Gunsmoke (1955–1975)
7.3/10
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The Judgement 

Musgrove spent five years in prison after Ira Spratt turned him in as an army deserter. Now out of prison, Musgrove captures the craven wife beater Spratt and takes him to Dodge City to ... See full summary »

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Doc
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Kitty
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Festus
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Newly
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Matt Dillon
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Musgrove
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Gideon
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Fiona Gideon
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Ena Spratt
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Ab Craddock
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Ira Spratt
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Orval
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Sam
Ted Jordan ...
Burke
Charles Wagenheim ...
Halligan
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Storyline

Musgrove spent five years in prison after Ira Spratt turned him in as an army deserter. Now out of prison, Musgrove captures the craven wife beater Spratt and takes him to Dodge City to kill him. In the gun play, Festus and Newly are wounded, and Spratt escapes. He hides in Gideon's barn and again escapes when Musgrove arrives. Musgrove then takes Gideon hostage, threatening to kill him if the townsfolk of Dodge City do not bring him Spratt. Written by richardann

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Western

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2 October 1972 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
more about the moral issue involved than the characters
29 September 2013 | by See all my reviews

William Windom said he was so good at breaking down and crying or confessing, that he earned the nickname "Willie the Weeper". This might explain why he was cast in this episode. His performance is "good", but he has no opportunity to show what a fine actor he was.

Again, we have two "adjoining" episodes (this one, followed by "The Drummer") that are thematically similar -- a man's life is seriously damaged by guilt over a past act. In "The Judgment", Ira Pratt can't handle the shame of having betrayed his close friend -- Musgrove -- who'd deserted the Army with him. Musgrove is back for revenge, which has already included the murder of the judge and prosecutor. Pratt is next on the list. When rancher Gideon offers Pratt a hiding place, Musgrove takes Gideon hostage, and demands Pratt be turned over so he can kill him -- or he'll kill Gideon.

The issue thus devolves as to whether saving a worthless man's life (Pratt) is worth the death of a "good" man (Gideon). Broadly speaking, the story tries to have its cake and eat it, and (rather disappointingly) succeeds. The /specifics/ of the ending are something of a surprise, but given the tendency towards reduced violence, there's only one corpse. John Meston's treatment would have likely been more cynical and violent.

The plotting has /exactly/ the same flaw as "Jaekel" (see my review). The person who caused the problem in first place (Pratt) is so beset-upon that we start feeling too much sympathy for him. However, this doesn't change the moral issue at the center of the story. This is why my judgment is to rate this episode an 8, rather than a 7.


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