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Dodge

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    tvking1

    [1]Aug 5, 2007
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    During its peak of the 1870s-80s Dodge was a bustling town. In Gunsmoke, however, there's only one doctor in the whole town. There were several bars, as was alluded to in one episode in season ten (One Killer On Ice, included in Volume II of the 50th Anniversary Edition), and, historically, several brothels (whether the Long Branch was one was left to the viewer to ponder). But how could such a big town get along with just one doctor? In the episode that introduced Pat Hingle's character, the townsfolk seemed to resent anyone taking Doc Adams' place, and in the episode with Vera Miles, they seemed to have room for only one doctor, something that in reality would be catastrophic to a town like Dodge. Also, it would have required the services of more than just two or three lawmen. The leading lawman would have been a town marshal or sheriff, not a U.S. Marshal, who answers to the federal government. And what about the mayor, and town council? Forgive me if I seem to knitpick; I wouldn't let these things keep me from enjoying the show.
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    tvking1

    [2]Aug 27, 2007
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    To keep this thread alive:

    In an audio commentary on DVD to one of the early episodes James Arness said that in the first two seasons it was generally understood that the Long Branch was a "house of ill repute", but that this was played down afterward and left to the viewer. In the episode "Brides And Grooms" from the final season one of the brides feels stigmatized because of her past as a saloon girl selling her services. However, she was also a saloon girl at the Long Branch, so if the Long Branch was a bordello then why would her past have been an issue? You decide. As a fan, I prefer to think of the Long Branch as something like a progenitor to Hooters. Not that that's everybody's idea of a respectable institution, but at least it's not a brothel.

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    jokipper

    [3]Sep 19, 2007
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    There's little doubt that the Long Branch was a bordello in the first season. For example, in the episode "Reunion '78", saloon girl Belle Archer shuns Chester because he lacks enough money. He offers to buy her a drink, but she tells him to come back on payday. I doubt that she was just looking after Chester's budget; it's more likely that he didn't have enough cash to pay for her services.

    In the episode "Doc's Revenge", Chester has a strange, painful affliction that he's embarrassed to tell Doc about. I don't think Chester is referring to his bad leg, because there is no reason to be embarrassed about that. Part of Doc's advice to Chester is to tell him to "stay out of saloons". Perhaps Chester had gone back to the Long Branch on payday after all, and got more than he bargained for.
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    tvking1

    [4]Sep 20, 2007
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    I don't remember offhand seeing those episodes, but if I had I would still prefer to use my imagination and think it was something more innocent. I have more respect and liking for Kitty if I think of her as something other than a madame. Matt too. In one later episode he struck a man for apparently impugning Kitty's integrity. I like to think he was defending her honor, and that she had honor worth defending.
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    ingary

    [5]Sep 27, 2007
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    Just because she was a madam doesn't mean that she forced it on anybody. I'd say, if she was, it would have been optional "on the side" work. And I don't think she offered herself up for "services" after she and Matt got involved. There is however, an episode in the first season where she mysteriously knows what room at the Dodge House a man that Matt is looking for is staying in. Hmmm... (But there didn't seem to be a lot going on romantically between M and K at that point.)

    Tvking- Either way, it doesn't mean she didn't have honor to defend!

    Edited on 09/27/2007 4:04pm
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    tvking1

    [6]Sep 28, 2007
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    ingary wrote:

    Just because she was a madam doesn't mean that she forced it on anybody. I'd say, if she was, it would have been optional "on the side" work. And I don't think she offered herself up for "services" after she and Matt got involved. There is however, an episode in the first season where she mysteriously knows what room at the Dodge House a man that Matt is looking for is staying in. Hmmm... (But there didn't seem to be a lot going on romantically between M and K at that point.)

    Tvking- Either way, it doesn't mean she didn't have honor to defend!

    Sorry, ingary, I just don't think there's much honor in prostitution. You may think I'm old-fashioned, but I can scarcely imagine any father who would want that kind of life for his daughter. Nor any mother who upon holding her newborn daughter in her arms for the first time saying, "I want my daughter to grow up to be a madame" That is not to say such women are completely without honor. They are capable of compassion, as was Miss Kitty, whether she was a madame or not (I firmly believe that after the first couple or so of seasons they played it down to the point where one, like myself, could see her as the owner of a "friendly" saloon, and nothing more).

    Sorry, I didn't want to turn this thread into a debate on the merits of prostitution. What about the other things about Dodge that I mentioned in the initial post?

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    jokipper

    [7]Oct 6, 2007
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    tvking1 wrote:
    ingary wrote:

    Just because she was a madam doesn't mean that she forced it on anybody. I'd say, if she was, it would have been optional "on the side" work. And I don't think she offered herself up for "services" after she and Matt got involved. There is however, an episode in the first season where she mysteriously knows what room at the Dodge House a man that Matt is looking for is staying in. Hmmm... (But there didn't seem to be a lot going on romantically between M and K at that point.)

    Tvking- Either way, it doesn't mean she didn't have honor to defend!

    Sorry, ingary, I just don't think there's much honor in prostitution. You may think I'm old-fashioned, but I can scarcely imagine any father who would want that kind of life for his daughter. Nor any mother who upon holding her newborn daughter in her arms for the first time saying, "I want my daughter to grow up to be a madame" That is not to say such women are completely without honor. They are capable of compassion, as was Miss Kitty, whether she was a madame or not (I firmly believe that after the first couple or so of seasons they played it down to the point where one, like myself, could see her as the owner of a "friendly" saloon, and nothing more).

    Sorry, I didn't want to turn this thread into a debate on the merits of prostitution. What about the other things about Dodge that I mentioned in the initial post?



    Just a bit more about prostitution--a few interesting facts. There was an actual Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City. The co-owner, Luke Short, had ignored the mayor's ban on prostitution in Dodge City, asserting that the law was unequally enforced (apparently, the mayor owned his own brothels!); Short was arrested and ran out of town. Short later returned with his gunfighter friends (the famous ones, such as Earp, etc.) and he was allowed to stay because of the guns backing him up. This was known as the Dodge City War of 1883. There's no doubt that a historian such as Charles Marquis Warren was aware of all of this, and I likewise have no doubt Gunsmoke's Long Branch Saloon is based upon the actual brothel that existed (especially after viewing all of Season 1) for a reason.

    I do agree about your other points regarding Dodge City as portrayed on the show. It's seems very unlikely that one doctor could service not only the town, but the whole county as well (but maybe that's why Doc drinks so much in Season 1). Also in Season 1, Marshall Dillon is the town's only lawman (Chester isn't even a deputy, he just helps out)...which seems very unlikely too. I'm also not sure why a US Marshal would have the job, as opposed to an elected sheriff.
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    tvking1

    [8]Oct 6, 2007
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    As I said earlier, it was assumed in the first two seasons that the Long Branch was a "house of ill repute", but that was played down afterward and left to the viewer to decide. The season 20 episode "Brides And Grooms" left reason to assume it was something a little less irreputable, like Hooters. Thanks for the historical background.

    In the season four episode "The Constable" (included in the Director's Selection DVD set,with commentary by director Arthur Hiller, and also the radio version), the business community decides that Matt's rules are hurting business, so they tell him to do his crime fighting outside of town and let a "constable" run things. Instead the constable runs the town into the ground, and Matt's help is all of a sudden appreciated. Matt said it's a good thing he works for the government. Some towns had "town marshals", but they were basically the same as a sheriff, and worked for the town, rather than the U.S. Government. Matt, as you said, was a U.S. Marshal.

    Just why everybody was hostile to other doctors was harder to understand. I know they all loved Doc, but having only one doctor was the cause of people dying. In the season 14 episode "Reprisal" Doc saves the life an outlaw destined for the gallows rather than helping deliver a baby. That dilemma would have been avoided had the townfolk been more open to another doctor. Oh well! I try not to let these things keep me from enjoying the show.

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    tvking1

    [9]Nov 4, 2007
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    P.S. I wonder if either Luke Short, his gunfighter friends, or the mayor had daughters.
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    ingary

    [10]Jan 8, 2008
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    tvking1 wrote:
    During its peak of the 1870s-80s Dodge was a bustling town. In Gunsmoke, however, there's only one doctor in the whole town. There were several bars, as was alluded to in one episode in season ten (One Killer On Ice, included in Volume II of the 50th Anniversary Edition), and, historically, several brothels (whether the Long Branch was one was left to the viewer to ponder). But how could such a big town get along with just one doctor? In the episode that introduced Pat Hingle's character, the townsfolk seemed to resent anyone taking Doc Adams' place, and in the episode with Vera Miles, they seemed to have room for only one doctor, something that in reality would be catastrophic to a town like Dodge. Also, it would have required the services of more than just two or three lawmen. The leading lawman would have been a town marshal or sheriff, not a U.S. Marshal, who answers to the federal government. And what about the mayor, and town council? Forgive me if I seem to knitpick; I wouldn't let these things keep me from enjoying the show.

    I don't think you're nit-picking at all. These are good points, all of which have been brought up so many times in so many places that it's not even funny anymore. The answer in simple terms? The warp surrounding the TV Dodge City must have included more than just time and space. Unfortunately (and believe me, I know it's hard) in order to enjoy the show to its fullest potential, you have to overlook some of these inconsistencies. Otherwise, you obsess over little things like that disappearing Mexican restaurant from the first season. ("Where did it go?!?!" she screams, tearing her hair out)

    By the way, have you noticed that by the end of the series, the Longbranch, Doc's office, and Matt's office were across the street from each other? I distinctly remember them being farther apart in earlier seasons.

    Edited on 01/08/2008 9:18pm
    Edited 3 total times.
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    ingary

    [11]Jan 8, 2008
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    tvking1 wrote:

    Sorry, ingary, I just don't think there's much honor in prostitution. You may think I'm old-fashioned, but I can scarcely imagine any father who would want that kind of life for his daughter. Nor any mother who upon holding her newborn daughter in her arms for the first time saying, "I want my daughter to grow up to be a madame" That is not to say such women are completely without honor. They are capable of compassion, as was Miss Kitty, whether she was a madame or not (I firmly believe that after the first couple or so of seasons they played it down to the point where one, like myself, could see her as the owner of a "friendly" saloon, and nothing more).

    I didn't say there was honor in prostitution, only that any woman has honor to defend. For example, you obviously wouldn't condone rape because the woman in question was a prostitute.

    You should also keep in mind that prostitution wasn't something to aspire to. It was a last resort. There weren't that many reputable jobs for unmarried women in the 1870s, and women who had no other way to support themselves were often forced to sell their bodies. Just to clarify, I by no means support prostitution, but it doesn't make prostitutes any less human.

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    tvking1

    [12]Jan 10, 2008
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    Thanks for the clarification, Ingary. I didn't mean to imply that you were condoning prostitution, and I know that many women were forced into it, either by nefarious individuals or by circumstances. Maybe the gunfighters were defending the brothels to keep the women from starving for all I know. My whole point from the beginning was that I as a viewer prefer to see the Long Branch as something more benign.

    I hadn't really noticed the distance between Matt's office and Doc's. I just remember Doc's being upstairs from the general store or something. Anyway, as I said elsewhere, besides the the trivialities I mentioned in previous posts, there will always be some continuity issues in such long-running series. Take Chuck Cunningham in Happy Days. What happened to him? A perfect plot for an episode of The Twilight Zone .

    Edited on 01/10/2008 8:47pm
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    ingary

    [13]Jan 10, 2008
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    tvking1 wrote:

    I didn't mean to imply that you were condoning prostitution...

    No problem, I didn't think you were. I realized (after reading my own post... whoops) that it could be interpretted that way.

    tvking1 wrote:

    Anyway, as I said elsewhere, besides the the trivialities I mentioned in previous posts, there will always be some continuity issues in such long-running series. Take Chuck Cunningham in Happy Days. What happened to him? A perfect plot for an episode of The Twilight Zone

    And Chester and Quint were beamed up by aliens.

    Sorry for the wait... seems like no one logs on anymore, so I stopped checking in.

    Edited on 01/10/2008 8:59pm
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