Summary: A REALLY Lost Episode
Word Count: 2950
My Sons, My Sons, My Sons
With commentary by international Bonanza aficionado and expert, Prof. F. Sheets
“Pa, Pa, come quick!” Hoss hollered as he rode into the yard. He had an unconscious body slung across his saddle. The person’s long soft brown hair flowed in the breeze over a fringed, soft white satin outfit. The clothes were tattered and torn and full of blood and shmutz… “We found this here kid, laying hurt over by North Pasture.” Ben came out and Hoss handed the youngster down to his father.
Note from Prof. F. Sheets: This was not a real person. If you look closely, you can see this was a dummy. Probably the same dummy that Joe carried dressed as Adam in both “The Honor of Cochise” and Hoss danced with in “Tango on the Ponderosa”.
“Set the kid on the settee where we always set people,” Ben said as he settled the unconscious youngster against his shoulder. “You said you found this youngster unconscious?”
“Yep,” replied Hoss as he followed Ben inside the massive, like himself, front door of the Ponderosa Ranch house. “The kid was setting battered and covered with dirt. Had a smashed guitar on the ground. Looks hungry too.” Hoss shook his head sympathetically.
Adam came inside drinking a saucer of coffee. “Who is that setting on the settee?”
“Who is setting on the settee? Glad you asked, Adam. Hoss found the kid setting under a tree, hurt and schmutzy!” Ben said as he wiped the kid’s brow with a damp dish rag and forced a snifter of brandy down his own throat. “Ahhhhhhh!” He poured some for Hoss and then refilled Adam’s saucer. “Mmmmmmm, brandy!”
“Pa, think you should offer some brandy to the kid setting on the settee?” Hoss and Adam gestured at the semi comatose figure on the settee. They hoped Pa would say “Nope!” and the two brothers could slurp up the cup Hoss had poured. No need letting the brandy go to waste.
“Mmmmama? Danny? Laurie?” The unconscious long-haired satin cloaked figure murmured from the settee.
“Yummy BRANDY!” smiled Adam and Hoss, gargling with the amber liquid.
“Wait a minute, youngster!” Ben smiled as the kid’s hand clutched at his snifter.
Note from Prof F. Sheets: The director used real brandy in this scene. On the 55th retake, Lorne Greene fell over and banged his head on the horse statue that was setting behind the settee and knocked off one of the legs. Dan Blocker glued it back on with some chewed double mint gum.
“First you need a bath!” Hoss said grinning.
Adam nodded in agreement. He loved when one of his brothers brought home schmutzy strangers. Sometimes Hoss would drop plastic spiders into the tub while they bathed and sometimes Joe screamed “INDIAN Attack!!!” and the person ran out and would slip on the bar of soap that Adam would leave in the hallway. Once Joe even shot flaming arrows into the bathroom to make the attack seem more real but he set the organdy café curtains aflame and Pa was pissed enough to send them to bed early and not let them have their Jell-O and Kool Whip.
Note from Prof. F. Sheets: This was in the season 3 episode “Flaming Café Curtains”
Occasionally, when they were pranking a schmutzy stranger, Adam would lean on the bathroom door just enough so that the door would swing open and he could peep at the lady in the tub and innocently would say, “Ooops! I thought you might want some Mr. Bubble or a fresh towel!” and hand them a photo of himself signed “Love ya, Mr. Bubble” and a fluffy towel with the Cartwright monogram on it. Pa hated when they did that but then again, that was how he met Elizabeth, his first wife. And nine months later Adam was born.
Note from Prof. F. Sheets: This was in the episode in the first season called “Enter Mark Twain”. It was supposed to be “Enter Mr. Bubble” but for some unknown reason, the Mr. Bubble estate would not agree to the authorization of the use of the name.
Life was boring on the ranch and they needed to do something entertaining between dead girlfriends and being wrongfully accused of crimes and being sent to bed without supper by Pa when they argued over the last piece of raccoon blueberry pie or would not share their bullets.
“OK!” the kid said flipping the long lovely hair. “I will bathe and then I get brandy!”
“Purely for medicinal purposes,” Ben said firmly.
Note from Prof. F. Sheets: NBC censors insisted that brandy could not be given to more than four people in each episode unless it was for medicinal purposes. That is why in season 12, Doc Martin opened an outpatient clinic in the Rusty Bucket Saloon.
“And some Mr. Bubble!” Adam winked suggestively. He ran upstairs and put on a new black shirt and flossed his teeth with a piece of rawhide. (It was the old west.)
Meanwhile, Little Joe was riding over the hill to visit the new neighbors who had bought the next-door ranch. His old girlfriend Amy Bishop had once lived there. Joe and Amy were really in love that week. She died (what a surprise!!) when guest star James Coburn (that evil devil) tossed a pitchfork at Joe during a fight in the barn. Joe ducked. Amy didn’t and the rest is shish kabob history.
Little Joe REALLY hoped the new neighbors had removed Amy’s putrefied remains from where they were pinned on the barn wall for the last three years next to the harnesses, ropes and badminton set that no one had purchased at the Bishop’s garage sale before they moved to Boca Raton Florida, home of the early bird special.
Note from Prof. F. Sheets: This was in the episode “The Truckee Strip”. PAX never shows the emotional garage sale scene.
Joe was hoping a new pretty gal had moved in, and then he could move in before his brothers moved in and before the girl died or left town. He even wore his fresh green corduroy jacket that made his eyes glimmer in the dark.
As he rode Cochise 17 (the one with the waggly tail) over the ridge at a break neck speed, he spied a lovely, slender raven-haired girl standing innocently but suggestively on the porch. (And that isn’t easy)
Joe grinned. “WOWza!! Looks like a pretty raven haired girl will be smooching with me by the next commercial and dead by dawn and/or going ‘back east’!!”
The pretty girl smiled and winked at Joe. “Howdy, stranger. Boy! Am I in love with you!!! My name is Laurie!!” She leaped into Joe’s arms and off they rode. He drove Cochise one handed, as his other hand was busy with pretty Laurie.
“I think I love you!” Joe sang as they rode off past the new neighbor’s flower painted wagon. Joe thought the van…er…wagon looked sort of kinda familiar. Maybe because it looked like a gypsy wagon his former fiancée Tirza, the spastic gypsy, had before she split for the gypsy convention in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Note from Prof. F. Sheets: This was in the irrationally moronic episode “Dark Star”. Need I say more?
“My brother Keith sings that song with our family musical group,” Laurie commented has she nibbled Joe’s adorable ear lobe.
Note from Prof. F. Sheets: Michael Landon refused to let a stunt double do the earlobe nibbling.
“You have a family music group?” Joe growled has he played with Laurie’s tambourine.
“Yes, my widowed Mama and my little sister and three brothers. I play lead tambourine.”
”And what a tambourine it is!” Joe exclaimed as the waves of Lake Tahoe crashed on the shores.
“PAAAAAAAAAAA!” Adam shrieked melodically with a mellifluous baritone.
Ben and Hoss rushed up the stairs with guns drawn. “What is wrong?”
“I went to bring some fresh monogrammed towels to the stranger in the tub and … and…the schmutzy stranger is…is…”
”Drowned?” Hoss asked. He hated the idea that he may have to carry another dead guest down the stairs but Adam’s back bothered him and Pa wasn’t getting any younger.
“No!…worse,” Adam gasped.
“What is worse than drowned?” Ben asked, crossing his arms across his cattle baron chest. He never thought being a single father would be so difficult but then again, each time he tried to get his sons put in foster care or sent them to Fresh Air Fund camp, or the Quaker Wagon Train Teen tour, they found their way back to the Ponderosa. Even when he hired wolves and bushwhackers and Apaches to snag them, Ben never got a break to have a free weekend. Ever. It sure put a crimp in his private dinners upstairs in the saloons.
That was worse than drowned.
“Pa the schmutzy stranger is a BOY with sissy hair!” Adam exclaimed.
“A gol darn boy! I thunk I was bringing home a filly!”
Ben shook his head in disgust. He had second thoughts about all the times he forbid his boys from fraternizing with saloon gals. He would have to have Joseph give his brothers that little talk again and lend him the inflatable friendly cowgirl figurine that Roy Coffee had given Pa for his birthday.
“You mean the kid that was setting on the settee was a boy, not a gal?” Hoss shook his head.
“Yup,” Adam shook his head disappointedly.
All Ben could think of was the years of expensive college tuition he had paid for that succinct remark. Adam was supposed to be the SMART son. Ben Cartwright started to mentally enumerate. Adam drinks from saucers. Adam can’t tell boys from girls. Adam is pushing forty and lives at home wearing black and playing his guitar and being sullen and cynical. No wonder Ben had white hair.
Boy, was Ben glad he didn’t spend money for college for the other two.
“Who are you, boy?” Ben asked, praying that he wasn’t another damn relative like Muley or Will or Clay or Mary Ingalls or the Alpo dog. Maybe he was Roy Coffee’s love child, like Candy.
Note from Prof. F. Sheets: Some analysts claim Roy Coffee was Candy’s father; others say it was Doc Martin. Others claim Marshall Dillon.
“Keith,” the sissy boy said as he rinsed the crème rinse from his hair and put his puka shell necklace back on his slender sissy neck. He tucked his Hucka poo shirt into his bell-bottoms and smiled sweetly. “Hate to bother you cowboys, but do you have a blow dryer?”
Suddenly there was a loud knock at the door.
KNOCK KNOCK CKNOOOKKKK!!
“Yoooo hoooo!” a lovely voice called. “Is anyone home?”
”Leprechauns!” Hoss grinned and slid down the banister. He hit the newel post, shot up in the air and fell in a heap near the fireplace.
“No you dumb ass! It is Joe pretending that he is a leprechaun! Joe is fooling you, Hoss!” Adam said cynically and slid down the banister behind his husky brother. He too hit the newel post and shot up in the air. He landed on top of Hoss’s chubby stomach.
”Oooof!” gasped Hoss. An apple shot out of his mouth and commingled with the other apples in the permanent fruit bowl on the coffee table.
Note from Prof. F. Sheets: This was an accident. Dan Blocker was not supposed to have eaten when he did that scene but the director left the apple burp in.
“It is a woman at the door!” growled Ben as he clattered down the stairs. “Sometimes your education gets in the way of your thinking!” he ordered, pointed his index finger at Adam. “And you! Go empty that bath tub!” Ben shouted at Hoss. “And don’t loose that rubber duck again.”
”Caint’ Adam do that?”
”You know he has a bad back! That is why you always go down the banister first so you can make a cushy landing spot for him.”
Hoss nodded obediently.
The sissy boy Keith shouted from upstairs “Cowboys, don’t you guys have a blow dryer? My hair is going to get all frizzed.”
“Adam! Take care of the kid. Bring him out to the barn and let the bull snort on his head.”
”Yes sir!” Adam said cynically. “If we had a windmill…”
”Shut up all ready about the damn windmills!” Ben growled as he flung open the door.
Standing there was an attractive woman with thick false eyelashes and poofy blonde hair. She was wearing a long tight black velvet vest and a white ruffled blouse with full sleeves. “Hello, I am your new neighbor. I just bought the old Bishop ranch. You know the one with the dried out girl tacked up in the barn with the pitch fork?”
Ben stared at the attractive woman at his door. “WOWZa! Shirley?”
”Shirley Bigelow?” Ben embraced the beautiful woman who he had once loved long, long, long ago. She had left him for a carousel barker — Billy Bigelow — and Ben went off to sea to mend his broken heart and hunt for whales and gefilte fish and mermaids.
”Shirley Curly Bigelow Partridge! Before Billy, I lived in Oklahoma…then I married Nameless Partridge. He died.”
Note from Prof. F. Sheets: In the episode “The Guilty”, Ben is blamed by Lem Partridge for the death of his son in a gunfight with Jack Groat. Lem Partridge was the brother of Nameless Partridge who was married to Shirley.
”Elizabeth, Inger and Marie died too. I have three sons.” Ben hugged her again. She hugged him back. He hugged her again. He longed for more. It had been a Looooooongg time.
“Three sons? How marvy! Mike, Robbie and Chip?”
Ben shook his head.
”Harpo, Chico and Groucho?” She guessed again.
“No, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe,” Ben said proudly.
“Like on Bonanza?” Shirley said.
“Errr, this is Bonanza.” Ben said winking.
“Oh tee hee… I was hoping you might have found my kids… a boy and a girl.”
”Karen and Richard Carpenter?”
She shook her head.
“Bud and Princess?”
”Nope… guess again…They are musical.” Shirley hinted batting her thick eyelashes.
“Laverne and Shirley?” Ben struggled.
“Keith and Laurie… my other kids are in the wagon. We have a gig at the Silver Dollar and Keith disappeared with one of those Brady girls.”
”From the Nine Square Bee Ranch?” Ben asked. “Hop Sing and Alice do carpool together.”
”Yes that’s the one. And Laurie, my beautiful but anorexic daughter also disappeared.”
“MMMMaaaamma!” Keith squealed from the top of the stairs. He slid down the banister, hit the newel post and flew high in the air. He landed on Hoss.
“Oooof! Gol durn sissy boy!” Hoss grunted.
“Had you been emptying that tub like I asked you, you wouldn’t have been still laying there!” Ben reprimanded Hoss.
“But the little sissy boy would have been hurt, Pa, had he fallen on the hard wooden floor,” Adam stood up for Hoss.
“That is true, Ben. I wouldn’t want my sissy boy….errrr Keith to hurt his delicate, adorable derriere!” Shirley smiled sweetly.
The door flew open and Joe walked in the house “But I bet his butt isn’t as cute as my butt!” Joe wiggled his bottom at Shirley as he kissed Laurie who was wearing a blue dress.
“No, indeed it isn’t…but Keith has pretty hair!”
”So does our Little Joe!” Adam quickly defended his kid brother. “And he doesn’t need any fancy crème rinse or not yet invented electronic apparatus or bull breath for his coiffure.”
“Mama! Little Joe and I are engaged!” Laurie smiled holding up a 78-carat cubic zirconium ring that Joe had bought for her with a box of Cracker Jacks.
“Sounds good to me,” Ben shrugged. If this engagement mirrored any of the others his boys had, there was no need to prepare a guest list.
“And I am engaged to Marcia Brady!” Keith grinned.
“Marcia?” Adam asked cynically. He was really partial to Jan, the second sister. She could quote Shakespeare and sing madrigals and was cynical and bitter.
”Marcia!” Joe gasped realizing he had also given Marcia a cubic zirconium ring. Or was it Cindy. One blonde Brady was a good as another in the hay loft….unless it was Mrs. Brady and that was more than any one Cartwright could really handle.
”Marcia.” Hoss sighed at the memory of her love beads and mini skirts. She was more abusive to him than the Widow Layton or Ragan Miller.
“And I will be needing a best man. Any of you cowboys want to do me the honor?” Keith smiled vapidly flicking his poofy sissy boy hair.
“OOOOoooo Pick me!” Adam raised his hand.
“Me! Me! Me!” Hoss shove him aside.
“I will look adorable in the pictures. Pick me!!!” Joe elbowed his brothers aside.
“Boys, boys!” Ben tried to restore order. “Who the hell cares which one it is that is the best man for Keith!” Ben winked at his sons. “We all know what will happen.”
The boys laughed in unison as the Partridges looked vapid.
The three Cartwright brothers snickered knowing the Cartwright Love Object Curse was the only on stronger than the Cartwright Best Man Curse.
“Guess we will be getting new neighbors next episode,” Adam laughed as the rest of the family nodded in agreement.
”That boy is not as stupid as I figured,” thought Ben, hoping to snuggle up a bit with Shirley Curly Bigelow Partridge before she died and/or left town.