'Gunsmoke' fans come out shootin'
NOW I know what it's like to be chased by a posse. This was an electronic posse wanting to string me up for making fun of the old "Gunsmoke" TV show
and led by none other than news anchorman and actor Joe Moore.
"Well, Charley, if you ain't lower'n a snake's belly!" wrote Joe. "Now you might reckon you've put a burr under my saddle by calling Festus a molester of large farm animals, Miss Kitty a prostitute and operator of a child slavery ring, Doc a Scientologist or by alleging that Matt Dillon wore women's frilly undergarments. No, Charley, it ain't none of them. They might be true for all I know. What's got me madder'n a wet hen is you calling Matt Dillon a 'sheriff.' God Almighty, Charley, that's worse than spittin' in a man's face when his mustache ain't on fire! Matt Dillon was a United States Marshal!"
And so he was. And I knew that. I was suffering from one of those brain burps that come with advancing age. I received several e-mails pointing out that Matt Dillon was a marshal, not sheriff but mostly I heard from "Gunsmoke" fans who were riled when I suggested the show was just another forgotten cadaver on television's Boot Hill.
Andrea Lopez wrote: "I hate to tell you, sir, but many of the younger generation have heard of 'Gunsmoke,' as well as 'Bonanza.' I have them on tape ... my children's friends know the theme songs immediately. The things you said concerning Matt Dillon, Miss Kitty, Festus and Doc are also incorrect. If you write in the papers or even a book, you need to do research and get your facts straight!"
Margie Lord wrote: "Actually, sir, a lot of us DO watch 'Gunsmoke.' Perhaps no one protested your original article because Festus might have been a tad light in the saddle and Miss Kitty wasn't pure as the driven snow. These things are not news to fans of the show. And fans of the show are rather used to being put down. This doesn't mean we are not here. Please stop acting the fool."
First of all, why is everyone calling me "sir"? I would take it as a sign of respect but I suspect it actually is a stunt word they are using in place of another word they'd like to use, like "idiot" or "butthead."
Secondly, it's sort of a rule of humor writing that you don't really have to employ facts in your arguments. I try to never let facts get in the way of a good column. Or even a bad one.
Thirdly, what the heck is the theme song to "Gunsmoke"? "Pony Boy"? "Git Along Little Doggies"? "Buffalo Gals (Won't You Come Out Tonight)"?
Sonya Clayton wrote: "There is a large Gunsmoke fan base still out there and more of us than you'd think are younger viewers seeing this show for the first time. P.S. Matt Dillon looked way too good in his marshal clothes to need to wear anything else and he probably spent much more time taking Kitty's underwear off than he did putting it on!"
OK. Let's get this straight: I was just kidding about Matt Dillon wearing women's underwear. It was actually James Arness, who PLAYED Matt Dillon. Just kidding. But Miss Kitty was a prostitute and Doc Adams was a sadistic old codger who insisted that his medical office be on the SECOND FLOOR. As for Festus, I don't think he was "light in the saddle." He was just another one of those dusty semi-contorted weirdos that Matt seemed to like to hire. It's clear Marshal Dillon hired the handicapped. The first deputy was gimpy-legged Chester, played by Dennis Weaver. Matt Dillon could never hire a deputy who was completely perpendicular.
But I'll tell you a secret: Just about everything I said about "Gunsmoke" and its inhabitants in recent columns I said before in a column back in 1999. AND NOBODY CARED. So it seems to me that "Gunsmoke" fans are getting a little grumpy and crotchety in their old age.
By the way, the reason Joe Moore seemed to be speaking in some strange western dialect in his e-mail is because he's currently rehearsing for his role in "Unlikely Lawman," a stage play he is producing at the Manoa Valley Theatre. It opens on June 8 and Joe plays a western marshal, associates with a prostitute and hangs out with a quirky cowboy named Zeke. Sounds kinda familiar. Why do I suspect Zeke isn't quite perpendicular?
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org