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Top Gunsmoke Television Episodes: The Sandy Henry List


Top Ten favorite Gunsmoke episodes of Sandy in PA - plus a top turkey:

1) Snow Train—Matt, Doc and Festus are returning from a jury trial on the snow train, which is deliberately derailed by the Sioux. The Indians claim that two men aboard the train sold poison whiskey on the reservation that resulted in blindness and death of several of their braves. Matt promises that he will find the guilty men and punish them, but Red Willow issues an ultimatum—turn them over by morning or the train will be attacked. This episode had everything going for it— a great story, surprise ending, terrific guest cast and an amazing (and award-winning) musical score by composer John Parker.

2) Hostage—For the reasons ... mentioned [by's review], particularly William Smith’s Jude Bonner. With a bonus for the romantics among us—this is about the most warm-and-fuzzy you will ever see Matt Dillon. His unspoken love for Kitty and his vulnerability shine through in Paul Edwards’ taut script. (Click HERE for more info on this episode.)

3) Cotter’s Girl—Kathleen Hite’s wonderful story of Clarey Cotter is a stellar episode with a sweet story and a great guest turn by Mariette Hartley. Matt sets out to find orphaned Clarey, a free-spirited, independent young woman who sleeps in a tree and loves to slosh around in the mud, to give her an inheritance. Matt and his friends are charmed by Clarey, and they work together to help “civilize” her so that she can go to live with her aunt in Pennsylvania. But it’s young Clarey who is the real teacher here. She becomes completely enamored with “Dillon” and does her best to show him how to "feel and be" instead of think. Their touching goodnight scene in front of the Dodge House lets both Arness and Hartley shine.

4) The Noose—For all the reasons [] mentioned [on its top ten list], plus another amazing score by composer Parker.

5) The Jailer—‘nuff said. Wacky Etta Stone [played by Bette Davis, click HERE] is just too much fun to watch.

6) Sam McTavish, M.D.—A great episode for Doc fans, this episode gave the crotchety codger a peer in Dr. Sam, a feisty woman physician who is hired to temporarily fill in for a vacationing Doc Adams. He breaks their agreement, however, swearing that his patients will never accept a female doctor. Dr. Sam, played by Vera Miles, quickly wins them over though, including Doc, who asks her to be his wife. Note: The ending is a definite tear-jerker.

7) Pike—For the reasons ... mentioned [in the top ten list], along with Worthless the lop-eared, bonneted mule and the fun chemistry between Jeanette Nolan and Dack Rambo. Who knew?

8) Mannon—A terrific script by the master, Ron Bishop, gave fans a sadistic “gentleman villain” played by Steve Forrest. Mannon takes what he wants, but he meets his match in Kitty, “the only one in town he hasn’t shrunk down to size.” He rapes her and leaves her on the floor of the Long Branch, all the while waiting for his showdown with Matt. Mannon was such an entertaining bad guy that he was resurrected for the first reunion movie, Return to Dodge [click HERE].

9) The Gallows—Probably the darkest of all John Meston’s Gunsmoke stories, this one sticks with ya. Pruit Dover, a cowboy accused of murder, ends up saving Matt’s life. The marshal hopes to return the favor and testifies on Dover’s behalf. But his efforts are to no avail—Pruit gets the hanging judge. Another opp for Arness to shine.

10) Cale—Another fresh, original [Gunsmoke writer, Kathleen] Hite (click HERE) character, young Cale is rescued by Matt after he’s shot out on the prairie. He’s an independent whipper snapper of high moral fiber, but Cale is stubborn as hell. At the episode’s end, the parallels between Cale and a young Dillon are noted. A great character, he returned a few months later in The Search, which, sadly, was pretty boring.

Least favorite…4 little words…Phoebe Strunk. It stunk. (For the record, I think I am the only Gunsmoke fan who actually liked Arizona Midnight...)

Sandy Henry, author of Something Borrowed, Something Blue.



Top Ten Gunsmoke Television Episodes

Click HERE

~Click Here to see Top Gunsmoke Television Episodes: The Edgar F. Banks List

~Click Here to see Top Gunsmoke Television Episodes: The Sandy Henry List

~Click Here to see Top Gunsmoke Television Episodes: The Harris List

~Click Here to see Worst Gunsmoke Episodes: The Harris List.


Worst Gunsmoke Television Episode:

Click HERE