Ponderosa is a television series developed by Bonanza creator David Dortort for PAX-TV that ran for the 2001–2002 television season. Envisioned as a prequel to the long-running NBC series Bonanza, it had less gunfire, brawling and other traditional western elements than the original. Bonanza creator David Dortort approved PAX TV’s decision to hire Beth Sullivan, creator and executive producer of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman to oversee scripts and executive produce, which some believe gave the series a softer edge. Ponderosa was canceled after one season, in part because of disappointing ratings and high production costs. Although Sullivan had hoped to film the series in and around Los Angeles, PAX decided to film in Australia to reduce costs. Series “show runner” Sullivan sustained severe injuries in a car crash only twelve days after the airing of the first season’s last episode.
The show should not be confused with Ponderosa, the title used for Bonanza reruns aired on NBC during the summer of 1972.