Wednesday, 13 June 2012
Bonanza - The Lost Episode (satire)
By Mickey Rogers of This, That and the Other
Most “experts” believe that this popular western ran a total of 430 episodes but now we can add one more show to the list.
Last Wednesday, while cleaning out my sock drawer, I discovered a lost episode. I have no idea how the film got there. Of course, I once shot an elephant in my pajamas, and I have no idea how it got into my pajamas, so some things in life must remain a mystery.
During the long run of the program (1959-1973), the three sons and even “Pa” were involved in several romances. Unfortunately, falling in love with a Cartwright was the kiss of death as you shall see in this episode.
The setting is the huge living room of the Cartwright house which is located in the middle of a 1,000 square-mile cattle ranch near Virginia City, Nevada. The year is 1867 - just two years after the end of the Civil War. The youngest son, “Little Joe,” has brought his fiance, Miss Lillian Jones, to meet the family.
LITTLE JOE: Lillian, I’d like you to meet my father, Ben.
BEN: (always serious and wise): I’m honored to meet you, Lillian. Joe has told us so much about you.
LILLIAN: And Joe has told me so much about you and your boys, Mr. Cartwright.
BEN: Since you’re going to be part of the family, why don’t you call me “Pa?”
LILLIAN: Well, since I’ll soon be a Cartwright, I will call you “Pa.”
(Hoss, the huge middle son with the matching appetite, runs from the kitchen to the living room. He has a drumstick in one hand and a piece of apple pie in the other. The Chinese cook, Hop Sing, is chasing him while menacingly swinging a skillet.)
HOP SING: Mr. Hoss, I warned you to stay out of kitchen until supper!
HOSS: (Jumping over a chair while taking a bite of pie) Come on, Hop Sing! Have a heart! I haven’t had anything to eat since three-thirty!
HOP SING: Yes, but it’s now only three forty-five!
BEN: Men, we have company! Act like gentlemen! Lillian, this is my middle son, Eric, but he’s so big that we call him “Hoss.”
(After quickly devouring the rest of the pie, Hoss licks his fingers before shaking hands with Joe’s bride-to-be.)
BEN: And this is our cook, Hop Sing.
HOP SING: Glad to meet you, missy.
(Hop Sing then whacks Hoss over the head with the skillet. As Hoss falls to the floor, Hop Sing grabs what remains of the chicken and heads back to the kitchen.)
BEN (as Adam enters the room) Lillian, this is my oldest son, Adam. He’s the smartest of the three. As a matter of fact, he’s the only one smart enough to get off this show; he’s not signing a contract for the next season.
(After lunch the boys go about their typical day, rounding up stray cattle, helping clear a man wrongly accused of murder, diverting a raging river to protect a bustling city, and meeting Mark Twain and President Andrew Johnson at the stagecoach stop in Virginia City.)
LILLIAN: So, Pa, is the boys’ mother deceased?
BEN: Yes, each of their mothers is dead.
LILLIAN: You had more than one wife?
BEN: I’ve had three. My first wife, Elizabeth, died giving birth to Adam. A few weeks after Hoss was born, my second wife Inger was nailed by an Indian’s arrow. Marie, Little Joe’s mother, fell off a horse and died when he was only five.
LILLIAN That’s terrible, Pa!
BEN: Well, you know what they always say - lucky in land, unlucky in love. And, of course, on the bright side, those deaths eliminated any chance I’d ever have to pay alimony or give up part of my property.
LILLIAN: Why have your sons never married, Pa?
BEN: They tried! I guess you could call it the “Cartwright Curse.” I remember that Adam was madly in love with a cute little blonde from Virginia City. They set a wedding date and he bought her the biggest diamond I’ve ever seen.
LILLIAN: What happened?
BEN: It ended in tragedy. She was standing out front, just to the left of the house. Adam went back into the house to get his hat. Unbeknownst to her, a giant beaver was gnawing on a nearby ponderosa pine. That tree came crashing down on her and she survived only long enough to give Adam a tearful goodbye.
LILLIAN: That’s terribe, Pa!
BEN: Well, in a way it was but our ratings shot up after that show! It took poor Adam three episodes to get over that gal! Then he fell head over heels for a perky little brunette from San Francisco. They were planning to marry, but once again tragedy struck.
LILLIAN: Pa, what happened?
BEN: It was a bad case of hoof and mouth disease. There was nothing we could do to save her. With all that foam on her face, I can’t really blame Adam for not kissing her one last time.
LILLIAN: Pa, how did he cope with losing two loves?
BEN: He coped in the best way our writers could think of; he promptly fell in love with another lady. If I remember correctly, she was from back east in Ohio. She traveled here with her father, who was an encyclopedia salesman. To make a long story short, Adam built a house for her on the southeastern corner of the Ponderosa. That would be about four hundred miles from here. Anyway, she loved the house so much that she moved into it before the wedding.
LILLIAN: What happened, Pa? Did the roof fall on top of her? Did the Indians get her?
BEN: No, nothing like that. Adam didn’t realize that he had built the cabin on top of quicksand. By the time he rode out there to visit she’d been submerged for at least twelve hours. Adam pulled her out of the muck so that she could say a few appropriate last words before expiring. Poor Adam grieved for four episodes until he hooked up with a little redhead from Oregon.
LILLIAN: Pa, let me guess. She died, too.
BEN: Well, we think she did.
LILLIAN: You’re not sure?
BEN: On the day of the wedding, a giant eagle swooped her up and we haven’t seen her since. Of course, her disappearance didn’t surprise me; she was signed for just one show.
LILLIAN: Pa, what about Hoss?
BEN: As you can see, Hoss isn’t the most pleasant thing to look at and he’s not the brightest match in the pack, if you catch my drift. But when I kick the bucket, he’ll be rich as heck so women flock around him like flies to honey. He was to marry Peggy Sue from Virginia City. Unfortunately, she was shot by Sheriff Coffee.
LILLIAN: Pa, how did that happen?
BEN: A notorious bank robber was seen in this area. When holding up a bank he dressed in women’s clothing for a disguise. After he took the loot from the Virginia City 4th 5th Bank, the sheriff was given a description of what the outlaw was wearing. Unfortunately, Peggy Sue was wearing an identical outfit that day, and she was carrying a large bag of cookies that she had just baked for Hoss. The sheriff mistook the cookies for a bag of loot. It was a simple case of mistaken identity. At least Hoss enjoyed the cookies.
LILLIAN: Pa, I suppose he overcame his sorrow by finding another girl?
BEN: Not right away. To get through the crisis, he had Hop Sing make him extra chicken and biscuits. That boy is a bottomless pit. About five episodes later Hoss fell for a gal who worked in a saloon. Unfortunately, a cattle stampede took care of her.
LILLIAN: Pa, I am Joe’s first true love, aren’t I?
BEN: Of course, except for Mary, Sally, Marie, Rachel, Jessie, Barbara, and Edith.
LILLIAN: My Little Joe was in love with all those women?
BEN: Not at the same time! I think he could have been happy with Mary for at least six or seven episodes; it’s too bad that those mountain lions mauled her while she was sunbathing. I told her repeatedly that lying out in the sun isn’t good for one’s health.
LILLIAN: Pa, did all of them die?
BEN: All but Rachel; technically she’s not dead.
LILLIAN: What do you mean, Pa?
BEN: She was overtaken by a glacier that slid down from Canada. The doctor in Virginia City said that eventually we might find a way to thaw her out. Until then she’s traveling in a block of ice with a circus. She’s known as “The Frozen Lady of Borneo.” It took poor Joe almost three episodes to get over her.
LILLIAN: Well, Mr. Cartwright, this has been an enlightening conversation. Please tell Little Joe that I have some pressing business to attend to in Hong Kong. I’ll be very busy for the next couple decades.
BEN: Call me “Pa.”
LILLIAN: Goodbye, Mr. Cartwright.
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