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Season 4 Episode 16

Song in the Dark

Aired Saturday 7:30 PM Jan 13, 1963 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
33 votes

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Episode Summary

Song in the Dark
A traveling musician, Danny Morgan, is hired by Adam as a ranch hand in gratitude for having once saved his life. Widow Baker is murdered in town and the one witness says he heard Danny singing as the woman was being killed. Adam goes about the business of clearing Danny of the murder charge.moreless

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  • Adam's friend Danny Morgan is a stranger with strange habits, which makes him a likely suspect when a woman is murdered.

    Bonanza made good use of music in many episodes, often capitalizing on Pernell Robert's fine singing voice. This is one of the episodes that focuses on a song, the one that Danny Morgan sings over and over as he wanders through the night. The strange, haunting 'Under the Red Rock Rim' was evidently composed specifically for this episode.

    When it comes to those Cartwrights, Adam is the smart one. We all know that. He's got book learnin' along with great instincts, and here he's convinced that the strange Danny Morgan is an okay guy because, as he describes it, Danny saved his life once, taking care of him while he suffered from a high fever (and, notably, not robbing him of the typical big Cartwright bankroll he was carrying at the time).

    Hoss and Little Joe are already tired of Danny and his song by the time we're introduced to the seminal characters, the fanatically religious Reverand Johnson and his wife. It won't be long before we're all sick of the song, but it will play over and over throughout the episode, as Danny wanders around at night and becomes the suspect in two brutal murders.

    We've known the two younger Cartwright brothers to play detective, but this time it's Adam's turn to ferret out the killer in order to free his doomed and unfortunately dim-witted friend. Adam suspects the Reverand and sets about trying to get under his skin, impersonating Danny by riding his beautiful white horse and singing that same old song. As fantastical as it turns out, Pernell Roberts is at his powerful best in the climactic scene with wild-eyed Edward Andrews as the Reverand. (And, of course, we all recognize it was Roberts' voice singing that song all along.)

    Doomed to remain a stranger in every sense of the word, Danny is free to ride away and annoy another town with his odd hours and incessant singing. We can't help thinking Adam would have served his friend well if he had taken the time to teach him a less lurid song before he left the Ponderosa. We can only assume it won't be long before poor Danny Morgan ends up at the wrong end of another noose.moreless
Dan Blocker

Dan Blocker

Eric "Hoss" Cartwright

Lorne Greene

Lorne Greene

Ben Cartwright

Pernell Roberts

Pernell Roberts

Adam Cartwright

Michael Landon

Michael Landon

Joseph "Little Joe" Francis Cartwright

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions