Tuesday, September 1, 2020

This Day in TV History: The end of "Gunsmoke" on CBS

45 years ago, Gunsmoke ended its 150-year run (duration approximate) in prime time on the CBS television network with a rerun of "The Busters," its final first-run episode which premiered in March of 1975. We bring this up because, hey, can you believe Gunsmoke is actually a program from our Battle of the Network Shows era?

It sure is. In fact, the long-long-long-running oater (and there you have the other reason we bring this up: so I can write "oater") aired five seasons in the 1970s. Let's just look at our most recent season of the podcast and discount the specials and movies.  Gunsmoke's 1970s run alone is longer than the entire runs of Miami Vice, What a Country, Soap, Spider-Woman, and The Transformers. The Fourth Doctor appeared in 172 Doctor Who episodes; Gunsmoke ran 120 in its 5 Seventies seasons.  OK, that last one goes against the point, but remember Gunsmoke was an hour long at that point! 

Legend has it that CBS' William Paley saved the show at the last minute in 1967 after his wife lobbied for it and Gilligan's Island got canned instead.  Then the series was spared again several years later in the midst of the infamous rural purge.  Gunsmoke was still a respectable ratings earner in its 20th and final season and was then just two seasons removed from a string of top ten finishes.  

So don't be surprised if someday you see us cover Gunsmoke. In the meantime, if you want to see the series itself, just turn it to Me-TV or TV Land, and you'll likely find it at any given time.

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