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Episode Guide
Bonanza:
The Lost Episodes Story

        In 1973, NBC had the task of syndicating Bonanza for U.S. airplay on local television stations. They chose 260 episodes from the first six years and from the later era into the 1969-70 season, titled as "Bonanza" and the syndicated title "Ponderosa."

        They signed a distribution agreement with National Telefilm Associates, who would act as the worldwide distributor for the series. The original 35mm negatives and magnetic audio soundtracks were taken to 16mm film prints for airplay. They also selected 51 episodes from the 1966-1970 seasons that were prepared in the same manner. They were part of 170 episodes NBC didn't want to air, because they preferred to go with the theme of popularity, as with the 260 episode set, syndicated in May of 1973.

        By the early 80's, NBC and NTA pulled out the later seasons and distributed them for viewing in the United Kingdom, but none of them appeared in U.S. reruns at that point in time. By 1986, the advent of digital video and audio by Sony prompted NBC to start preparing Bonanza for resyndication for cable television.

        The process required NBC to take out the 35mm interpositives and soundtracks that were stored in the warehouse at Fort Lee, New Jersey since 1972. The materials were taken into the studio and NBC technicians supervised the film-to-tape transfers onto Sony Digital 1 and digital audio tape. They would go in season order and make the digital masters for all 430 episodes.

        The work took a good deal of time, as with such a large amount of film and audio materials that had be be digitally remastered for the best quality to return to cable TV and various locals. NBC had to make a backup set and a syndication set. The latter had the editor making edits on certain episodes he chose, where other episodes had no edits at all. The running time of the series was 48 minutes.

        By 1988, NBC was in the final stages of getting most of the episodes completed for airplay. They struck a deal with The Family Channel, a new cable television network, owned by the ultra-conservative and ex-Baptist minister, Pat Robertson. National Telefilm was now going by the name of Republic Pictures, since they acquired the name and logo in 1986. Republic shipped Family Channel 120 episodes that began with season seven and concluded with season fourteen. Oddly, NBC held back season six's "Lothario Larkin" which was included in the first shipment.

        In-house duplication at the cable network had the editor trimming out 4 minutes of shots when making their digital dubs for airplay. A character generator was used to make the sub-title "The Lost Episodes" line up under Bonanza and it was now part of the main title sequence. As of note, this added title was not present when season 10's "Emily" was duplicated and the same holds true for eleven's "Decision at Los Robles."

        In the summer of 1989, Republic shipped 51 other episodes that weren't part of the first shipment in 1988. NBC took longer to remaster these, as the original prints were used heavily for past reruns and they had age-related problems. The results still had them looking good for airplay. The 120 set was aired on weekdays, but the set of 51 episodes was aired on weekends. As a note of interest, ten's "Emily" wasn't first aired until the summer of 1994. How this occured could remain a mystery, or someone may have gotten careless and left it sitting on a shelf for too long.

        Pat Robertson would censor any program that his extreme Christian beliefs opposed. His programming staff were instructed to censor and five Bonanza episodes were far from exempt. Season seven's "The Strange One" dealt with a young woman who is a psychic that can predict events and tragedy would result. The Christian religion sees a psychic as a witch; a disciple of Satan, and this is why the episode was censored.

        Season eight's "The Pursued" was a two-part epic with feature quality, that dealt with a Morman rancher and his two wives. The local townsfolk don't understand it and the new Christian preacher turns into a fanatic over the issue of polygamy. The rancher and his wives are forced out of their ranch by the preacher, who has the townsmen following his order to punish them for what he considers is sinning. In this case, the two-parter was censored.

        Season thirteen had two episodes that Robertson also considered not suitable for the viewing audience. "Second Sight" deals with a lovely woman who is a clairvoyant, that can foretell events. Her husband is a man of the cloth and isn't comfortable in their marriage with her ability of "second sight." Jamie is missing and injured, so the Cartwrights call on her for help. In the eyes of Christians, a clairvoyant is said to be a witch and disciple of Satan, so this episode was censored, too. In 1989, the episode was compiled by NBC into a feature with "The Strange One" and aired on USA Network. It went under the title of "Bonanza: The Movie."

        The fifth entry is "A Visit to Upright." In the story, the Cartwrights buy a rundown saloon and the plot revolves around a picture of a naked lady. Once again, the episode was censored. Robertson didn't like the painting and in his mind, it was a negative factor that could be linked with sexual overtones and lustful desire, which is a sin. On the contrary, it isn't a sin for a Christian man to look at a naked woman. In this case, Robertson was too extreme in his mind. Family Channel gave no explanation for censoring and never publically revealed it. The final example of their censoring was applied to fourteen's "Forever."*

        The full-length episode aired in the fall of 1989, with the two-part syndicated version replacing it in 1990. Robertson refused to air it in early 1991, as some things in the plot disturbed him. He sold Family Channel to Fox in 1996 and their new management took over in 1997. "Forever" suddenly came back on that year, as Fox had no objections to the story at all. The last day of Family Channel's programming was August 14, 1997. Robertson's "700 Club" was the only program that remained on the air with Fox as the new owner. Bonanza had 10 years of airplay on Family Channel. It was the end of an era.

        Incidentally, NBC made the set of 171 Bonanza episodes a cable exclusive, so they could avoid paying high residual fees for surviving actors and stuntmen who worked the series. Michael Landon got post-1970 residuals for the final two seasons of the series, effective in 1988. At the time of his passing, he had $1 million in residuals from seasons thirteen and fourteen.

        Goodlife TV, a Christian-based cable network in Washington, purchased the viewing rights to the 171 episodes in 1999. In-house duplication made the digital dubs and used time-compression to speed up the episodes, so they would fit in a 60-minute timeslot with commercials. Not only did they sound a little faster, but a viewer could see the entire presentation sped up slightly. This meant Goodlife TV made no additional edits to the episodes. They were still shown in the 120 episode set, followed by the 51 episodes that followed, for seven days a week. The "Lost Episodes" sub-title was visibly absent and no episodes were censored. Airplay concluded in September of 2001 and "Highway to Heaven" replaced the series.

        In 2002, the so-called Lost Episodes were purchased by Hallmark Channel, which I had major involvement with getting them back on the air. Paramount, who began distribution, finally corrected the episode sequence and made it one set, where the above examples had it the opposite way around. In-house duplication made the digital dubs, with edits for sponsors. A few of the syndication masters were damaged from age and couldn't be duplicated for airplay. They were "Winter Kill," "The Grand Swing" and "A Home for Jamie." Hallmark contacted Paramount, who made replacements for airing later on.

        The main problem with Hallmark was they aired the series too early in the day and this didn't help the viewership ratings. In October of 2004, they were taken off the lineup, due to this reason. They put them back on in June of 2006, but they lasted for only a week and the were removed from the lineup for good. Their cable license expired in 2007 and they opted not to renew it. Presently, Bonanza's so-called Lost Episodes are still waiting to find a new cable network for airing. One may hope it will be soon.

        Note: Each of the Lost Episodes listed below is linked to its description in the Bonanza episode guide.
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Season 6

Lothario Larkin

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Season 7

The Debt
The Dilemma
The Brass Box
The Other Son
The Lonely Runner
Devil On Her Shoulder
Found Child
The Meredith Smith
Mighty Is The Word
The Strange One
The Reluctant Rebel
Five Sundowns To Sunup
A Natural Wizard
All Ye His Saints
The Dublin Lad
To Kill A Buffalo
Ride The Wind - Parts I & II
Destiny's Child
Peace Officer
The Code
Three Brides For Hoss
The Emperor Norton
Her Brother's Keeper
The Trouble With Jamie
Shining In Spain
The Genius
The Unwritten Commandment
Big Shadow On The Land
The Fighters
Home From The Sea
The Last Mission
A Dollar's Worth Of Trouble


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Season 8

Something Hurt, Something Wild
Horse Of A Different Hue
The Pursued - Parts I & II
To Bloom For Thee
Ballad Of The Ponderosa
The Bridegroom
Tommy
A Christmas Story
Ponderosa Explosion
Justice
A Bride For Buford
A Woman In The House
Joe Cartwright, Detective
Dark Enough To See The Stars
The Deed And The Dilemma
The Prince
Clarissa
Maestro Hoss


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Season 9

The Sure Thing
Six Black Horses
The Gold Detector
The Crime Of Johnny Mule
Star-Crossed
Trouble Town
A Dream To Dream
To Die In Darkness
The Bottle Fighter
The Arrival Of Eddie
The Stronghold
Pride Of A Man
A Severe Case Of Matrimony
Stage Door Johnnies


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Season 10

Different Pines, Same Wind
Child
The Real People Of Muddy Creek
The Passing Of A King
Little Girl Lost
The Survivors
Queen High
Yonder Man
Mark Of Guilt
Mrs. Wharton and the Lesser Breeds
The Lady and the Mountain Lion
Five Candles
The Wish
Emily
Speak No Evil
A Ride In The Sun


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Season 11

Another Windmill To Go
The Silence At Stillwater
Meena
Abner Willoughby's Return
It's A Small World
Danger Road
The Big Jackpot
The Lady and the Mark
Is There Any Man Here?
The Law and Billy Burgess
The Long Way To Ogden
Return Engagement
The Gold Mine
Decision At Los Robles
Caution: Easter Bunny Crossing
The Horse Traders
What Are Pardners For?
A Matter Of Circumstance


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Season 12

The Night Virginia City Died
A Matter Of Faith
The Weary Willies
The Wagon
The Power Of Life and Death
Gideon The Good
The Trouble With Trouble
Thornton's Account
The Love Child
El Jefe
The Luck Of Pepper Shannon
The Imposters
Honest John
For A Young Lady
A Single Pilgrim
The Gold-Plated Rifle
Top Hand
A Deck Of Aces
The Desperado
The Reluctant American
Shadow Of A Hero
The Silent Killer
Terror At 2:00
The Stillness Within
A Time To Die
Winter Kill
Kingdom Of Fear
An Earthquake Called Callahan


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Season 13

The Grand Swing
Fallen Woman
Bushwhacked!
Rock-A-Bye Hoss
The Prisoners
Cassie
Don't Cry, My Son
Face Of Fear
Blind Hunch
The Iron Butterfly
The Rattlesnake Brigade
Easy Come, Easy Go
A Home For Jamie
Warbonnet
The Lonely Man
Second Sight
The Saddle Stiff
Frenzy
The Customs of the Country
Shanklin
Search In Limbo
He Was Only Seven
The Younger Brother's Younger Brother
A Place To Hide
A Visit To Upright
One Ace Too Many


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Season 14

Forever
Heritage Of Anger
The Initiation
Riot
New Man
Ambush At Rio Lobo
The Twenty-Sixth Grave
Stallion
The Hidden Enemy
The Sound Of Sadness
The Bucket Dog
First Love
The Witness
The Marriage Of Theodora Duffy
The Hunter

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Bonanza: The Master Cut
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