As part of my physical therapy, I have to spend four to six hours a day with my arm in a machine that forcibly bends and extends it… so I have been watching a lot of television lately.
First, I went on a big GUNSMOKE binge… which is easy, since the color episodes play on TVLand every day and the black-and-white episodes air on Western Channel. Plus both networks have been running mini-marathons. You gotta love Tivo.
Anyway, besides noticing what a great, under-appreciated show GUNSMOKE was (though there were a few seasons in the mid-60s you can skip)… I was struck by how often it has been subtly imitated over the years. The key characters on the show are Marshal Matt Dillon, his deputy Chester (and later Festus), his friend ornery Doc Adams, and his girlfriend Kitty, the saloon-keeper (and, let’s be honest here, proprietor of the whore house). But that central triumvirate… lawman, deputy, and doctor, have been repeated ever since in many series…including one very popular example.
Gene Roddenberry described STAR TREK as "WAGON TRAIN in space." It probably would have been more accurate to call it GUNSMOKE in space. Captain Kirk is Matt Dillon, Mr. Spock is Chester, and Doctor McCoy is, well, virtually the same character as Doc Adams. All the STAR TREK shows have repeated that triumvirate in some form or another…
I also caught up on the first season of NIP/TUCK on DVD… a show that deserves all the praise it has been getting. I can’t wait for season two box set to come out. And I watched the first season DVD set of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT… which left me cold. I can see why it’s struggling to attract an audience, despite its Emmy awards.
I’ve also caught a bunch of movies…among them THE BIG SLEEP (love the movie, though I still can’t follow the plot at all), TONY ROME and LADY IN CEMENT (two fun Frank Sinatra PI movies based on Marv Albert novels), THE GOOD THE BAD AND UGLY special edition (a classic), MISSING (the Tommy Lee Jones western, the DVD is loaded with deleted scenes and alternate endings), all the Bond films for the millionth time, and two PINK PANTHER movies.. in addition to my usual primetime viewing.