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    Bonanza

    Bonanza

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    NBC (ended 1973)
    White-haired Ben was the proud patriarch of the Cartwrights, the family at the center of one of TV's most beloved and long-running series. Their ranch, the Ponderosa, was 1,000 square-miles (600,000 acres) in size and sprawled from mountainous shores of Lake Tahoe to the desert terrain near Virginia City in the Nevada Territory. Ben oversaw his frontier empire with the help of his three sons: Adam, Hoss, and Joe. The series was set in 1859 when the series began and would progress through and following the Civil War.
    ---------------------------------- Series creator and producer David Dortort, who oversaw the series during its 14 year network run on NBC, says he first first got the idea for the series writing the 1953 episode of "Fireside Theatre" titled "Man of the Comstock."
    ---------------------------------- By 1959, NBC wanted a big filmed series to promote the sales of color television sets. NBC was the only network investing in color programs since its parent company RCA owned the electronic color transmitting system used by TV. "Bonanza" was just the type of show the network needed to "show off" its living color. In its initial season, it floundered in the ratings on Saturday nights against CBS' "Perry Mason"; it's said its renewal had a lot to do with its being shot in color. In the second season, "Bonanza" more than held its own in the Nielsens. It was the network's decision to move the series to Sunday nights that allowed it explode into a Top-10 hit.
    ---------------------------------- "Bonanza" differed in many ways from the dozens of other westerns on the air during its run. It relied more heavily on the characters than it did on action--though there was plenty of that. Good and bad weren't always as simple as "black hats" vs. "white hats"; many times, good people didn't live happily ever after. Despite that, Ben imparted a high code of ethics upon his sons. Among the principles: 1-Intolerance and bigotry were not acceptable. The Cartwrights often came to the defense of Indians, Chinese, and others who were the targets of the narrow-minded. 2-Once a man had paid his debt to society and was released from prison, he deserved a clean slate and a chance to start over. 3-The land was sacred. Ben's greatest business headaches came from his refusal to allow his land to be polluted and destroyed for profit. When the Cartwrights cut down a tree for lumber, they planted another. Their environmental concerns remain unique for a television series.
    ---------------------------------- Ben's path to his dream home of the Ponderosa (named for the Ponderosa Pine, plentiful in that area) was a long time in coming. He was a seaman, acting as first mate for Captain Abel Stoddard, when he met his boss' daughter Elizabeth and fell in love. She died after giving birth to first child Adam. Leaving the sad memories behind in the Northeast, he traveled to St. Louis and opened a trading company. He met and married the Swedish stunner Inger Inger Borgstrom who loved horses and shooting. She gave birth to son Hoss en route to the frontier, but was killed by an arrow during an ambush. Moving to New Orleans, Ben became an importer/exporter and fell for Creole beauty Marie DeMarigny. He made her wife number three and finally made it to the West. They established the Ponderosa and she gave him another son, Joseph. Marie died several years later in a riding accident. The story of each of these romance were detailed in individual episodes early in the series' run.
    ---------------------------------- The high mortality rate of women encountered by Ben and his sons, known jokingly as the "Cartwright Curse," became a running gag among comedians and viewers alike. If a female became a love interest to any of the show's men, even money says she'll be sick, dying, or dead by the end credits.
    --------------------------- Location filming kept the series from feeling "studio bound" and gave Bonanza a chance to highlight its color cinematography. Though much was filmed on a huge sound stage at Paramount Studios, scenes were regularly shot on the studio's outdoor "Western Street" and on locations throughout Southern California and Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The rising cost of shooting at Paramount eventually forced a move to the Warner Brothers studio in Burbank. To explain the new appearance of Virginia City, Season 12 began with "The Night Virginia City Died" where a huge fire destroyed the "old" town.
    ---------------------------------- Changes inevitably took place among cast members during "Bonanza"'s long run. After several years of complaining about being held back from a movie career, Pernell Roberts was finally sent on his merry way after of Season 6. Prior to that, amid fears of Roberts' departure, Guy Williams was brought in for a few episodes as Ben's nephew Will Cartwright. It's said the cast resented his character being added and he disappeared after five appearances. Beginning with "Sense of Duty" in Season 9, David Canary joined the cast as Ponderosa ranch foreman Candy Canady. He practically became a Cartwright, appearing in roughly a third of the series' total episodes. He disappeared with no mention at the end of season eleven after failing to get a raise from producer Dortort. Young orphaned teenager Jamie Hunter did become a real fourth Cartwright son when he was taken in by Ben in Season 12 and legally adopted in "A Home for Jamie" the next season. In the wake of Dan Blocker's death following Season 13, the cast was beefed up. David Canary returned as Candy (reportedly Michael Landon personally asked him to appear) and Tim Matheson was added a Griff King, a young man paroled into Ben's custody who was hired as a ranch hand.
    ---------------------------------- The loss of Blocker left a hole that simply couldn't be filled. This, combined with the show's move to Tuesday nights after eleven years on Sunday, dealt the series a death blow. Ratings took a nosedive and Bonanza aired it final episode in the middle of Season 14 on January 16. 1973.
    ---------------------------------- After all these years, Bonanza remains hugely popular. Besides the quality of the program itself, having filmed in color has kept it from looking "old". Episodes began to be released by CBS/Paramount on DVD beginning in 2009, and were uncut from their network airing with all the original music intact.
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  • 2
    Dragnet

    Dragnet

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    NBC (ended 1959)
    The program opened each week with these words from Det. Sgt. Joe Friday: "This is the city, Los Angeles, California. I work here, I carry a badge." Then that arresting theme music began to play ("Dum-de-dum-dum"). Probably the most successful police drama in television history. Dragnet's hallmark was its appearance of realism, from the documentary-style narration by Joe Friday, to the cases drawn from the files of the real L.A.P.D., to its attention to the details of police work ("It was 3:55. . . We were working the day watch out of homocide"). Viewers were reminded of the unglamorous dead ends and the constant interruptions of their private lives that plague real policemen, and this made the final shoot-out and capture of the criminal all the more exciting. At the end of each episode, after the criminal was apprehanded, an announcer would describe what happened at the subsequent trial and the severity of the sentence. The series was created and directed by Jack Webb himself. It's catchphrases and devices became national bywords and were widely satirized. There was Webb's terse "My name is Friday--I'm a cop," and "Just the facts, ma'am" It was revived in 1967 as Dragnet 1967 and again in 1989 as "The New Dragnet". This was followed by a short-lived revival in 2002 with Ed O' Neill as Joe Friday. The series was renamed L.A. Dragnet in 2003 and canceled shortly thereafter. A theatrical film in 1987 with Dan Ackroyd and Tom Hanks also surfaced. Other spinoffs included Adam-12 (1968-75) and Emergency (1972-77).moreless
  • 3
    Peter Gunn

    Peter Gunn

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    NBC (ended 1961)
    Welcome to the Peter Gunn guide at tv.com. Mystery/Detective show "Peter Gunn" was telecast on NBC for two seasons moving over to ABC for it's third final season. Peter Gunn was a private detective in the film noir tradition. All of the shows were black and white and featured the music of Henry Mancini. The action of the show was closely tied to the musical score and you could usually tell what was happening on the screen by the music accompanying it. The show was set in and around Mother's Jazz Club in Los Angeles. Pete, as his friends called him, was often aided by police Lieutenant Jacoby. At the jazz club, Mother was joined as a regular character by Edie Hart, a jazz singer and Pete's girlfriend. Henry Mancini released an album called Music from Peter Gunn featuring the theme and music from this show. It won a Grammy award at the first Grammy award presentation. The Characters: Peter Gunn: The title character of the show. He's the hip, sophisticated version of the detectives of the past. All those that came after him looked back to him for inspiration. Edie Hart: Pete's girlfriend and a jazz singer at Mother's Jazz Club. Mother: The owner of Mother's Jazz Club and very protective of her friends. Lieutenant Jacoby: Pete's pal and informant from the police department. Recurring Characters: Barney: The bartender at Mother's Jazz Club. Emmett: The piano player at Mother's Jazz Club. Wilbur: The owner of the beatnik club. Sgt. Lee Davis: Desk sergeant at headquarters.moreless
  • 4
    Wagon Train

    Wagon Train

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    NBC (ended 1965)
    Wagon Train followed the trials and tribulations of pioneering families as they set out from the East to carve out a new life in the West soon after the American Civil War. For some of the travellers it was a happy ending, but not for all, which only heightened the drama along the way. Such a structure ensured that the scriptwriters had a wide scope for their stories which , more often than not, revolved around the characters rather than the action, although the series had more than it's fair share of that too. With a new storyline nearly every week and a larger than average budget for the time, it was never difficult for the producers to attract well known guest stars in front of the cameras with some famous names behind the cameras too. Wagon Train was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic between 1957 and 1965. It survived cast changes to the leading actors and changes to the format which is testimony enough to the show's popularity. Even now fans who watched it back then remember it with fondness, and regular re-runs ensure it's continuing popularity with newer generations.moreless
  • 5
    State Trooper

    State Trooper

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    NBC (ended 1959)
    Investigator Rod Blake of the Nevada State police works with the county sheriffs to catch the bad guys.
  • 6
    Fury

    Fury

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    NBC (ended 1960)
    Fury chronicled the story of Joey, an orphan boy befriended by Jim Newton a recently widowed horse rancher, who's wife and son were killed in an auto accident by a drunk driver. Joey was brought to court for breaking a window. Jim had seen the whole incident and went to court with Joey, he told the Judge that Joey was innocent, and convinced the Judge to let Joey come stay at the Broken Wheel.moreless
  • 7
    Gang Busters

    Gang Busters

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    NBC (ended 1952)
    One of the earliest crime/police dramas. This show featured dramatizations of real criminals with the stories taken from actual FBI and police files.
  • 8
    The D.A.'s Man

    The D.A.'s Man

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    NBC (ended 1959)
    The D.A.'s Man follows ex-private investigator turned special agent Shannon as he works his way into various New York City mob operations, sending all the evidence back to Assistant District Attorney Al Bonacorsi.moreless
  • 9
    Justice (1954)

    Justice (1954)

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    NBC (ended 1956)
    Justice followed attorneys Richard Adams and Jason Tyler as they pursued cases for the Legal Aid Society in New York.
  • 10
    The Big Story

    The Big Story

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    NBC (ended 1958)
    The Big Story was a long running anthology series which presented dramatizations of actual stories and real crimes that featured newspaper reporters who got involved and helped solve crimes, capture criminals and prove those who were wrongly accused of crimes were innocent. The show was filmed in the exact locations of the actual stories when possible, with parts of the show airing live from the studio. The actual reporter who is featured won a $500.00 award for having their story told and was interviewed at the end of each episode. The Big Story aired on NBC for eight seasons and then went into syndication for season nine. The ninth season stories are listed in this guide in alphabetical order since those episodes would air at different dates and times depending on location of broadcast. moreless
  • 11
    Behind Closed Doors

    Behind Closed Doors

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    NBC (ended 1959)
    Behind Closed Doors was a cold war, espionage themed anthology series which ran during the 1958-59 season on NBC. The stories were said to have been taken from the files of real life military intelligence cases. The host and narrator of the show was Bruce Gordon as Commander Matson, who occasionally appeared in some of the stories.moreless
  • 12
    True Story

    True Story

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    NBC (ended 1961)
    True Story was a half-hour dramatic anthology series.
  • 13
    The Doctor

    The Doctor

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    NBC (ended 1953)
    half-hour medical anthology series
  • 14
    Revlon Mirror Theater

    Revlon Mirror Theater

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    NBC (ended 1953)
    A half-hour anthology series also known as "Mirror Theater;" moved to CBS in September 1953.
  • 15
    From These Roots

    From These Roots

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    NBC (ended 1961)
    A serial about Liz Fraser, who returned to her New England hometown to be closer to her family.
  • 16
    The Troubleshooters

    The Troubleshooters

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    NBC (ended 1960)
    Kodiak is a veteran head "troubleshooter" for an international construction company. He works with a much younger assistant, Frank Dugan, as they tackle a myriad of industry crises.
  • 17
    One Man's Family

    One Man's Family

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    NBC (ended 1955)
    One Man's Family began as a radio serial in 1932. It ran until 1959, making it the longest running serial in radio history. In 1949, NBC premiered the show as a prime-time serial while the program continued on radio. However, the NBC version went back to the original premise of the 1932 radio broadcasts while the storylines of the radio broadcasts were years ahead. After two years, NBC cancelled the primetime version of One Man's Family. However, two years later in 1954, NBC brought it back again as a daytime serial. This daytime version again went back to the original premise of the 1932 radio broadcasts while the radio version was by now years head of the original story.moreless
  • 18
    Douglas Fairbanks Jr Presents

    Douglas Fairbanks Jr Presents

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    NBC (ended 1957)
    British anthology series
  • 19
    The Investigator

    The Investigator

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    NBC (ended 1958)
    coming soon...
  • 20
    Golden Windows

    Golden Windows

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    NBC (ended 1955)
    When Juliet Goodwin moved to New York City to pursue a singer career, troubles followed.
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