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Bonanza: The Lost Episodes

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MeTv is currently airing the lost episodes of Bonanza as well as the early seasons of Gunsmoke when Chester was a character.

Yes, the early seasons of Gunsmoke are a separate syndication package (sometimes titled Marshal Dillon to differentiate it from the other syndication packages). While Bonanza had two syndication packages, Gunsmoke had three.

 

The first package is the one you are referring to, the half-hour black-and-white episodes from 1955 to 1960 with Dennis Weaver playing Chester. Incidentally, these were produced at the same time the half-hour radio version was broadcast (and many of the radio scripts were simply reused for the early TV episodes). The second package consists of all the one-hour black-and-white episodes, which were roughly produced from 1960-66 (those have Ken Curtis & Burt Reynolds, after Weaver left). And the third package offers all the one-hour color episodes, made from 1966 to 1975 (with Ken Curtis and Buck Taylor).

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Ken Curtis

 

Yes, the early seasons of Gunsmoke are a separate syndication package (sometimes titled Marshal Dillon to differentiate it from the other syndication packages). While Bonanza had two syndication packages, Gunsmoke had three.

 

The first package is the one you are referring to, the half-hour black-and-white episodes from 1955 to 1960 with Dennis Weaver playing Chester. Incidentally, these were produced at the same time the half-hour radio version was broadcast (and many of the radio scripts were simply reused for the early TV episodes). The second package consists of all the one-hour black-and-white episodes, which were roughly produced from 1960-66 (those have Ken Curtis & Burt Reynolds, after Weaver left). And the third package offers all the one-hour color episodes, made from 1966 to 1975 (with Ken Curtis and Buck Taylor).

Ken Curtis, who played Festus, gave one of television's greatest performances - and the man did it on a weekly basis, too.

 

I watched him this past weekend in a one-hour black and white episode in which he saved the life of Doc (Milburn Stone) who had gone off - alone - to deliver a far-off woman's baby.

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From 1959 until 1970 Bonanza was filmed at Paramount.  "Virginia City" was the set used for "Tombstone" in Gunfight at the O. K. Corral.  From 1970 to the end early 1973 it was made at Warners/Burbank.  This is where most of the "lost" episodes originate from and I always thought the studio change had something to do with that as each studio might have negotiated separate syndication packages. 

 

According to the credits James Arness had an increasing hand in the production of Gunsmoke especially after it went to an hour in 1961.  As a protege of John Wayne this is not surprising. This is a natural break in putting together a package as is the change to color in 1966.  Many actors were or quickly became astute businessmen with as much clout behind the camera as in front.  Their pocketbooks and our lingering enjoyment of the product all benefited.        

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From 1959 until 1970 Bonanza was filmed at Paramount.  "Virginia City" was the set used for "Tombstone" in Gunfight at the O. K. Corral.  From 1970 to the end early 1973 it was made at Warners/Burbank.  This is where most of the "lost" episodes originate from and I always thought the studio change had something to do with that as each studio might have negotiated separate syndication packages. 

Are you sure they moved to Warners?

 

The 'lost' episodes are the ones that were left out of the original syndication package. The reason they picked certain episodes and left out others had nothing to do with switching to a different filming location. They wanted to syndicate all the ones with Pernell Roberts, because viewers usually remembered Adam having three grown sons (Adam adopted teenager Jamie in the later seasons). And also when they started syndicating them, the show was still in production-- so it was easier to rerun the ones from the early seasons which they called 'Ponderosa' to differentiate them from the later ones that were still being made under the name 'Bonanza.'

 

When NBC cancelled the series in early 1973, the 'Ponderosa' package reverted back to the original 'Bonanza' title, and all the later episodes that were not in the original syndication package just were never broadcast again. That is, until the late 80s/early 90s when Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcast Network wanted to air them, and Paramount created the second syndication package which it titled 'Bonanza: The Lost Episodes.' 

 

Incidentally, Pat Robertson found several of the 'Lost' episodes objectionable and anti-Christian. There were maybe two or three 'lost' episodes that stayed lost, because Robertson wouldn't run them-- one was about a woman who had psychic visions, and the townsfolk believed she was a witch (played by Louise Sorel). 

 

But in 2012, when the Encore Westerns Channel brought them back to television, the ones Robertson didn't air were finally shown again, and those had not been seen since the original NBC telecasts from the late 60s/early 70s.

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Thank you, TopBilled for your explanation.  The ending credits of the last three seasons say they were filmed at WB/Burbank.  The set looked different from where the 50's and 60's Westerns were shot-the one I'd dearly love to walk through if it's still up-but I'll go by the credits.

 

That episode with Louise Sorel as the accused witch just aired or is scheduled to this month.  If it hasn't I'll try to see it.  I seem to remember CBN getting Beauty and the Beast for broadcasting but changing some scenes to make it look like Vincent and Catherine were married before her pregnancy.  I'm a Christian but this kind of thing is ridiculous.  Just pass on the program if you object to it.  We don't seem to need unbelievers to shoot us in the foot as we seem to do a great job of it ourselves at times like these.

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Thank you, TopBilled for your explanation.  The ending credits of the last three seasons say they were filmed at WB/Burbank.  The set looked different from where the 50's and 60's Westerns were shot-the one I'd dearly love to walk through if it's still up-but I'll go by the credits.

 

That episode with Louise Sorel as the accused witch just aired or is scheduled to this month.  If it hasn't I'll try to see it.  I seem to remember CBN getting Beauty and the Beast for broadcasting but changing some scenes to make it look like Vincent and Catherine were married before her pregnancy.  I'm a Christian but this kind of thing is ridiculous.  Just pass on the program if you object to it.  We don't seem to need unbelievers to shoot us in the foot as we seem to do a great job of it ourselves at times like these.

Thanks for checking the end credits. I just looked at the production information on the IMDb, and you're right-- it was Warners Brothers in Burbank (most of the exteriors were on the backlot, and the interiors were done on stage 27 and stage 28 at Warners). But for some episodes, they also filmed outdoor scenes in northern California and Arizona.

 

If you see the Louise Sorel episode, let us know what you think about it. 

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If you see the Louise Sorel episode, let us know what you think about it.

 

It's on MeTv at 2:00 today but it's Ina Balin playing the role.  I got it mixed up with another in which Louise appeared.  I'm pleading the effects of my dental work last week; losing all my bottom teeth is more than I bargained for.  

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It's on MeTv at 2:00 today but it's Ina Balin playing the role.  I got it mixed up with another in which Louise appeared.  I'm pleading the effects of my dental work last week; losing all my bottom teeth is more than I bargained for.  

Ina Balin appeared in Season 7's 'Devil on Her Shoulder.' It's another one of the episodes Pat Robertson refused to broadcast.

 

The Louise Sorel episode is also from Season 7-- it is called 'The Strange One' and it has a similar plot. The main difference is that Sorel's character is a clairvoyant and experiences unholy visions. 

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Terrific "lost episode" on MeTV today, it starred Glenn Corbett and Michael Witney.

 

Mr. Corbett was a preacher who had once been a gunfighter.

 

Mr. Witney had a twin brother whom Mr. Corbett had gunned down in his former life.

 

The episode was a battle of wits between the men - Mr. Witney wanted Mr. Corbett to "come out of the closet" and reveal his true nature.

 

Mr. Witney baited Mr. Corbett in every possible way.

 

Mr. Corbett had such blue eyes and Mr. Witney had such green eyes - and their smouldering intensity gave quite a charge to their battle of wits.

 

In the end, Mr. Corbett did "come out" and Mr. Witney was so grateful - that he decided to become a part of Mr. Corbett's new life.

 

The fact that Mr. Corbett decided to remain a preacher - and stay married, too - was a very telling development, too.

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Today, on MeTV, "Bonanza: The Lost Episodes" aired "The Strange One" with Louise Sorel as a geunine, but misunderstood clairvoyant.

 

It was a very unusual episode with a great deal of built-in tension.

 

Since her "gifts" were misunderstood as "curses" rather than "visions", the men in her wagon train wanted to hang her at the nearest tree.

 

But Ben Cartwright understood what this unusual girl was about - and, since she was staying with him, he was able to save her life.

 

Two very effective performances from Lorne Greene and Louise Sorel.

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Today, on MeTV, "Bonanza: The Lost Episodes" aired "The Strange One" with Louise Sorel as a geunine, but misunderstood clairvoyant.

 

It was a very unusual episode with a great deal of built-in tension.

 

Since her "gifts" were misunderstood as "curses" rather than "visions", the men in her wagon train wanted to hang her at the nearest tree.

 

But Ben Cartwright understood what this unusual girl was about - and, since she was staying with him, he was able to save her life.

 

Two very effective performances from Lorne Greene and Louise Sorel.

Good. Glad it aired and people had a chance to see it. It's one of the episodes Pat Robertson banned from the Christian Broadcast Network. I didn't find it offensive at all-- it was a very thought-provoking story.

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Two episodes?  Rats!  I'll try to find the Louise Sorel episode on YouTube or catch it when it's on again.  The 700 gang needs to remember that many medical procedures we take for granted would be called witchcraft once and psychological treatments not so long ago.   

 

Just found it and will watch tomorrow.

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For those who are watching Bonanza: The Lost Episodes, I thought I would highlight some of the best scripts.

 

Don't miss episodes written by 

 

Chester Krumholz...he only wrote one installment of Bonanza but it's great-- season 8's 'Clarissa' with Nina Foch as the Cartwrights' snobby east coast cousin. It has a lot of comedy and heart.

 

Suzanne Clauser...always tells thought-provoking women's stories. A season 13 episode called 'Second Sight' with guest actress Joan Hackett is worth seeing (it's another episode that was banned by Pat Robertson).

 

True Boardman..tells stories that feature young protagonists (kids). True was a veteran Hollywood screenwriter whose credits went back to the 1940s. But by the time he worked on Bonanza, he was interested in crafting stories that could feature his young granddaughter (Lisa Gerritsen) as a guest star. Don't miss the charming 'Cassie' from season 13.

 

Michael Landon..a lot has been said about Mike's talent as a writer. He scripted 20 episodes of Bonanza, most of them during the later years that are part of the Lost Episodes package. Top entries from him include season 13's 'He Was Only Seven' (which he remade as a story on Little House in the 80s); and the classic two-parter from season 14 called 'Forever.'

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Landon wrote "Forever" with the intention of having Dan Blocker play the Cartwright who falls for Alice. When Blocker suddenly died between seasons it was left for Landon to take on the role.  I always thought Hoss's gentleness and vulnerability made him the most romantic of the brothers despite his size.  Episode 3 where he falls for a dying Inger Stevens still makes me pull out the hankie.    

 

A similar Little House episode, Sylvia, had Albert as the lovestruck man of the Ingalls family.  Landon and the cast made you believe everything you saw.   

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Watching "The Lost Episodes", I have a new appreciation of Dan Blocker as Hoss.

 

Today, they repeated the one where Tim Considine and Royal Dano were a warring son and father.

 

Dan Blocker understood their pain.

 

And he was instrumental in bringing them together.

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Today, on MeTV, on "The Lost Episodes of Bonanza", we got a very Irish and a very stylish performance from Liam O'Sullivan as a man who was found guilty of robbing and murdering a stranger.

 

As it turned out, Little Joe Cartwright thought that this man was innocent.

 

And, as it turned out, Liam O'Sullivan had been romantically involved with the murdered man's wife a long time ago in Ireland - he had never shown up for their wedding.

 

And, as it turned out, he had murdered the stranger, when he saw him treating his wife roughly in the street.

 

I had never heard of or seen this actor before - but he had obviously had a lot of experience.

 

I love these "adult Westerns".

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Today, on MeTV, on "The Lost Episodes of Bonanza", we got a very Irish and a very stylish performance from Liam O'Sullivan as a man who was found guilty of robbing and murdering a stranger.

 

As it turned out, Little Joe Cartwright thought that this man was innocent.

 

And, as it turned out, Liam O'Sullivan had been romantically involved with the murdered man's wife a long time ago in Ireland - he had never shown up for their wedding.

 

And, as it turned out, he had murdered the stranger, when he saw him treating his wife roughly in the street.

 

I had never heard of or seen this actor before - but he had obviously had a lot of experience.

The show employed a lot of good stage actors in guest or supporting roles. Of course, many of them are names today's audience knows very little about.

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The show employed a lot of good stage actors in guest or supporting roles. Of course, many of them are names today's audience knows very little about.

TopBilled, this actor, Liam O'Sullivan, was just so perfect in the role - I am guessing that he happened to have a lot of stage experience.

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I watched a really intriguing episode from "Bonanza: The Lost Episodes" yesterday on MeTV.

 

It concerned two itinerant carnival perfomers - an old man and his "friend", a much younger **** man - who were penniless and hungry and were taken in by Ben Cartwright.

 

When the older man died accidentally, the younger man was unable to accept his death.

 

Eventually, this younger man descended into madness.

 

And he was sadly killed by the authorities.

 

If this one wasn't an "adult Western", I don't know what actually was.

 

It was beautifully performed, too, by Lorne Greene and the two actors who played the carnival performers.

 

If this kind of episode is indicative of the over-all quality of "Bonanza", it's no wonder that the show lasted such a long time.

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If this kind of episode is indicative of the over-all quality of "Bonanza", it's no wonder that the show lasted such a long time.

Most of the stories demonstrated a consistent level of quality, even in the very last season. 

 

When Blocker died, they suffered a huge loss-- but I still thought the episodes made after his death were excellent.

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Last night, on an lost episode of "Bonanza", an episode that TopBilled recommended - "Carrie".

 

It was written by True Boardman and starred his granddaughter, Lisa Gerritsen.

 

Her parents were played by Jack Cassidy and Diane Baker.

 

It was about a man who was not a very good provider and schemed to get money in the family's pocket.

 

Lisa Gerritsen was very effective as a little girl who didn't like her father that much and was never hesitant to let him know exactly how she felt.

 

But Jack Cassidy's performance was a knockout - he worked his wiles through a great deal of charm.

 

(Little Joe Cartwright looked very strange - he seemed to be wearing a wig - lots of hair and tinged grey.) 

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Last night, on an lost episode of "Bonanza", an episode that TopBilled recommended - "Cassie".

 

It was written by True Boardman and starred his granddaughter, Lisa Gerritsen.

 

Her parents were played by Jack Cassidy and Diane Baker.

 

It was about a man who was not a very good provider and schemed to get money in the family's pocket.

 

Lisa Gerritsen was very effective as a little girl who didn't like her father that much and was never hesitant to let him know exactly how she felt.

Glad you had a chance to see it. True Boardman also wrote an episode of The Virginian that guest-starred his granddaughter. It was called 'Hannah' and made in 1970. That time she was a girl traveling alone, accompanied by Trampas (Doug McClure) and of course, they got tangled up with a bunch of outlaws. 

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Glad you had a chance to see it. True Boardman also wrote an episode of The Virginian that guest-starred his granddaughter. It was called 'Hannah' and made in 1970. That time she was a girl traveling alone, accompanied by Trampas (Doug McClure) and of course, they got tangled up with a bunch of outlaws. 

In this episode, "Cassie", Mitch Vogel appeared as Jaime Hunter-Cartwright.

 

I had forgotten that the Cartwrights had adopted a young man during the final seasons of "Bonanza".

 

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In this episode, "Cassie", Mitch Vogel appeared as Jaime Hunter-Cartwright.

 

I had forgotten that the Cartwrights had adopted a young man during the final seasons of "Bonanza".

 

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Trivia time-- Mike later cast Mitch Vogel in two episodes of Little House. But the young actor would quit show biz a short time later.

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Trivia time-- Mike later cast Mitch Vogel in two episodes of Little House. But the young actor would quit show biz a short time later.

Jarrod, when are you going to write your book?

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