Bonanza: The Lost Episodes
The Legend Rides Off Into The Sunset
September 12, 1972
Written by: Michael Landon
Directed by: Michael Landon
Joe marries Alice Harper, and shortly after they begin their new
life, thugs appear to collect money owed by Alice's indolent brother, with
tragic results. Perhaps the most atypical and emotional episode of the
series, as well as the first without Dan Blocker. David Canary returns as
Candy for the final ten of his 81 appearances, though there is no
explanation of where he has been for the past two seasons.
written for Blocker, but his untimely demise pushed Landon into the role
of the tragic bridegroom. There is a
deeply touching scene in the burned-out shell of Joe's house, where he
cries over the death of Alice and than Ben embraces his son, as they
both cry for the death of Alice, which in reality was for the loss of
Guest Stars: Alice Harper-Cartwright...Bonnie Bedelia,...John
Harper...Andrew Robinson,...Mr. Hanley...Roy Jenson,...Sloan...Robert
Doyle,...Krater...Lee de Broux,...Carver...Jay Jones,...Minister...Ivan
Bonar,...Gloria...Joan Lemmo,...Miss Grayson...Helen
Kleeb,...Jack...John J. Fox,...Jake...William Challee,...Clem...Bing
Russell,...Julie...Luana Anders,...Bartender...Don Haggerty,...Hotel
Clerk...Toby Andersen,...Damion...Larry Golden,...Mercantile
Owner...James Jeter...(uncredited; bit part),...Deputy...Bill
Clark...(uncredited; extra),...Hal Burton...(uncredited; horseback
double and buckboard double for Michael Landon),...Jerry Wills...(uncredited; horseback double for David Canary).
This was Michael Landon's peak contribution to Bonanza. He was in his twilight career of writing and directing the series, and his
trademarks are very easy to spot: the high camera angle, unusual
establishing shots, and wide panoramic sweeps. His scripts were the
shortest and most quiet on the series, 39 to 48 pages long, where most
were 60 or 70 page count.
Forever was originally written for Dan Blocker in two parts during the first two weeks in May of 1972. Michael wrote the story in longhand on the yellow legal secretary pads at home. This was his first two-part story in his writing career. In it, Hoss abandons bachelorhood and gets married to a beautiful and shy woman named Alice Harper. Halfway through the story, she is brutally killed and Hoss seeks revenge against the men who murdered her and their unborn child. NBC announced this story for "Bonanza's" fall premiere while Dan was in the hospital.
This would showcase Dan's acting talents, but fate had other plans. The cast had been on a long hiatus since January. Filming of the fourteenth season was slated for June. Dan was currently in Lugano, Switzerland, with his family. They had been leasing a home in the country since the 60's, and the children attended school there for a broader education. Dan's gall bladder had been affecting him during the thirteenth season, but he decided to wait until they were finished and after the Switzerland trip, he had the surgery plans worked out. He'd lost 40 pounds and his weight was at 260, and he was still in good shape. Dan had practically quit smoking and drinking, too. Centinela Valley Hospital in Inglewood was the choice for the upcoming surgery. He paid for the upcoming surgical procedure and was in good shape. The surgery was performed on April 29, 1972. It was considered to be risky because of Dan's large size, but he was still a young and strong man. The operation was a success and after a few days, he was up and walking around. However, by the end of the first week, a post-surgical infection set in where the surgery was performed. Antibiotics were given to cure the infection over the next several days.
In previous months, Dan had bought a lovely home in Lake Washington, Seattle. He planned to move there with the family and raise his children and live to be an old man. His exit from the television business seemed possible, as the role of Hoss had grown somewhat unstimulating for him after so many years, but he was passionate with his job a great deal. He loved acting on the series, but Dan Blocker, the man, had his own future well-planned out. Not to mention much more time away from the series to spend with his family with lesser episodes being filmed per season.
He was having a 74-foot yacht built for his pleasure on the Thames River in England and named it "Dolphia". As soon as he was out of the hospital, he and the family were heading back to Switzerland and departing for England to do some lengthy sailing on the giant boat for the remainder of May. The new season of "Bonanza" was precisely scheduled to begin filming in three weeks. Dan was discharged from the hospital on May 12th and felt fine. On the morning of May 13th, he was complaining of chest pains and shortness of breath. His wife, Dolphia called the ambulance to take him back to the hospital to learn what was happening to him. They put him on a heart and lung machine and detected a blood clot in one of his lungs.
They got him in the emergency room and were administering an antidote they said would thin the clot, but eleven hours later the blood clot proved fatal. The immediate cause of death was a pulmonary embolism in the lung that triggered cardiac arrest and death. He was only 43-1/2 years old. Dolphia was so hysterical, the doctors had to sedate her in the hospital. One of the nurses was so distraught over his death, she quit her job at the hospital. On May 13th, Michael Landon was in Kentucky visiting his wife's relatives and Lorne Greene was making a personal appearance in Baltimore, Maryland. Dolphia called them after Dan's death at 4:00 PM and when they got back to Inglewood on the 14th, both men were devastated by this unexpected and tragic loss of such a dear friend. Actor John Mitchum was at Freeman Memorial on May 13th, as Dolphia called him and he drove over there, as he and Dan were good friends. His lifeless body was taken to McCormick Mortuary on May 14th and on the 15th, his body was returned to Freeman Memorial for an autopsy to verify the cause of death, which was initially correct.
Dan's body was embalmed and put inside a large casket at McCormick Mortuary in Inglewood. His casket was shipped on May 16th for burial at Woodmen Cemetery in De Kalb, Texas. There were no public services held. The Blocker family were the only ones to be present at the funeral. Subsequently, the family moved to Hawaii for a year to escape this terrible tragedy. One day prior to Dan's death, on May 12th, was the unexpected loss of beloved actor Steve Ihnat. The actor was in Cannes, France, attending the film festival and suffered a fatal heart attack in his hotel room. This was another devastating blow to Michael, since they were good friends since 1967. Both men had a closeness and high regard for each other over the years. Steve was interred at Pierce Brothers in Westwood, Los Angeles.
Michael's first priority in the aftermath of these tragedies was completing the script during the second half of May. He had completed his story the week before and it was time for his secretary to type it up. The script was literally unchanged, so he was forced to change the character from Hoss to Joe. Mike did a few rewrites in the first part of the script that would quietly explain the death of Hoss that would let the silence of film tell it better than a memorial story. Dan wouldn't have wanted one.
The final draft of Forever was completed and approved on June 7th, 1972. Of course, Michael would do small rewrites in various parts of the script, to get the sentence construction for the dialogue perfected in his mind. Three weeks later on June 19th, he did a revision on the last page of the story. Each part of the story was 47 pages each, one of his quietest scripts. This three week delay pushed the site surveys and filming back, since it was to be the first episode filmed, but turned out to be the third episode filmed.
It was already June and the start of the filming season, so Michael had to do the site surveys with Kent McCray for the spectacular location settings in the Sierra Nevada for the story. They brought along assistant director Charles R. Scott, Jr., art director Carl Anderson, and cameraman Ted Voightlander on the site surveys. Kent McCray had done some checking into the Sonora region in Central California for the story. They flew to Modesto Airport and got in the company car standing by for the site surveys. A man from Sonora, by the name of Ernie Durham, was waiting for them and they quickly departed. He knew the Sierra very well and would be their tour guide on this site survey.
State Route 108 is known as the Sonora Pass Highway, that runs for over 80 miles from the foothills over the spectacular mountain pass of the same name. They did extensive surveys that week and Kent also had other scripts that were being worked on during this time, that would also be filmed in this region later in the summer, with the main title ride-up. Two of them were "Heritage of Anger" and "Stallion".
Michael was in charge of deciding what film sites would be used in his unfilmed story that he would be direct and star in. Ernie Durham would accompany them over the top of Sonora Pass and they'd all make suggestions and it worked out perfect in the end. Michael choose three film sites that would appropriately suit the two-part story. The majority of the shots would be filmed at Brown's Meadow; a lush, green, sub-alpine flat that was simply beautiful and entirely framed by a wide variety of pine trees.
Being private property, he obtained permission from the owner to return and film there, as soon as Kent had the shoot schedule solidified. The original and first choice for the Ponderosa settings was at Kennedy Meadows, that is below the steep entrance to Sonora Pass. Being further up the blacktop, Michael said it was too far from Sonora, so it wasn't to be used for the story. The next step was to begin filming the studio shots for the story at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank.
The first day of shooting was on June 12th, 1972, that would span the next six days of filming in Burbank. The segments Michael filmed were all the interiors on Stage 19, exteriors on Stage 25, and the Western Street, during this time frame in week one of filming. They wrapped it early the next week. Kent McCray, Ted Voightlander and the company drivers left the studio on July 17th, heading for Sonora and the lush forest above, to get the first day's shots set up at Brown's Meadow.
On Wednesday, July 19th, the cast and crew flew to Modesto Airport, early that morning. The company cars were standing by to drive them to the meadow. Ernie Durham was waiting in his car for Michael, who got in, and they were heading out to the meadow for the first day of major outdoor filming. The company had to build a three-sided, pre-fabricated house for filming the exterior shots Michael wanted to shoot at the meadow. They had six days to film segments that Michael had to direct and act in for both parts of the story. Filming began at 9:30 am.
The other film sites such at Donnell's Vista, that includes a spectacular overlook, was used for several segments in the story, along with the Clark Fork River, that was used for the climax of the story on the final day of shooting. One problem that occured during the filming was for Michael to burn down the house facade as per the script, but the forest service said the fire danger was extremely high, so he would have to wait until they returned to Burbank, where they would burn down an exterior facade for an establishing shot on the Warner backlot the next week.
Location filming of the story at Brown's Meadow took six days to shoot. Close to 60 locals were allowed to watch the filming from a distance that week. Michael was very kind to them and would politely instruct them to watch from further back in some instances when filming the story's outdoor segments. Michael, Lorne, and other cast members enjoyed signing autographs and talking to locals who were present at the time.
John Matkin was the owner of the meadow and this was the first time he allowed a network television series to be filmed on his land. He was born the same year as Lorne Greene was and the two men enjoyed speaking to each other greatly. In a real sense, Matkin was a real-life version of Ben Cartwright, with regards to keeping his lush meadow and tree farm in pristine condition.
Over the years, he had timber offers and refused them because he didn't want his land ruined and the beautiful trees cut down for instant profits he could gain. He preferred to raise and sell cattle on his land to earn a living and did. This was something Ben Cartwright was like in the fictional series. Lorne Greene was very impressed with the owner after conversing with him for a few days on the property.
The filming went smoothly at the meadow, but there were scenes that Michael had to work very hard at filming, mainly for his character, Joe Cartwright. There were at least four emotionally painful scenes that dealt with the tragic loss of Alice, that he had to act in and direct at the meadow for the storyline. The local and interior scenes had been completed the week before at the film studio. Sadly, the untimely death of Dan Blocker was the real tragedy of the story while it was being filmed.
To make matters more complicated, this was the only script Michael ever wrote and directed that involved good characters getting tragically killed off, including Alice's unborn child, in order to draw in the highest audience ratings for the fall premiere. This approach was something that executive producer David Dortort was desperate to achieve to keep the ratings high, so maintaining his "anti-Momism" theme they used in prior seasons wasn't very original to use in 1972.
This theme of Dortort's was a negating factor that was in opposite contrast with Michael Landon's personal belief system of storytelling in a superior way he was so capable of doing. He, himself couldn't stand violence and was against it. He was against mankind killing each other. This would turn out being the most atypical script Landon ever wrote and for the entire series itself.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 25th, the final scene at the meadow was set up by Michael and the film crew. The locals from the Sonora region were off in the distance watching it all. It was very quiet. Michael was in costume, kneeling before the cross and was ready to be filmed. The assistant director yelled "Action!" He did this painful and emotional scene, which seemed to last forever, then rose up and slowly walked away crying, paused and turned to Alice's cross and said, "I love you."
In reality, he was saying this to Dan Blocker, living out the scene while it was being filmed, in front of the cross. This was the only way Michael could say goodbye to his best friend he'd worked with for a solid thirteen years on the series. The Blocker family held no public services for Dan the month before in Texas. They were the only ones present. In the fictional sense, this final scene was written for the death of Alice Cartwright and the unborn child that Joe had lost in the story. This tragedy in the script and coupled with Dan's loss, was something no television series had done before or after this episode was made and aired in 1972.
As Mike continued to slowly walk away, out of camera frame in pain and crying, Ted Voightlander did a zoom-in on the cross and then a slow pull-back, panning through the green montage of the pine trees, with the meadow, river and cross slowly shrinking in frame until Michael said, "Cut, it's a print." He walked back to the styrofoam cross, pulled it out of the ground and threw it up in the air. As the director of the story, this was his way of saying, "It's over." The final shot was filmed and it was time to move on to more work for the next episode on the shoot schedule.
David Rose composes and scores various motifs of his new theme "The Big
Bonanza" throughout this story, which was formally introduced as the new
theme motifs for seasons twelve and thirteen. Rose plays the love theme
variation of "The Big Bonanza" in the love scenes with Joe and Alice, in
various guises in a very emotional and joyful score. Rose does the
somber variation of it at the funeral and in the scenes with Joe in his
bedroom, getting ready to "get some time away", as he explains to Ben.
It's heard later in the second half, in different guises, as chase and
fight cues, disguised by David Rose.
Rose scored an emotionally sad and mournful motif accompanying a slow
zoom in by Michael's direction, holding on framed portraits of Hoss and
Joe in the bedroom. This theme accompanies Joe riding up to Alice's
grave at Brown's Meadow and then as he rides away, a fade to Donnell's
Vista, as a slow pan across the water, with the wide landscape revealed. Joe is dissolved into the upper left frame, getting more distance and
then dissolves out of frame, as the slow pan zooms in on the
Dardanelle Peak and fade out. This would become the theme motifs and
some effects music for "Little House On The Prairie".
Rose would use the joyful love theme heard in "Forever" some four
years later in the 1976 "Little House" episode "Journey in the Spring"
in a scene establishing Charles and Mr. Edwards at Basin Creek, with the
children playing behind them aways. The last time Rose used the love
theme again was in the 1988 "Highway to Heaven" episode, "A Dolphin Song
for Lee". It's heard in the scenes of Lee riding the dolphin and more
prominently at the climax, with Jonathan and Mark looking out of the
boat at the water, after Lee's ashes are scattered at sea.
comes up out of the water and speaks to Jonathan and Mark, right after
Jonathan tells Mark "all things are possible", since Lee wished she
could be reincarnated as a dolphin after she died, to tell them both
it's really her now. "The Big Bonanza" motifs were far more diverse just
for being used in "Bonanza". It was pure genius by David Rose.
Stunt Trivia: In the fast-paced riding shots of Joe and Candy at
Brown's Meadow, Hal Burton doubles Joe with the fake beard and in
costume on the stunt Paint, while Jerry Wills horseback doubles David Canary (his stuntman, Ray Mazy left after Blocker's death) while Michael is directing the show with Ted Voightlander in
charge of the direction of photography. Hal would double Michael at the
end of the show, where he rides the brown stunthorse down the dirt road
at Brown's Meadow, with Michael directing him from the camera car.
only close-up Michael does on his riding Paint is one at the meadow,
where he stares at Alice's grave and than turns, and slowly rides away. The second and final shots of Michael on horseback are medium close-ups
of him riding a brown stunthorse alongside David Canary on the path at
Donnell's Vista, as they ride up the trail, and split apart on horseback
from Damion's (actor Larry Golden) men who try and pick them off their
horses from above, with a visually-stunning zoom back by Ted Voightlander, accompanied by a tension-filled music cue by David
Rose as they split apart from harm's way.
Also, in the second part of the show, Joe, Candy and Jamie are in the
buckboard racing up to Joe's house that is burning down to the ground. Hal Burton doubles Joe in the driver's seat, while David Canary and
Mitch Vogel were seated in the rear of the buckboard. Michael had a
close-up of the three of them riding in the buckboard filmed at Brown's
Meadow, which is cut in with the Warner backlot and soundstage footage
of Hal driving the team to the foot of the house afire and the actors
would carefully do their scenes on the soundstage.
Two mock-ups of the
house were burned down at Warner Studios; the first, an exterior house
at the flat outdoors depicting it afire, and the second one is a house
exterior and interior on Stage 25, for the close-ups of the actors doing
their scenes. The interior of Joe and Alice's home was not used for the scenes involving the fire. The company built them on Stage 19 for the storyline. The interior of the home was filmed with the actors doing their scenes inside. When the filmed segments were completed, the interior of the home was dismantled, as it was no longer needed.
Trivia: Casting director Joe Scully selected the guest stars for this episode. His decision to choose 26-year-old Bonnie Bedelia as Alice Harper was a brilliant move on his behalf. The character, unlike previous love interests, is independent, strong and mature. Landon and Bedelia were reunited in April of 1973 for the NBC series, "Love Story". He wrote and directed the pilot episode which was entitled, "Love Came Laughing". She played Alice Hartman in the filmed story.
Michael Landon hired actor Larry Golden to portray Damion in the story. As the director, Landon would frequently hire actors in minor support roles who back up the main cast and guest stars. Golden was a fine actor in his own right, but certainly underused in the Hollywood business. In subsequent years, he was cast in three episodes of "Little House". He played Reverend Phillips in the 1977 two-part episode "Gold Country". He returns as Matt in "Barn Burner", and as Bodeen in "Darkness is My Friend" (1979).
Backing him up is the giant presence of Roy Jenson as the evil Mr. Hanley. At his side are Robert Doyle as Sloan and Lee de Broux as Krater. Both actors had worked with Michael in the previous shows he directed. This was the last episode of Bonanza these actors were hired for. In the climax of the "Forever" script, Damion and Hanley perish in the river after a intense struggle. The dangers of shooting in the Clark Fork River made this impossible. Mike did a revision on location and Hanley emerges from the river after killing Damion.
Support actors James Jeter, Helen Kleeb, Don Haggerty and Jay Jones make their final appearances in this show. This was the only "Bonanza" episode to be telecast in a two-hour timeslot by the network on September 12, 1973. NBC restored the feature-length episode and made a syndicated two-part version for daily reruns on The Family Channel. Both versions were first seen on the cable channel's 1989-90 season.
Music Trivia: The Livingston-Evans theme is played in a new
rendition and very unfamiliar, compared to how it was heard the first
eleven years on the series. The last time it was heard was during the
eleventh year, and Rose's, "The Big Bonanza", was played for season twelve
and thirteen, and was unfortunately shelved due to Dan's untimely
Opening Scenes Trivia: The new ride-up shots of the cast were shot at Brown's Meadow in August 1972. The map burn fades into Ben riding Buck and the two jump over a log and come to a stand still. Joe rides in on his Paint horse and he rears on his back legs. Joe looks towards the camera and smiles. Jamie rides in along the North Fork Tuolumne River, crosses it and stops the horse and smiles at the camera. Candy is driving the buckboard down the slope and it's almost out of control it appears. He comes to a dead stop and looks in the camera. The last shot in the sequence is Griff King. He jumps on his horse and quickly rides away. The only
thing that is missing; Dan Blocker as Hoss. The guest star credits in yellow letters are superimposed over June
1961 stock footage of a stagecoach driving down the dirt road at the
Solitude Canyon vicinity and fade out to an intermission.
Watercolor Credits Trivia: Like season thirteen, this season is
using the one and only one watercolor painting seen at the end of the
show, of the actress on the stage, painted in red and pink tones, with
Trivia: This season was not re-ran after "Bonanza" went off the
air on January 16, 1973, with the small exception of the
episode, "Stallion", which was. The Family Channel was the first network to
"officially" release these in syndication, in 1988.
Trivia: "Forever" like "Ride The Wind" and "The Pursued" was written in
two parts, but was aired as one whole in a two-hour timeslot on
September 12, 1972, because of the 96-minute story's complex structure. While
filming on location, Michael did an interview with the local press, and
remarked how he literally unchanged the script for the transition from
Hoss to Little Joe in the story,"What rewriting I did," said Michael,
"was a couple of scenes indicating the death of Hoss. Mostly with a kind
of stillness. You can say some things better in silence on film, than in
words," and in closing said, "It's still Dan's show. Always was. Always
will be". Shortly after Forever aired in September, one angry fan wrote
Michael a letter upset over the death of Alice and he remarked, "We all
needed a good cry."
Deleted Scenes Trivia: In 1988, NBC was preparing this episode for syndication on cable television. Sadly, they excised an array of scenes in the first part of the story. This included Joe riding out of the Ponderosa and across the meadow into Virginia City. This is because he wants to thank Alice for the note that Ben gave him earlier in the story. The other segments they excised were of Joe first building the new house at the meadow.
In the second part, they excised four emotionally and poignant scenes for syndication. Mike filmed all of them for the original story in 1972. The first scenes cut are inside the Ponderosa living room after Joe's house has burned down. Ben and the doctor are conversing on the stairway about Joe's condition after the tragedy. The doctor has bandaged his hands
and sedated Joe with some medicine. He is afraid to leave it with
him in case he should try and overdose on it, and gives it to Ben, as
Candy and Jamie look at up at them from the ground floor of the living
room. This scene was omitted from the syndication master by NBC for resyndication in 1988.
The second and following
scene was left intact, of Clem and his men searching the burned-out
shell of Joe's house at night. Michael's script had more dialogue, but
was condensed while they filmed it. The third scene was filmed in Joe's
bedroom at night. Ben enters Joe's room as his son is laying down,
covered up in bed. He is laying perfectly still and is crying. Ben walks
over to one side of the room and seats himself and begins crying. This
scene was also deleted by NBC in 1988.
The fourth and final scene
is at Joe's house. Ben is walking through it, and looks at the stove.
Just as he does, Clem rides in and walks in to tell him he's certain the
fire was set, since it burned so hotter then usual. Ben begins
discussing John Harper must be notified Alice has been killed, and Clem
tells him he's afraid that won't be necessary in part of the
conversation. He pulls out a white handkerchief with John's ring and
shows it to Ben. The initials J. H. for John Harper.
As a note; since
John was in Carson City during the wedding, Ben nor anyone else didn't
know he had been killed by Damion in Joe's house until Clem and his men
searched the remains. This scene ends with Ben asking Clem, "Why, Clem,
why?" As Clem is at a loss for words, he slowly walks away, as Ben turns
to look at the remains of Joe's house, and Clem says to himself, "God
only knows, God only knows".
Unfortunately, the missing scenes that Michael Landon filmed have never been seen in any version of "Forever" that is syndicated worldwide. The original 35mm prints are housed at NBC's warehouse in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Fans can be sure the complete episode will surface on DVD in the future by CBS Paramount.
Incidentally, the above scenes Michael wrote in the story, but initially he wasn't going to film them in a June 19th script revision. This included Alice's funeral as well. When it came time to film--he filmed all of them.
Censorship Trivia: Although Family Channel owner Pat Robertson did not
refuse to air "Forever", unlike five other episodes, a few years later, in
1991, after several runs, he quietly did censor it, due to the violent way
Alice is killed, halfway through the story. It wasn't seen again until 1998, just after he sold his cable network to Fox.
Ratings Trivia: This episode ranked number 4 in the Nielsen ratings on
the above airdate.
Location Scenes Filmed at: Brown's Meadow, Donnell's Vista, and Clark Fork River, Stanislaus National Forest, California.
Filming date: July 12 to July 25, 1972.
417.) Heritage Of Anger
September 19, 1972
Written by: Don Ingalls
Directed by: Nick Webster
Ben helps a bitter ex-con, John Dundee readjust to life on the
outside, a task complicated by the man's former business partners, who
were responsible for setting him up, and never kept their promise to help
his wife, Meg.
Guest Stars: John Dundee...Robert Lansing,...Meg Dundee...Fionnula
Lesser,...Bartlett...Roydon Clark,...Jim Anders...Ed Long,...Mr.
Sangster...Harry Harvey Sr.,...Telegrapher...Henry Oliver,...Bill
Clark...(uncredited; extra as guard),...Ed Jauregui (uncredited; stunt double for Lorne Greene),...Hal
Burton...(uncredited; horseback double for Robert Lansing).
Trivia: Robert Lansing makes his last appearance as John Dundee, along
with Fionnula Flanagan, as Meg. She has guest-starred in many TV
series, including, "How The West Was Won", and "Star Trek: The Next
Generation". Warren Kemmerling as the corrupt Sheriff and Len Lesser as
Dundee's cheating partner, along with Ed Long as the henchman again, all
make their last appearances on "Bonanza".
Trivia: In the scene where Ben meets John Dundee, outside the prison
gates, John (Robert Lansing) greets him, then punches him, sending Ben (Ed Jauregui doubling very briefly), to the ground, since Ben told him he
would get a fair trial, where John didn't five years back, and the two
ride off, as the opening of act one fades into the beginning credits of
"Heritage Of Anger".
Location Scenes Filmed at: Brown's Meadow and Williams Ranch,
Filming date: July 26-August 2, 1972.
418.) The Initiation
September 26, 1972
Written by: Douglas Day Stewart
Directed by: Alf Kjellin
One of Jamie's friends is blamed when a boy accidentally dies during
a ceremony for a secret club. Ben makes two references to losing
Hoss. Many of the young guest stars had appeared in the John Wayne film
"The Cowboys", which was turned into a series produced by David Dortort
Guest Stars: Ted Hoag...Ron Howard,...Lummis...Ed
Bakey,...Moeller...William Bramley,...Harley Lewis...Biff
Elliot,...Clem...Bing Russell,...Hop Sing...Victor Sen Yung,...Josh
Adams...Sean Kelly,...Ron Lewis...Nicholas Beauvy,...Sonny
Moeller...Jeff Smart,...Corkey Sibley...Jimmy Van Patten,...Billy
Newton...Al Barker, Jr.,...George Adams...James Chandler,...Mr.
Cropin...Pitt Herbert,...Judge...John Zaremba,...Preacher...Ivor
Challee,...Prosecutor...Harry Basch,...Ray...Jim Moore,...Miss
Trivia: Ron Howard makes his only appearance, as Jamie's
friend, and would later rise to fame as Richie Cunningham on the TV
hit, "Happy Days", and is now an accomplished director.
Location Scenes Filmed at: Bronson Canyon, Southern California and June 1964 stock footage of the posse at Keyesville, near Kernville, California.
October 3, 1972
Written by: Robert Pirosh, John Hawkins
Directed by: Lewis Allen
Original Story Titles: "Day of Disaster", "The Red Shirts"
Inspecting conditions at Nevada State Prison at the governor's
request, Ben is taken hostage by rioting inmates. This episode introduces
Tim Matheson as Griff King. Joe and Candy must come up with plan to save
Ben's life, and it is revealed that Candy and Griff were friends back in
Billings, Montana, where they served time together.
Guest Stars: Griff King...Tim Matheson,...Mr. Heiser...Aldo
Ray,...Cooper...Gregory Walcott,...Johnny Plank...Marco St.
John,...Warden...Denver Pyle,...Asa Calhoun...Barney Phillips,...Willie
Noone...Bob Delegall,...Mr. Vannerman...William Paterson,...Mr.
Bryant,...Scroggins...Biff Manard,...Idaho...Morton Lewis,...Kelly...Red
Morgan,...Donovan...Charles Wagenheim,....Old Charlie...Nolan
Leary,...Sheriff...John Milford...(uncredited; bit part),...Guard...Chuck Hayward,...Hal Burton...(uncredited; inmate),...Bill Clark...(uncredited; stunt for Lorne Greene).
Trivia: Aldo Ray makes his last appearance, this time as the
prison guard, Denver Pyle as the Warden, William Bryant as the
Governor, and Gregory Walcott as the convict, Cooper, all their last
appearances on "Bonanza".
Marco St. John portrays the inmate Johnny Plank, who sides
against Cooper, eventually killing him, seen in his only performance on
"Bonanza", later seen in an episode of "Knight Rider". He is an accomplished actor featured in television, feature films, theater and is still active today.
Trivia: The ending scenes of Ben, Joe, Candy, and Griff riding away
from the Nevada State Prison (WB Studios), through Brown's Meadow are
seen at the beginning of the next installment, "New Man".
Trivia: Henry Wills, who also doubled for Pernell Roberts, was the stunt gaffer for this episode.
Trivia: Andy Matyasi was the costumer for this episode, filling in for Dario Piazza.
Stunt Trivia: When Johnny Plank (Marco St. John) tries to escape the
cell block, his stuntman takes the explosion and fall by the dynamite
Joe planted on the other side of the door.
Tim Matheson Trivia: This episode and its sequel "New Man" are the
first episodes to introduce Griff by airdate. In reality, the first
filmed episode to feature Griff is "Stallion" which was made before this
episode with its sequel and "Ambush at Rio Lobo", but aired after them
in the fourteenth season.
Location Scenes Filmed at: August-September 1972 stock footage at
Brown's Meadow, California.
Filming date: September 1972.
420.) New Man
October 10, 1972
Written by: Jack B. Sowards
Directed by: Leo Penn
Paroled in Ben's custody, a belligerent Griff refers to the Ponderosa
as "the classiest prison I've ever been in", as soon as they arrive
there. The episode opens with the final scene from "Riot", to which this
is a sequel.
Guest Stars: Lucas...Ronny Cox,...Clem...Bing
Russell,...Shorty...Charles Dierkop,...Tulsa...Jeff Morris,...Amy...Carol Vogel,...Guard...Chuck Hayward,...Man...Bill
Clark,...Clerk...Jac Flanders,...Hal...Hal Burton...(uncredited; extra & stunt/horseback double for Michael Landon, David Canary & Tim Matheson).
Trivia: Ronny Cox making his only appearance and Charles Dierkop
making his third one.
Music Trivia: After the opening title of this episode fades out, David Rose plays some effects and theme music that is later heard in "Little House On The Prairie".
Stunt Trivia: In the scenes where Griff is breaking the bronc in the
corral, Hal Burton is doubling him in the long shots.
Location Scenes Filmed at: Franklin Lake, Southern California and
August-September 1972 stock footage at Brown's Meadow and Red Hills,
Filming date: September 1972.
421.) Ambush At Rio Lobo
October 24, 1972
Written by: Joel Murcott
Directed by: Nicholas Colasanto
Original Story Title: "The Sound of Tomorrow"
Ben and and a pregnant young woman are held hostage by outlaws
waiting to rob a stage. A final mentioning of Hoss in a scene with Lorne
and actor James Olson. Directed by Nicholas Colasanto, better better known
as Coach on the sitcom "Cheers".
Guest Stars: Teresa Burnside...Sian Barbara Allen,...Vance...James
Olson,...Stretch...Albert Salmi,...Zachariah Burnside...Murray
Trivia: James Olson and Albert Salmi make their final guest appearances in the episode. Ben makes a brief mentioning of Hoss in one scene and says to the outlaw, "He was a good judge of character."
Location Scenes Filmed at: Newly filmed stock footage from
August-September 1972 at Brown's Meadow and the Red Hills in California.
Filming date: September 1972.
422.) The Twenty-Sixth Grave
October 31, 1972
Written by: Stanley Roberts
Directed by: Leo Penn
Mark Twain ruffles dangerous feathers in Virginia City with accusations
of claim-jumping and murder. First episode filmed for the final season.
Guest Stars: Sam Clemens...Ken Howard,...Merrick...Dana
Elcar,..McNabb...Phillip Kenneally,...Campbell...Walter Burke,...Mr.
Goodman...Richard Bull,...Bert...Wayne Heffley,...Prentiss...Stacy
Keach, Jr.,...Clem...Bing Russell,...Judge Hale...Staats
Conway,...Martin...Arthur Peterson,...Postal Clerk...Britt
Leach,...Foreman...Victor Izay,...Station Agent...Owen
Trivia: Veteran character actors Dana Elcar, Walter Burke, Richard
Bull, Harlan Warde, Arthur Peterson, and Owen Bush all make their last
appearances in the series. Ken Howard portrays Sam Clemens, the third of
three actors to portray him in this 1972 episode. He starred in his own
television series "The White Shadow" in the 1970's.
Trivia: The establishing shot of the Virginia City Cemetery is a stock
shot filmed at Janss Conejo Ranch for Sam Clemen's title foreward in
Location Scenes Filmed at: May 1964 stock footage of Ben riding alongside the river at Kernville, with the cemetery stock footage at Janss Conejo Ranch, Southern California.
Filming date: June 1972.
November 14, 1972
Written by: Jack B. Sowards, Mort Sarcoff, Juanita Bartlett
Directed by: E. W. Swackhamer
Joe gets a beautiful black stallion for his birthday and spends all
his time with him, from sunup to sundown. A local drifter steals the
stallion and Joe goes after him on Cochise. Joe comes across his son, and
accompanies him home, only to discover the drifter is his father, and has
a wife. Joe has a shootout with Billy, who accidentally shoots his own
son. Joe mounts on his stallion to cross the treacherous ridgetops and
eventually rides the horse to its death, in a gallant effort.
Griff manage to find Joe, who is now laying in the tall grasses, crying
over his loss. Joe sends Griff to get the doctor who
saves the life of Billy's son. His wife is worried Joe will take him
back to town and try him for stealing the horse, but Joe lets Billy off
the hook, because of his son, Tommy. He rides away with Candy and Griff
and stops his Paint horse at the meadow and sees the Stallion in his
mind, and then rides home.
Guest Stars: Billy Brenner...Clu Gulager,...Alice Brenner...Mitzi
Hoag,...Tommy Brenner...Vincent Van Patten,...Seth...Roy Lee
Brown,...Travis...Michael Greene,...Doctor...Wallace Chadwell,...Hal
Burton...(uncredited; horseback double for Michael Landon),...Martha
Manor...(uncredited; extra as blonde townswoman on train).
David Rose and his orchestra perform his recent new theme cue "The Big
Bonanza" in many guises throughout this episode's soundtrack. It
accompanies all the riding shots and establishes all the scenes with Joe
and his Stallion, as well as his Paint horse. Beautifully grandiose and
emotionally moving motifs, that Rose would later evolve for "Little
House On The Prairie".
Rose had originally established these motifs in
seasons nine through eleven for riding shots and would serve as the new
theme music starting in season twelve, with variations of the motif
composed and scored for many episodes in seasons twelve and thirteen of
the series until it was shelved due to Dan Blocker's untimely demise in
1972. This is the last episode in the series' history where David Rose
composes and scores it for "Bonanza".
Horse Trivia: Ott was the stunthorse who portrays Joe's stallion and
won a Patsy award for his magnificent work in this excellent episode. The black stallion is a highly-trained stunthorse, ridden by both
Michael and Hal Burton, who doubles as Joe in 95% of this episode. Ott
also was awarded a Patsy for his work in a few "Lassie" episodes in 1972
and another for the 1976 film "Run Joe, Run". In 1977, NBC developed a
Saturday morning TV- series called "Thunder" with Ott in the title role
as the black stallion.
Stunt Trivia: Hal Burton horseback doubles Joe in 95% of this episode. Hal does all the treacherous riding shots in four regions at the steep
Sonora Pass and later at Brown's Meadow, at the conclusion of this
episode, along with the corral shots and train race at the Red Hills. Michael does a small amount of riding, just a few medium and close-ups on
the black stunthorse in bit parts, all cut in with the filmed cuts of
Hal doubling him on the black stunthorse. Michael himself, does all the
filmed cuts on his riding Paint horse in this episode.
In act one, Joe challenges the train to a race and the engineer
accepts his challenge. Joe starts out slow, with the train moving, and
gradually they both engage in the fastest-paced riding shots seen since
season eight's "The Pursued". The race is beautifully captured by the camera car, directly across
from Michael mounted on his Stallion, with the train right behind
him. Zoom shots dominate the race with a few long shots from the steam
engine, and the cameras were filming inside the steam engine.
The engineer is going full-throttle and another is chucking wood into the
fire to run the race against Joe, who cuts in front of the train, crosses
the tracks in the nick of time, and is rejoined by Ben who is pulling
Cochise behind him. The following scene has Michael riding up
to Candy and Griff at Brown's Meadow while they converse.
In order to get the train race filmed correctly and
safely, Michael himself mounted the black stallion and rode him at a
slow gallop and eventually built up speed for some fast close-ups of
him, with the Shay Locomotive # 3 riding the rails in the background for
a few minutes, all captured on film from the camera crew on the train
and camera car. Afterwards, the filming was stopped and so was the
train, than backed up to the horse corral.
Hal Burton, in the same
costume, on cue, mounted the black stallion and with the Shay Locomotive
# 3 already at a slow start, begins the race. Hal powers up the horse at
a good 40 MPH clip and rides further away from it, so he is able to
build up speed, eventually getting closer on the dirt trail with the
train right even with him. He outruns the train and jumps the stunthorse
over the cow catcher of the locomotive and the rails, escaping death by
The camera crew did close-ups, medium close-ups, and of course,
the over-the-shoulder long shots of Hal doubling Michael, whose own
filmed close-up scenes are cut in for the final print. One of the most
spectacular and incredibly filmed horseback sequences ever seen on the
series, filled with intensity and motion, where man and beast pitt
themselves against the machine and win. The horse corral scenes filmed
prior to the train race were of Michael walking the horse down the ramp
off the boxcar into the horse corral, mounting the black stallion and
riding him in a slow circle for close-up shots, and than Hal would mount
up in the same costume, and give the stallion a very brisk workout in
long and medium over-the shoulder shots, all cut in with the close-ups
In the very last scene of Joe riding the black stallion in the meadow,
it's really Hal Burton riding him in, and he takes the stunthorse in a
circle and on verbal command, the horse falls down, along with Hal in
the costume, than a filmed close-up of Michael on the grass reaching
over to the horse for its death scene.
Trivia: Clu Gulager who starred in "The Virginian", makes his only
appearance on the series as the shiftless Billy Brenner, Mitzi Hoag as
his wife, Alice, and Vincent Van Patten both make their last appearances
on the series.
Trivia: In the scene with Pa and Joe in the barn, with the
Stallion, Michael's gold chain is visible under his brown shirt.
Trivia: In this touching episode, we see Joe as a young boy, rather than a mature man; his love for the Stallion, like a little boy with his pet, something like this would never be seen again on the series.
Trivia: At the episode's end, after Joe's stallion dies, he, Candy, and Griff are riding back to the Ponderosa. The camera cuts to a close-up of Joe. He is gazing at the meadow, where he first brought his beloved stallion, to play and run free. In a series of beautiful flashbacks, Joe remembers the horse he loved with all his heart, and then rubs Cochise with his hand, and rides off into the distance.
Opening Scenes Trivia: The opening map scenes in this episode and a few
others were changed from the beginning to be seen after the first 3
minutes of act one by Republic Pictures, for their "Lost Episodes" promotion (1988) for
the Family Channel, and the original version, where the map starts it, was
seen when Bonanza aired on Goodlife TV (1999-01) and Hallmark Channel (2002-04).
Cast Note: Roy Lee Brown who plays Seth the conductor, is erroneously
credited as Lew Brown in this episode.
Broadcasting Trivia: This was the first and only episode to be reran
after Bonanza finished out it's fourteen-year run on January 16, 1973. At the last minute, sometime later in the year, KNBC in Burbank decided to air Stallion.
Tim Matheson Trivia: This is the first filmed episode to feature Tim
Matheson as Griff King. The two episodes that introduce him "Riot" and
"New Man" were filmed after "Stallion" in September 1972.
Location Scenes Filmed at: Red Hills, Chinese Camp, Brown's Meadow and Sonora Pass, Stanislaus National Forest, California.
Filming date: Monday, August 28 to Tuesday, September 5, 1972 (excludes
Sunday and Labor Day).
424.) The Hidden Enemy
November 28, 1972
Written by: Stanley Roberts
Directed by: Alf Kjellin
The welfare of Virginia City is compromised by a new doctor addicted to
morphine, who eventually takes his own life from his drug addiction. The making of this episode was assisted by the U. S. Bureau of
Guest Stars: Dr. James Wills...Mike Farrell,...Nancy Wills...Melissa
Murphy,...Miles Johnson...David Huddleston,...Mr. Evans...Clifford
David,...Henry Johnson...Gary Busey,...Chris Wills...Mons
Kjellin,...Clem...Bing Russell,...Smitty...Mel Gallagher,...Judge Harvey
Phelps...Russell Thorson,...Dan Graham...Jason Wingreen,...Dr.
Martin...Harry Holcombe,...Evie Parker...Ayn Ruymen,...Smokey...Hal
Burton...(uncredited; extra),...Bates...Bill Clark...(uncredited;
Trivia: Mike Farrell makes his only appearance, as Dr. James Wills, later
of M.A.S.H fame, along with Melissa Murphy and David Huddleston making
their last appearances, and a one and only appearance by Gary Busey. Jason Wingreen makes his last appearance on the series, he
was previously in four's, "The Way Of Aaron", and in five's, "Enter Thomas Bowers". Harry Holcombe makes his last appearance as the Doctor in the series' history.
425.) The Sound Of Sadness
December 5, 1972
Written by: Michael Landon
Directed by: Michael Landon
Original Story Title: "The Sound of Lonliness"
A lonely old man opens his home to two orphan boys but runs into
bureaucratic opposition when attempting to adopt them.
Guest Stars: Jonathan May...Jack Albertson,...Dawson...John
Randolph,...Timothy...Marty McCall,...Mrs. Holcombe...Carol
Lawson,...Miss Gaines...Irene Tedrow,...Mr. Holcombe...Dan
Ferrone,...Silas...Jerry Harper,...Dr. Martin...Harry
Holcombe,...Clem...Bing Russell,...Robbie...Timothy Marshall,...Mrs.
Trivia: Michael is wearing blue jeans in this episode, since he directed it and was off-camera for most of the show's storyline.
Trivia: Jack Albertson, Carol Lawson, and John Randolph make their
last appearances on the series.
Trivia: Michael Landon reused this story for the seventh season "Little
House" episode "The Silent Cry", aired in 1980.
426.) The Bucket Dog
December 19, 1972
Written by: John Hawkins
Directed by: William F. Claxton
Jamie acquires an Irish Setter, unaware that its rightful owner
considers it an inferior example of the breed and wants it destroyed.
Guest Stars: Tim Riley...Don Knight,...Horace Kingston...William
Sylvester,...Clem...Bing Russell,...Hop Sing...Victor Sen
Yung,...Minister...Ivan Bonar,...Mr. Turner...Don Harris,...George
Spencer...Carl Pitti,...Judge Wilcox...John Zaremba,...Bill Clark...(uncredited; extra as big man in church).
Trivia: William Sylvester, Don Knight, and Ivan Bonar make their last
appearances on the series.
Trivia: The opening credits used reprinted film stock and in this episode, one can see the 1965 ride-up at Nevada Beach for a few seconds and the 1972 ride-up and credits at Brown's Meadow dissolves in frame.
In the first half of the episode, Joe comes home around midnight wearing his dating outfit he wore when he was courting Alice in "Forever." The white dress shirt and black pants. So, it would appear he had a special lady to cater his affections to after the loss of Alice in the final season.
Trivia: In one of the final scenes in this episode, Michael is wearing
blue jeans when Mitch Vogel and the Irish Setter exit the Ponderosa
Trivia: Bing Russell makes his last appearance as Deputy Sheriff Clem Foster in the series' history.
Location Scenes Filmed at: Golden Oak Ranch, Southern California.
427.) First Love
December 26, 1972
Written by: Richard Collins
Directed by: Leo Penn
Jamie is attracted to the abused young wife of Virginia City's
unpopular new schoolmaster. Ben offers Jamie a paternal observation in a
poetic scene reminiscent of speeches to his other sons in the series'
early days. Written by producer Richard Collins.
Guest Stars: Mrs. Kelly Edwards...Pamela Franklin,...Dan
Edwards...Jordan Rhodes,...Eloise...Lisa Eilbacher,...Gene...David
Blake,...Harve...Dennis Robertson,...Emily...Eileen Ryan,...Hop
Sing...Victor Sen Yung,...Mary...Brenda Smith.
Location Trivia: Last episode filmed at the Golden Oak Ranch in the
Location Scenes Filmed at: Golden Oak Ranch, Southern California.
Filming date: October 1972.
428.) The Witness
January 2, 1973
Written by: Joel Murcott, Arthur Heinemann
Directed by: Lewis Allen
An elderly widow suffers a heart attack when a man posing as Candy
robs her. Candy is arrested and must rely on a confident but
inexperienced young attorney for his defense. The second time in the
series' history where an episode title has been used before ("The
Guest Stars: Kate Fallon...Sally Kemp,...Oscar Hamner...Stephen
Nathan,...Lewis Gardner...Byron Mabe,...Schulte...William
Wintersole,...Ella Peterson...Shirley O' Hara,...Harvey Walters...Ross
Elliott,...Sheriff Touhy...David McLean,...Buford...Sam
Jarvis,...Barnes...Mark Allen,...Hotel Clerk...Dick Ryal,...Sam...Larry
Finley,...Hal Burton...(uncredited; horseback double for Michael Landon).
Trivia: Byron Mabe makes his second and last appearance on the
series, William Wintersole makes his only appearance as Mr. Schulte, as
the prosecutor, and Sally Kemp makes her only appearance, as Kate Fallon. David McLean makes his third and final appearance on the series as the Sheriff of Sugsville, Nevada.
Stunt Trivia: In a stock shot of Joe riding Paint #12 up a slope at
Brown's Meadow, it's Hal Burton doing the chores for Michael, which was
filmed over a month before when filming "Stallion" in late August into
September, and later cut in with the local footage for the final print
in October of 1972.
Music Trivia: The theme cue heard in the casino for "Marie, My Love", was tracked over to underscore the scenes where Ben and his attorney first meet Mr. Schulte inside the hotel.
Location Scenes Filmed at: Franklin Lake, Southern California and newly
filmed August-September 1972 stock footage of Joe at Brown's Meadow,
Filming date: October 1972.
429.) The Marriage Of Theodora Duffy
January 9, 1973
Written by: Ward Hawkins
Directed by: William F. Claxton
Griff goes undercover as the "husband" of a government agent to
snare a gang of war criminals. Last episode ever filmed, containing one
quick, final glimpse of the Ponderosa's exterior.
Guest Stars: Theodora Duffy...Karen Carlson,...Jonas Holt...Ramon Bieri,...Dody
Hendrickson...Robert Yuro,...Stanton...Richard Eastham,...Shaw...Rayford
Barnes,...Marshal Taylor...Willard Sage,...Hop Sing...Victor Sen
Yung,...Bates,...Bill Clark,...Barnes...Jerry Gatlin,...Read...Hal
Burton,...Bob Miles...(uncredited; stunt double for Ramon Bieri).
Trivia: Last episode of Bonanza ever made.
Trivia: Ramon Bieri makes his second and last appearance on the
series, previously seen in twelve's, "The Desperado", and Robert Yuro makes
his second and last appearance on the series, previously seen as Rice, in
ten's, "Catch As Catch Can".
Trivia: This episode was the last one made and was to been the last one
aired, however NBC executives decided to air "The Hunter", instead as the
last episode aired since "Duffy" was centered around Griff, and not a
Trivia: Victor Sen Yung, Bill Clark, Jerry Gatlin, and Hal Burton make their last appearances on the series, since this was the final episode made the first week of November 1972.
Stunt Trivia: Lead stunt coordinator Bob Miles returned to the series
after a 2-year absence. He doubles actor Ramon Bieri when Jonas gets shot over the table in act four. The other actors do their brief fight scenes
including David Canary.
Location Scenes Filmed at: Franklin Lake, Southern California.
Filming date: November 2-8, 1972.
430.) The Hunter
January 16, 1973
Written by: Michael Landon
Directed by: Michael Landon
In this variation of the 1932 film "The Most Dangerous Game", Corporal
Bill Tanner has been sentenced and imprisoned for life in the Wheaton
Asylum by the military court in Nevada for killing women and children in
the line of duty. He escapes his cell by dislodging the bars in his cell
window and is now on the run. He sights an Army man sitting at a
campfire and quietly sneaks up behind him, picks up his special rifle
and shoots him down in cold blood. Tanner changes into his clothes and
takes his horse, food, water and other supplies.
He rides up to the
adobe shack and guns down a Mexican man and gives his lunch to his dog,
petting him, and rides away with an errie whistle. Back at the
Ponderosa, Joe has a business deal at Fort Bragg and Ben is counting on
him to take care of the deal for him. Jamie expresses he would rather go
with Joe, but he has his homework, school and Ben to answer to. Joe sets
out on a brown horse and makes camp at night.
A figure approaches from
beyond the campfire and it's Tanner. Joe assumes he's in the Army when
his eyes spot the Army saddlebags on the horse Tanner has stolen. Joe
offers him dinner and as the two converse, they get into an argument
about man killing for sport and animals killing only for food. The
debate ends and they both say good night, although Tanner is having
flashbacks in his mind to his being sentenced to life at the asylum. Joe
hears him and asks Tanner is anything is wrong, and he says no and
Tanner bids him a good night's sleep once more.
Joe awakens at sunrise the next morning to find his horse and supplies
have vanished and he is all alone. Tanner has done this as part of his
psychopathic lust for killing and tells Joe he is making him the prey of
the hunt. Joe tries to rationalize with Tanner, but the man is insane
from being in the war and tormented from being in the asylum. He shoots
at Joe and verbally gives him a four hour head start and then he is
coming after him and will kill him. Joe does everything he can think of
to throw Tanner off his trail, but the man is an expert tracker and
scout who is fluid, agile and invigorated by his newfound freedom in his
Joe starts his escape along the creek, at one point where he dives in
and swims across to the other side. He brushes out his tracks and throws
off his green jacket. Tanner is not fooled by this trick. Joe finds a
chance to escape on some old man's horse, but Tanner shoots him down in
cold blood and gives Joe a one-hour head start this time. Joe's next run
turns into a steep fall down a hill. His left arm is broken and he must
reset it. The knife concealed in his left boot is dull when he needs to
cut a branch off a tree and he throws it aside and physically breaks it
off with his right hand and makes sling. He keeps running from
Tanner finds the site of Joe's fall and is even more invigorated to
hunt and trap him, as he calls him a "wounded animal" who is now more
dangerous then before. Joe climbs to the top of the Sierra and finds
some roots to eat, stores some in his shirt and takes a rest. He awakens
to Tanner's errie whistle and decides to let him follow him and plans to
lead him into ambush. Joe frantically runs to the creek, cools himself down with water and drinks some.
He then runs over to a sapling and makes a
hand-made snare out of two long branches, with the point razor sharp and
covers it with sand. Tanner sees Joe's tracks at the pond and runs
across it-- right into the snare which stabs him in the leg. Joe is up
on the mountaintop and hears Tanner scream but isn't sure his trap
worked or it's a deception by Tanner.
It's near sunset and Joe is now in the desert and is dying of thirst
starvation with no water in sight. Tanner bandages his wounded leg and
has plenty of water to continue the hunt to kill Joe. Exhausted and
passed out from thirst starvation, Joe awakens to the sound of thunder
and the wetness of rain on his face. A storm is overhead and as he
slowly gets up, he sees a town in the far-off distance. He smiles and
can only think of water, help from the townsfolk and to have Tanner
arrested. Joe gets to the edge of town and it's a ghost town. No one in
He starts crying and deliriously screams for anybody or somebody
to help him and passes out again. Tanner is full of stamina and runs
into the edge of town, whistling the errie tune. He senses Joe is there
and slowly walks down the deserted street, ready to gun him down and end
the game. Joe has already thought of a plan to trap him. Atop the jail's
roof, he throws a rock down the flue pipe into the jail and Tanner goes
for the door and Joe bolts him inside. Joe passes out as Tanner insanely
screams now he is back in the asylum he was once incarcerated in. He
hears the military judge sentencing him again, snaps and picks up the
special rifle, shoots into the walls and dies of a heart attack, from
the claustrophobia of being locked up.
Joe is awakened the next morning
by Harve, the old man who gives him some whiskey and tells him Tanner is
dead and how he died. The old man takes Joe back to the Ponderosa, (which is not seen in the filmed episode) and with a final quick glimpse
of the Ponderosa interior in the first act. This was the 430th and last
episode aired on January 16, 1973, yet the 429 episode filmed in the
series in October 1972. Michael's shortest and quietest script he wrote
for "Bonanza" at 39 pages. Errie, spooky and mainly the dialogue is all
voice-overs with Michael's genius all over it, with the photography,
storyline, locations and acting.
Guest Stars: Corporal Bill Tanner...Tom Skerritt,...Mexican...Phillip
Avenetti,...Old Man...Peter O' Crotty,...Harve...Grizzly
Green,...Man...Hal Burton...(& uncredited; horseback double and falling
double for Michael Landon and jail cell double for Tom Skerritt),...Military Judge...Don Collier...(uncredited; voice-over).
Trivia: Tom Skerritt makes his
second and last appearance on the series, as the
insane soldier, Bill Tanner. He was previously seen in
six's, "Thanks For Everything, Friend", as Jerry. Later of TV's, "Picket Fences" and also in
many feature films in his long career.
Don Collier's voice-overs are heard at the beginning and end of the
story as the military court Judge who sentenced Bill Tanner (Tom
Skerritt) to solitary confinement. Hal Burton doubles Michael on the
brown horse in act one, as Michael is directing at Sabino Canyon and in
act two, doubles for Michael again, when Joe trips and falls down the
hill. Hal also doubles Tom Skerritt after he is locked in the jail cell
on the soundstage, a ceiling shot where Hal fires the rifle into the
walls, something too dangerous for an actor to do.
Music Trivia: David Rose and his orchestra and Tom Skerritt dominate
this episode's musical track with the song "Frere Jacqua". In English it goes like this: 'Are you sleeping, are you sleeping, brother John?
Brother John? Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are
ringing, ding, ding, dong, ding, ding dong.'
Michael Landon Trivia: The scripted first draft of "The Hunter" on
September 19, 1972, has some differences from the filmed episode, which
was filmed little over a month later, beginning on the last Monday of
October 1972, shortly before Michael's 36th birthday. In act one, shot
#14, Tanner rides up on the stolen horse (he takes from the Army
soldier after picking up his special rifle and gunning him down in act
one; played by Michael's stuntman, Hal Burton), and dismounts and
shoots down two men seated at the table at the adobe. Michael changed it
to Tanner shooting down one man while filming on location at the adobe.
In shot #16, Tanner is inside the shack, searching the shelves for food,
and then the camera goes back outside to the U.S. Army saddlebags being
flung over the saddle and Tanner gives the dog a biscuit to eat, pets
him and proclaims him a good dog and rides off in the distance, with the
errie whistle. Michael omitted this while filming on location and the
studio, but left the dog scene and ride-out in, while at Mescal. In shot
#19, Michael has noted Joe will not be riding the Paint horse on the
trail while in the Sierra.
In all of act two, in various shots, Tanner is slowly riding his horse
and pulling Joe's brown horse in tow, stalking Joe and tracking him, but
Michael dropped this from the script while filming at Sabino Canyon, due
to the wet weather. Tanner would do all his tracking on foot. In act
three, shot #83, after Joe has fallen hundreds of feet down the hill, he
curses when he says he picked a good time to break his arm, and then
questions the sanity of his predicament; Tanner shooting down the old
man down who never did a thing to anyone and tends to setting his arm.
In shot #91, in the living room of the Ponderosa, as Jamie and Candy are
eating roast beef, Jamie is picking at his while commenting to Ben how
he would rather be riding in the countryside, alongside Joe then going
to school. Candy mentions he better not eat all of the roast beef and
leave some for Hop Sing and Ben will owe Griff a fortune in backwages
for the recent cattle drive. This scene was never filmed by Michael
because it would have drug the plot down.
Towards the end of act three, shots #106 and #107, as Tanner's inner
voice is telling him he was the best tracker in the Army and his lust
for killing is making him so euphoric, and he then hears the voice of
the military Judge pronouncing sentence, (a sober reminder he is guilty
of killing women and children) and then he proceeds to hunt Joe down
once again. Michael dropped this from the script when filming on
In act four, from shots #114 to #121, it's near sunset and Joe is dying
of thirst starvation and comments he must get up or he is going to die.
He sees a town off in the distance and when he gets to the edge, a zoom
back to revealing the whole town is deserted. Joe runs in and comments
maybe things will pick up on a Saturday night (laughs to himself), and
he says he is so tired and can't think, he must go to sleep. The camera
slowly zooms back, revealing the entire street and the small sleeping
figure of Joe asleep. In shot #123, Tanner is watching the sunset and
comments with a full moon out, he can track his prey at night, it will
lead him straight to Joe, and he'll be ready to kill him by sunrise.
Michael dropped this shot from the script while on location, due to the
storm over the filming region.
Act four continues on location at Mescal, when Joe awakens to discover it is raining. In the filmed scenes at Mescal, Joe runs into the town for water
and help, screaming for anybody or somebody to help him, but finds no
one to aid him, and falls down and passes out again. Tanner runs right
in the ghost town after Joe, who has regained consciousness, and sets a
trap for him and imprisons him in the jail cell, bolting him inside
after he enters. In the script, Tanner's death in the jail cell has him
suffering a heart attack and is laying face down, where in the filmed
cut on the Warner soundstage, he is laying face up, with the camera
looking down on him, in the jail set, for a more dramatic effect.
The ironic thing about filming this story outdoors was a week before on
the site survey, the weather was all-dry and stable. Several days later,
when they arrived for filming, a storm moved in over the area and made
filming more uncomfortable and a few shots were not filmed, and Michael
did a small array of rewrites and omissions. On the seventh and final
day of filming, just when they needed rain for the rewritten scenes at
the ghost town--the storm was moving out, so the Honey Wagon had to
hooked up to the sprinkler system for artificial rain in "The Hunter".
Location Note: Last episode to be filmed at Sabino Canyon and Mescal,
Location Scenes Filmed at: Sabino Canyon and Mescal,
Filming date: October 1972.
Cancellation Trivia: The network cancelled the show, and producer Richard Collins told the
crew on Friday, November
3rd, and a few days later, the cast on Monday, November 6th, that the last
day of shooting was the following Wednesday, November 8th. Lorne Greene
was so upset he refused to show up that Wednesday. David Dortort had
begged the executives at NBC, particularly, a young NBC
executive in New York to let him finish the season out.
The answer was "No", and the series was
cancelled. Although Dortort was stoic in public interviews, he was very
bitter in private interviews. "He felt like he had a child who had died
and mourned Bonanza's ending for years", recalled daughter Wendy
Dortort. While at home, unloading groceries in his driveway, Mitch Vogel
was handed a telegram from a messenger, stating the show was cancelled. No
one from NBC ever called him directly.
Producer Richard Collins who met David Dortort at a party in 1968, and
became the series' last line-producer from the tenth season onwards, (and was worriesome how the cast would welcome him at first, which they
did with open arms), had the unenvieable task of having to call the crew
over the weekend and tell them Wednesday would be the last day of
shooting. All agreed NBC's executives had "handled it poorly", putting it
Lorne Greene remarked: "They told us on Monday that we would quit
shooting on Wednesday, November 8", he angrily told a reporter. "After
you've been on the air for fourteen years, even if you're a caretaker, you
should get a month's notice. They felt they didn't have to do that
because our contract said we got paid for that year, whether we did any
shows or not. But that wasn't the point. The point was; wind up the show in
the nicest way possible. There was a lack of dignity."
devastated everyone, from the cast to the crew, to the show's many fans. It
was a particularly hard blow for Michael, who told a magazine writer; "We
never thought we could die. We'd been shot, stabbed, kicked, run over by
wagons. You begin to believe all that-then someone tells you your
In examining the causes for the show's cancellation, Dortort felt
Blocker's death had been a major blow. "I guess when you really get down
to it," he said, "we just didn't have enough time to find a substitute for
Dan. I know at the beginning, it was Ben Cartwright who was the central
character, but you know, after a few years Hoss became the foundation of
the show, the central character, and you don't just find another
Michael stated; "We had a close family feeling, and cared very much
for one another. This intensified when Dan died in 1972. At that
point, Lorne and I began to really appreciate each other more than
ever. For me, Dan's death was like losing a brother". And Michael never got
over the loss of Dan, and at one point was going to write a book, with his
memories of Dan, and just could not. Add the loss of sponsor General
Motors, who pulled out, after sponsoring the show since 1961, and the move to Tuesday night's at 7:30-8:30 PM, that fourteenth
season. Lorne's words were to ring in Michael's ears for the rest of his
When "Little House" and "Highway To Heaven" were going
to end, Michael always made sure his cast and crew knew about it in
advance. It's not that Michael became clairvoyant, it's that he decided
when the series would halt production, not the network. NBC publicist Bill Kiley recalled with a laugh, when Michael asked him to hold a press conference on the last day of filming:
"Without telling me he rigged himself up in a stuntman's
harness, which was designed to yank bad guys off the set. Well, Michael
made a brief statement and then there was a loud shotgun blast and the
next thing I knew, he had disappeared. I mean, he was gone, totally out of
sight. If that wasn't an unforgettable ending to a Western series, I don't
know what was". Dortort was stunned at Michael's behavior with this press
conference stunt, only to learn he had signed another deal with the
Note: On Monday, November 6, 1972, Lawrence White, vice president of NBC
programming, "officially" announced the series would be replaced by yet
another night of prime-time movies, effective January 23, 1973.