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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > TV > Spoof > Bonanza: The Official Third Season, Volume One + Volume Two (1961 – 1962/CBS DVD Sets)/Casa de mi Padre (2011/Lionsgate Blu-ray)

Bonanza: The Official Third Season, Volume One + Volume Two (1961 – 1962/CBS DVD Sets)/Casa de mi Padre (2011/Lionsgate Blu-ray)


Picture: C+/B-     Sound: C+/B-     Extras: C+/C     Episodes: B-     Film: C



There has always been a sense of artifice with Westerns on the big and small screen.  Even when you occasionally get a great one (whether set on location or on sets, sometimes both), artifice is eventually a trapping it cannot escape from its B-movie and pulp roots.  Though the following releases are half a century apart, the following genre releases have that artifice going for them.



We missed its sophomore season, but here we arte back looking at the huge hit TV western Bonanza: The Official Third Season, Volume One + Volume Two (1961 – 1962) and the show has found its formulaic fix.  The Lorne Green-led adventures of The Cartwright Family is still one of the most successful drams in TV history and the show was at least consistent.  After many generic releases of various episodes by other companies, CBS has the best prints and extras, thus the “official” label.  For those unfamiliar with the show, here is our coverage of CBS’ proper release of the debut season at this link:





Guest stars this time around include Scatman Crothers, Herschel Bernardi, John Carradine, Denver Pyle, DeForest Kelly, Vito Scotti, Faith Domerique, Robert Culp, Joe Turkel, Sue Ane Langdon, Dean Jones, Stafford Repp, Norman Alden, Margaret Hayes, Norman Leavitt, R.G. Armstrong, Sue Randall, Karen Steele, Vic Morrow, Robert Fortier, Stephen Chase, John McGiver, Eileen Ryan, Jacqueline Scott, Kathie Browne, Mercedes McCambridge, Audrey Dalton, Frank Overton, Brooke Hayward, Royal Dano, Majel Barrett, James Doohan, Edward Platt, Vaughn Monroe, Norma Varden, Arthur Franz, Les Tremayne, William Schallert, Joe De Santis, Penny Stanton, Ben Johnson, Charles McGraw, Lee Marvin, Barry Cahill, Inga Swenson, Jeremy Slate, Arthur Peterson, Ford Rainey, Luciana Paluzzi, Lee Bergere, Will Bissell, Warren Oates, Will Wright, Ed Nelson and Patricia Breslin.


In this case, the actors and scripts were the thing and even the obvious sets were not a problem because this was TV and it was in color, even when most people at the time did not yet have color TV when these first aired as it had not been perfected yet.  The result was a unique buzz for the show and viewers loved the cast, so it was a big hit and continued to be popular in syndication for years after it ended.  In many cases, fans were still catching up with the shows in color for the first time.


Extras include audio commentary on some shows in each set, often rare promo photos in both sets and NBC promo material on both sets.  Volume One adds Chevrolet logos for the credits plus Chevy commercials, Green and Dan Blocker on an episode of “The Scene Stealers” and Sue Ane Langdon is among those doing commentary, while Volume Two adds Blocker on the Henry Fonda & Family special and featurette Betty Endicott: Standout Stand-In also with Pernell Roberts.



After the Spaghetti Westerns and some other revisionist works brought naturalism to the genre, artifice started to creep back in the 1990s and that included in spoofs.  Matt Piedmont’s Casa de mi Padre (2011) wants to be a spoof and/or satire of Spaghetti Westerns and Mexican films in the grindhouse style, but even with Will Ferrell in the lead, this is no Three Amigos (reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) and that was not so good either.


Instead, this has Ferrell giving a good performance and at least being amusing, but rejoining the makers of one of his few watchable films (Anchorman) is not necessarily funny.  It also is trying to represent Spaghetti Westerns as Mexican cinema and that is not the case, so it goes for laughs wherever it can, but imitation becomes too often un-humorous and is not funny on its own, resulting in a very mixed work.


On the one hand, you get Christina Aguilera singing the credits theme song in Spanish, then you have a fine cast including Gael Garcia Bernal as a villain, Diego Luna and Pedro Armendariz, Jr. in his last role, plus many actors I have not really seen before holding there own.  However, a few chuckles, no laughs and a few desperate moments make this a weird curio that I hope was not trying for cult status (Ferrell speaks Spanish almost the whole time) but at a short 84 minutes does not accomplish much.  It will at least be a curio, but don’t expect much in the way of laughs, even when it celebrates artifice.


Extras include a Music Video of Ferrell’s duet with co-star Genesis Rodriguez, Commercials, Making Of featurette, Deleted Scenes, Pedro Armendariz, Jr. on camera interview and feature length audio commentary by Piedmont (who also co-wrote this) and Co-Writer/Producer Andrew Steele.



The 1.33 X 1 image on all the color episodes of Bonanza over the two DVD sets are not always perfect, but are the best I have ever seen these shows look with good, consistent color once again along with usually good prints and the only odd thing is that the color needed to be limited since color TVs would be for a long while.  Fans will be very happy to replace their lame old copies with these sets.  The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Casa was shot in real anamorphic 35mm film with Panavision lenses in their scope format.  In keeping with the artifice, the detail has been degraded and oddly colored to look like the older films (i.e., the ‘Mexican Scope’ joke in the opening credits) holding the quality back on purpose.


The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on all the episodes of Bonanza over the two DVD sets are as clean as I have ever heard the show and though they can show their age and have some poor moments, they have been cleaned up as much as possible.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Casa has more of its dialogue in the center channel than I would have liked, but has some good surround soundfield moments.  I also have to think that some audio is purposely poor or even monophonic to replicate the older sound of the older films referenced.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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