Bonanza: Under Attack (1995)
Pinkerton on the Ponderosa
Former outlaw Frank James (Leonard Nimoy) finds himself been hunted down by over zealous Pinkerton agent Charley Siringo (Dennis Farina) whose is not adverse to murdering those who he is meant to be arresting. It is how Frank comes to be at the Ponderosa where his old army buddies Bronc Evans (Ben Johnson) and Buckshot (Jack Elam) along with the Cartwright kids offer him protection as they try to sort out why Siringo is so keen on seeing Frank James dead and anyone who gets in their way even if they are Cartwrights. A.C. (Jeff Phillips) also has other concerns as the girl he loves is going to have to move away with her father and so he is considering leaving the Ponderosa to follow her to Europe.
Here is the good news "Bonanza: Under Attack" manages to retain nearly all the cast from "Bonanza: The Return" with the exception of Alistair MacDougall being replaced by Jeff Phillips in the role of A.C.. Now what that means is we have the steadying performances of western veterans Ben Johnson and Jack Elam who with ease deliver believable performances. We also get the youngsters back in Michael Landon Jr., Emily Warfield and Brian Leckner who whilst still not gelling as well as the original cast of "Bonanza" and having some really poor dialogue to work with do have their own thing going on with Leckner once again impressing as Josh the son of Hoss Cartwright.
Aside from the returning faces "Bonanza: Under Attack" also features a pretty decent performance from Dennis Farina as the renegade Siringo making him a man who is over zealous when it comes to getting his man no matter what. And then there is the surprise in the casting of Leonard Nimoy who lets be honest no matter what he does Nimoy will always be Spock to so many and so to see him in a western is initially weird. But like with everything else Nimoy acted in away from Star Trek he puts in a credible performance and one which is up there with western veterans Johnson and Elam.
Now here is the thing, the casting is the best thing about "Bonanza: Under Attack" as the storyline which sees not only Frank James seeking sanctuary but each of the Cartwright kids with their own turmoils to deal with sadly ends up quite uninteresting. Maybe it is the fact that the writers felt a necessity to give each of the Cartwright kids a story of their own as whilst the movie needed these extra story threads to fill it out it takes away from the main storyline.
What this all boils down to is that "Bonanza: Under Attack" is on the same sort of level as "Bonanza: The Return" which means it is nowhere near as good as the original "Bonanza" series. But in its own right "Bonanza: Under Attack" is entertaining and is buoyed by some enjoyable performances from both the veteran stars as well as the next generation of Cartwright actors.
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