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"The Wiving" is probably //the worst// "Gunsmoke" episode. It is //so//
bad -- worse than worst -- that it blots out the memory of other bad
//Why// it's so bad can't be explained in a few words. Someone would have to pay a lot of money for me to sit down and explain it in detail, because doing so would be a major project. And I'm not going to do it for free. The following précis will have to do.
Suffice it to say that it's terrible story telling. Stories are about //people//. And if you don't establish who the people are -- that is, what they want, why they want it, and how they intend to get it -- you have no story, because you have no basis for plausible character interaction.
"The Wiving" starts as a simple farce, with crazy farm boys kidnapping saloon girls to become their wives. The writer seems to assume that putting attractive young people together will automatically result in them pairing off into happy relationships. He doesn't recognize that it doesn't work that way in real life. Even if he did, he doesn't have the patience to do the hard work of figuring out how the dynamic of kidnappers/victims can be developed into a compelling drama. (As a comedy, it would probably be offensive. Unless you're Billy Wilder.)
Had this material been treated seriously, over two episodes, it might have been one of the best "Gunsmoke" stories. As it is, it's a dramatically lazy mess from beginning to end.
PS: "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" is based on a Stephen Vincent Benét story, "The Sobbin' Women". ("Sobbin'" is a pun on "Sabine".) The brothers all have first names beginning with H.
Yes in our modern age this story is totally unbelievable as is the
musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which this was obviously taken
But neither is it realistic (as portrayed in many period westerns) that prostitutes in a saloon were all young, pretty things that some guy would rescue and marry. Most were older, homely and poor, without family to care for them. They were often alcoholics or drug addicts, not unlike today, abused by men, carrying diseases and selling their bodies to pay for a flop house bed or another drink. But who's going to watch a series that shows that? So some of you need to lighten up. Back when this show first aired, girls weren't as jaded as today and still believed that a prince might show up and take them away. So I'm not really surprised that this episode was popular back then, although the tale seems unrealistic and corny now. Also, keep in mind with the makeup and the sets, the age of digital TV has spoiled the illusion.
This was an okay, light-hearten romp, although having Amanda Blake gone really makes the show moot. What's the point when there's no flirtation between Matt and Kitty?
This is one of those episodes that a viewer is going to really like or
absolutely despise. There is not much middle ground to this show since
a viewer really does not know how to take this show. Was it a drama or
an all out comedy? It was very hard to decide.
The story was good but it really came down to the actors in the story. The young people made the show entertaining but one actor seemed to overplay his part. Now, I am a fan of Harry Morgan but in this show Harry Morgan's push way too far to make his character unrealistically funny. Instead his character came across as Rip Van Winkle on speed- which in turn made the show almost unbearable. But if you overlook Morgan's acting the show really is a nice story about love in the old west. And anytime love is found it is hard to be negative about the outcome.
In response to the previous reviews, I always saw this episode as a
take-off on the 50's musical, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". They
just shortened it to four (including the father) for the sake of an
"Seven Brides" was based on an ancient Roman story called "The Rape of the Sabine Women", which I think was written by Plutarch or Livy or one of those people. So perhaps the writers were simply trying to expose the viewers to some classic literature. Or at least to a classic musical. Or maybe by the 20th season of Gunsmoke, they were just running out of ideas. LOL.
This was a more light hearted episode than Gunsmoke usually has. I think this one was for Fran. Since Amanda Blake had left the show & she stepped in to own the Longbranch, perhaps it was to show us her strengths and to put her in the limelight. It moved too fast for me. I realize that in those days it wasn't every day that a saloon girl got a man to ask her to marry him, but this was a pretty quick love affair for all 3 women to fall in love. Perhaps they thought this was their one big chance to get married, but it did not come off that way, just that they all fell head over heels in love in a matter of a couple of days. Harry Morgan could always pull off a serious guy or a real doofus. It also took the whole idea of Gunsmoke away.
That's the only explanation I can give for this episode. Pods must have
been placed in the bedroom of the writer, and when he awakened like
"new," he wrote The Wiving.
It's not so much that it's awful--fans of the show appreciate the excellence of so many other episodes. But can you imagine someone being told to watch Gunsmoke (It's a classic Western!) and then stumbling across this travesty? And it's not funny. If it were the least bit amusing, it could stand on its characterization of three goofball sons and their insipid fiancees. There's almost always some humor in Gunsmoke: Festus is entertaining, and Doc is clever. Hey, I like a good laugh as much as the next guy. Maybe more than the next guy, if that next guy wrote this episode. Did I mention it wasn't funny?
Be warned. I could say be forewarned, but what other kind is there?
I haven't seen them all, but I'm betting this is one of the worst episodes of Gunsmoke! A close second would be the "Brides and Grooms" also a Gunsmoke episode. Both these turkey's had the same characters but most were played by different actors. Both story lines were very week, the parts were poorly written as well. This left little for the actors to do with these silly characters. Jim Backus and Harry Morgan's characters have facial hair and is some of the worse make up I've seen in a series of this quality. I've seen better beards in high school plays. This was a compete was of time. Really good actors like Jim Backus and Harry Morgan are completely wasted on this weak episode. Perhaps because it was nearing the end of the run of great TV series they started having trouble getting good scripts.
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