Bonanza (1959–1973)
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A Matter of Circumstance 

Alone at the Ponderosa while everyone else is away on a cattle drive, Joe suffers a compound fracture in his left arm when he kicked by a horse spooked by a severe thunderstorm. Joe fights ... See full summary »


William F. Claxton


David Dortort (created by), B.W. Sandefur


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Episode cast overview:
Lorne Greene ... Ben Cartwright
Dan Blocker ... Eric 'Hoss' Cartwright
Michael Landon ... Joseph 'Little Joe' Cartwright
David Canary ... Candy Canaday
Ted Gehring ... Griffin
Vincent Van Patten ... Tim
Harry Holcombe ... Dr. J. P. Martin
Victor Sen Yung ... Hop Sing


Alone at the Ponderosa while everyone else is away on a cattle drive, Joe suffers a compound fracture in his left arm when he kicked by a horse spooked by a severe thunderstorm. Joe fights to stay conscious and treat his wounds. When he becomes delirious, he fears that gangrene has infected his arm, leaving Joe with a difficult decision: Amputate, or not amputate? Written by Brian Rathjen <>

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Did You Know?


This episode is nearly identical in title, plot, and even some camera angles to the Little House On The Prairie episode "A Matter Of Faith" (which only switched the focus to Karen Grassle's character rather than Michael Landon's). Both were written by B.W. Sandefur and directed by William F. Claxton. See more »


(Theme Song)
Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
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User Reviews

Same plot, different day.
22 February 2016 | by kfo9494See all my reviews

For the last show of season 11, it appears that the writers were out of ideas and resorted to one of those 'I'm hurt and hope someone finds me before the credits run' shows that is lacking any interest.

The lack luster story begins when everyone is leaving the Ponderosa on a cattle drive. Joe is staying behind as he waits on the food wagon before setting off with the others. After everyone leaves, Joe has to go to the barn concerning a horse that has become frighten due to area thunder. But while trying to settle the bucking horse, Joe gets knocked down and stomped by the horse's hoofs. Joe is severely injured and unable to get help. Even when the food wagon arrives, they do not find Joe anywhere around so the food wagon leaves to catch-up with the others. Now Joe is all alone as he struggles to survive.

This may have been interesting in a shorter format but having a near hour show made for a very long situation where Joe stumbles from one room to another, all while in pain, waiting for help. The story got old fast. The writer tried to inject some interest when Joe thought about having to amputate a limb - but the damage was already done. It was a 'woe-is-me' episode that ends like so many others in the series.

With all the woeful pain scenes there was little time for dialog in the show. Some people may enjoy the screen performance of Michael Landon but I thought is leaned to over-acting rather a heart-filled performance. But when you have the same type of story told nearly the same way many times during the series run- it is bound to get old. And old it got.

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Release Date:

19 April 1970 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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