Any other fans of this show out there? I grew up watching it weekly, as a kid, when it was still on the network. Of course those were the later full color seasons. Those are the only ones I ever knew for decades, both from my memory and any time the show was syndicated on a channel that I had, it was always the color package. I liked them as I didn't know any better, and always liked the show, though I found as I re-watched the episodes as an adult, I would often get bored with the ones (most of them it seems) that focused on a lot of secondary characters rather than the main cast. I wanted my Matt, Miss Kitty, Doc and Festus! I never liked Newly all that much and still don't.
Then, a couple years ago, I got Encore Westerns channel, and they were airing the 1 hour B/W episodes that fell in the seasons between the 1/2 hour episodes and the color seasons, and it was like a rare discovery of precious metal! Wow! It was great to see the evolution of the show from the Chester years to the Festus years, the way the characters looked younger (than the color seasons), and though there were plenty of episodes that did focus on secondary characters, more often than not the main cast was more involved than they often were in the color seasons. I also liked Burt Reynolds' character, too bad he didn't stick instead of Newly, as his character was MUCH more interesting, I thought, but of course Burt was busy becoming a big movie star. It's also fun to see Festus before he becomes a trusted deputy, when he's just a town roustabout.
Now...if I thought that was gold, this was even more precious when finally at long last I had the pleasure of watching the 1/2 hour seasons, most of them from the 1950's. WOW! I started watching them last summer when I finally got Me-TV in my area, then I was super bummed when they were pulled in December, only to find out that Encore Westerns picked them up and that's even better because the quality of that channel is better (digital quality), and the episodes are aired sans commercials! Now, I watch both of them there, and I do watch some of the color episodes also, which are still being aired on Me-TV.
Wow, where to begin. First, I never thought I'd ever like Chester that much, as Festus was my favorite "deputy" though Chester was never really a deputy in the strictest sense. But he's really grown on me, and now I think I like them both equally, but I will say that Chester now benefits for me by being in the portion of the series that I feel is the greatest ever among many good seasons and episodes over the course of it's 20 year run. These tight half hours were so much better, always focused on the main cast, which I prefer, and talk about being younger, wow! It is great to see Matt and Miss Kitty look the age of what you probably imagine they would be. And Matt in these earlier episodes is a somewhat flawed but generally on target moral force. He will just explode in a violent outburst at any moment, though always justified, but wow! It's great to see moral dilemmas as well, and how situations are resolved are not always what you might think or expect, a very well-written, truly adult drama. I see the color seasons as mostly family friendly now, though there are many that are still good and still pretty intense, but these 1/2 hour episodes are definitely the best of the best. Next, I will explore the radio series, if I can, as I realize that much of the writing and success of the early seasons is largely attributed to the radio series, which I hear is stellar.
Love to discuss this show with anyone who is interested! Thanks.