Season 1 Episode 30

The Preacher

Aired Unknown Jun 16, 1956 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • Marshal Dillon proves that he can actually fight with his fists...but he still needs to learn to lock the bad guys up!

    For once, Dillon's Boot Hill preamble seems specific enough to actually tie into the coming episode...but Dillon's rambling thoughts about braggarts and quiet men ends amusingly in an abrupt new train of thought.

    The episode gets underway with the pugelist Sam Keeler (played convincingly by Chuck Conners) rolling into town by stage. Immediately, Keeler begins beating on a meek fellow, Seth Tandy, who rode on the stage with him, simply because "his face offends". Another fellow goes and gets Dillon while this beating is going on, and Dillon puts an end to the fighting. Keeler resents Dillon's authority and challenges him to a fight. Dillon notes that Keeler doesn't have a gun, calls Keeler a coward, and gets Keeler to swing at him. Dillon dodges the blow like mongoose, and knocks Keeler out with the butt of his pistol. "There's more than one way to use a gun," Dillon had told him.

    At this point, Dillon should have locked the unconcious Keeler in jail. Dillon doesn't seem to like to use his jail for anything except as his own living quarters, and the cells are always empty. He certainly doesn't like to put bad guys in there. Dillon's jail makes Mayberry's jail seem like Alcatraz...Andy and Barney never hesitated to put troublemakers in jail, even if it was just the town drunk. But Dillon leaves Keeler, even though trouble is sure to follow when he wakes up, and insists that the victim, Tandy, leaves town. Oddly, Tandy insists that his fate would be the same anywhere, despite being a meek fellow who does nothing to provoke such violence. Of course, Tandy gets beaten up later, and Dillon puts down his beer mug long enough to visit the victim at Doc's office. Tandy refuses to acknowledge that Keeler was the one who beat him, confesses that he was once a preacher, and that he deserves the punishment. Dillon asks Doc to help the man overcome his mental consignment, but Doc does a "I'm a doctor, not a psychiatrist" speech that would have made Dr. McCoy envious. Naturally, Dillon's solution is to put Tandy in jail until the next morning's stage coach arrives, instead of confronting the psycho boxer who is out roaming the streets of Dodge.

    The next morning, Chester releases Tandy and goes to get breakfast. Chester returns to find Tandy gone, and a pinned note instructing Dillon, alone and without his gun, to meet Keeler at Turkey Bend at noon. Despite Chester's protests, Dillon rides off to the meeting place as instructed.

    Naturally, Keeler is eager to pay Dillon back for the humiliation he suffered from their earlier meeting. Keeler undertakes his plan to beat Tandy to death and then Dillon, but Keeler's ever-present boxing promoter chickens out and demands an end to the scheme. Keeler bashes the promoter and tosses his gun into the bushes. Then we have the moment we've been waiting for...Keeler and Dillon slugging it out, toe-to-toe! Dillon holds up well as the blows go back and forth, being as big as Keeler (and apparently a better boxer), and soon Keeler is beaten unconcious by Dillon's giant fists. Dillon tells the promoter to take Keeler and never return to Dodge...I guess it's too much trouble for Dillon to arrest Keeler on kidnapping and attempted murder charges. Tandy is a changed man after witnessing Dillon's potential sacrifice to save his life..."it wasn't the Lord that failed me, it was me that failed the Lord", Tandy says as he decides to take up preaching again.

    Overall, it was a good episode, with a good cast. We see for the first time that Dillon can actually use his fists if he has to, although it's a stretch to imagine that Dillon is actually better at boxing than an active heavyweight boxer. Still, Dillon would avoid a lot of trouble for him and everyone else if he would just lock the troublemakers up to begin with.