After the departure of David Canary, in spring of 1970 and the series' Western genre style, David Dortort decided to return the family relationships theme to the show and the new theme song, "The Big Bonanza" captured the shows' wide appeal and wistfulness. No Lake Tahoe locales were used, instead alternating shots of Pa, Hoss, Joe, and Jamie, who was a new addition to the Ponderosa in "A Matter Of Faith". Different action shots of the actors were shown every week, and they
would freeze for a few seconds in either blue or aqua, and continue until
the ending of the beginning credits segued into the first commercial
There are a total of 17 action shots taken for the new, opening scenes. Four of Lorne Greene as Pa; the first action shot of him inside the house, taking a shotgun off the gunrack, the second action shot of him running out the front door, with a worried look on his face, the third action shot of him walking out of the barn, holding a baby calf, and the fourth action shot of him seen in twelve's "The Power Of Life And Death", on location in Old Tuscon, Arizona.
More action shots of Hoss were seen, the first shot where he is unloading the buckboard at the barn, the second shot of him at the dinnertable, emptying a whole plate of chicken onto his dish for supper, the third shot of him getting up out of a chair on the porch, and Joe, who is out of camera range, hitting him in the face, and the fourth shot of Hoss breaking out of the barn, with a mean look on his face.
Joe's action shots, three of them were taken from the twelve's "Thornton's Account", made at Big Bear Lake; the first shot of him running to the buckboard and taking off like the wind, the second shot of him climbing down a slope to help a wounded Ben, the third shot of him on Cochise, who is galloping and rearing on his back legs, with a close-up of his face, and the fourth shot, taken from the Warner Brothers soundstage, getting thrown through the barn window, and getting up with a mean look on his face! And the fifth shot of Joe, from "Thornton's Account", at Cedar Lake dismounting from Cochise, only to stop and look at the camera.
The last four action shots are of Mitch Vogel as Jamie, woven into the last action shot, before the guest-star credits are seen.The first shot is of Jamie losing his balance and falling in a pond, at Warner Brothers, the second shot of him riding his horse, looking very happy, the third shot of him on his horse, although his horse is spooked and rears on his back legs, both shots done at the Big Sky Ranch, and the fourth shot of him trying to catch a billy goat, in the front yard, with a frustrating look on his face!
This new look was attractive, but an unexpected turn for the worse happened during Bonanza's 13th season hiatus, Dan died suddenly, and because of this, the new theme song was scrapped and for Bonanza's fourteenth and final season, one last trek to a high country meadow for the two remaining Cartwrights, Pa and Joe.
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