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Monday, 20 September 2010

Mark Twain, The Paiute's and Little Joe in love

I remember Bonanza as a twee western, kind of The Waltons out West, but I was impressed with the second disc in Deagostini's Bonanza collection - these are episodes 4, 5 and 6 of the first season. And during this period the show was anything but twee.

The Paiute War is a great story which is also presented well - the indian battles are above the standard of most B-western movies of the period, as the Cartwrights try and prevent a full scale Indian war. There are several surprisingly gruesome battle scenes - men are torn from their horses and driven through with lances, cowering miners are shot at point blank range and stunt men leap about every which way.

The second episodes sees Mark Twain come to Virginia City and take up a job with the local newspaper. Of course he hadn't adopted the Twain name by this point and signs his byline as Josh. It doesn't take long before Josh angers corrupt politicians and the Cartwrights have to come to his aid. The episode end with an old style western shoot-em-up which is still genuinely exciting.

The third episode is one of those family driven dramas that the series would become famous for. This time Little Joe, looking more like Elvis than ever, falls for a beautiful older woman who reminds him of his mother - make what you will of that one. This sets son off against father and to my mind it was the weakest episode in this selection. That's not to say it's bad mind, only that the previous two episodes were absolutely excellent.

The Disc comes with issue 2 of The Bonanza DVD collection part-work, and the magazine contains episode guides and a profile of Pernell Roberts. There is also a brief article on silver mining in Nevada that looks at the primitive methods used by miners in the Old West,. The magazine also comes with a bonus disc that contains episodes 7, 8 and 9 of the first season, making it a steal at only £7.99


Charles Gramlich said...

I'm not sure what you mean by "twee?" I liked the one with Mark Twain quite a lot. There were some really good episodes here.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Twee - as in some of the later episodes were rather sweet and tame. That episode where little joe and hoss play two parts each, wearing fake handlebar tashes as their lookalikes is pretty twee