After Bonanza, Michael Landon was sent dozens of scripts from fans
What do a doctor and a private detective have in common? They are both things Michael Landon hated reading about.
When Bonanza ended in 1973, it was clear that many fans and the actors had all developed a deep bond with the characters on the show.
Michael Landon spent 14 years on the set of Bonanza, where he played the role of the youngest son, "Little Joe" Cartwright. He turned out not to be as little by the end of the series' 14 seasons.
In a 1973 interview with The Daily Advertiser, Landon said that after Bonanza had ended, he and other actors would receive TV pilot scripts submitted to them by fans and professionals alike.
"I'd rather be wrong with an original script idea than right with a copy," he said.
Landon said that nearly 30 private detective and doctor scripts were submitted to him for consideration around the time of this interview. However, there was one major problem with all the scripts Landon received: they were all alike.
"In one detective series, the only thing different about it is that the guy's mother doesn't know he's a private eye," Landon said. "And in one of the doctors series, the doctor only takes incurable cases. So you know how that's going to turn out!"
Landon's criticism of scripts was based on his own writing. According to the interview, Landon had written and directed a number of scripts for Bonanza that have been acclaimed by critics.
Some of them are still loved by many fans today.
In the '60s, Landon wrote his first script for the Western, "The Sound of Sadness." He said he wrote it because he thought the Bonanza scripts had started to become boring.
Landon's last script for the Western series was "The Hunter." He said it was one of the best episodes to film.
According to the interview, the episode was filmed in Arizona, because of the state's dry climate. However, Landon said it began to rain and there was about three feet of water over the bridges. Cast and crew were afraid of getting trapped.
He said after the rain had stopped, the Bonanza cast employed a water truck and sprayer to create rain for the scene.
"So then the sprayer broke down and we had to have this guy riding on a boom with a Hudson sprayer, like the kind used to spray vegetable gardens, squirting water in the actors faces," he said.
According to Landon, when Bonanza first aired in 1959, there was no shortage of TV Westerns. In fact, Landon could've thought of another 20 to 30 of them. However, when Bonanza was canceled, Landon said Gunsmoke was the only Western that remained.
The TV star attributed the change in TV Westerns to changing trends and toy sales. He said kids weren't into playing cowboys anymore, not when they could be playing with rockets and other space games.
Landon also attributed it to no originality in scripts, particularly in Westerns.
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In terms of working out a Western, IMO the WWW did the best job (creatively speaking) of all of them. Michael Garrison had the guts to step out with a novel idea, make it fun and spirited, and never apologized for steampunk imagination. More Westerns should've been innovative and unique. But going the formulaic direction was cheaper and more expedient for reaching production deadlines and profit.
In terms of writing today, IMO, not reading anyone's amateur work avoids risk. Because a person can be accused of anything. You kind of have to decide between being a consumer or an originator.
All of the Landon scripts for "Bonanza" are as follows:
1. "The Gamble" [season three, 1962, co-written with Frank Cleaver]
2. "Ballad of the Ponderosa" [season eight, 1966, co-written with Rik Vollaerts]
3. "Joe Cartwright, Detective" [season eight, 1967, teleplay by Michael Landon; story by Oliver Crawford]
4. "The Wormwood Cup" [season eight, 1967, co-written by Joy Dexter]
5. "Six Black Horses" [season nine, 1967, co-written by William Jerome]
6. "A Dream to Dream" [season nine, 1968]
7. "To Die in Darkness" [season nine, 1968]
8. "The Wish" [season 10, 1969]
9. "Dead Wrong" [season 11, 1969]
10. "It's a Small World" [season 11, 1970]
11. "Decision at Los Robles" [season 11, 1970]
12. "The Love Child" [season 12, 1970]
13. "Terror at 2:00" [season 12, 1971]
14. "Kingdom of Fear" [actually filmed in June 1968 for the 10th season but withheld in the wake of MLK and RFK's assassinations; finally broadcast in season 12, 1971]
15. "Don't Cry, My Son" [season 13, 1971]
16. "He Was Only Seven" [season 13, 1972]
17. "The Younger Brothers' Younger Brother" [season 13, 1972]
18. "Forever" [a two-hour episode premiering season 14, 1972]
19. "The Sound of Sadness" [season 14, 1972]
20. "The Hunter" [season 14, 1973]
Landon also began his directorial career on "Bonanza," helming 14 episodes. Usually he sat behind the camera for the scripts he penned. "To Die in Darkness" is the first from season nine. "The Stillness Within," where Little Joe is temporarily blinded in season 12, is atypical. Landon didn't write it [that credit goes to Suzanne Clauser] but did direct.
Then the classic 1982 Love is Forever, where he scuba dives up a river to rescue his girlfriend, played by Emmanuelle, Laura Gemser.
So in honor of your keen efforts in providing the most accurate information.
🎇🎇🎇🎇🎇 "𝘿𝙚𝙙𝙞𝙘𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙘𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙧𝙮𝙣𝙖𝙥𝙡𝙚𝙨"🎇🎇🎇🎇🎇
Take a bow! LOL!