I've watched Gunsmoke since I was a kid and I must say that I believe that it is the best of the TV westerns. It's success stems from the likeablility of characters such as Doc, Chester, Festus, etc. I also believe that the invulnernablity of Matt Dillion and the surety of his quick "justice" added to the show's success. They wussed up his character during the 70's leading to a definite lowering of the quality of the program. Before the 70's, I remember one show where a villian killed Matt's former mentor. For the entire show, Kitty, Doc, and Festus tried to convince Matt that he shouldn't seek revenge for the killing since he was a Federal Marshal, but at the end Dillon pumps six shots into him. Now that's entertainment!
Anyhoo, the producers kowtowed to the antiviolence tree-hugging milksop lobby and turned Dillon into what amounted to an absentee Marshal. Watch the black and white hour long programs with Burt Reynolds and Chester.
They're the best of the lot.