Giddyap, pardner. This week’s episode of the podcast takes a deep dive into everything you need to know about collecting your favourite TV shows on DVD. My guest is archivist, curator and classic TV expert Andrew J. Klyde, executive producer of Bonanza: The Official Complete Series.

For many boomers, Sunday nights were spent with your family crowded around the one set in the house watching DisneyEd Sullivan at 8 and then at 9, Bonanza. Throughout its 14-season, 431-episode run, Bonanza was the most-popular TV series of the 1960s.

Klyde spent 15 years — one year more than the original run of the series — pulling together all of the elements for this ultimate DVD collection. Besides making sure every episode was restored and transferred from 35 mm camera negatives — including a just so-so early release of Season Two on DVD — he packed plenty of extras and bonus materials into the Bonanza Complete Series DVDs. The result is a Master Class on the history of 20th century television.

For example: In digging through the background of Ottawa-born actor Lorne Greene, not the first choice to play ranch patriarch Ben Cartwright, Klyde sourced and added rarely seen profiles and documentaries from the CBC and other Canadian sources.

He even added an interview I did back in 1991 (and, over a year ago, turned into a podcast episode) with Michael Landon. The writer/producer/actor played Little Joe on the series and went on to Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven. Sadly, Landon died of cancer three months after we spoke.

I’m proud to play a small role in such a handsome salute to this series.  Listen as Klyde takes us back to the Ponderosa with dozens of behind-the-scenes stories. Among other things he talks about casting, and who the producers originally had in mind for some of the key roles. Can you see Robert Blake as Little Joe instead of Michael Landon? Apparently he was on the short list, says Klyde, until the wife of Bonanza executive producer David Dortort caught sight of Landon’s casting photo. “He’s got a face blessed from Heaven,” she apparently told her husband. “If he can act, use him.”


The story behind Greene’s path to the series involves several happy coincidences. And, yes, the Canadian actor really did build a replica of The Poderosa on land he bought in Arizona. It is adjacent to a golf course and you can visit the place to this very day.

Dan Blocker was a high school gym teacher before he started to gain traction as a young actor, hitting the big time as burly Hoss on Bonanza.

Klyde (left) also talks about the importance of colour to the success of Bonanza. Never shot in black and white, the series premiered in April of 1959. It was the first all-colour scripted serial drama broadcast on an American network. (Other shows, such ad The Adventure’s of Superman and The Cisco Kid, were shot in colour earlier but were not originally broadcast in colour. Other genres, such as the kiddie show Howdy Doody, as well as the occasional special, preceded Bonanza in colour).

It cost significantly more to shoot in colour, of course, but the producer managed to talk NBC, into the investment. NBC was, of course, owned by RCA, which made colour television sets. Bonanza sold millions of them.

Unlike that early decade of Tonight Show episodes NBC taped over or threw out, NBC kept the filmed Bonanza source material. All these decades later, DVD owners get to enjoy restored colour episodes right from the original, 35mm, camera negatives. As Klyde says, Kodak, at the time was only too happy to provide the best colour films for use on the series, and with camera operators such as legendary cinematographer Haskell B. Boggs behind the lens, the images remain outstanding to this day.

If you think DVD collecting is a thing of the past, Klyde makes a persuasive argument that it still provides a much more curated, fuller total experience for the classic TV series fan. Plus, you never know, he says, exactly when your streaming service provider might just yank your favourite title off their playlist.

On that note, if you have a classic TV fan on your Christmas list, here’s a tip: Bonanza: The Official Complete Series DVD set is on sale now at Amazon.

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