The Wild West adventures of Ben Cartwright and his sons as they run and defend their Nevada ranch while helping the surrounding community.

Studio: Paramount Home Video/CBS Films
Year: 1969
Release Date: December 17, 2019
Run time: 1600 minutes
Rating: NR

Audio: Dolby Digital mix
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Spec: 8 DVD
Region: A

Bonanza is probably the most well known of countless TV Westerns of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. It easy to think that TV Westerns are square and sophomoric. However, compared to most TV shows today these Western TV shows range from decent to great. My favorite one is Gunsmoke, but Bonanza was quite good. Although the cowboy period was actually a lot shorter than most people think nowadays, the Western was a great way to present moral lessons. The small towns with very little formal laws is reminiscent of times when having a moral code was key. The gunfighters in the TV Westerners are both idealized and pitied. Having a quick trigger makes one a celebrity, but also means that people constantly want to challenge you to a duel. In Bonanza, the fists are used more than guns. Lorne Greene plays the widowed father of the Cartwright family of three sons – Adam, Hoss, and Joe. Ben Cartwright is a very moral man who uses words and deeds to show why he is the largest landowner in the Virginia City, Nevada area. He can use his fists, but he is getting a little older. His sons use their fists, but all are heroic. Bonanza ran for 14 years, and had a host of guest stars.

Special Features

  • Episodic previews on select episodes

Special Features: 2/10

Final Thoughts

The show tried to show how people really were, and the challenges and conflicts in those days as honestly as they could on TV. The script writing on many of these westerns is underrated. Many, such as Sam Peckinpah, who wrote many of the scripts for The Rifleman, went on to become famous directors. Interesting too that the last season Tim Matheson from Animal House replaced Michael Landon while he went on to do Little House On The Prairie.
Overall Rating: 9/10