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Bonanza Season 8 Volumes 1 And 2 DVD Set Review

Bonanza Season 8 Volumes 1 and 2 DVD Set

The eighth season of the long-running western series comes to DVD.

Over the course of season 8’s 34 episodes, viewers can relive the adventures of the Cartwright family (namely Ben and his sons Little Joe and Hoss) at the Ponderosa Ranch near Virginia City. Among the stories you can expect to see here are: A Ferguson/Cartwright feud, a horse race, a vengeful cowhand, religious persecution, Hoss in love, outlaws, a ranch inheritance, musicians, vengeful folks, Hoss looking to discover who shot Little Joe, Joe playing matchmaker, a Christmas benefit, rabbits, tragedy striking Little Joe, a mentally ill Civil War veteran, an injured Comanchero, marital troubles between one of Cartwrights’ ranch hands, robbers and robberies, shady drifters, a water dispute, characters being framed for murder, Ben’s cousin, and Hoss taking up the violin.

Upon watching one of the most popular series in TV history with “Bonanza,” it felt like taking a trip to the past when westerns ruled the airwaves. To me, this is a good thing as I am always happy to delve into the genre. With that said, however, I did have to wonder why “Bonanza” was such a beloved program.

Perhaps “Bonanza” is one of those comfort shows that people could turn on at anytime, but the show really does not hold up well. In the pantheon of great TV westerns (or western hybrid series) such as “Gunsmoke,” “Firefly,” “The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.,” and “The Rifleman,” “Bonanza” feels rather thin. Now, that’s not to say the series isn’t without merit. The show’s core characters, the setting and community, the iconic theme song and opening credits, and the exploration of important issues (ie Mormon faith in “The Pursued” 2 parter and mental illness in “The Unseen Wound”) are all admirable both for the time and by today’s standards. For the most part though, “Bonanza” is mostly a lighthearted western filled with dopey music, cheeseball humor, odd pacing, and distracting guest stars of the week such as Ed Begley, Wayne Newton, Beau Bridges, Leslie Nielsen, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Granted, many folks will be entertained by the tone of the series, but personally, I like something a bit more challenging and darker when it comes to the lawless frontier.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 4:3. How does it look? The 8th season of “Bonanza” has been digitally remastered and it looks positively gorgeous. Not only are the colors crystal clear, but the series looks brand new. For fans of the series, it’s worth purchasing this set just for the picture quality alone.

Audio Track: Dolby Digital Mono. How does it sound? While not perfect, the audio has been cleaned up.

Volume 1 Extras:
* Numerous photo galleries.
* “Giant Step”- A half-hour Chevrolet promo video featuring Lorne Greene.
* Commentary tracks on “The Pursued Part 2,” “Tommy,” “A Christmas Story.” Expect to hear comments from the likes of Wayne Newton, Andrew J. Klyde, Allan Asherman, and Ted Quinn.
* Original NBC logo, bumpers, and Chevy promo.
* An archival interview in which Francis M. Nevins interviews William Witney.

Volume 2 Extras:
* Tons of photo galleries.
* Original NBC logo, bumpers, and Chevy promo.
* Commentary on “Joe Cartwright, Detective” by Andrew J. Klyde.
* “Ponderosa Caravan”- A 1967 promotional short film with “Bonanza” cast members.

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August 19, 2015 - Posted by | DVD review | , , ,

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