DVD Review: Bonanza (The Official Tenth Season – Volume 1 & 2)

In the midst of the late ’60s when the culture was changing, there was one family that wasn’t going to change their ways. The Cartwrights of Bonanza weren’t going to grow their hair out, put on freaky colorful clothes and let it all hang out. On the Ponderosa ranch, they had their own version of Timothy Leary’s “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Turn on your color TV, tune in the NBC affiliate and drop onto your recliner for an hour of Western action. The Sixties might have changed America, but it didn’t mess with the formula of Bonanza. Even though color TV was no longer unusual in most American households, the show remained in the Top 3 after a decade on the air. Bonanza: The Official Tenth Season – Volume 1 & 2 has more adventures from Ben Cartwright (Battlestar Galactica‘s Lorne Greene) and his sons Hoss (Dan Blocker) and Little Joe (Highway to Heaven‘s Michael Landon) plus Hop Sing (Victor Sen Yung). And Candy Canaday (David Canary) is back as the ranch hand who almost seems like a son.

“Different Pines, Same Wind” is a rather environmental episode when Little Joe tries stop a nearby logging company from deforesting the area completely. “Child” has Hoss once more busted for mistaken identity. His salvation comes from Yaphet Kotto (Alien). John Marley (The Godfather) gets a chance to appear with a whole horse. “The Real People of Muddy Creek” has nothing to do with any Bravo series. But it does give us the double team dynamite of James Bond colorful characters Joe Don Baker (GoldenEye) and Clifton James (Live and Let Die). “The Passing of a King” has Ben do a bull sale that turns into bull sh*t. Denver Pyle (The Dukes of Hazzard) gets tangled in the mess. Things get political on “The Last Vote” when Hoss and Little Joe put support behind two men running for the mayor’s office. Wally Cox (Mr. Peepers) and Tom Bosley (Happy Days) get tangled in the old fashioned campaign. “Catch As Catch Can” gives us the FDA required appearance by Slim Pickens (Dr. Strangelove). “The Survivors” has Mariette Hartley play a woman abducted by Indians. You’ll remember her from the Polaroid ads with James Garner (The Rockford Files). “Yonder Man” has John Vernon (National Lampoon’s Animal House) visit his pal Ben and get busted after he tries his luck with a local saloon gal.

“Mark of Guilt” lets Hop Sing take center stage as a creep gives him a haircut. “My Friend, My Enemy” has John Saxon (Enter the Dragon) play an indian who can get Candy out of jail for a murder. “The Clarion” has Simon Oakland (Kolchak: The Nightstalker play a judge. “The Wish” has Hoss see a kid steal a candle for an odd reason. Ossie Davis (Do The Right Thing) arrives to keep the peace. “The Deserter” has a soldier escape the stockade to prove he wasn’t guilty. Ben Johnson (The Wild Bunch) is that man. “The Running Man” has Hoss and Little Joe stand up to a land controlling family that’s doing horrible things to the homesteaders. Robert Pine (CHiPs) gets to play a heavy. The Unwanted gives us the always wanted Jan-Michael Vincent (Air Wolf). “The Fence” stars Larry Linville. He was best known as Frank Burns on M*A*S*H*. I remember him as a great dinner guest from when he came to NC State to talk about the show and RADA training.

Bonanza reminds us that a man and his two sons still have a chance in the Wild West as long as they have good virtues and quick fists. Candy once more fills in as a good son substitute since with the amount of times he gets in trouble, you’d figure Ben would just fire the guy. But Ben’s a loyal employer without a harsh HR department on the Ponderosa. Bonanza: The Official Tenth Season – Volume 1 & 2 is 30 more episodes of high adventures just outside of Reno, Nevada.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The new transfers make the frame look richer than when the show was broadcast in Living Color on NBC. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. You’ll hear all the sounds of the wild west clearly. The episodes are subtitled.

Photo Galleries are featured on each episode. They include promo pics and behind the scenes snaps.

Photo Gallery of the dedication of the Ponderosa Soundstage.

Episode Trailer for “The Fence” (1:02) promos the action. You get to see what red shifting looks like.

Audio Commentary on “Mark of Guilt” from author Andrew J. Klyde gets into the episode.

Jack Benny Birthday Special (9:02) has Dan Blocker pop up to wish the comic icon a happy 39th once more.

Intro and Outro on “Real People of Muddy Creek” with actor Mitch Vogel also includes the original bumpers. He accounts what it was like to be a kid on an already legendary show.

CBS DVD presents Bonanza: The Official Tenth Season – Volume 1. Starring: Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, Michael Landon, Victor Sen Yung & David Canary. Boxset Contents: 16 Episodes on 4 DVDs. Released: December 17, 2019.

CBS DVD presents Bonanza: The Official Tenth Season – Volume 2. Starring: Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, Michael Landon, Victor Sen Yung & David Canary. Boxset Contents: 15 Episodes on 4 DVDs. Released: December 17, 2019.

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