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The Ponderosa: Season 1: Vol. 1 - Prequel to the TV Classic Bonanza
The Ponderosa Season 1 Vol 1 - Prequel to the TV Classic Bonanza
Actor: Ponderosa
Director: *
Genres: Westerns, Television
NR     2004     9hr 0min

"The Ponderosa" is the exciting prequel to the classic western television series "Bonanza." The series chronicles the early years of widower Ben Cartwright and his three sons Adam 21, Hoss 17 and Little Joe 12. In these ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Ponderosa
Director: *
Genres: Westerns, Television
Sub-Genres: Westerns, Television
Studio: Pax
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 05/25/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 9hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaDVD Credits: 3
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Good family fare.
(5 out of 5 stars)

""The Ponderosa" is a prequel to Bonanza that is authorized and supported by Bonanza's producer, David Dortort, and was produced by Beth Sullivan. The story takes place in about 1849-50 on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Eagle Valley, Western Utah Territory, site of present-day Carson City, Nevada. Like its predecessor, the show is suitable for family viewing, packaging strong family values in stories that are adventurous, fun, or filled with action and conflict. Purist Bonanza fans will find some difficult changes in the concept, such as the relative ages of the Cartwright sons, how Marie died, and particularly how Hoss got his nickname. In addition, the show was filmed in Victoria, Australia, a lush and lovely location with similarities to the Sierras, but those who've actually been to the drier and more starkly spectacular Lake Tahoe area may be a bit disappointed. Once past these aberrations, though, the show is loyal to the spirit of Bonanza. Filmed for HDTV, the package includes ten episodes on three disks, each approximately 45 minutes. Stars are Daniel Hugh Kelly (Ben Cartwright), Matt Carmody (Adam), Drew Powell (Hoss), Jared Daperis (Little Joe), Gareth Yuen (Hop Sing), Brad Dourif (Frenchy Devereaux), Josephine Byrnes (Margaret Green), Sara Gleeson (Tess Green), Nicki Wendt (Shelby Sterrett), Fernando Carillo (Carlos Rivera de Vega), Petru Gheorghiu (Eli Orowitz), Abbe Holms (Ruth Orowitz), Don Halbert (Jack Roberts), Bruce Dickinson (Big Dan Larson), and two different actresses for Isabella Rivera de Vega, Marcella Toro (ep 6-7) and Jacqueline Aries (ep 10-16).Rumors say there will be a second DVD set with the remaining ten episodes, but no official information is available as of the date of this review.1 & 2 - Pilot: Provides the story of how the Cartwrights came to live on the Ponderosa, including some revisionist history. Originally aired 9/9/2001.3 - Joaquin: The title character is Joaquin Murieta, a historical figure that some say was bandit, others say hero. He creates havoc when he arrives in Eagle Valley, including showing Adam how to shoot against Ben's wishes. Originally aired 9/16/2001.4 - Bare Knuckles: A rift develops between Hoss and Ben when Hoss wants to enter a bare-knuckles fight with champion Iron Hands Malloy. Adam discovers that Malloy has been expelled from the official fighting circuit for cheating, but is too late to stop Hoss from fighting. Originally aired 9/23/2001.5 - The Promise: Adam kills a man who is robbing Ben at gunpoint, then promises the dying man he'll take care of his family, even though it means disrupting his plans for his own life. In a second storyline, a man claiming to be the great-grandson of George Washington's personal slave has artifacts to sell. Originally aired 9/30/2001.6 - Homeland: Carlos, the Cartwright's foreman, believed his sister, Isabella, died in the war with Mexico, and she believed the same of him. Their reunion is spoiled by a Texas lawman who accuses Isabella of murder. Originally aired 10/142001.7 - Quarantine: Cholera strikes when Ben hosts a neighborhood dinner. Vigilantes blame the Cartwrights and vow to burn them out. Originally aired 10/28/2001.8 - Secrets & Lies: A man whose adopted son survived the Donner Party disaster wants Adam to write the true story of what happened, but just seeing the boy brings back painful memories for Ben. At the same time, Shelby and Maurice harbor secrets that come to light. Originally aired 11/4/2001.9 - The Legend of John Riley: An American who fought for Mexico visits the Cartwrights and causes conflict when Hoss, who considers him a traitor, can't understand how Carlos could call the man a hero. Originally aired 11/18/2001.10 - Brother Against Brother: A ladies' choice dance causes problems for the Cartwrights when Ben is sought by Margaret and Shelby, and when Isabella asks Adam before Tess can, even though Hoss expects to be asked by Tess. Originally aired 12/2/2001."
Bonanza, revisionist style
reviewer | USA | 07/24/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Don't waste you money on this piece of PC trash disguised as a prequel to Bonanza. The stories are unashamedly chock-full of PC themes.
For example: Ben nearly has a stroke when, on his 21st birthday, Adam expresses a desire to own a gun. Shocking! Ben lets Adam know how displeased he is. Ben says that guns are only used to kill people. By the end of this ep, Adam has embraced Ben's twisted ideology.
Every ep is full of this leftist revisionist thinking. An Indian fighter is derided as the scum of the earth by Ben(let's remember how Inger was killed)..women are given an equal voice in the town government; by the way, the town's name is Eagle Station, not Virginia City.
Besides these faults, Bonanza history is tampered with. Maria is killed in an explosion, instead of falling from a horse. Hoss gets his nickname after Joe's pony bites him on the behind. As for Joe, he's hardly ever seen. Hop Sing's character is unrecognizable.
I have nothing wrong with the actors. Especially the guy who did Hoss--I thought he was perfect for the roll as was the guy for Adam.
I watched this series from the first show to the last show. I was excited about the prospects of a Bonanza prequel, but I was sadly misled and disappointed. Each episode I hoped the writers would start listening to the viewers. They never did. Unless you can overlook this revisionist view of Bonanza, I suggest you save your money.
An Excellent Prequel
Mary Mackey | USA | 02/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Ponderosa is an excellent portrayel of the Cartwright's before they became the rich landowners they were on Bonanza. I have seen every episode.Although the storyline sometime strayed from the original, the show was becoming more Bonanza-like as the season progressed. The actors,Daniel Hugh Kelley,Matt Carmody, Drew Powell,and Jared Daperis did an excellent job portraying the younger Cartwright's. I highly recommend The Ponderosa!"
Prequel to the TV Classic from Down Under
Robert Huggins | Suburban Philadelphia, PA United States | 05/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The setting is supposed to be Nevada, but "The Ponderosa" has Australia written all over it. The series was filmed in Victoria, Australia and none other than Simon Wincer, the veteran Australian director of the original "Lonesome Dove" mini series and theatrical films like "Quigley Down Under," is in the director's chair for the two-part pilot episode. A few of the lead actors (Daniel Hugh Kelly and Brad Dourif, most notably) are Americans, but most of the supporting cast and guest cast are Australian, a few of whom are even recognizable to American audiences. Mark Lee, who co-starred (with Mel Gibson) in Peter Weir's classic World War I film "Gallipoli" has a prominent role in one episode as does Lewis Fitz-Gerald, who appeared as one of the court-martialed soldiers in another Australian cinema classic, Bruce Beresford's "Breaker Morant."

As to the episodes, there are some liberties taken with the original Bonanza storyline and some of the stories are a bit on the PC, preachy side, but the acting and production values are strong for this series. In fact, I prefer the town and ranch settings in this series over the original "Bonanza" series, which used studio sets more than this prequel series does. "The Ponderosa" also seems to be more mindful of authenticity, as you can see the actor's breaths when they speak in some episodes that were filmed on chilly days and the town's streets are often very muddy after a rainfall.

The 10 episodes in this set are spread over 3 discs (3 episodes on discs 1 and 3; four episodes on disc 2). The visuals are beautifully rendered on DVD and, in that respect, fans and newcomers (like me) to this series will not be disappointed. However, it's a bit surprising for such a relatively recent series that no extras whatsoever are included on this set . . . no interviews, episode commentaries, etc. I would have been especially interested in seeing some biographies/filmographies for the cast, particularly those Australian cast members with whom I had no familiarity prior to seeing this series.

Fans of TV Westerns have had relatively little in the way of new shows over the last few decades, so even if it comes from the Land Down Under, "The Ponderosa" is a welcome addition. Yee haa, mates!