Life on the Ponderosa never seemed so grand.
As someone born in the early 60s, Sunday nights watching Bonanza was a ritual in our household. There was a romantic, if somewhat theatrical, feel to this western soap opera that followed the adventures of the Cartwrights.
While a few episodes have been available due to falling into public domain (always with the symphonic, dramatic theme song missing) on dvd, this is the first official release by Paramount/CBS of the legendary NBC series.
And it was worth the wait!
The lush landscapes and brightly painted studio sets are there in perfect visual, giving us a better view of things than most would have seen in 1959 on the limited TV sets (black and white was still the majority of sets and shows then; Bonanza was to help pioneer and fuel the colour TV explosion). The stories are dramatic, romantic, comedic and sometimes thin, but the producers brought in solid guest stars and then provided its lead actors some real great elements inwhich to build the case for the Cartwrights. It would take another season or two before they would be completely developed - there'd be less reliance on gun play in following years - but the first year provided some real strong moments for Pa, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe.
The presentation is top notch, and the handful of extras takes the sting out of the cost. In fact I'd say that this first release is an automatic candidate for DVD TV release of the year.