Season 12

The Night Virginia City Died

Episode 1

Date Aired: September 13, 1970
Plot: In the 12th season premiere, a series of destructive fires strike Virginia City, and always late at night. Is it the work of a ruthless arsonist, or someone very close to Deputy Clem?
Written by: John Hawkins
Directed by: William Wiard
Guest Stars: Janie - Angel Tompkins

A Matter of Faith

Episode 2

Date Aired: September 20, 1970
Plot: Dusty takes in orphaned Jamie Hunter, the son of a recently-deceased rainmaker. Jamie is determined to carry on his father's tradition by using drought-stricken Virginia City to prove his talents.
Written by: Jack B. Sowards
Directed by: William Wiard
Guest Stars: Jamie Hunter - Mitch Vogel, Dusty Rhoades - Lou Frizzell

The Weary Willies

Episode 3

Date Aired: September 27, 1970
Plot: The Weary Willies are hippie-like former Civil War veterans who are now drifters and live off the land. Despite protests from fellow ranchers and the people of Virginia City, Ben allows the traveling band to stay at the Ponderosa. The real trouble begins when a teen-aged girl is raped and the Willies are blamed.
Written by: Robert Pirosh
Directed by: Leo Penn
Guest Stars: Billy - Richard Thomas, Angie - Lee Purcell

The Wagon

Episode 4

Date Aired: October 4, 1970
Plot: After being taken into custody by a sheriff who does not care if he is guilty or innocent of a crime, Hoss escapes from the prison wagon with a woman he is convinced got a raw deal.
Written by: Ken Pettus
Directed by: James Neilson
Guest Stars: Price Buchanan - Denver Pyle, Madge Tucker - Salome Jens

The Power of Life and Death

Episode 5

Date Aired: October 11, 1970
Plot: A man called Davis has shot Colonel Clayton and escapes on horseback. Joe and Ben join the posse that sets out to find Davis. Ben and Joe volunteer to cross the desert. Ben and Joe find Davis hold up at a water hole, when Indians attack and Ben is wounded in the leg, and steal the horses. Joe unties Davis, who tends to a wounded Ben, who is suspicious that Davis will try to escape. After playing a game of cat and mouse, Ben and Davis come to an agreement: survival. Joe makes the decision to cross the desert on foot, while Ben and Davis are at the water hole, both men in need of medical help and justice.
Written by: Joel Murcott
Directed by: Leo Penn
Guest Stars: Davis - Rupert Crosse, Sheriff - Larry Ward

Gideon, the Good

Episode 6

Date Aired: October 18, 1970
Plot: On the trail, Joe witnesses a woman kill a man, but the woman rides away before he can positively identify her. He rides into the nearest town, Black River and reports the crime to Sheriff Gideon Yates, and the two ride out to find clues. They find a handkerchief embroidered with the letter "L". Sheriff Yates knows who the killer is, his wife Lydia. She married him before she got a legal divorce from her first husband, Loomis, and killed him to silence him. Gideon tries to coax Joe out of town, but he recognizes Lydia's picture in a photographer's window. When Joe refuses to leave, Gideon tries to shoot him down in cold blood and orders a manhunt against him. Joe's only hope is a Mexican stable boy, who saw Gideon shoot him, and ultimately Joe and Gideon have one of the most memorable confrontations in the series' history.
Written by: Ken Pettus
Directed by: Herschel Daugherty
Guest Stars: Sheriff Gideon Yates - Richard Kiley, Lydia Yates - Terry Moore

The Trouble with Trouble

Episode 7

Date Aired: October 25, 1970
Plot: When Hoss volunteers to be Sheriff of a town called Trouble, he soon finds out that the town had correctly been named. Hoss almost manages to arrest the whole town, and captures the Clanton gang all by himself.
Written by: Jack B. Sowards
Directed by: Herschel Daugherty
Guest Stars: Montana Perkins - Gene Evans, Chip - G. D. Spradlin

Thornton's Account

Episode 8

Date Aired: November 1, 1970
Plot: Ben's new horse throws him down a steep slope, injuring his back. Joe tries to round up some help, but the settlers in the valley live in fear of the devious owner and his hired help. Joe goes for help from a man named Thornton, but he is wounded by the lowlife cowboys, and has no choice but to ask them for help. A very imaginitive and visually creative dream Ben has of Joe calling out to him and falling beside him, before waking up and realizes he has just had a terrifying nightmare.
Written by: Preston Wood
Directed by: William F. Claxton
Guest Stars: Ed Thornton - Gregory Walcott, Frank Wells - Carl Reindel

The Love Child

Episode 9

Date Aired: November 8, 1970
Plot: A dying woman and her son are rejected by her father because she had a child out of wedlock.
Written by: Michael Landon
Directed by: Michael Landon
Guest Stars: Etta - Carol Lawson, Scott - Michael-James Wixted, Zack Randolph - Will Geer

El Jefe

Episode 10

Date Aired: November 15, 1970
Plot: Ben and Hoss come to the rescue of Mexican farmers who are forced off their land by the greedy mine owner who runs the town of Prince River.
Written by: Ken Pettus
Directed by: William F. Claxton
Guest Stars: Sheriff Vincente Arranda - Rodolfo Hoyos, Owen Driscoll - Warren Stevens, Ramon Cardenas - Jaime Sanchez, Sara - Anna Navarro

The Luck of Pepper Shannon

Episode 11

Date Aired: November 22, 1970
Plot: Pepper Shannon is a dime novel hero and outlaw. Ben gives a job to Pepper Shannon on the condition the one-time outlaw stays away from Jamie, who happens to admire him.
Written by: John Hawkins
Directed by: Nicholas Webster
Guest Stars: Pepper Shannon - Neville Brand

The Impostors

Episode 12

Date Aired: December 13, 1970
Plot: Hoss and Joe pretend to be stage robbers' partners in order to recover stolen Cartwright money. All goes well until the wife of one of the thieves shows up.
Written by: Robert Vincent Wright
Directed by: Lewis Allen
Guest Stars: Joe Bruder - Strother Martin, Willie Bruder - Anthony James

Honest John

Episode 13

Date Aired: December 20, 1970
Plot: Jamie forms a bond with a bum and his tame crow. Before long, Jamie suggests they repair an old wagon and leave the Ponderosa.
Written by: Arthur Heinemann
Directed by: Lewis Allen
Guest Stars: Honest John - Jack Elam

For a Young Lady

Episode 14

Date Aired: December 27, 1970
Plot: A girl's uncle and aunt want custody of her only because they believe she has the rights to her late grandfather's mine.
Written by: B.W. Sandefur
Directed by: Don Richardson
Guest Stars: Carrie Sturgis - Jewel Blanch, Vella Owens - Madeleine Sherwood, Buford Sturgess - Paul Fix

A Single Pilgrim

Episode 15

Date Aired: January 3, 1971
Plot: Settlers from Virginia argue over Hoss' fate after one of them accidentally shoots him.
Written by: Suzanne Clauser
Directed by: William Wiard
Guest Stars: Dilsey Brennan - Beth Brickell, Frank Brennen - Jeff Corey, Tom Brennan - John Schuck

The Gold-Plated Rifle

Episode 16

Date Aired: January 10, 1971
Plot: An insecure Jamie is unsure of his place in the family, having trouble adjusting at his new school and keeps getting harassed by a bully. When he takes Ben's prized gold-plated rifle and breaks it, he runs away, sending Ben to go looking for him.
Written by: Preston Wood
Directed by: Joseph Pevney
Guest Stars: Mrs. Hagen - Jessica Myerson, Frank - George Paulsin

Top Hand

Episode 17

Date Aired: January 17, 1971
Plot: The Cartwrights are about to start a major cattle drive with other ranchers. It has been decided that Ben's foreman will be trail boss on the drive. Weatherby, a fellow rancher who is also with Ben, has agreed to have Kelly as trail boss, until he finds out that Kelly was previously on a cattle drive with him, and fired him for drinking. Weatherby also suggests that his younger wrangler take the job as trail boss, and a conflict is started between both Ben's foreman and Weatherby's wrangler.
Written by: John Hawkins
Directed by: William F. Claxton
Guest Stars: Jim Kelly - Ben Johnson, Burt Yates - Roger Davis, Weatherby - Walter Barnes

A Deck of Aces

Episode 18

Date Aired: January 31, 1971
Plot: Bradley Meredith, a Ben Cartwright look-a-like, causes trouble when he sells land to the railroad. Ben has already turned down the deal, but Meredith, acting as Ben, accepts the deal, which stirs up all kinds of trouble.
Written by: Stanley Roberts
Directed by: Lewis Allen
Guest Stars: Wentworth - Allan Oppenheimer, Dixie - Linda Gaye Scott

The Desperado

Episode 19

Date Aired: February 7, 1971
Plot: Hoss is held prisoner by a fugitive black couple who they admit hate white people and have nothing to lose by killing them.
Written by: George Lovell Hayes
Directed by: Philip Leacock
Guest Stars: Buck Walters - Lou Gossett, Jr

The Reluctant American

Episode 20

Date Aired: February 14, 1971
Plot: An English couple comes to Nevada to learn why a ranch owned by the British investment firm is the only company holding not showing a profit.
Written by: Stanley Roberts
Directed by: Philip Leacock
Guest Stars: Leslie Harwood - Daniel Massey, Gillian Harwood - Jill Haworth

Shadow of a Hero

Episode 21

Date Aired: February 21, 1971
Plot: Ben is shocked to learn the Army general he is backing as governor, advocates a policy of genocide towards all Indians.
Written by: Mel Goldberg
Directed by: Leo Penn
Guest Stars: Ira Cloninger - Dean Jagger

The Silent Killer

Episode 22

Date Aired: February 28, 1971
Plot: An epidemic of influenza hits the Ponderosa and the only person who seems sure of what to do is the wife of a doctor, whom Doc Martin says is a fraud.
Written by: John Hawkins
Directed by: Leo Penn
Guest Stars: Evangeline Woodtree - Meg Foster

Terror at 2:00

Episode 23

Date Aired: March 7, 1971
Plot: A racist and his henchmen steal a Gatling gun, with plans to massacre everyone including the Cartwrights involved in a peace treaty signing between the U.S. Army and the Paitues in Virginia City. The man's hope is that the tragedy will spark another war and eventually lead to the genocide of all Native Americans.
Written by: Michael Landon
Directed by: Michael Landon
Guest Stars: Mr. Ganz - Steve Ihnat, Sam Dawson - Dabbs Greer

The Stillness Within

Episode 24

Date Aired: March 14, 1971
Plot: Blinded by an explosion, Joe wallows in self-pity, and at first resists the efforts of a woman trying to teach him to live without sight, not knowing she is also blind.
Written by: Suzanne Clauser
Directed by: Michael Landon
Guest Stars: Ms. Ellen Dobbs - Jo Van Fleet

A Time to Die

Episode 25

Date Aired: March 21, 1971
Plot: While visiting the Ponderosa, Ben's friend, April Christopher, is bitten by a rabid wolf. Ben and April and her daughter must come to terms with her illness as they all realize the terrible fate that awaits April.
Written by: Don Ingalls
Directed by: Philip Leacock
Guest Stars: April Christopher - Vera Miles

Winter Kill

Episode 26

Date Aired: arch 28, 1971
Plot: The foreman of a neighboring ranch shoots a special steer belonging to the Cartwrights, and his scheming boss plots to take unfair advantage of the mistake.
Written by: John Hawkins
Directed by: William Wiard
Guest Stars: Howie Landis - Glenn Corbett, Marie Landis - Sheliah Wells

Kingdom of Fear

Episode 27

Date Aired: April 4, 1971
Plot: Ben, Hoss and Joe, along with Candy and a fellow rancher, are jailed on false trespassing charges by a greedy mining tycoon. The despot runs a gold mine (i.e., a thinly-veiled prison camp) and acquires slave labor by pressing phony criminal charges against the unfortunate inmates.
Written by: Michael Landon
Directed by: Joseph Pevney
Guest Stars: The Judge - Alfred Ryder, Deputy Hatch - Luke Askew

An Earthquake Called Callahan

Episode 28

Date Aired: April 11, 1971
Plot: The only person who can get Dusty out of jail is a professional fighter who will not return to Virginia City, so Joe stays on the man's heels no matter where he goes.
Written by: Preston Wood
Directed by: Herschel Daugherty
Guest Stars: Tom Callahan - Victor French, Angeline - Sandy Duncan