Episode 147 - THE PRIME OF LIFE

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Episode 147 - THE PRIME OF LIFE

Post by Episode Guide » Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:57 pm

Date: December 29, 1963

Summary: Ben and his rival, Barney Fuller, compete over the same lumber contract.

Written by: Peter Packer
Directed by: Christian Nyby
Guest Stars: Jay C. Flippen as Barney Fuller,Melora Conway as Martha, Raymond Guth as Otis Watts, Ralph Moody as Gabe, Butch Patrick as Jody.

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Re: Episode 147 - THE PRIME OF LIFE

Post by January » Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:25 pm

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Ben Cartwright is no quitter. He has gone through tremendous struggles practically his entire life. Yet in different ways he overcame those struggles. Well finally, in The Prime of Life, he reached his breaking point. Do you think maybe the writer just wanted a reason to name Adam "Bull of the Woods"? :laughing

Tell us about your thoughts on what made the difference between Ben before "The Prime of Life" and how he reacted in "The Prime of Life".
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Re: Episode 147 - THE PRIME OF LIFE

Post by patina » Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:52 pm

Barney Fuller, Ben's old friend, had to have something to do outside of bidding on the same contract. :grin

Ben's pity party seemed way out of character since he'd had hired help (usually ranch hands) die over the years. We saw him in mid-pity party in Inger My Love, which made sense as he was dirt poor with a sick, hungry child and still mourning Elizabeth. Do we know how long Gabe had worked for the Cartwrights? :shrug

It seemed even more out of character for Ben to send an envelope full of money to Gabe's daughter. If he really wanted to ease his conscience, he could have given her a chunk of Ponderosa land. :laughing

This ep has one of my favorite saloon brawls. Hoss hangs his guy from a hook on the wall and Joe throws an extra punch when the fight finally ends. Adam looks fantastic as he swings his fists.

I also love the Bull of the Woods fight--how kind of the timber men to take turns. :grin. Hoss enjoys the fight from start to finish and I get a chuckle out of him holding back Joe.

Too bad we never saw Barney Fuller again. He seemed a crafty old fox and he and Ben must have competed for all kinds of projects.

Not one of my favorite eps but I've watched it several times just for the fight scenes.
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Re: Episode 147 - THE PRIME OF LIFE

Post by Cartwright fan. » Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:03 am

patina wrote:
This ep has one of my favorite saloon brawls. Hoss hangs his guy from a hook on the wall and Joe throws an extra punch when the fight finally ends. Adam looks fantastic as he swings his fists.
Not one of my favorite eps but I've watched it several times just for the fight scenes.
I have to agree about the fight- it's one of my favorite things about the episode. :yes It probably has something to do with the fact that the boys all seem so coordinated. They all just turn, take their man/men, and beat the snot out of them, all with perfect timing. :boxing (and Hoss throwing Bob Miles across the bar, well, that was fun. :laughing )

But I've found out that it's no fun to watch anyone throw a pity-party: including Ben Cartwright. The way he just spends the episode, moping and dragging, and almost seeming like he lost his head- well, let's just say it ain't a pretty thing to watch again, and again, and again. I can watch this episode once in a while, but not too often, or it sticks in my throat. :puke
Last edited by Cartwright fan. on Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Episode 147 - THE PRIME OF LIFE

Post by daisy60 » Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:50 am

Ben wasn't really in character after his friend's untimely death. I can understand his feelings of guilt but not him telling his sons the Ponderosa is in their hands. When his sons were struggling to keep things together, Ben should have helped out. I liked the way the brothers stuck together, especially the bar scene and the 'bull of the woods' scene.

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Re: Episode 147 - THE PRIME OF LIFE

Post by elizabeth » Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:08 am

This ep. is an interesting contrast to "The Rescue" where the boys thought it was time to put Ben out to pasture and he just didn't want to go. I think I get it (why Ben collapsed), not sure it's easy to explain though. It's like a couple of old generals going at it on the battlefield, and after a while, it's obvious it's mostly about vanity and nothing more than that. lives start getting lost and suddenly you see the price someone has paid for your vanity. For a good person, it's a punch in the face, and pretty humiliating. that would be enough to make Ben step down temporarily. Having one's priorities in order is one of Ben's reoccurring themes. He'd give the Ponderosa away if he needed to, in order to save his sons. I don't remember which ep. that was from. I totally got this one.
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Re: Episode 147 - THE PRIME OF LIFE

Post by PJudith » Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:35 am

No, don't think Ben was EVER a quitter. It was no fun watching him hang around the house in his bathrobe, seemingly defeated.

But I must say it was more like he was face to face with his conscience and realizing that his competition with Barney Fuller blinded him to other more important things, namely ensuring the safety of his employees and being responsible for a safe work place. Ben was a man of great character, but this time his rivalry with another businessman caused the wrongful and needless death of an employee.

There's nothing wrong with Ben being at fault, accepting blame and feeling sad and guilty for a time. Sure, he probably lost a number of ranch hands over the years. Before modern medicine and 911 emergency calls, it's likely that ranch hands, cowboys ,etc. , died from a lot of work related accidents. But this time it was the fault, however indirect, of Ben and his ego pushing too hard to get a job done and beat his competitor.

I have a lot more respect for Ben for admitting he was wrong. He accepted the blame for Gabe's death. He surely did not intend for that to happen, but his behavior was partly responsible for the accident. As for the envelope of money, I think Gabe's daughter was entitled to it. In today's world, she would have been suing the Ponderosa and Ben Cartwright for wrongful death.

In the episode it was made to seem like an envelope of "guilt money" , but in reality it was workman's comp since Gabe died on the job from a preventable accident. His family was entitled to it.

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Re: Episode 147 - THE PRIME OF LIFE

Post by ellen » Tue Jul 04, 2017 11:04 am

What I like best about this is Ben acts like a normal person - he goes overboard pushing to finish a contract, is horrified and saddened that this causes a death, tries money to solve the problem, then is snapped to attention by the competition with Barney Fuller. (I love that character; he knew exactly how to handle Ben.)

I agree with Pjudith; Gabe's daughter was entitled to the money. Little Eddie Munster could have used it to go to college!
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Re: Episode 147 - THE PRIME OF LIFE

Post by littlejoenice » Tue Jul 04, 2017 11:35 am

I rather enjoyed this episode. I can understand the pressure Ben felt to make good on that contract in time to meet the deadline. Heck, I've felt the same way about school assignments, stories, etc...
Barney Fuller, however, rather irritated me. I didn't mind Jay C. Flippen, but he wasn't among my favorites, either. I guess you could say he was the kind you love to hate, that sort of man.

I found this episode to be enjoyable, while at the same time, a little bit sorrowful. Ben pushing his men so hard, that no matter how much Hoss warned him about that pulley, he wouldn't listen. His best friend dies as a result, and then he's filled with self-pity.
But to practically throw the Ponderosa at his sons and not care what happens to it-- that was totally out of character for Ben.
In earlier seasons, Ben was shouting at Joe for saying that he was "sick of the Ponderosa" (Season Three's Springtime) and then he literally gives Joe a lecture on how important the Ponderosa is not to just to him, but to Hoss and Adam as well. (Season 4's The Quest). So, for him to just say, "The Ponderosa's yours now; you can do what you want with it; I want no part of it," it may have come from Ben's mouth, but I didn't think it was his feelings at all.

My most favorite part is at the end, when Hoss and Little Joe ask about that long rest they were promised.
"That depends," is Ben's reply.
"On what?" Joe asks, a little worriedly.
Ben, nodding to Adam, says, "The bull of the woods."
Seeing his brothers looking at him expectantly, Adam faces the camera and says casually, "Moo."
Joe, laughing, remarks, "He says yes, Pa."

That, I think is the no. 1 highlight of this episode. I liked it-- a lot-- but couldn't stand Ben's attitude at times in this one, or Barney Fuller's "speeches" either.
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Re: Episode 147 - THE PRIME OF LIFE

Post by debpet2 » Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:12 pm

I thought Ben's guilt over Gabe's death was, at least to some extent, justified...he did push awfully hard. And Gabe's daughter was almost too forgiving. If Ben wanted to try to atone it would have been nice for her to accept that graciously. The fight where Adam proved himself Bull of the Woods was fun to watch...especially his brothers' reactions. I guess coming at him one at a time must have been part of the rules for a "Bull" fight. And, of course, it was just delicious when the Bull said "Moo!" :laughing Barney Fuller was a wonderful foil for Ben. It would have been nice to see him in more episodes.

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