The video presentation for these fifty-year-old episodes is a marvel to behold, especially if you’ve ever seen any of the aforementioned Public Domain releases. Colors are once again bright and crisp, and debris is kept to a minimum. The episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 standard ratio, and are accompanied with a more-than-acceptable mono stereo soundtrack. No subtitles are provided, but the discs are Closed-Captioned.
Normally, CBS/Paramount doesn’t tack on any special features. But this is Bonanza we’re talking about, and they didn’t want the ghosts of Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker or Victor Sen Yung coming to haunt them, so we finally get some goodies here. Among the bonus materials to be found on Bonanza: The Official First Season, Volumes 1 & 2 is the rare alternate ending of the pilot episode, in which the Cartwright boys sing the lyrics to the famous theme song; several archival interviews with creator/producer David Dortort, still galleries, a few NBC promos and bumpers for both the pilot (Volume One) and “The Avenger” (Volume Two) ; a half-hour Fireside Theater episode which inspired Bonanza; some sketches, and several episodic promos.
Even if you’re not a western fan, you’ve probably heard of Bonanza. And, if you haven’t heard of it (or seen it), then this is your big chance to catch up with a television series that shaped the TV western for years to come.