TV-PG | 12 September 1959 (USA)
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  • Reviews

    Perfect cast and a good story

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    Crappy film

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    Derry Herrera

    Not sure how, but this is easily one of the best movies all summer. Multiple levels of funny, never takes itself seriously, super colorful, and creative.

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    Rosie Searle

    It's the kind of movie you'll want to see a second time with someone who hasn't seen it yet, to remember what it was like to watch it for the first time.

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    Tom White

    The television series 'Bonanza' is very highly regarded as far as TV series go. But if you pay attention to the scripts, it becomes apparent (at least to me) that some of the episodes in this series were written with the intention of 'setting' public opinion on various issues. Case in point, on one episode, Lil' Joe and Ben cut down a "musta been a 400 year old" tree. Not to worry though, they had a li'l one footer to place in it's stead. "People will be happy with what we've done here." said Ben. If this isn't the timber industry's play on justifying old growth timber cuts, I don't know what is. Where you find one play like this, you can be assured there are others. Watch with this in mind next time you sit down for your next re-run of Bonanza! Happy trails.

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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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    My comment is limited generally to the first season, 1959-60.This superb series was one of the first to be televised in color, and it was highly influential in persuading Americans that they had to buy a color television set, which was about $800 in 1959, the equivalent of more than $3,000 today. How many of us would pay that much for the privilege of watching a show transmitted by a cathode ray picture tube on a 17-inch screen? I was eleven when the series began, and I watched it from the beginning.Watching it now, 50 years later, several things come to mind. First, many of the story lines involve the Comstock Lode and the heyday of silver mining, which dates to 1859. For 1859, the weapons and clothes are, for the most part, not authentic. (The haircuts are left out of the discussion.) That's basically a nitpick.And, it would have been impossible for Ben to have arrived in the Lake Tahoe area in 1839 and to have amassed a 100-square mile ranch in the next twenty years. Pioneers were still trying to solve the Sierra Nevada problem as late as 1847, and the Gold Rush did not even begin until two years later.Indians are not played by Native American actors. John Ford was using Native American actors in the 1920s. The Bonanza producers could have easily done so thirty years later. That is a major nitpick for me.There are other time-line problems. In Season 1, Mark Twain appears, and he is depicted as a middle-aged man. Mark Twain was 24 years-old in 1859. The stories also vacillate between 1859-1860 (pre-Civil War) and what was more suitable for an 1880 time-frame. There are continuity problems, over and over.It is somewhat off-putting, too, that there is so much killing in the first season. In time, the killing was reduced.Many of the episodes take a socially liberal slant, which would be hard to believe, given the time-line, but give the writers credit for anticipating the seismic shifts in the Nation's attitudes beginning in the 1960s.Having said all that, the acting is good, and I have come to conclude in my latter years that Adam's character was drawn better than any other's. I don't think Pernell Roberts ever got the credit he deserved. Also, Season 1 reinforces the fact that Dan Blocker (Hoss) was a good actor.Many of the stories trace real historical events. The guest stars were interesting.This was great family entertainment, and the series stands up very well by any measure.

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    Although this show has been off the air since 1973, after viewing a DVD set I borrowed at our library, I felt compelled to say a bit about it.I can remember when it was the only color show on television in the 1960s, and sometimes there would be a little "Sunday Night Party" with friends to watch this on NBC on one of the few color televisions.I really enjoy history not so much for the names and dates but how it influences us today and how so much can be so profound based on the most inconsequential actions of the time. Case in point: Virginia City, Nevada, which became one of the richest cities in the world because of the silver, got its name from a character named "Old Virginny", who, in the town's early days, stumbled out of a saloon, fell and broke his whiskey bottle.Old Virginny didn't want to waste the occasion so as the precious liquid was seeping into the dirt he decided to christen the town "Virginia Town". The area became known as the Comstock Lode because another character, Henry Comstock, had the reputation of trying to jump everyone's claim and the area became known as the Comstock Lode.I just watched an early episode that dealt with these 2 subjects. Other episodes dealt with Mark Twain's literary rise while a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise...It was wholesome (and frequently educational) family entertainment. As someone else remarked, each episode would really be considered a movie in its own right - rich scripts and characters. One thing it twisted the truth on was the proximity to Virginia City and the Ponderosa. In truth, to ride from the Ponderosa (all of Northern Lake Tahoe), one would have to ride his horse about 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) down the Spooner Summit to the high desert (3,000-4,000 feet) of the Carson Valley then another 30-40 miles to Virginia city.Needless to say the Cartwrights would have some sore rear ends doing this on a regular basis. But every writer should have some leeway with the truth.How I miss that show, even today.

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