Season 1 Episode 10

The Magnificent Adah

Aired Saturday 7:30 PM Nov 14, 1959 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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out of 10
34 votes
  • An very interesting episode, but not one for the squeamish.

    In the first season, most of the people that live near the Cartwrights don't seem to like them; even long-time friends are quick to turn on the clan if the chance arises. Maybe it's because of the Cartwright's wealth, or the huge tract of land that they rule with an iron glove. But this episode shows another reason (and this reason is echoed in other episodes)--the Cartwrights just seem to be better than everyone else, and few women are good enough to marry into the family.

    Ben is the unfortunate lover in this one. The boys are certain that the actress isn't good enough to be a Cartwright, and Adam and Joe go about to prove it in a strange seducing her! Adam does well, but even Adah seems to have her moral standards as she ultimately rejects Joe (presumably because of his youth.) I'm not sure why Hoss was left out of this potential (and creepy) dogpile, but I'm glad he was.

    Hoss seems to have his own problems in this episode, having reverted back to the mentally-challenged version of his character. Among other things, he doesn't seem to understand that the play they watch is just a play with people acting. He also doesn't know when a woman is naked or not, asking later if the actress was really nude (after all, it was the play's lurid poster that interested Hoss to begin with). It might as well be Tor Johnson playing Hoss in this episode--the character is so incredibly dim-witted.

    I'm amazed at how violent and bloody this episode was...audiences were surely seeing blood for the first time on family-time television in all of its Technicolor glory in Bonanza's first season. Westerns are an inherently violent genre, but even the grittiest ones ("Rawhide", "Gunsmoke", etc.) rarely showed blood despite all of the shootings and beatings that took place in the days of black & white adult westerns. But Bonanza never seemed to shy away from accurate depictions of violence (and really, that's a good lesson...people bleed and hurt when they are hit, and it's wrong to think otherwise, but it's not the best entertaintment youngsters.)

    Reagan is truly menacing--a drunken scoundrel, who doesn't hesitate to constantly threaten Adah and sucker-punch Joe, despite his huge size and boxing skills. The showdown with Hoss would be a classic, except that Hoss seems to have forgotten how to fight in this episode.

    A good episode overall; it just has a few disagreeable moments and is definitely intended for the mature viewers.
  • When Ben renews a relationship with an actress he knew years ago, the boys think they need to protect him from such a woman of the world.

    Adah is an actress who comes to Virginia City and Ben seeks to renew his old friendship with her, with an eye toward taking things to a new level. The boys think their father is too good for the "actress", as Hoss puts it, and first Adam and then Joe attempt to persuade her to stop seeing their Pa. Her ex-boyfriend and retired boxer, Reagan, shows up to try and extort money from Adah and has a run in with Ben. After Ben runs Reagan out of Adah's room at gunpoint, he exacts revenge by nearly beating Joe to death (One of the greatest "suffering Joe" moments of the series is when Ben, Hoss and Adam are trying to determine how badly injured he is). This episode has some of the funniest moments of the series, particularly in it's earliest days. It also has some great dramatic moments and a terrific fight scene between Hoss and Reagan. I have always found some of the camera shots of this episode to be wonderful, i.e. Adam sliding his gun down the bar toward Reagan and Ben's appearance in Adah's room to confront Reagan. This is truely a classic!
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