This was probably one of the more influential western series of all time. Along with "Gunsmoke" this also was one of the longest running series in the history of television. The thing that made it great though was that it was able to get better over time. For example, in many of the early episodes, Ben and his sons had an almost antagonistic relationship with anyone who came on their property. In fact, the Cartwrights had an almost shoot first, ask questions later attitude to any stranger that might wander onto the Ponderosa. However, when Lorne Greene suggested that the Cartwrights become more hospitable, that's when the show began to take off. Also, the Adam, Hoss and Joe weren't on the best of terms with each other during the show's early days, but as time went on the three of them grew closer and showed their affection towards each other, especially Hoss and Little Joe. But the thing that really made it great was the fact that the cast and crew were able to go from serious drama to some very light hearted episodes and make it more than just a western but a family drama with stories that could easily fit into any era. This is really a show for the ages.