Bonanza – The Official First Season, Volume One + Volume
Two (1959 – 1960/CBS DVD)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Episodes: B
many bad DVD editions with bad prints, the hit Western TV series Bonanza finally gets proper DVD treatment
and respect in The First Official Season
DVD Set. It is available as two separate
volumes or combined in a thicker set.
Westerns, this focuses on a family, in this case, The Cartwrights. NBC was anxious to have a competitor against
CBS’ Gunsmoke (reviewed elsewhere on
this site) and to up the ante, though hardly any color TVs existed, they began
shooting the show in color from the beginning and the result was a huge hit and
the second longest running Western behind Gunsmoke
Greene played Ben, the head of the family in a role that made him a huge
star. Michael Landon, Dan Blocker and
Pernell Roberts played his sons and showed their struggles with bad people,
powerful people, “Indians” and other troubles in the Wild West. Yes, the show is not always politically
correct and the Hollywood “Indians” are especially embarrassing and dated, but
the writing was good and cast had instant chemistry that made the show a
NBC at the time and were anxious to take on CBS as well as spearhead the
eventual arrival of color TV. They were
creating the technology to make them possible and of course, built TVs, so
those factors had them backing this show.
Each Volume has 16 hour-long episodes when commercial interruptions were
not tolerated as much and competition was richer. These are also uncut, which was not always
the case on cheaper releases.
No, it is
not my favorite show and was no match for the likes of Have Gun, Will Travel, but it was meant to be broadly commercial
and lasted 14 seasons. NBC was the
producer of this show with Paramount, yet it was supposedly shot at Warner
Bros., but the series has landed up at CBS for whatever reason and they have
done a nice enough job putting together this special edition.
stars include Yvonne DeCarlo, Inger Stevens, John Larch, Alan Hale Jr., R.G.
Armstrong, Mala Powers, Jack Carson, Ruth Roman, Arthur Hunnicut, Buddy Ebsen,
John Stevenson, Jack Lord, Susan Oliver, Cameron Mitchell, Victor Sen Young,
Sebastian Cabot, Everett Sloan, Ken Lynch, Lloyd Nolan, Grant Williams, Vic
Morrow, Tor Johnson and Kathleen Crowley.
X 1 color image throughout the two volumes is a mixed bag. Color can be good, but also looks poor at
times, while the definition is sometimes sharp and sometimes too soft. Consolidated Labs originally developed the
show’s color and who knows how these prints were stored. This is still superior to the awful DVDs and
other home video copies floating around and will make fans happy enough. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono can be good, but
is also sometimes compressed and aged, which is to be expected for a show so
old. CBS has done their best to fix
these and the results are more good than bad.
Extras include promos, several archival interviews (up to 2002), stills,
concept drawings, the option of watching a few shows with original RCA promos
and Man Of The Comstock, an episode
of Firesign Theater that served as
the de facto pilot for this series.
not been seen in 53 years.
- Nicholas Sheffo