Bonanza was one of the longest running and most popular of all TV Westerns. For 14 seasons, audiences enthusiastically tuned in to see the High Sierra adventures of the Cartwright clan. Nestled above the shores of Lake Tahoe is the Ponderosa Ranch, home of Ben Cartwright and his sons Adam, Hoss and Joe (a.k.a. "Little Joe"). Each of the young men was born to a different deceased mother, making poor Ben a three-time widower. Strong characters and intriguing plots helped to set Bonanza apart from the usual gun-slinging formula shows of its heyday. One reason for Bonanza's success was the show's attention to script development. The characters were allowed to grow and evolve; story lines crossed into controversial topics, exploring racial tension, domestic violence and substance abuse. Each of the Cartwright men developed relationships with women on the show; although almost every woman that came into their lives died tragically. When it premiered on NBC Sept. 12, 1959, Bonanza was not an immediate ratings winner, but the show remained on the air due to the fact that it was one of few shows filmed in color. After barely surviving its first two seasons on Saturday nights, the show moved to Sunday and became a hit: It was the No. 1 show four years in a row from 1964 to 1967. In 10 of its 14 years on the air, Bonanza was in the national Top 10 -- quite a comeback for those Cartwrights.
|Air Date||Title||Description||View History|
|04/23/1960||Dark Star||A gypsy girl named Tirza has come to stay at the Ponderosa. She has been disowned by her people because they believe she is a witch. While staying with the Cartwrights, Joe falls in love with her and tries to prove her people wrong.|
|04/16/1960||Feet Of Clay||Little Billy Allen's mother has died and he waits for his father at the Cartwrights'. Unbeknownst to Billy, his father is a prisoner who has broken out of jail. When the father commits robbery and murder Hoss is forced to kill him.|
|04/09/1960||Bitter Water||When miner Lem Keith plans to buy land next to the Ponderosa, he goes to the owner's son Todd to help him. Todd is more than willing to help Lem because he is in love with Lem's daughter and because he and Todd share a common hatred of the Cartwrights.|
|04/02/1960||San Francisco||Ben, Hoss and Joe visit San Francisco with some of their ranch hands. The hands vanish. While searching for them, Ben finds himself shanghaied and destined for Hong Kong.|
|03/26/1960||The Last Trophy||Lady Beatrice is married to Lord Marion Dunsford. She thinks her husband is a coward and sets her sights on a "real man" - Adam.|