Friday, January 14, 2011

Bonanza Part 1 "A Rose for Lotta"

I wasn't around when "Bonanza" first aired on tv in 1959 but I heard it was a hit. The Cartwrights defended their land, the weak and helpless. They were always quick to mack on the ladies and start a fight. They had each others backs and trouble seemed to find them every week. 14 years and 430 episodes after it all started the series ended, quietly and without much note.

Now, more than 50 years later I've come to resurrect the series in all its glory and silliness. I'll map out the episodes, keep a running tally of who wins fights, who kissed who, the growing list of enemies and not to mention the rampant racism and serious mortality rates suffered by all females who chanced to enter into a relationship with a Cartwright. But first, an introduction.

  • The Ponderosa is a 600 000 acre cattle ranch near Lake Tahoe and was owned by Ben Cartwright. Along with his sons Adam, Hoss and Little Joe, they run one of the biggest cattle ranches in the country.

  • Ben Cartwright, the strong patriarch of the family, has finally realized his dream with the Ponderosa, a profitable, working cattle ranch. He usually has a quiet wisdom to everything he does but gods help you if you mess with his boys. He can be one mean papa. He's also a bit of a ladies man as his three sons are by three different wives.

  • Adam, the oldest and most like his father is of the brooding protective sort. A Boston blue-blood with a college education in architecture, he's the sort to philosophize one moment and deck you in the chin the next. A skilled horseman and a crack shot like the rest of his family, you always want him on your side in a fight. He's also the one least likely to trust anyone. He's the moody teenager living in the basement only he's a grown ass man.

  • Hoss, the middle brother is larger than life, weighing 50lbs at only a few months of age. Of Swedish stock, his mother could wrestle Ben to the ground. More comfortable around animals then people, Hoss is a gentle soul and slow to anger but woe betide any who cross his family or abuse the poor, weak or downtrodden. I always feel a bit sorry for Hoss; he's too self-deprecating and gets less action than Adam, Joe and even Ben.

  • Little Joe is the firebrand of the family. Quick to anger and start a fight, his maternal roots are tied to New Orleans. Adept at fencing and a consummate ladies man, he is dashing and confidant, never lacking for feminine attention. In short, he's the original teen heartthrob. You wouldn't believe the amount of teen fan mail this guy received. The downside is he spends a lot of episodes getting shot or sick or kidnapped. He's basically the stand-in for the damsel in distress because he can't keep it in his pants and does more than his fair share of whining.

  • Alright so the intro's a little creepy. A map of the Ponderosa and surrounding area falls prey to a pyromaniac.

  • Sibling rivalry is alive and well. Adam thinks Little Joe is a pest and both he and Ben sound paranoid when talking about people from Virginia City wanting the Ponderosa. Note: Look at the sideburns going on here!

  • Hoss likes talking to animals. He's the old west's answer to Henry Higgins. Apparently he only has problems with 'two leggers' of the female persuasion. Aw.

  • Our first glimpse of Little Joe consists of fencing practice. Not the best first impression; he looks like a grinning idiot. Adam seems to think so too. Note: Neither of the brothers seem to know anything about fencing. Adam calls Joe's blade an epee and Joe doesn't disagree but it's clearly a foil. The good part comes when Adam makes a 'yo mama' joke, asking how Joe expects to do his share of the work with "that New Orleans monkey pick handed down to you from your French Quarter mother." Joe responds in kind calling Adam's mother a "thin-nosed blue-blooded Boston Yankee." What weak soup insults!

  • This fight is hilarious. Adam makes a fist but slaps Joe and boy does Joe hate that! Joe dives off the family table in a flying tackle towards Adam and gets slapped again. Hoss ends up intervening and gets punched for all his trouble. So he pulls a wrestling move on Joe and tosses him over his shoulder into an easy chair and then smacks Adam into a grandfather clock. Awesome! How many people do you know who've been thrown into a clock?

  • And while we're on the subject, who the heck says "fire and brimstone!"? Ben's showing his age here. Joe apologizes but Adam does not accept and calls the foil an epee again. Argh.

  • We learn the Cartwrights have a Chinese-American cook that Ben calls a 'celestial sky gazer', whatever that means, named Hop Sing. And Hoss only had three breakfasts that morning and is 'powerful hungry'. Makes me wonder who did the cooking before Hop Sing arrived. Ben apologizes for yelling in the most racist way possible. Ugh. I think Hoss is the only one who really appreciates Hop Sing and he really only appreciates Hop Sing's food.

  • Meanwhile, in Virginia City three business men are busy being nefarious. They're mine owners who hate the Cartwrights. The last time they tried to take over the Ponderosa they lost over 12 men. What?! The Cartwrights are murder machines? Anyway, the mine owners have a stupid and convoluted plan to make Ben sell them timber for their mines. They're going to use an actress to lure one of the boys to town and use him as a bargaining chip. Again, what?! Is the Ponderosa timber the best around? If not, get timber elsewhere. If not, offer to buy it first and then get nefarious. And start simple! None of this, hiring people to lure children away from the ranch to use as hostages. Complex plans more often go awry because there are too many variables.

  • Next we're back at the ranch with a random scene of Adam breaking a horse named Thunder. Hoss goes a la Henry Higgins on the animal right before he bucks Adam off.

  • Then out of nowhere, a carriage appears on the ranch and everyone freaks out! And by freak out I mean chase after thing on horseback, guns drawn. After a mad chase the carriage breaks down and Adam scares the poor driver to death and shoots off his gun. A woman's voice comes from within the carriage and out emerges Yvonne de Carlo, shaming the men into putting their guns away. And I can't have been the only one who thought the show ripped off Scarlett O'Hara green dress from "Gone with the Wind". You know, the dress she made from curtains. Come to think of it, even "The Sound of Music". Anyway, the woman says she's Lotta Crabtree, the famous actress. Notice how everyone but Adam puts their gun away. And watch for some serious sexual tension between Adam and Lotta. He totally butts in on Joe. Hilarious!

  • Note: Why is everyone wearing a handkerchief in this scene? Ben - purple, Adam - grey, Driver - yellow, Little Joe - black.

  • The remaining Cartwrights work on fixing the carriage and Ben makes his second inappropriate comment threatening to hang the driver if he doesn't leave immediately. Man, Ben is really living up to his murderous reputation. But wait, Hop Sing comes barreling along with bad news. The Roast Pig for dinner is ruined, all dried up and thrown away. Hoss couldn't be more upset. And worse, we discover Lotta has left with Little Joe to go to Virginia City. Adam is pissed and holds a gun to the driver. Ben almost threatens to cut out the driver's tongue.

  • Talk about overkill. The Cartwrights plan to ride into Virginia City to retrieve Joe and if they don't return, 100 men will ride in after them and Hop Sing will kill the driver. Geez. Here's a thought, why not have these extra 100 men ride into town with them or better yet, sneak in to town and rescue Joe without letting anyone know you're there. Why are the Cartwrights so dumb and violent?

  • Joe looks damn fine in his Sunday best, driving Lotta to VC (Virginia City). We learn that apparently Hoss' mom could punch like a mule. Yikes! He's also got a thing against Yankees which would explain the animosity between him and Adam. And look how friendly he gets with Lotta's waist. Asking her to dinner? Joe that woman is probably old enough to be your mother! After parting ways with Lotta, Joe runs into Hop Ling, Sing's dad.

  • Oh gods do I hate the singing portion with Yvonne de Carlo. Not only is the song awful but Yvonne has the worst lip-synching I've ever seen.

  • Afterwards Joe comes to her hotel room and calls the dance she did wicked. Joe I think you've been a little too sheltered on the Ponderosa. Then he gets all sad-puppy-faced when he discovers why she really wanted him around. You should be happy she wanted you around at all!

  • Ben and co. have arrived and he barges into a saloon to confront the mine owners looking for Joe. They direct him to hired killer, Langford Poole who's killed 12 men. Ben says he smells of a charnel house which I thought meant a bordello but is actually a building where human remains are kept. Gross. He and Adam have a gunfight inside. Virginia City must be pretty loose with the rules or not have a sheriff if they're allowed to have a gunfight inside. Adam and Langford Poole shoot it out. Adam shoots him no problem. Chalk one up one win for the Boston blue-blood.

  • Bad guys have broken into Lotta's room and attack Joe. Somehow he gets his hands on an umbrella that acts as a stand in for his bloody foil and he fences his way out of the situation. He jumps out the window, calling Mrs. Crabtree a sweetheart. Wait, you're still smitten after that betrayal? Joe you've got it bad.

  • Adam, the dark brooder arrives in her room. He threatens to break Lotta's arm. There's a creepy sexual, abusive tension going on here. Do we chalk it up to Adam being an abusive sort of fellow with the ladies or is he just really concerned about Joe getting killed? For a moment I thought he was going to kiss her but instead he departs.

  • Meanwhile Joe, who leapt off the balcony like a crazy person, barges into Hop Ling's laundry. Then we see Langford Poole, whom I assumed was dead, getting patched up. Either Adam's a crap shot or he didn't mean to kill the man.

  • The most hilarious scene of the episode involves poor Hop Ling trying to keep the mine owner's henchmen from destroying his laundry. The poor guy watches his shop get ripped apart, yelling the entire time. I wonder if Joe's going to pay for the mess he caused? Then things really start to get serious when the henchmen set some guy's home on fire. The men of Chinatown then lay a giant size beatdown on them and Joe just has to jump in and participate.

  • We skip to early the next morning and the Cartwrights are riding through town, still apparently looking for Joe. Geez how big is this town that they've been searching all night? Somehow, out of all the other noise they hear Joe laughing and find him dancing with Lotta. Ben assumes that's what he's been doing all night. Methinks Ben is not the smartest Cartwright. Of course, Adam knows different and there's that sexual tension again. Hoss knows what's going on and shoves Adam towards Lotta. This time he actually does kiss her. And you totally know that he slept with her. The Cartwrights then ride back to their 'empire' at the Ponderosa.


    Lady Count
    Adam & Lotta Crabtree
    Hoss 0
    Little Joe 0
    Ben 0

    Adam vs Joe = Adam
    Adam & Joe vs Hoss = Hoss
    Adam vs Langford Poole = Adam

    Fight Count
    Adam 2W 1L
    Hoss 1W
    Joe 1L
    Ben 0

    Kiss Count
    Adam & Lotta Crabtree
    Hoss 0
    Joe 0
    Ben 0

    Inappropriate Ben - 2

    Hoss' Hunger - Roast Pig Recipe

    Awesome insults - 3

    Slapcount - 2
Next Week: Death on Sun Mountain

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