The nominal plot concerns Bret Maverick's attempt to find buried Confederate treasure in Ellwood, Kansas. In reality, the episode is Maverick's parody of Gunsmoke. U.S. Marshal Mort Dooley keeps running Maverick out of town and is outfoxed as Maverick keeps returning. The Marshal, we're told, owns 37.5 percent of the Weeping Willow saloon run by Miss Amy (who owns 25 percent). Other owners include deputy Clyde (17.5 percent) and Doc Stucke (17.5 percent). Dooley faces off against Maverick in a scene shot similar to the opening credits of Gunsmoke. Luckily, Maverick is out of range of the Marshal's bullets. Written by
This episode is intended as a spoof of the TV series, Gunsmoke (1955). See more »
Marshal Mort Dooley:
This is Boot Hill, Elwood, Kansas. It's a nice place to visit. I like to come up here sometimes to think and... maybe get ahead a grave or two. Elwood's a peaceful town. That's the way the merchants like it and that's the way I keep it. I'm a merchant myself. I own 37.5 percent of the Weeping Willow saloon. Sometimes a visiting cowboy gets a little drunk but that's what the town's here for. Thieves and criminals, though, they stay away. They know what they can expect of ...
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Marshal Dillon-- oops!-- I mean Dooley is looking for Bret and he's got his dander up. Bret better get out of Dodge-- oops again!-- I mean Wormwood before the Marshal puts another notch in his gun. Because, as every Gunsmoke-- I mean Gun Shy-- addict knows, the Marshal ain't never lost a gunfight since 1955, or was it 1958.
First-rate parody of what was then TV's most popular show. Apparently, no damage was done since Dillon, Chester, Doc, and Kitty would limp, drink-up, and fast-draw across the Kansas frontier for another 25 years! I don't think fans of that series were offended by the liberties taken; I know I wasn't. One reason is that the spoof is so darn well done. The Gunsmoke characters are sort of peripheral to the story anyway, which is really driven by the two over-age con-men, Reginald Owen and Gage Clark. Then too, the impersonations, especially Walker Edmiston as deputy Clyde (Chester), are so dead-on it's impossible not to at least chuckle at the caricatures.
It may be that much of the satire is lost on younger audiences unfamiliar with TV's earliest adult-level Western-- such as Dillon's contemplative little tour of Boot Hill that opened Gunsmoke's earliest episodes and is spoofed here. Nonetheless, the entry can be enjoyed on its own merits regardless of the puns intended.
Note in passing, the brief reference to the gunman who left his calling card-- a satirical shot at Palladin (Richard Boone) in the popular Have Gun--Will Travel. So successful was this jape, that Maverick would later spoof the hit-series Bonanza too. I may be wrong, but I believe this was the first time one TV series parodied another. A lot of the credit should go to director Leslie Martinson and script-writer Marion Hargrove for pulling it off so well. No wonder the series, by this time (1959), had separated itself from the rest of the TV herd.
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