While Bonanza wasn’t quite halfway through its run, the sixth season would be the last for one Cartwright son. Adam (Pernell Roberts) was ready to get hitched and bolt off the Ponderosa the previous season. Cousin Will Cartwright (Lost In Space‘s Guy Williams) was establishing himself as the new semi-brother. But in a semi-surprise twist, Adam stuck around and Will rode off. Basically the producers convinced Roberts to stick it out for one more season. He had gotten tired of the show. The scripts weren’t appealing to him. He was 13 years younger than Lorne Greene yet had to call him dad. He wanted to find happier trails. Bonanza: The Official Sixth Season – Volume 1 & Volume 2 contains the last 34 adventures of Adam, Hoss (Dan Blocker) and Little Joe (Michael Landon) as Ben Cartwright’s boys.
“Invention of a Gunfighter” has the coward of the country (Guy Stockwell) wanting Little Joe to teach him how to draw a gun. Turns out as the kid’s skills improve, he changes as a man. Can Little Joe control the monster he’s making? Outlaws kidnap Ben in “The Hostage.” While the boys figure out how to rescue dad, the old man doesn’t wait for the ransom to be met. “The Wild One” combines horse breeding and Hoss having a connection with the wife of Aldo Ray (Riot on the Sunset Strip). Adam gets saved from drowning by Rory Calhoun (Mr. Burns’ favorite actor) in “Thanks for Everything, Friend.” Turns out Adam’s new buddy might be a tad psychopathic. A young Tom Skerritt (Alien) gets tangled in the ugliness. “The Scapegoat” positions George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke) as a guy who can’t kill himself. There’s trouble on his trail and it follows him onto the Ponderosa. “Old Sheba” turns Hoss into a carnival wrestler. He’s got to worry about William Demarest (Uncle Charley on My Three Sons) during this temporary gig. Shame Hoss never got to grapple Ric Flair.
“A Man to Admire” once more gets Hoss accused of murder. This time he places his trust in a maybe drunk James Gregory (Barney Miller). Charles Bronson is “The Underdog.” The star of Death Wish plays a half Comanche ranch hand dealing with bigotry from co-workers. Things get nastier when he’s suspected of being the local horse thief. Who is going to mess with Bronson? “A Knight to Remember” has a guy dressed up in a knight outfit chasing off stage robbers. “The Flap Jack Contest” puts a lot of money on Hoss to win the big eating contest on Founder’s Day. “Woman of Fire” makes Adam woo a woman straight out of Taming of the Shrew. “The Flannel-Mouth Gun” puts Adam against the local cattlemen association. They’ve hired Earl Holliman (Police Woman) to track down rustlers. Harry Carey Jr. (The Searchers) has a meaty role. “The Ponderosa Birdman” brings the weirdness of Ed Wynn onto the ranch. He wants to fly. “The Deadliest Game” captures Cesar Romero (Batman‘s The Joker). He passion for a woman gets Little Joe in major trouble. “Right Is the Fourth R” gets Adam in trouble when he substitute teaches. There’s a dark secret that might get exposed in the classroom. Everett Sloane, the voice of Fractured Fairytales shows his face. “To Own The World” has Telly Savalas (Kojak) wanting to claim the Ponderosa as his own.
While the show still had 8 more seasons to go, it’s easy to sense why Pernell Roberts would want off the set. How many times can a man be mistaken for a killer and thrown into jail? Or dad being kidnapped on a monthly basis? Or Hoss eating his weight in pancakes? In six seasons Roberts had nearly 200 episodes. He had taken a long ride as Adam. His time on the show wouldn’t be forgotten since Bonanza had always been in color. He wouldn’t vanish from syndication. The reruns are still all over the cable dial since it didn’t suffer from TV programmers that hate running black and white shows. Adam wouldn’t vanish from the Ponderosa completely.
“Invention of a Gunfighter,” “The Hostage,” “The Wild One,” “Thanks for Everything, Friend,” “Logan’s Treasure,” “The Scapegoat,” “A Dime’s Worth of Glory,” “Square Deal Sam,” “Between Heaven and Earth,” “Old Sheba,” “A Man to Admire,” “The Underdog,” “A Knight to Remember,” “The Saga of Squaw Charlie,” “The Flapjack Contest,” “The Far, Far Better Thing,” “Woman of Fire,” “The Ballerina,” “The Flannel-Mouth Gun,” “The Ponderosa Birdman,” “The Search,” “The Deadliest Game,” “Once a Doctor,” “Right Is the Fourth R,” “Hound Dog,” “The Trap,” “Dead and Gone,” “A Good Night’s Rest,” “To Own the World,” “Lothario Larkin,” “The Return,” “Jonah,” “The Spotlight” and “Patchwork Man.”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers bring out the bright colors that would tempt people into buying the more expensive TVs. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The mix brings out the gunshots and Lorne Greene’s dulcet tones. The episodes are subtitled.
Original NBC Logo, Bumpers and Chevy Promo are featured on a few episodes. This is just like grandpa watched them.
Audio commentaries are on a few episodes. “Between Heaven and Earth” gets discussed by author Andrew J. Klyde. Screenwriters Richard and Esther Shapiro talk of their work on “A Dime’s Worth of Glory.” Klyde and actress Linda Lawson break down “To Own the World.” There’s memories of Telly.
Photo Galleries include Cartwrights at the All-American Soap Box Derby, On Location at Kernville, CA, Cartwright Family Portraits, Lost Portrait Session and promo pics from the episodes.
“Highway of Melody” (3:42) lets Michael Landon sing “Lonesome Road” in a 1962 special brought to you by CITGO gas.
RCA Color Television Advertisement features Bonanza on the screen. The TV set was just under $400 in 1965. If you adjust the price for inflation, you’d be spending nearly $3,000 for that set in today’s money.
Allan Sherman’s Funnyland (8:42) has Lorne and Allan Sherman mixing it up. Lorne performs “Ringo.” This song along with Sherman’s “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” were the foundation of rap music.
Audio Promos (1:49) let the cast announce the show is coming to Australia on Channel O.
Bonanza: The Official Sixth Season: Volume 1 and Volume 2 brings to an end Pernell Roberts time as eldest son Adam. He seems to enjoy his final go around with the other Cartwright boys. He will be missed since Ben didn’t have a hidden fourth wife. The big highlight of the DVD set is Lorne Greene singing “Ringo.”
CBS DVD presents Bonanza: The Official Sixth Season: Volume 1 and Volume 2. Starring: Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, Michael Landon and Pernell Roberts. Boxset contents 34 episodes on 9 DVDs. Released: July 9, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.