MikeBSG wrote: "Cooter," from season one, based on a Sam Peckinpah script, directed by Robert Stevenson (of all people, he would go on to do "Mary Poppins") with Strother Martin as a simple minded guy is a real heartbreaker of an episode.
Here is the episode you mentioned, Mike, beginning below. I agree that a very youthful Strother gives the episode a poignant edge.
Of the episodes shown over the weekend during the Marshall Dillon marathon, one called "Skid Row" caught my attention. Begun below, this show was directed by Ted Post and written by Gil Doud from a story by James Meston. The primary characters in the story are a lecherous, bestial bully named Groat (played by Gwinn "Big Boy" Williams) who is first seen in a remarkably intense street fight with Kitty and Chester (Amanda Blake was so feisty when she showed her righteous anger!).
The main part of the tale concerns a drunken farmer named Shomer whose failure as a homesteader has broken his spirit. He was played with realistic despair by Joseph Sargent, who is better known as one of Hollywood's most respected directors in the last four decades of the 20th century. His Eastern fiancee, the naive, sweet-natured Ann (Susan Morrow) arrives in town after Shomer completely stops writing to her. Not aware of his present sorry state, she is still concerned by his silence, and feels that she must come to him to help him build a life together, even though she has no idea where to find him. Doc, Matt, Chester and Kitty all pitch in to try to sober the man up before he sees Ann again, delaying their reunion by telling her that Shomer is a horse trader at present, away on business. The intersection of good intentions, shame, an inability to face life head-on, and an almost inevitable fate play out in several brief scenes with the regular characters realizing that they can only do so much to help those around them. As Matt says in the final scene, "it just wasn't there..."