Posted in: Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on November 9th, 2011
The Cartwright boys continue to do right on the Ponderosa Ranch in the state of Nevada. Having lasted 14 seasons, the series was relatively young in Season 2 but had already established Ben Cartwright and his three boys (from three different mothers) as household names on American television.
Plot wise, a good chunk of the stories revolve around the importance of having land. The Cartwrights hold the most lucrative plot in the area, and many a villain tries to find devious methods of taking it from them. Unlike fellow Old West programs like Gunsmoke, Bonanza took a sometimes comical approach to the resolving these conflicts, and guns were hardly ever drawn.
These episodes feature some early directorial work by the likes of Robert Altman, notable guest actors from the early 60s, and consistent performances from its four leads. These little adventures still hold up, and actually surpass a good portion of what is being produced today.
Fullscreen. I can understand that this footage has aged some, but there is still some substantial fuzziness if compared to other shows in the CBS catalog (older ones at that) who have received recent DVD transfers. Said fuzziness does waver from episode to episode, with some becoming quite clear, but it is present enough to be noticeable.
English Mono. Like the Video, the quality can depend on which episode you are watching, but there are certainly points where the voices muffle slightly or lose their pitch.
Each episode, on every disc, has different special features attached to it specifically. They range from: Original NBC Logo, Bumpers & RCA Promos, Photo Galleries, Episode Trailers, plus many have Audio Commentary by Anthony Lawrence, Naura Hayden, or Andrew J. Klyde
Disc One Features:
Archival Footage and Still Photos (1961): Tournament of Roses Parade Pasadena, CA: Rare look at the four lead actors waving to fans as they ride horses down a crowded parade route.
Photo Gallery: Cast Members at “Home”: Light-hearted, staged pics.
Disc Two Features:
Photo Gallery: Paramount Studios Publicity Poses: Promo Pics.
Disc 3 Features:
Photo Gallery: 1961 Cast Portaits by Elmer W. Holloway: Self-explanatory.
Photo Gallery: Michael Landon “Marine for a Day”: The youngest member of the Cartwright plays a bit of dress up.
Disc 4 Features:
On-Air Promos: Michael Landon introduces Bonanza commercials.
Archival Footage (1999): David Dortort Stories “Tributes to the Fans”: Bonanza’s longtime producer leads and refers to a couple of fan letters, forwarding their gratitude for the show’s existence.
It has aged a fair bit but this program would make for a smart buy for those looking for decent entertainment that could appeal to most everyone in the family. Take the gender and race issues/roles with a grain of salt (don’t ignore them…just remember that even TV shows can be wrong) and enjoy a bit of TV history.