Summary: A REALLY Lost Episode
Word Count: 2000
Strong, Yet Sensitive on the Comstock
Thanks to Gail (Bunny Bonanza) for the inspiration!
Times changed in television programming in the 1970’s. Despite being a top rated show, Bonanza seemed to be declining in viewership as American society changed rapidly and drastically.
A secret meeting of the production staff of the show was held in the lead-lined Ponderosa bunker in the Nevada Desert with NBC executives.
“We are concerned that after more than a decade of success, we are concerned that we might not get 20 seasons out of the show,” the NBC executive began.
“Twenty years?” the producer gasped. He was shocked that NBC had that idea.
“Maybe even 30. We have to change the show with the times.”
“We gave Ben long side burns this year…and what about that Woodstock- Hippie script the Weary Willies”
Everyone in the room retched into the waste baskets at the mention of that episode.
“We need to keep up with things! The times they are a changing!” said the NBC executive.
“What if the Cartwrights Were More Sensitive…maybe we could get a few more seasons out of them? Look at that Alan Alda. Women love his sensitivity!”
“And Dustin Hoffman and Ed Asner!”
“Ed Asner? He isn’t sensitive. It’s Mary being independent and those wacky girlfriends of hers!”
“Ok let’s give Roy Coffee a spunky female deputy. We can call her Mary and the Cartwrights can get a wacky ethnic neighbor like Rhoda!”
“Those grape growing Rossi people were the Cartwright’s neighbors and you know how that flopped.”
“Let the Rossi’s open a pizza parlor? Ponderosa Pizza?”
“Ponderosa Pine Tree VEGETARIAN Pizza!”
“YUK that is worse than that spin off you suggested where Cousin Muley is a veterinarian to Charo‘s Chihuahua or Cousin Will On the Love Boat…or getting a red headed step child.” The NBC executive shook his head.
“Ron Howard refused to negotiate but we still have an option with Howdy Doody to play the kid…”
“We need a better idea. Doody is shitty idea.”
“So is the redhead. What about Lucy? She can be the kid and the wacky neighbor?”
“Too expensive. Besides, the fans love the Cartwrights, not Lucy.” The young NBC executive shook his head.
“Sure… let them get married?”
“Lucy and the Cartwrights?” one of the writers asked.
“Not Lucy. A Cartwright can get married.” said the head of production.
“Sure Ben can marry a musical blonde widow with 3 musical blonde daughters and they can have a female housekeeper and a shaggy dog. And they can wear white jumpsuits and chains around their necks and sing!”
They all ignored that awful picture and retched once more into the waste baskets.
“Or have one of the boys get married!” one man suggested.
“Let them all get married. How about a hotel-owning widow with three perky daughters.”
“One blonde, one brunette and one red head!” exclaimed another.
“Three pretty, perky daughters with big boobs!” added one of the writers who drooled at the idea.
“Three pretty perky daughters with big boobs who swim in the water tank. Wet perky girls!” sighed the NBC executive who was shopping for a trophy wife.
“That’s Petticoat Junction. It’s been done. And anyway we have Little Joe…can’t be having BettyJoeBobbyJoeBillyJoe and Little Joe.” the producer shook his head.
“Why not?” the NBC man asked.
“Landon put it in his last contract. He is the one and only Joe. We can’t use the name Joe, Joey or Joseph in any script. Even Francis. Like calling one of Giorgio Rossi’s relatives or FRIENDS Joseph Francis Tribiani…He also asked for an espresso machine for Cochise XXII….and an episode with Ginger from Gilligan’s Island.”
“Then marry one of the Cartwrights off. Not all four. Have Joe marry Ginger. Make it a two part episode.”
“No, not that. Our male viewers like that they are four bachelors. And the females fantasize about them as their perfect boyfriends or husbands. If we get a wife in there, they won’t fantasize about the boys anymore. We have very moral viewers who would never THINK about a married man THAT way,”
“Really?” said the one who was looking for a trophy wife.
“Sure, why do you think we ditched that Laura Dayton/Adam romance?” said the man sitting next to him.
“Um…because she was too whiney and that kid looked like a pig?”
“NO! Because the Cartwrights must remain single! They must!”
“THEY MUST!!” they all chorused.
“I have it! Four sensitive bachelors. Four good-looking. strong males with a soft sensitive caring side. Very au current and 1970s…side burns, sensitivity, passion.”
“Sounds good to me… All those hippie college kids and women’s libbers who stopped watching Bonanza will flock back.”
“Bet we can even get Pernell back with this script!” said the foolishly nostalgic one.
“We can go on for decades!”
The Episode That Never Aired
Strong, Yet Sensitive on the Comstock
“Joe, did you borrow my pink angora sweater?” Adam growled as Joe fluffed his adorable hair in the shiny bathroom mirror.
“ME? ME? Borrow your sweater? NO! “Joe shirtlessly argued as he poofed up his lovely locks. He had a date with the soon to be late Mary Sue Bleudress. She was from New Orleans like his dead mama, REAL Marie.
“Then where is it!??” Adam demanded. Not to be outdone by Joe, he ripped off his shirt and put on a leather vest and some love beads. “I have a date with Sue Mary Blewdris!” She was from backeast, like his dead mama, Liz.
“I sure don’t know where your pink angora sweater is, Darling…besides you know how angora chafes my shiny hairless chest. Pass me that Brilliantine chest polish and the “Fresh as Spring” lemon oil,” Joe retorted, his emerald eyes flashing like a beacon.
“Then where is it?” Adam repeated, throttling Joe and beating the boy’s head against the tiled wall giving him a fractured skull. “Ooops! Another depressed fractured skull!”
Adam picked up the toilet plunger and plopped it to the side of his baby brother’s head and undented it.
“Hey, you smudged my mascara!” Joe sulked as his eyes refocused from his skull fracture. Adam karate chopped him in the forehead and his pupils re-dilated.
“You ok, Joe?” Adam gasped making sure his darling brother was A-OK. “I sort of lost my temper for a moment and broke a fingernail too!”
“I am perfect, as always!” Joe twirled and did a handstand on the side of the bathtub. “You are as good as any REAL doctor, Adam!”
“Better, because you are my brother and I care so deeply for you!” Adam did a back flip and a matching handstand next to Joe on the edge of the sparkling bathtub. (women love strong but clean men almost as much as they love owning numerous pairs of shoes.)
“Did you ever consider becoming a doctor, Adam?” Joe said as he stood on one hand. “I know you invented bloodless surgery with steak knives when you saved me after you ACCIDENTALLY shot me!”
“Yes, I might become a doctor and go to Korea and save orphans and then come back to San Francisco,” Adam said as he lifted one hand to show his manly strength. He balanced on his left hand as he scrubbed out the tub with his right. Liberated men did house work for their liberated women. ”I am going to San Francisco, the city of love beside the Bay.”
“And invent Rice A Roni?” Hoss asked sticking his head around the door.
Hoss didn’t do any back flips or join his brothers doing handstands on the tub. He comedically removed the bathroom curtains and wrapped them around his adorably chubby body and did a little Irish Jig like a leprechaun. Unfortunately, he knocked Adam and Joe off the edge of the tub and they both crashed to the floor.
“And WHERE IS MY PINK ANGORA SWEATER!” Adam demanded.
Joe shrugged and punched Hoss who grabbed Adam by the seat of his pants and flipped him into Joe.
Just then Ben arrived, wearing his maroon velour robe with the pink satin lapels that he got from Adah Menkin for a sensitive cowboy day gift. “Boys! Boys! Kiss and make up! KISS YOUR BELOVED BROTHERS! All of you! Hoss has the pink angora sweater in his room! Darlings, you know how your full- figured sibling fills that sweater so well. Bessie Sue Bluedress just drools with glee when he wears pink.” Ben ruffled Joe’s hair and squeezed Adam’s cheek and smiled paternally at Hoss in the café curtains.
“Oh my!” Adam and Joe squealed in unison. “Think we might just be having a spring wedding on the Ponderosa!” All the discord suddenly forgotten at the lovely idea the increase in the Neilson ratings that a wedding can produce.
“I hope he picks green corduroy tuxedos,” Joe grinned knowing that green made his eyes look great. He had such long lashes he had to put them up in pin curls at night.
“I just hope and pray my middle boy Hoss doesn’t pick an ensemble that makes my butt look big,” Ben was thankful that Hoss had a sweetie but he sure didn’t want to look chunky at the wedding. It wasn’t an easy task being the father of the groom.
A tear coursed its way down Adam’s handsome handsome manly cheek…he was thinking of Laura Dayton and wishing the Bonner brothers had trampled her to death with their horses instead of just knocking her down in the middle of Main Street. “Guess I better start working on that combo cradle/magazine rack as a wedding gift.”
“And charging the battery in that video recorder!” Joe added. He was secretly working on his next career as a writer/director/actor/producer/sensitive guy on the Prairie.
“Time for a group hug, boys!” Ben gathered his offspring to his chest and squeezed them to his thudding heart that was overflowing with affection for those wonderful boys. Then Ben and his four boys sang melodiously “Let Us Feel the Love Tonight” and “We are Fam- a- LEE!”
Pa hugged Adam and Adam hugged Hoss…who in turn hugged Little Joe who snuggled up to Pa and said (his Heineken bottle green eyes glittering like polished emeralds. “I wuv you, Pa. Sooooo much. Sorry I was so cranky before.”
“Har har har,” Hoss said. “It must be his PMS or tight tan britches riding up on him or the fact that he was shot, stabbed and set fire to jest last week. “
“Twice!” Joe bragged. “And kicked by a horse too!”
“And not to forget kidnapped and starved by pervo henchmen of the megalomaniac legion of villains: the Back Street Boys, The Joker and Jarrod and Heath Barkley,” Adam reminded them. They were all jealous of the Cartwrights and each month either kidnapped one of the boys or poured sugar in Ben’s gas tank or cut clumps out of Hoss‘s hair. For years, everyone was sure that Hoss was going bald but it was really the bad guys sneaking into the Ponderosa at night and swabbing the big cowboy’s head with wads of Nair.
Suddenly Adam was overwhelmed by emotion and minced up stairs and slammed the door and threw himself on his lavender Hello Kitty sheet and had a good cry. He so loved his family more than anything. “I love you guys!” Adam wailed.
“Guess it is Adam’s turn to be cranky,” Ben grinned and ruffled Little Joe’s curly curls,
“Pa, don‘t smoosh my coiffure! The mousse hasn‘t hardened yet,” Little Joe quipped in his usual impish Joe fashion.
“Thank GOD I am blessed by such wonderful boys and not an anorexic one in the bunch! By the way…does my butt look fat in these pants?”