Summary: It’s a classic review of some of the best moments.
Word Count: 1500
Ben Cartwright sat at his desk, reading a letter delivered from Virginia City that morning. As his eyes scanned the lines his dark eyebrows shot higher and higher towards his hairline.
“Stuff and nonsense!” he expostulated, screwing up the letter into a ball and tossing it in the general direction of the fireplace. However, his aim was off, which somewhat spoiled the overall dramatic effect. Ben was actually notoriously cack-handed, unable toss a letter into the fire from a distance of three feet, as witnessed in Showdown. Of course, he blamed Continuity and Editing for this little faux pas. However, it was a certainty that he’d never play professional baseball, as the Deputy Sheriff, Clem, was rumoured to have done.
“What is it, Pa?” Adam asked, with a certain tone of resignation in his voice. It was always a bad sign when his father got worked up, for his voice rose by at least 20 decibels, seriously endangering all the windows in the house. No wonder Joe had been so aggrieved over all the fuss Ben had made over one measly broken window in The Flapjack Contest. Life on the Ponderosa could never be described peaceful and Adam sometimes considered moving to the middle of a busy city, where he could enjoy some well-earned quietude.
“My correspondent says that we are having too much fun and that Bonanza is meant to be serious.”
In moments of great emotional distress, Adam had to pinch the bridge of his nose very hard in order to retain his normal composure. But this was too much, even for a man who was so reserved that he formally introduced himself to the family every breakfast time.
“Serious?” he squeaked, sounding alarmingly like Joe, whose high-pitched giggle had caused the Cartwrights untold amounts of distress over the years. While they were quite accustomed to the disconcerting sounds, strangers tended to look around in terror, almost expecting to be knocked over by men rushing by, with a straightjacket at the ready.
“How can they ignore the rich vein of humour we’ve injected into popular culture?” Ben moaned, thinking of such classic episodes as Ponderosa Explosion and Caution: Easter Bunny Crossing.
“My personal favourite is The Savage,” the redhead said happily. Noticing the stunned look on Adam’s face, she hastened to explain, “The bit where you throw your hat to the floor, that is. Of course, the rest was a masterpiece of dramatic acting.”
“I don’t see what’s so funny about the state of chaos we live in,” Joe complained. “I mean, it’s fine to sit on the coffee table, but woe betide any one who dares to put so much as a toe tip on it. And then there’s the matter of my bedroom…”
Ben sighed heavily. He was getting just a little fed up with Joe’s constant complaints about his moving bedroom. Catching the heavy gust of air rushing by his ear and setting the centre light swinging madly to-and-fro, Joe decided to switch tack.
“I mean, we’ve got all these extra bedrooms, including the one downstairs. So how come visitors always get stuck in my room? Time after time it happens – The Auld Sod, Square Deal Sam… And does anyone ask where I sleep? Do they care?”
“We care, poppet,” the blonde said soothingly, brushing Paw’s fur into a Mohican and smiling broadly at the results.
“You’re making a lot of fuss over nothing,” Adam replied. He still wasn’t sure about the redhead’s comment. “But acting is a serious business. You can’t really have fun and do a good job.”
“We noticed that,” the redhead said, smiling at Paw, who was cavorting around showing off his new fur style. “After all, you didn’t have a particle of fun with Hoss and the Leprechauns, now did you? You didn’t really enjoy thumbing your nose and doing that charming little dance. We could all tell that.”
“I were right about them little fellas,” Hoss said. “An’ none of yous believed me!”
“That was a classic episode,” the blonde said, reminiscently. “Joe was wonderful in it.” She smiled at him fondly and he went “Yoo-hoo!” just for the sisters. They nearly passed out with bliss.
“You were quite funny in The Burma Rarity, too,” the blonde told Adam. “You almost had a passable Cockney accent.”
Adam smirked modestly. “I have a talent for accents,” he said, as though this was unique to him.
“Ya don’t say, guv,” hazarded the redhead, who was quite adept at accents, too. Adam gave her a hard look, which she ignored. Every time he tried to show off his skills, the redhead managed to show him up. She was just as annoying as his pesky little brother. Talented, gorgeous – no wonder he hated her!
“He was a real stuffed shirt in The Ponderosa Matador,” Joe said. “Did you see the way he sucked up to that girl, spouting off Spanish?”
“If anybody had bothered to create a bible and take note of previous episodes,” said the redhead, “they would’ve remembered that you spoke some Spanish in El Toro Grande.” She sighed, for that had been another episode where Joe had been allowed to fence, and he was sooooo sexy when he did that.
“An’ I won the gal that time,” Hoss said, with evident glee. “I wonder what happened to her?”
“Disappeared without trace, I should think,” the blonde said. “Probably best, in the long run. I mean, imagine how crowded the Ponderosa would be if everyone who fell in love with you stayed around!”
“No to mention the fights,” Ben moaned piteously. He still hadn’t forgotten the mud-wrestling match in Springtime. Judging from the exclamations and the sounds of scrubbing coming from the kitchen Hop Sing hadn’t either.
“Now there was an episode with something in it for everyone!” the redhead observed. “A segment devoted to each of the boys, three journeys of realisation and development, some lovely bits of comic relief thrown in for good measure and a satisfying ending.”
“Plus, we got to see your bare feet!” the blonde sighed adoringly at Joe.
“Don’t forget The Gunmen!” Hoss said happily. “That were downright hilarious in parts. ‘Specially that false moustache they stuck on you, Shortshanks!”
“How many hamsters gave up their lives for that ‘stache?” Adam wheezed, between large guffaws of laughter.
Joe reddened and decided it was time to change the subject. “Don’t forget San Francisco – the sight of Pa getting shanghaied was brilliant!”
Hoss nodded eagerly. “Sure was. Plus, it was about the only time we ever managed to have ourselves a proper holiday.”
“Speak for yourself!” Adam said sourly. “I didn’t get to go – remember?” He still felt rather bitter about this and wondered if a nice, long break away from the Ponderosa was what he needed.
The Giggly Sisters remembered the sight of the Cartwrights getting prepared for a night out and sniggered quietly. Those string ties bore a remarkable resemblance to satin ribbons, making Ben, Hoss and Joe look like three life-sized teddy bears. Still, that paled into insignificance when it came to the Cartwrights’ trousers.
As befitting the patriarch of the Ponderosa, Ben was the only member of the family who seemed to have avoided the curse of the comedy trousers, which provided hours of amusement for eagle-eyed viewers. Nowadays, Adam had fairly normal trousers, but there were several episodes when he sported unfeasibly large turn-ups and in the early seasons Hoss had displayed a penchant for tucking his pant-legs into his boots, but Wardrobe had spoken sharply to him about that. However, Joe continued to be forced into stone-coloured pants, which may have fitted beautifully around the butt, were which were lamentably short in the legs and rode up alarmingly when he sat down. They had been a reasonable fit to begin with, in the days when he wore the grey and blue jackets, but with the advent of the green jacket had come ever-shorter trousers. As for Roy Coffee with his old mannie trousers with the waist up to his armpits, and the crotch somewhere between his knees… – well the less said there the better!
“So, are you going to reply to your correspondent?” the redhead asked Ben.
“Well, I don’t want to get into a debate about this,” he said, thinking hard. “But I don’t think Bonanza is meant to be taken too seriously.”
“Me, either,” said Joe, who loved nothing more than fooling around pulling silly faces and laughing hysterically.
“And people love the series the way it is,” Adam interjected, although it galled him to have to agree with Joe about anything.
“And you’ll be remembered for many, many years,” added the blonde. She eyed Paw, who was now flattening his Mohican.
“Remembered with love and laughter,” said Joe. “Sounds good to me.”