Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday's Favorite OTR

Gunsmoke: “Doc’s Showdown” 10/12/58

When Gunsmoke first premiered in 1952, the character of Doc Adams wasn’t really that likeable. He popped up whenever Marshal Dillon had to kill someone, cackling with glee over the thought of the fee the town paid him for arranging for the burials.

But Doc soon morphed into a nicer guy—I guess the show’s creative staff realized the vulture-like Doc would be too dislikable.

In this episode, Doc gets a chance to be downright heroic. He treats a badly wounded young man, but is unable to save him. Both Doc and the man’s mother watch him die.

No one knows who shot the kid and this sticks in Doc’s craw. He wants the killer or killers brought to justice. So he comes up with a plan. What if he spread the word that the kid told Doc who shot him before he died? Then the killer would have to kill Doc as well, thus giving himself away.

Dillon vetoes this idea as too dangerous, but Doc Adams decides to carry it out on his own. It makes for a genuinely tense episode climaxing with a gunfight inside a dark barn.

As is usual with Gunsmoke, the story is well-written and well-acted. (Doc, by the way, is played by Howard McNear—better remembered today for playing Floyd the Barber on the Andy Griffith Show.) It’s neat to have Doc at the forefront of the action for once—a nice little change-of-pace for an already superior Western.

This episode may be downloaded HERE.

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