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Recap / Bonanza

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These are the stories of Bonanza, the second-longest running scripted western and one of the most successful. Airing in color on NBC from the very start — few regular series were in full color in 1959 — the show lasted some 428 episodes (two two-part episodes included, both written as one episode).

This guide includes links to all episodes. The two episodes that originally aired in two parts — "Ride the Wind" and "The Pursued" — are treated as a single episode as they deal with a single plotline; a third episode, "Forever" (the 1972-1973 season premiere) originally aired as a two-hour episode. All three of those episodes are syndicated, either as individual one-hour episodes or in feature-length two-hour programs.


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    Season One (1959-60) 
  • A Rose for Lotta: In the premiere episode — where Ponderosa owner Ben invites viewers to "feast thine eyes" on the Ponderosa, in all its colorful glory — the Cartwrights deal with a ruthless mining baron who wants to strip the Ponderosa for its timber. They use voluptuous actress Lotta Crabtree to lure Ben's youngest son, Joe, into their trap, but she soon learns that Joe is quite feisty himself.
  • Death on Sun Mountain: Committed to caring for Native Americans, the Cartwrights (also big-time cattle barons) are confused when cattle start disappearing from the Ponderosa. They soon learn the Paiute tribe is using them for food, instead of their customary antelope, and it isn't long before Ben realizes that two ruthless, Indian-hating meat salesmen are behind killing off the antelope herds and selling the meat to the Virginia City gold mining camps.
  • The Newcomers: Hoss falls in love with the fiancee of John Pennington, who wants to strip mine the Ponderosa for gold.
  • The Paiute War: In one of the most violent episodes in the show's short history thus far, racist fur trader and rapist Michael Wilson starts a war with the Paiute tribe when he frames Adam for his crimes.
  • Enter Mark Twain: In the first of his three trips to Virginia City, young writer Samuel Clemens creates a fanatical story about monsters and fights a corrupt judge.
  • The Julia Bulette Story: The first of many lost loves for Little Joe, when he falls in love with a woman stricken with fever.
  • The Saga of Annie O'Toole: The Cartwrights protect Annie O'Toole and her father from greedy opportunists who seekt he deed to their silver mine.
  • The Philip Deidesheimer Story: Adam and Hoss work with Dutch immigrant Philop Diesesheimer, who is trying to sell Nevada Territory on his new square-set mining system for its safety features.
  • Mr. Henry Comstock: All about how Virginia City got its nickname, and the Cartwrights efforts to deal with Henry Comstock, the swindler.
  • The Magnificent Adah: Could Adah Isaacs Menken become the fourth Mrs. Ben Cartwright? Or does she, as his sons suspect, have ulterior motives?
  • The Truckee Strip: An opportunist looks to rekindle a simmering feud between Ben and a neighbor over the Truckee Strip.
  • The Hanging Posse: Adam and Joe try to stop a forming lynch mob from hanging the only suspect in a murder spurred by a failed sexual assault.
  • Vendetta: Ben and a member of the Morgan gang are shot during a bank robbery. When the gang member dies, his brothers vow to avenge his death by going after Ben.
  • The Sisters: Adam finds himself fighting an unjust murder charge after the saloon girl he was dating is found dead.
  • The Last Hunt: Joe and Hoss protect a pregnant Shoeshone maiden stricken with (what today would be called) pre-eclampsia from both a blizzard and a greedy trader looking to kill off the tribe.
  • El Toro Grande: All about the adventures Joe and Hoss have in Mexico on their business trip to buy the El Toro Grande bull.
  • The Outcast: The Cartwrights come to the aid of a woman whose brother and father were hanged for murder.
  • A House Divided: Can war divide a household? A Confederate sympathizer named Frederick Kyle tries to pit brother vs. brother and prove that water is thicker than blood when he riles up Virginia City and the Cartwrights, and lures Joe to his side.
  • The Gunmen: In Keowa Flats, Texas, Joe and Hoss are drawn into a broiling family feud when they are mistaken for the nefarious Slade brothers.
  • The Fear Merchants: The Cartwrights and Hop Sing help celebrate the birthday of Chinese immigrant Jimmy Chang, but the celebration devolves into violence when a racist mayor tries to frame Jimmy for murder.
  • The Spanish Grant: The Cartwrights fight forfeiture of a large swath of the Ponderosa under the Spanish Land Grant, but Adam — suspecting there may be a way to avoid legal action — decides to infiltrate a family who is laying claim to the vast spread.
  • Blood On the Land: Sheepherder Everett Sloane is trespassing on Ponderosa land with his sheep herds, hoping to fatten his animals. Ben and Adam disagree on how to foil Sloane and make him leave.
  • Desert Justice: All is not as it seems when a thug of a U.S. marshal arrives at the Ponderosa, assaults a ranch hand and takes him into custody as a murder suspect. Concerned at the marshal's strongarm tactics, Adam and Hoss offer to travel to make sure the ranch hand arrives alive ... and in the process learn some things about both the marshal and their friend.
  • The Stranger: A vengeful police inspector from New Orleans is convinced Ben is guilty of a murder in Louisiana.
  • Escape To the Ponderosa: The Cartwrights get mixed up with three Army deserters and the Army captain who wants Ben to help pursue them.
  • The Avenger: Hoss and Joe frantically search out witnesses in a trial where Ben and Adam were unjustly convicted for murder and sentenced to hang. A drifter offers to help the younger two Cartwrights, but they all must fight bureaucracy, three drifters who were involved in the lynching of an innocent man years earleir, and a rival rancher who wants Ben dead.
  • The Last Trophy: The Dunsfords, British royals and friends of the Cartwrights, stay at the Ponderosa. Adam finds himself fighting off a lovestruck Lady Dunsford, who thinks the eldest, handsomest Cartwright is braver than her "coward" of a husband.
  • San Francisco: The Cartwrights are shanghaied in San Francisco on a cattle-purchasing trip,
  • Bitter Water: A neighbor of the Cartwrights wants to sell his land to a strip miner who plans to destroy the Ponderosa by polluting its water.
  • Feet Of Clay: Hoss takes young Billy Allen under his wing after the death of his mother, knowing his outlaw (and abusive) father is soon set to be released from prison and will be coming to reclaim custody.
  • Dark Star: Joe deals with prejudice when he falls in love with a woman who is a gypsy.
  • Death At Dawn: A criminal gang terrorizes Virginia City and kill a prominent businessman for refusing to give in to an extortion attempt. When Ben tries to defend a farmer unjustly arrested for the killing, he is taken prisoner by a vengeful businessman.

    Season Two (1960-61) 

    Season Three (1961-62) 

    Season Four (1962-63) 

    Season Five (1963-64) 

    Season Six (1964-65) 

    Season Seven (1965-66) 

    Season Eight (1966-67) 

    Season Nine (1967-68) 

    Season Ten (1968-69) 

    Season Eleven (1969-70) 

    Season Twelve (1970-71) 

    Season Thirteen (1971-72) 

    Season Fourteen (1972-73) 

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