Summary: Have you ever wondered why we didn’t see more Cartwright Christmas episodes? Turns out, it wasn’t an oversight. . . .
Word count: 1,500
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A Ponderosa Christmas . . . Or Maybe Not
Scene: Interior. Ponderosa living room.
Present: Ben Cartwright, Hoss Cartwright, Joe Cartwright, Candy Canaday, Jamie Hunter Cartwright, Studio Executive #1, Studio Executive #2, Studio Executive #3
BEN: Thanks so much for coming, fellows.
SE #1: Always happy to help, Ben. What can we do for you?
BEN: We’re having kind of a . . . situation.
JAMIE: It’s not a situation. I just don’t see why we can’t celebrate Christmas like everybody else!
SE #2: (looking at Hoss and Joe) Um. . . .
JAMIE: It’s my first year on the Ponderosa, and I wanna have Christmas!
JOE: Hey, Jame, you know what? The whiny little kid thing—so not working.
HOSS: Like you should talk?
JOE: I never whined!
HOSS: If you say so, Little Brother.
CANDY: The kid has a point. I mean, you Cartwrights are so jolly and generous and all that. It’s kinda weird that you don’t celebrate Christmas.
HOSS: Whaddya mean? We celebrate Christmas!
JOE: Remember the time we did that ripoff of Heidi, except the girl was blind? We had a great tree that year!
HOSS: And there was the time Wayne Newton came to sing at our party. Maybe we could invite him back. Anybody know where he is these days?
JOE: Down in the southern part of the state. I forget the name of the place. Las Something or Other.
JAMIE: Vegas, I think.
CANDY: I’ve heard of it. Little hick town. It’ll never amount to anything.
SE #2: So, what’s the problem? The Cartwrights celebrate Christmas. Just because you don’t have a Christmas episode every year doesn’t mean anything, right?
SE #3: Right! It would get boring if you did the same thing every year!
JOE: See, it wouldn’t have to be the same thing every year. Just because Christmas comes every year doesn’t mean it has to be the same.
HOSS: We could do all sorts of nice Christmasy stuff. People would love it.
CANDY: We could even have a white Christmas. I don’t think I’ve ever seen snow here.
SE #1: That’s because snow is expensive. First we have to make it, and then it gets all mucked up every time a horse . . . lets loose, shall we say.
JAMIE: He means “pees and poops.”
CANDY: Can’t get anything past this kid.
JAMIE: If I clean up after my horse, can we have a Christmas episode?
SE #3: No way. Union rules. Only the official horse cleaners get to scoop the poop.
SE #1: Last time we did an episode with snow, those guys made a fortune. They get paid by the load.
CANDY: Back to the topic—I really think it would be good to have another Christmas episode. You’ve only done two in all these years, and Jamie and me never got to be part of them.
JOE: Hey, am I confused, or are you two supposed to be in different seasons?
CANDY: Details. Now, let’s get back to this Christmas thing. Tons of other shows do annual Christmas episodes. What’s the deal with the Cartwrights?
HOSS: Yeah, why can’t we have another Christmas episode? We could dress Joe here up like an elf in skin-tight green pants, and he could show off everything he’s got!
JOE: (to the SEs) It’ll cost you.
SE #1: Then we definitely couldn’t afford snow.
JOE: I got a better idea anyway. We could do another Christmas album!
JAMIE: You guys did an album?
HOSS: Sure did, and it was great!
BEN: (under his breath) Some parts of it, anyway.
JOE: What was that, Pa?
BEN: Um, I said—my heart’s not in it. Not since Adam’s left us.
JAMIE: Maybe we could get him to come back for Christmas!
SE #3: I’m sure the fans would love that, but it’s not going to happen. Last I heard, he was practicing medicine in San Francisco.
JOE: You don’t think our long lost brother would drop in for Christmas?
SE #2: He’ll never do it. Not if he has to sing Christmas carols with. . . . (glances at Hoss and Joe)
HOSS: What’re you talking about? Our big brother’d be happy to sing with us!
SE #1: “Happy” may not be exactly the right word. After all, he’s a trained singer, and you two are . . . not.
JOE: You saying there’s something wrong with the way we sing?
SE #3: Well—you fellows know how it is. Everybody has different talents. You two are wonderful riders and ropers—real cowboys, best of the west. Nobody watching you on horseback would ever know you were acting.
HOSS: (menacing) But. . . .
SE #1: (gulps) But . . . maybe not so much with the singing.
JOE: Look, Hoss may not be the best singer in the world, but that’s not a reason to leave him out of the Christmas carols.
BEN: Son . . . it’s not just Hoss.
JOE: What are you saying?
BEN: Joseph. You know you’re my favorite son.
HOSS: (with his hand on his chest) What are you saying, my dear father? I’m simply flabbergasted!
BEN: Oh, give me a break.
HOSS: (shrugs) I took a shot.
BEN: Anyway—Joseph, as much as I love you, I have to say this: you’re a lousy singer.
BEN: I’m sorry, Joe, but I have to be honest. When it comes to musical talent, you take after your sainted mother.
JOE: But you always said she was perfect!
BEN: She was. At least, in all the ways that matter to a man. She had the most luscious—
JAMIE: (cringing) Pa, don’t.
BEN: Don’t worry, son. What goes on behind closed doors stays there. But that woman was definitely gifted. One time, she even made me meow—
JOE: (fingers in his ears) LA-LA-LA! CAN’T HEAR YOU!
CANDY: Can we stop talking about Ben’s sex life and get back to the Christmas episode?
SE #1: Gladly.
CANDY: Listen, if all you need is somebody to sing carols, I can do that.
THE CARTWRIGHTS: You can?
CANDY: Sure. I even won the All Army Entertainment Contest for best popular singer. (Author’s note: This is true!)
SE #2: How come you never told us this before?
CANDY: You never asked.
JOE: I knew he’d say that.
CANDY: Plus, I didn’t want to make Joe and Hoss feel bad. I heard that Christmas album. It was . . . interesting.
HOSS: You ever made an album?
BEN: Settle down, son. (to Candy) So if we had a Christmas episode, you’d be able to sing a carol or two with me?
JAMIE: Hey! What about me? This whole thing was my idea!
SE #3: Can you sing?
JAMIE: Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa-la-la-la-la—
SE #2: That’s fine. We’ll call you.
JAMIE: What does that mean?
HOSS: It means you’re gonna be lip-synching with us.
JOE: Maybe you two, but I can sing!
BEN: Son, you have many talents, but you couldn’t find the pitch if it were stuck on the end of your nose. Face facts: when it comes to musical gifts, you just don’t take after your pa.
JOE: Cripes, you’re not gonna haul out “Ringo” again, are you?
BEN: I’ll have you know that song was very popular!
JOE: You didn’t even sing! All you did was talk while other people sang!
JAMIE: CHRISTMAS! CHRISTMAS! CHRISTMAS!
CANDY: The kid has a point. Are we gonna do a Christmas episode or not?
JOE: Yeah, we’re gonna do it, and it’s gonna be awesome, and we’re gonna have lots and lots of carols. Maybe we’ll even make it an all-singing episode, because everybody knows Hoss and I can sing just as well as everybody else. We sang just fine in the episode with the blind kid.
(Ben, SE #1, SE #2, and SE #3 look at each other)
SE #1: Who wants to tell him?
BEN: He’s my son. I’ll do it. (places a gentle hand on Joe’s shoulder) Joseph, there’s something I’ve never told you.
JOE: (eyes widening) No! It can’t be!
BEN: Yes, son, it’s true. You were . . . dubbed.
HOSS: What about me, Pa?
BEN: You, too, son.
CANDY: (to Jamie) Way to pull the skeletons out of the closet.
JAMIE: (laughing nervously) Next they’re gonna say that the real reason Adam left was so he wouldn’t have to listen to Hoss and Joe sing anymore! (realizes he’s the only one laughing. Ben, SE #1, SE #2, and SE #3 are exchanging worried glances, and Hoss and Joe look shocked.) Oh, crap. Did I let the cat out of the—
CANDY: I think maybe you and me need to go for a little ride. Listen, you guys talk, and Jamie and I’ll be back in a month or two. Merry Christmas! (darts out with Jamie)
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In fourteen seasons of Bonanza, there were only two holiday episodes, but that had nothing at all to do with whether Hoss and Joe could sing—which, let’s face it, they can’t, but that’s not why we love them anyway.
But Adam did not leave the Ponderosa just to avoid singing with his brothers in any future albums or episodes. Cross my heart.