Bonanza took ''ghost town'' literally in its spooky tribute to The Twilight Zone

Little Joe encountered the supernatural in the sensational ''Twilight Town.''

The ghost town is a staple of the Western genre (not to mention "Ghost Town, U.S.A." on The Brady Bunch). But the term, of course, is typically a figure of speech. It's merely an abandoned settlement. Eerie, sure, but not haunted. 

Well, Bonanza was not a Western that was afraid of dabbling in other genres. The Cartwrights (well, Hoss) could break into broad comedy, whether it was encountering "leprechauns" or jumping off a cliff with mechanical "flying machine." Yes, indeed, the Ponderosa gang even dabbled with horror.

Bonanza made its debut in 1959 just weeks apart from another American television classic — The Twilight Zone. Perhaps it was their proximate premieres that led the cowboy show to pay tribute to Rod Serling's supernatural storytelling.

In season five, Little Joe takes a hard knock on the noggin from an outlaw and passes out in the desert. He comes to, stumbles through the sand and brush and comes upon a dusty little hamlet. He collapses in the street.

Thus begins "Twilight Town." The title alone blatantly nods to its inspiration, The Twilight Zone. Michael Landon's Little Joe has certainly not collapsed on a highway to heaven here. He comes to thanks to the helpful hand of Louise (Davey Davison) and learns that he has awoken in a place called "Martinville."

''Where is everybody?'' Little Joe asks in a nod to Rod Serling.

Spoiler alert: In the end, Joe takes revenge on the rascally outlaw who started his misfortune with the help of the Martinville townspeople. The showdown ends in a spray of bullets amongst the desert rocks. Joe collapses once again. When he awakens again, it is by the helping hands of his father and brothers. He explains that the townspeople helped. 

"What town," Ben asks. Duh-dun-dun! The town is gone! Not only were the people ghosts… did the town even exist?

As if you hadn't figured out this was essentially a Twilight Zone tale, a clever piece of dialogue pays homage.

"Where is everybody?" Joe asks his pa. Sound familiar? "Where Is Everybody," of course, was the title of the first Twilight Zone episode, which aired a few weeks after the Bonanza debut.

Cy Chermak wrote "Twilight Town," his only contribution to Bonanza. Perhaps that is why it feels like such an outlier. Chermak would later produce Kolchak: The Night Stalker, further proving his supernatural bona fides.

Watch Bonanza on MeTV!

Monday - Saturday at 2 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

9 Comments

Post a comment
dalavad671 24 days ago
I am making a good salary from home $1200-$2500/week , which is amazing, under a year back I was jobless in a horrible economy. I thank God every day I was blessed with these instructions and now it's .... paydaykit,com
Jeffrey 26 days ago
I had never known that about the Bonanza episode ''Twilight Town'', because I have never seen it. I don't think so anyhow.
Ramziolla 26 days ago
)) Do you want to find a woman for one night? Welcome to --- www.Sexconn.Com
Jeffrey Ramziolla 26 days ago
If I could find you for not just one night, but for the rest of my life,Ramziolla! If you're single & available that is. And if you don't live too far away from me. Wherever that maybe.
madmark1 26 days ago
Seen the Bonanza episode twilight town.Really a good episode of Bonanza and very appropriate for this time of year it’s a good Halloween episode and say what you want to say. I don’t want to turn this into a paranormal discussion but ghosts are for real so are UFOs. I believe in Bigfoot but I haven’t seen one I think is highly possible. I think it might be an undiscovered primate that actually exist or we thought was extinct. but I’m not wearing a tinfoil hat you just have to have an open mind there are things that are unusual that can’t be explained in the world.
Jeffrey madmark1 26 days ago
Boy, You might want use more punctuation marks than just periods in your comments, madmark1. Like commas, colons, semi-colons, apostrophes, and so on. Not just periods.
madmark1 Jeffrey 26 days ago
punctuation is not one of my strong points usually when I write long things I hire an editor but I guess you generally got what I was trying to say. English and literature was not my strong point in school I’m an electrical engineer by trade now retired. but I was just making a short reply on the Internet about a TV show didn’t know I was going to be critiqued on my punctuation and I was kind of in a hurry and a lot of times I use talk to text when I’m doing these things don’t always come out the way you would like and talk to text doesn’t do punctuation for you wish that it did so I wouldn’t have to listen to assholes like you.
madmark1 Jeffrey 26 days ago
sorry Jeffrey didn’t mean to call you an asshole some people I think worry about the littlest things you must’ve been an English teacher or someone in academia.I should not have gotten worked up over something as simple as your simple reply.And good luck with your date with Ramziolla.
SFocosi 27 days ago
Let's remember Helen Reddy today and Wax Nostalgic over her Earth shattering achievements in her life such as "I Am Woman" Record and everything else she touched turning to Gold. You will be missed, Helen, I will Troy not to be any more insulting as I may sound now.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?