Gunsmoke: The Complete Series Headed to DVD - What This Means for Physical Media
This is a big one, folks, and it holds a lot of meaning for those of us who buy, watch, and collect the movies and TV shows we love on DVD and Blu-ray.
In all honesty, I never thought I would see the day when the longest-running TV western of all time (20 seasons, from 1955 until 1975) was not only completed on DVD, but was given a lavish, deluxe package.
Season One of Gunsmoke finally came a year-and-a-half later in 2007, with every subsequent season being split into two halves and released months apart. Fans of the show could hope, at best, to add one complete season of the show to their collection each year. Sometimes there were 10 months between releases. After Season 12 Part 2 was released to DVD, it took nearly two years before Season 13 Part 1 was released.
The tricky part about releasing shows like Gunsmoke to DVD is that the law of diminishing returns is in full effect. And it's not just DVD sales. Any comic shop will tell you that number ones sell like gangbusters, but number 5? Not so much. Number 17? Forget about it. The enthusiasm and blue sky opportunity that accompanies a debut quickly falls off, as do sales figures. So the undertaking of a 20 year show (not counting reunion movies) on DVD is huge, and many fans wondered if this law of diminished returns and shrinking sales profits for Paramount would result in the show never being completed on DVD.
That's what makes this "Complete Series" package such a huge deal. This is the culmination of 14 years of baby steps, of half-season releases, of fan support, of wonder and worry that the show would be abandoned on the format.
But here it is!
It's not just the completion of the show on DVD that fills me with such hope and joy. It's the sheer SIZE of the thing in the first place, accompanied by a retail price that may seem high at first, but that seems shockingly-low when one realizes what is included.
Gunsmoke: The Complete Series arrives on DVD in a whopping 143 disc collection. This must be a new record for the largest single DVD box set in existence. The show ran for 635 episodes totaling a combined length of over 440 hours. The retail price for the set is $338.98, but many online retailers, including Amazon, have already dropped their price down to around $210. That's a couple of hundred bucks for 440 hours of television, not including special features. A dollar and forty-seven cents per DVD.
I just had to share this news. I'm filled with hope, joy, and excitement for the continued viability of the movies and TV shows that we love on a format that we can own and watch forever on our own terms. If Gunsmoke is possible...ANYTHING is possible.