Three-time widower Ben Cartwright (Greene) runs his famous Ponderosa Ranch with the aid of his three grown sons from three different mothers. There’s Little Joe (Landon), Adam (Roberts) and Hoss (Blocker). Set some time in the mid 1800’s, this long-running series followed the family’s many exploits. In the late 1950’s westerns accounted for six of the top ten programs on TV. Only Gunsmoke had a longer run than Bonanza. From 1959 to 1973, Ben Cartwright and his boys rode across the small screen. Years later in syndication the series re-emerged as Ponderosa, and a handful of TV movies continued the tale into the 90’s.We never have grown tired of the genre that gave us such heroes as John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.
You get the first half of the second season in this 5-disc release complete with 18 episodes. The set is highlighted by some great guest appearances. Jack Lambert, Ben Cooper, The Werewolf Of London himself Henry Hull, James Hong, Dan Duryea, Claude Atkins, Khan himself Ricardo Montalban, Bob Hopkins, Star Trek’s Spock Leonard Nimoy, The Creature’s favorite babe Julie Adams, and even Holy Guest Star Batman Adam West.
Each episode of Bonanza is presented in its original broadcast full frame format. The series was shot in black and white. The transfer is not a great one, but you just can’t expect a heck of a lot from a master that is over 50 years old. The detail is actually pretty nice, and the prints are pretty solid, again allowing for age. The real problem is the amount of film scratches present throughout. The problem is likely the original masters and can in no way be considered a flaw with the transfer. Black levels fluctuate quite a bit but are usually fair.
The Dolby Digital Mono track delivers exactly what you are looking for and nothing more. The dialog is clear, and that’s all you’re going to get out of this minimalist presentation.
Original Sponsor Spots, Archival Footage, Photo Galleries and a tribute to Pernell Roberts.
At least CBS pulled out a few more extras for this half-season release. But there is that lure of the Old West and classic television that keeps us coming back for more. This set is no exception. “I reckon the Ponderosa holds about as much claim to us as we do her. It’s more like a partnership. Like we’re all sorta beholen to one another.”