TV-PG | 12 September 1959 (USA)

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Seasons & Episodes
  • 14
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  • 12
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    You won't be disappointed!


    Simply A Masterpiece


    Funny, strange, confrontational and subversive, this is one of the most interesting experiences you'll have at the cinema this year.

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    Arianna Moses

    Let me be very fair here, this is not the best movie in my opinion. But, this movie is fun, it has purpose and is very enjoyable to watch.

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    Bonanza. A well made family oriented western that hit all of the marks allowed at that time. If we were not in church on Sunday night for some reason, we watched Bonanza.Having said that, I do not wish to speak ill of the dead but I cannot bring myself to watch it now. More than then, I enjoy programs that promote family values. There was a remake of it a few years ago called "Ponderosa" that only lasted two years and should still be going but that is fodder for another review.I cannot watch Bonanza for the same reason Pernell Roberts left the series. He said it could have been a lot better if the bean counters were not totally focused on wringing every dollar out of it. They could have replaced him after a couple of years but the three remaining stars did not want to divide the pie in four pieces again. His leaving disrupted the rhythm of the show and the hole was never filled successfully. Also, it looks like about that time, Michael Landon was running everything. It was on for 14 years and none of the sons (before Dan Blocker's tragic death) grew or progressed in their characters. The show was stuck in a time warp and such a path for a show would not succeed today. In other words, after 5+ years, three adults sons would not still be living in the home place with their father and still acting like they were not quite adults yet. Like Pernell Roberts said, he felt that Adam should marry and have his own house, maybe on another part of the Ponderosa and start his own family.It was not safe to be a woman who fell in love with a Cartwright. She would either die or fall in love with someone else, or one of them would change their mind. Also, I would not write Adam as they did in that he was a bit stuck on himself. It was a given that Hoss was not as smart as Adam but today, that would not be a source of amusement as it often was then. He certainly was not stupid. By the time 12 years had arrived: Adam, Hoss, and Joe would have married and started families. Remember, they got there around the time of the Mexican-American war and people got married and started families a lot earlier then than they do now. By that time, Ben would have probably taken a fourth try at marriage. If anyone wants to try to do Bonanza again, hopefully they will take these things into consideration.

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    John T. Ryan

    AS BIG AND sprawling a series as was the fictional 'Ponderosa', BONANZA managed to live long enough to see itself sort parody itself. Starting with the earlier seasons, the drama was big time, exciting and very much watched and talked about. We saw the sons all find "true loves" only to loose them by death or to other dudes in frontier Nevada.AFTER THIS HAPPENED umpteen times, it became apparent that the production team and cast was strictly,. just "phoning it in" and were able survive into another season by virtue of its own momentum. It was as if the series were in a sort of "Holding Pattern"; or was becoming automatic.NOT THAT WE didn't watch, for we did. The characters and their interplay made them seem to be people who we really know. We had Lorne Greene as Ben, the patriarch of the family with his three adult sons, incidentally all sired by pop with three different wives. Ben had been widower thrice, you know.THE THREE SONS were (as if you didn't know)were Adam (Pernell Roberts), Hoss (Dan Blocker) and Little Joe (Michael Landon_). Others appeared from time to time, but Victor Sen Yung had the most longevity as the family cook, Hop Sing.BUT JUST AS there was trouble on the Ponderosa, so there was on the series. Pernell Roberts did some grumbling about the series and after some time in persisting in this course, he was written out. Adam was said to have gone to live in San Francisco.WITH ALL OF our criticism, we would also like to give credit where it is due. BONANZA managed to reach a sort of plateau inn popular culture which put it on par with Baseball, Hot Dogs, Chevrolet, Bob Hope and Norman Rockwell paintings.

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    This show ran for a loooong time. It started out in the late 1950's as a gloriously colorful, entertaining big TV western series, it was terrific and I highly recommend the first year and most of what was produced until "Adam" left circa 1965. After that event the producers were obviously stunned for a while and struggled to continue. They admirably tried to right the ship but TV westerns were in decline. In response to the overall western decline they attempted to convert "Bonanza" into a sort of relevant (what ever that means) TV drama series. However they made the mistake of losing the big, colorful entertainment value. We are left with many years of routine TV, mostly ordinary TV-style drama scripts and production. Maybe I am a little biased- I remember seeing the first episodes on my uncle's big color TV as they were broadcast in 1959- they seemed magnificent at the time.If the first season stood alone I would give it a solid "10" rating. Subsequently maybe "9" until 1965. After that this series is not a recommend for me.

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    As part of our late 1950s vocabulary, we well knew the Ponderosa, Little Joe, Hoss, Ben Cartwright,etc. on that great show "Bonanza."It came Saturday night and everyone was glued to the television set. This was a real show depicting family values. There may have been a weekly crisis, but it was the strong family atmosphere that pulled everyone together.Lorne Greene was dominant as the patriarch of the family. His words depicted wisdom. We often were left to wonder that Ben Cartwright, a widower, must have been the best of husbands to that poor wife of his who had died. He reared wonderful sons.Naturally, we all wondered why Pernell Roberts left the show. The show was a gold mine and Roberts surrendered loads of money when he departed. His career never took off as he was associated as a Cartwright son. He should have tried to get back into the series. He certainly lost a bonanza by dropping out.

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