- Number of Discs: 8
- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 26 hours, 25 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: September 15, 2009
- Originally Released: 2009
- Label: Paramount
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Note: Rare alternate pilot ending and other great extras
- Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33
Performers, Cast and Crew:
A.V. Club - 10/07/2009
"BONANZA won over TV fans the way the Cartwrights swayed their reluctant neighbors: by representing the kind of dogged, un-splashy quality that endures." -- Grade: B
Until September of 2009, the only authorized DVD edition of BONANZA was a double-disc set with a selection of episodes from Artisan Entertainment, and that was out-of-print as of 2006. The only other versions have been cheap public domain editions of various episodes whose copyrights have fallen into question. This eight-disc set offers all 32 first-season episodes -- fortunately for fans of the series, there seem to be not only perfect copies of the first-season shows to work from in mastering these discs, but copies with the original network intros, "bumpers," and outros. The option of seeing those particular shows is one of the highlights of this DVD set, which offers about the best-looking account of the series that this reviewer -- a longtime fan -- has ever seen.
BONANZA was the first television western series shot in color, and it was a major undertaking for NBC -- which was tied corporately to RCA, which was not only marketing color television sets but also owned the patent on the color television system adopted by the FCC -- even if most viewers in 1959 (and for many years after) couldn't avail themselves of the color cinematography. The full-screen (1.33-to-1) transfers look fine and the sound is mastered at a healthy volume, and the chaptering follows the credit and commercial break-points. Each disc here comes with bonus features, in the form of stills from relevant episodes and events, and short interviews (dating from 2002) with series creator/producer David Dortort, devoted to such matters as Michael Landon's, Dan Blocker's, Pernell Roberts' or Lorne Greene' recruitment into the series, of the origins of the Ponderosa ranch name and map. These extras makes a delightful addition, on top of the gorgeous transfers. But there are other treats as well -- the first disc includes the seldom seen original outro to the pilot, in which the four stars ride off singing the BONANZA theme song (it does have words, and they were never used again). And as a special bonus, we're treated to "MAN OF THE COMSTOCK", a 1953 30-minute black-and-white television drama written by Dortort, which he describes as the start of his process of developing BONANZA -- the episode stars Bruce Bennett (in a superb performance) and Andrea King, and is worth seeing. And those who have purchased the poorly mastered, unauthorized versions of the episode "THE AVENGER", with Vic Morrow, will be in for a treat here, with the uncut original network version, complete with network intros and outros.
The full-screen (1.33-to-1) image is excellent throughout, and the sound is mastered at a good high volume as well. The chapters correspond to the credit and commercial break spots, and each disc opens automatically to a simple, dual-layered easy-to-use menu.