Friday, August 21, 2009

Gunsmoke, A Character Study

Gunsmoke - 50th Anniversary Collection, Volumes 1 & 2

My stepfather never missed Gunsmoke on TV. I suspect my mother watched it for a different reason. Matt Dillon does have a nice behind. In my opinion now, his rates with Tom Selleck's.

I appreciate the lead view of Matt's behind, but as a writer, I appreciate the reruns for the wealth of characters and how they revolve around each other. I'm seeing more aspects of their relationships in each show.

I've written a few western romances under the Cait Logan pseudonym, and I still love them. A native westerner of Washington State's inland sage and sand, I already had some background, but I loved researching my novels on site and drove many of the NW trails, visiting the forts. I went on to write contemporary romances and romantic suspense, usually with a small town western flavor.

There's the setting, a character in itself. Then the cast, specifically in Gunsmoke, Doc, Festus, Kitty and their underlying stories, i.e. the segment when Festus gambles a race with his mule and then finds the terrain too daunting. Kitty, faced with an old boyfriend, who is now on the wrong side of the law, which means her allegiance to Matt is challenged. Doc, faced with his professional ethics against a wealth of burdens.

Matt is a constant, the characters revolving around him. Subcharacters, and many actors got their start in Gunsmoke, have various romances, struggles, crimes.

Emotional conflicts abound, but one of the characters that is almost overlooked, but yet plays an important part in how the others treat him, is the town gossip. Cannot place his character name, but this person is always amid everything, running to Festus and Matt, carrying tales. He's usually excitable, ready to lay some great problem on them.

How they handle this gossip speaks of their character.

If you're looking for good character studies in a specific setting, the characters each with a part to play within the whole, study Gunsmoke.


Shirley said...

Definitely some good characters on that show, but I never could handle listening to "Festus". Is anyone really that dorky???

Cait said...

In the usual cast of characters, there is usually someone atypical, which Festus is.