Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Cartwrights Without Adam

I was talking to an old pal who recently got hooked on TVLand's 'Bonanza' reruns. And like me, he noticed that his enjoyment of the show dramatically drops off after Pernell Roberts left.

There are some excellent post-Adam episodes. But for some reason, the TVLand package does not include the famous 'Lost Episodes', which have some of the best sans-Pernell scripts. But the show did lose some of it's appeal after he left, and I think answer to 'why' is clear if you ask yourself this simple question:

'Which Cartwright would you either want to be or want as a husband/boyfriend?'

I think the majority of people would answer 'Adam'. He was the most intelligent, the most grounded, he played guitar and read poetry, and was attractive in a manly way that 'Little' Joe wasn't. And while 'Bonanza' didn't have a 'star', they all shared equal time, status and billing, Pernell was the 'leading man' of the show.

So by taking away the character that most viewers either consciously or unconsciously fancied themselves as being (or being with) really damaged the show. And his 'replacement', Candy, while physically resembling Adam, was nothing like him. Candy was a simple ranch hand. An outsider without any depth.

Another unanticipated ramification of Roberts leaving was that it changed the Michael Landon character. He obviously would have 'grown-up' even if Pernell had stayed, but Landon had to fill the 'leading man' role. And the affect was that it made fun-loving 'Little' Joe seem kinda mean sometimes.


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