Bonanza:  “Second Sight” (episode 405)



Second Sight dates from 1972, rather late in Bonanza’s long run, after the rot had set in.  The familiar guitar-driven theme song and burning-map intro are gone, replaced by an incongruous big band tune and freeze-frames of the Cartwrights.    Also gone is Adam, the quasi-gothic eldest son.  To round out the cast again, Bonanza's creators have given the Cartwright family an adopted son Jamie, who is (I gather)  widely despised by true Bonanza aficionados. 


The story hinges on ESP.  Jamie is lost in the wilderness and the Cartwrights are looking for him.  They seek help from Judith, a local psychic who owes them a favor.   Judith at first hesitates to get involved, despite her debt to the Cartwrights.  She’s been persecuted for witchcraft before and doesn’t want to risk that again.   But Hoss Cartwright entreats her desperately and gives her Jamie’s bandana, as a possible source of psychic impressions.  Against her own will, Judith has visions that provide accurate clues to Jamie’s whereabouts and help lead to his rescue.


The main complication comes in the form of Judith’s fiancé, an English reverend,  played with appropriate gentleness by James Booth.  The reverend, new to the area, hasn't yet found a way to relate successfully to his flock. Nor does he have great communication with his wife.  On the contrary, his general disapproval of clairvoyants causes Judith to hide her powers from him until the crisis with Jamie forces a confrontation.  


Televangelist Pat Robertson eventually acquired the rights to the Bonanza series.  Apparently he took offense at Second Sight because it made occultism look good and made Christians look sort of bad. So Pat "Irony" Robertson  suppressed the episode:  you will never find Second Sight on TV.  Bootleg DVDs remain available from private sources online.