of Dan's when he starts remembering his cavalry days.

The boy's mother, a white woman named Sarah Morgan, is the only parent alive since his Indian father was killed in a massacre on a reservation near Rock Creek. The boy's foot had been injured during the fighting and never really healed. Now the boy has to walk with a limp.

It just so happens that Dan Shay was the Sergeant in charge of a unit of US Cavalry men when the massacre occurred. He has been haunted by that day ever since leaving the military. Now he comes face-to-face with one of his victims. And with Dan wanting to help the boy and his mother, it will be Sarah that wants nothing to do with the person that was in charge when her husband was killed.

There was a lot of directions that this story could have taken but it chose to take the safe route. With a little more imagination this could have been script worthy of a high grade. But because of staying safe, the best thing in this episode was the acting by Victor French.

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