once a doctor
Bonanza Western TV
The Lone Writer  

Once a Doctor Full Episode – Bonanza, Season #06, Episode #23

Virginia City receives a visit from Thomas Crippen (portrayed by Ashley Cowan), an English traveler who has journeyed across the globe in pursuit of the man he believes “murdered” his wife during surgery. Crippen is steadfast in his belief that a particular doctor named Mundy is responsible for the tragedy. Coincidentally, Mundy is the true identity of Professor Poppy (played by Michael Rennie), a charismatic medicine showman who has formed a bond with Hoss Cartwright. Once a Doctor, partially inspired by actual events, was penned by Martha Wilkerson and originally aired on February 28, 1965.

Discover this episode’s gripping plot and intriguing trivia, or indulge in the viewing experience below.

Watch the Full Episode of Once a Doctor

Watch the Full Episode of Once a Doctor:

Main Cast

In addition to the primary cast, the twenty-third episode of Season 6 of Bonanza, titled “Once a Doctor,” shines a spotlight on several recurring and guest-supporting actors. Among those featured in the episode are:

  • Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright
  • Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright (credit only)
  • Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright
  • Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright
  • Michael Rennie as Prof. Poppy / Dr. P.A. Mundy
  • Ashley Cowan as Thomas Crippen
  • Elizabeth Rogers as Allie Lou
  • Ray Teal as Sheriff Roy Coffee
  • Grandon Rhodes as Dr. Rob Keefer
  • Bill Clark as Sam
  • John Barton as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Danny Borzage as Townsman (uncredited)
  • John Breen as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Betty Endicott as Townswoman (uncredited)
  • James Gonzalez as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Herman Hack as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Bob LaWandt as Henry (uncredited)
  • Martha Manor as Townswoman (uncredited)
  • Bob Miles as Deputy Sheriff (uncredited)
  • Rex Moore as Townsman (uncredited)
  • John Rice as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Clark Ross as Townsman (uncredited)
  • George Tracy as Townsman (uncredited)

Full Story Line for Once a Doctor

In the morning, Ben and Joe sit at the breakfast table, exchanging glances towards the stairs. Joe expresses concern about Hoss’s absence, as it’s unusual for him to miss breakfast. Despite hearing Hoss moving around earlier, he’s nowhere to be seen. Joe worries that Hoss may have fallen and hurt himself, but Ben reassures him to stay put, dismissing the idea that Hoss’s absence could be due to a fall. However, Joe insists on checking upstairs, reluctantly prompting Ben to join him. Just as they rise, Hoss appears, limping down the stairs, prompting a lighthearted exchange about his lateness.

As they sit down to eat, Ben notices Hoss’s discomfort and offers him food, but Hoss struggles to eat due to his sore foot. Ben and Joe become increasingly concerned as Hoss reveals that his new boots are causing him pain. After examining his foot, Ben suggests seeing a doctor in Virginia City, but Hoss admits he gave away his old boots. This revelation leads to some amusement for Joe, who jokes about the odds of finding someone with Hoss’s large foot size.

Later, Hoss arrives in town via stagecoach and encounters a British man seeking the constabulary. Amused by the man’s confusion, Hoss directs him to Sheriff Roy Coffee’s office before heading to Dr. Keefer’s, only to find the doctor out of town. Allie, the doctor’s assistant, expresses frustration at the lack of medical care in town, prompting Hoss to promise to speak to Ben about it.
While wandering through town, Hoss comes across Professor Poppy, a traveling salesman peddling his miracle elixir. Intrigued, Hoss converses with Poppy, who boasts about the powers of his potion. As they converse, Hoss mentions his foot pain, leading Poppy to diagnose it as more than a blister. However, Hoss dismisses Poppy’s theories and bids him farewell.

Poppy invites Hoss to join him in the shade and offers him a taste of his elixir, which Hoss reluctantly accepts. Despite his initial hesitation, Hoss finds the palatable elixir and takes a generous sip, seemingly relieved by its effects.

The man in the grey suit enters the restaurant, where Sheriff Coffee is enjoying a meal. He approaches the counter and inquires about the sheriff’s whereabouts. The waitress points him to Sheriff Coffee’s table. Introducing himself as Thomas H. Crippen, the man converses with the sheriff, who seems familiar with him. Sheriff Coffee invites Crippen to join him for a meal, but Crippen declines, surprised by the sheriff’s knowledge of his journey from Denver. Impressed, Crippen shares that he’s searching for an English doctor named P.A. Mundy, whom he believes to be in town. However, Sheriff Coffee expresses uncertainty about any English doctor in the area. Despite Crippen’s insistence, the sheriff remains unconvinced, and Crippen leaves, prompting Sheriff Coffee to order apple pie.

Meanwhile, Professor Poppy indulges in his third bottle of miracle painkiller as Hoss engages him in conversation. Hoss questions Poppy about his solitary travels in the wagon, prompting Poppy to reflect on people’s curiosity about his profession despite his intelligence and education. However, Hoss must still be more interested in delving into Poppy’s background. Despite Hoss’s skepticism, Poppy examines his foot, diagnosing a severe infection. Concerned about Hoss’s well-being, Poppy offers medical assistance, but Hoss reveals that the doctor is out of town. Nonetheless, Poppy retrieves a bag emblazoned with the name “P.A. Mundy M.D.,” hinting at his true identity.

Elsewhere, Ben arrives in town and inquires about Hoss at Dr. Keefer’s office, learning that Hoss left hours ago without seeing the doctor. Sheriff Coffee converses with Crippen at the sheriff’s office about his quest for the elusive Dr. Mundy.

As Ben enters the jail, he and Sheriff Coffee share a joke about Hoss’s absence, unaware of Crippen’s accusations against Dr. Mundy. However, Sheriff Coffee admits his ignorance, prompting Ben’s curiosity. Sheriff Coffee reveals that Crippen hails from England and is pursuing Dr. Mundy for allegedly murdering his wife. Suspicious of Crippen’s motives, Ben questions Sheriff Coffee, who suggests investigating Professor Poppy, a traveling medicine man with an English accent.

Hoss returns to town with Poppy, catching Crippen’s attention. Inside the restaurant, Hoss greets Allie Lou and introduces her to Poppy, while Crippen bursts in, accusing Poppy of murder. Hoss intervenes, lifting Crippen off the ground. Sheriff Coffee and Ben enter, and Sheriff Coffee questions Poppy about his true identity. Poppy confirms he is indeed Dr. Mundy and explains the circumstances of Crippen’s wife’s death. Despite Crippen’s insistence, Sheriff Coffee accepts Poppy’s explanation and lets him go, warning Crippen against causing trouble. As Poppy prepares to leave, Hoss invites him to a meal, but Poppy declines and exits.

Allie arrives at Poppy’s wagon outside town, calling for him until Poppy emerges. Introducing herself as Allie-Lou, she expresses her desire to talk with him. Poppy, initially preoccupied, soon accommodates her, fetching chairs for them to sit outside in the garden. Despite being on the brink of indulging in his miracle painkiller, Poppy refrains; she was citing Allie’s delightful company. Allie mentions Poppy’s profession, prompting him to dismiss the idea of being a doctor, even though he introduced himself as “Dr. Mundy” in the restaurant. Allie laments needing another doctor in Virginia City, but Poppy insists it’s impossible. When Allie asks why, Poppy changes the subject, inquiring about Allie’s marital status instead. As their conversation concludes, Poppy expresses nostalgia for human interaction, bidding Allie farewell with a gallant gesture.

Later, Ben and Joe return home to find Hoss sitting solemnly in front of the fire. Ben informs Hoss about Adam’s delayed return, but Hoss appears despondent. Joe probes Hoss about his mood, prompting Hoss to claim nothing is amiss. However, Joe notices Hoss’s fixation on the fire and questions him further. Hoss defensively asserts his right to contemplate the flames, but Ben redirects the conversation, inquiring about Hoss’s foot. Despite Ben’s suggestion to see Dr. Keefer, Hoss declines, insisting his foot is healing well. As they discuss recent events in town, Hoss becomes troubled by Crippen’s accusations against Poppy. Ben shares Dr. Keefer’s praise for Poppy’s surgical skills, which piques Hoss’s curiosity. Joe mentions Poppy’s continued presence in town, likening Crippen’s actions to a spreading poison. Ben expresses concern but dissuades Hoss from getting involved, a sentiment Hoss dismisses as he rides into town.

At Sheriff Coffee’s office, Hoss, wearing moccasins, confronts the sheriff about Crippen’s behavior. The sheriff acknowledges Crippen’s antics but insists they’re just words. Frustrated by the sheriff’s inaction, Hoss leaves, disillusioned.
Later, Hoss finds Poppy drowsy from his painkiller. Concerned for Poppy’s well-being, Hoss offers him food and attempts to dissuade him from excessive consumption. Poppy confides in Hoss, revealing the reason for his nomadic lifestyle and expressing regret for his past actions. Poppy recounts his encounter with Crippen as they converse, suggesting an unhealthy fixation. Despite Hoss’s efforts to console him, Poppy resigns to his fate.
The following day, Poppy arrives in town with Hoss, who is injured. They seek medical attention at Dr. Keefer’s office, where a concerned crowd gathers. As the sheriff organizes a search for Crippen, Poppy recounts the events leading to Hoss’s injury, struggling to comprehend the severity of the situation. Inside the jailhouse, the sheriff questions Poppy about the incident, grappling with disbelief. As the confrontation escalates, Crippen is apprehended and imprisoned, facing the wrath of an angry mob outside.

Amidst the chaos, Joe pleads for action to save Hoss’s life while Poppy slips away, torn between guilt and desperation. With tensions rising, Roy grapples with maintaining order while ensuring justice prevails.

The doctor examines Hoss with Ben and Poppy present. Dr. Keefer informs Poppy that attempting surgery isn’t feasible due to the complexity and risks involved. Despite Ben’s pleas, Keefer maintains that he lacks the expertise. Ben, distraught, questions why they can’t save his son. Keefer points out that Poppy, a surgeon, possesses the necessary skills. However, Poppy dismisses the idea, stating he’s no longer a doctor. Ben pursues Poppy, reminding him of his oath to save lives. Poppy is hesitant and refuses, fearing the outcome. Ben implores him, emphasizing Hoss’s trust in him. Reluctantly, Poppy agrees and prepares for surgery.
Meanwhile, outside the jail, an angry mob awaits. Roy informs Crippen that the man he wanted dead is now his only hope. Crippen asserts his rights as a British subject, further frustrating Roy.

Inside, Poppy operates on Hoss, but Ben is unable to watch. After the tense surgery, Hoss regains consciousness, alleviating the tension. Ben expresses gratitude to Poppy.

As Hoss walks in his new boots, Poppy offers him health advice. Hoss expresses regret at Poppy’s departure, but Poppy explains his need to resolve matters in England before a possible return. As Roy escorts Crippen away, Poppy reassures Hoss of his safety. Bid farewell to Allie and the Cartwrights, Poppy leaves, casting a final glance at Allie. Joe admires Hoss’s boots, who responds with pride.

Full Script and Dialogue of Once a Doctor

You know, Pa, this
just doesn't make sense.

I mean, I cannot remember one time
that Hoss was ever late for breakfast.


I heard him moving around
this morning when I got up.

You know, maybe he fell on
the floor and cracked his head.

- I better go on up and check on him.
- Stay right where you are, Joseph.

If he'd fall on his head,

he'd of come right
through into the living room.

Yeah, it's true.

Still, I'm worried about him,
maybe I better go up, anyway.


Just sit down. I'll check.

We'll both check.

Morning, Pa. Little Joe.


You two going someplace?

No. Actually, we thought
maybe you'd decided

to run away during the night.

Why would I do a
dangfool thing like that?


Want some eggs?

This is good.


Ugh, I'm okay.

Anything wrong?

No, everything is
fine, Pa. Just fine.

Joseph, I think we have
ourselves a sick boy on our hands.

It ain't that, Pa, it's...

Well, it's them dadburn new boots.
Now, I know, I know. You told me.

I ain't got no business with
a pair of fancy boots like that.

Yeah, I was even surprised

they sold ladies boots
a size that fit your foot.

Joe, you want me to flatten you
out all over this floor, don't you?

Well, heck, no, I don't.

Now, just keep your
sentiments to yourselves.


Dang foot's so sore, I never
would get that new boot on it.

Started out just a little bit of a
blister. Now it's all swole up and sore.


You better go into town
and see Doc Keefer.


Can you get your old
boots on, do you think?

I gave them away.


Where did you ever find anybody
in the whole territory of Nevada

had a foot the same size as that

thing you got hanging on
the end of your ankle, ha, ha?

Joe, I'm gonna sling you
plumb through that wall.

You're gonna go out to the
barn and through that wall,

and then plumb out in the woods,
and mow down 10 acres of pines

before you plow a fir
up that nose of yours.

Is that a threat?


MAN: Hyah!


ACCENT] Hey, you there.

- Talking to me?
- That's right.

Are you a native
of these here parts?

Well, if you mean,
do I live here, yeah.

Then you might tell me
where I'll find the constabulary.

- The what?
- The constable.

Oh, Mister, if you
was to speak English...

I am English.

I'm all the way
from London, mate.

Now, you tell me where
I can find the police.

Oh, heh.

Well, we got a sheriff,
his name is Roy Coffee.

And where might I find him?

His office is right
down the street there.

But likely as not, you won't find
him there. He stays on the move.

Keeping his eye on
things around here.

Just keep asking.
You'll run into him.

Thank you.



- Hoss Cartwright, hello.
- Howdy, Miss Allie.

- The doctor ain't in, ma'am?
- I'm sorry.

Well, I'll just sit over
there and wait a spell.

Well, he's gone to Carson City.

Doctor there is real sick and
there's some kind of emergency.

I don't expect Dr. Keefer
back for two or three days.

- Two or three days, huh?
- Is there anything I can do for you?

No, ma'am. It ain't
nothing serious, anyhow.

Hoss, it doesn't seem right.
One doctor in Virginia City.

This town's growing.

Couldn't you speak to your pa about
it? He gets things done around here.

Maybe he could get
us another doctor.

Ain't a bad idea, and
I'll sure talk to him.

- Bye, ma'am.
- Bye, now.

Your attention, ladies and gentlemen.

Your attention. Step
closer and hear me well.

From secrets found in India. From
formulas smuggled from Africa.

Through me to you,
this wondrous elixir.

This balm for our
bodily vicissitudes.

This surcease from pain.

Step closer and hear my
words, ladies and gentlemen.

I do not claim that this magic
formula will cure any serious disease,

nor will it mend a broken bone.

Although, it, uh, it does
wonders for a broken heart.


On sale right now,
ladies and gentleman.

Just 50 cents for one full
bottle of ease and comfort.

Half a dollar, a
mere pittance indeed.

For the cure of rheumatism, insomnia,
the pain of burns, cuts, bruises.

I'll take a couple
of those, mister.

Ha, ha, you were here
yesterday, my dear sir?

Obviously a satisfied customer.

Don't you dare, Fred
Larkin. That stuff is spirits.

- That's all it is, spirits.
FRED: It cured my insomnia.


- I slept good last night. Real good.
- There's no disputing that.

And you slept just
as good all day.


I'm sorry, my good
friend, the show is over.

I now have to find a place to
rest my rolling palace for the night.

Well, uh, look, Professor, if you
don't mind, you gonna be heading

out of town this way,
I'll ride along with you.

Suit yourself, my friend. But I
warn you I am in a loquacious mood.

This place has
an air of tranquility.

Heh, doggone, Professor,

you sure got a fancy way of
saying things, and convincing too.

You even make that medicine
sound like it's powerful.

Heh, thank you, my good friend.

Your kind words restore
my aching soul, almost.

But this, too, can restore
my aching soul. Almost.




You reckon that stuff would be
any good at restoring an aching foot?

My good friend, this heavenly
elixir is the natural enemy of pain.

This small phial of liquid
magic is guaranteed to...

No, I don't know.

But you said it was a pain-killer.
Rheumatism, cuts, bruises?

Yes, so I did, my
good friend, so I did.

You see, there are certain
pains in the foot and leg

which are symptomatic
of more serious ailments.

- I suggest in this case...
- Professor,

the pain I got in my foot is
just from a plain old blister that...

I got it from wearing
these dadburn fancy boots

I didn't have no business
with in the first place.

Heh, do you mind if I look?

Sure wish I had
my old ones back.

Dang big fool hayseed
like me ain't got no business

with a pair of fancy
boots like that, anyhow.

That is a gentleman's boot.

There's no reason why
you shouldn't wear it.

It's, uh, it's first class
workmanship too.

Made in England. All
the way from London.

I too am English-made,
all the way from London.

But the workmanship in this case,
quite definitely is, uh, not first class.

All the way from England, huh?
That's funny, that's real funny.

This morning a little fellow got off
the stage in Virginia City from London.

That does seem
surprising to be sure.

Well, Professor, I
gotta be running along.

Enjoyed talking with you.

Oh, my privilege,
I assure you, sir.

Good conversation has
become a rare privilege.

Maybe one of these
days I'll run into you again.

Oh, just a minute,
you forgot this.

Look, if you're not
pressed for time,

why don't you join
me in the shade

and we'll, uh, take our
medicine like gentlemen.

- All right.
- Ha, ha.

Thank you.


I don't mind if I do, Professor.


Phew. Boy, that is fine.


- Told me I'd find Sheriff Coffee here.
- Sheriff Coffee's over there.

- Sheriff Coffee?
- That's right.

My name's Crippen.

- Thomas H. Crippen.
- Yeah, I know. Sit down.

Just having dinner. Won't
you have something?

No, but, uh,
thanks all the same.

Did you have a nice
ride down from Denver?

You know all about
me, don't you?

Oh, I wouldn't say
that. It's just that,

it's part of my job to know as much as
I can about everybody in Virginia City.

Then like as not you know
about the man I'm looking for.

That could be. Who is that?

He's an Englishman
and a doctor, no less.

His name is Mundy.
Dr. P. A. Mundy.

Nope. Don't know no
Englishman doctor around here.

Oh, he's here, all right. But
you just don't know it, that's what.

Heh, what makes
you so sure about that?

Ain't I been trailing him across
land and sea for nigh on a year?


What are you trailing him for?
What do you want with him?

He's the man that
murdered my wife,

and he's somewhere here,
you can take my word for it.

And I'll find him.

Beulah, what kind
of pie we got today?

- Any kind of apple pie you want.
- Ha-ha-ha.

I'll tell you, Professor,

it beats me plumb sideways.

What beats you
plumb sideways, Hoss?

Well, ugh, you coming all
the way across the country

- in that wagon, all alone.
- Heh.

It was, uh, it was
an experience.

No, thank you, Professor.

It must've got awful lonesome,
huh? It didn't get lonesome?

Heh, you know, I started to say,
"No, not at all. I rather liked it."

But you have the most
extraordinary talent

for drawing the truth out of
the most accomplished liar.

Yes, yes, it was very lonesome.


You know, it's
remarkable, really.

Whenever I chance to have
a conversation with a man,

or a woman, for that matter,
at some point, they always ask,

"Professor Poppy, for an apparently
intelligent, and well-educated man,

well, why do you live as you do?"
And you haven't asked that question.

Heh, well, I don't reckon it's
any of my business, Professor.


Now, these boots were made
only for you, Mr. Cartwright.

I've eased the heel. You just have
the cobbler work on it a little bit.


I'll tell you, Professor,
that pain-killer you gave me

did great things for my head,
but it ain't done much for this foot.

Mind if I take a look?


That potions you got,

it's mighty wicked...
Mighty wicked stuff.

Where you get it, anyhow?

I was, uh, I was head of my chemistry
class at school. I make it myself, heh.

It's quite harmless if taken
by the teaspoonful, as directed.

Can you turn over, Hoss? I'd
like to take a closer look at this.

- Uhn, ahh.
- Oh, ho.

Mm. I should say, that foot
must hurt like the very devil.

You've got quite a nice little
infection going there for you.

There ain't nothing very
nice about it, I'll tell you.

No, heh.

Can you navigate to the doctor's
office or should I fetch him here?

Well, ain't no use in me navigating
or your fetching, either one.

Doctor Keefer's in Carson City.

- Is he the only doctor in town?
- Only one.

- Well, maybe he's back by now.
- Won't be back for two or three days.

- Look, is it anything serious?
- Any infection is serious.

This is only just dots,
but in two or three days...

Look, Professor, why don't
you do something about it?

Come on, Professor.

Dadburnit, all the work you did
on that boot, I wanna wear it again.

Hoss, I'd...

I'd appreciate it if you didn't
say anything about this to anyone.

Of course, Professor,
whatever you say.

Oh, it would, uh, completely ruin my
reputation as a charlatan and a rogue

if anyone found out I could perform
the task of a real medical man, heh.

Hello, Allie Lou.

- Afternoon, Mr. Cartwright.
- Afternoon. Hoss still inside?

- Why, no.
- Oh.

Well, he did get to see
Doc Keefer, didn't he?

Well, yes, but that was hours ago.
And he didn't get to see Dr. Keefer

- because Dr. Keefer's in Carson City.
- Oh.

But if I see Hoss, I'll surely
tell him you're looking for him.

Well, uh, thank you very much.
He's probably around, I'll find him.

- Thank you.
- Mm-hm.

Look, Mr. Crippen, this Mr.,
Dr... Or whatever his name is

that you're looking for, he
could be hiding out anywhere.

Now listen here, Sheriff, you're
supposed to know about these things.

Howdy, Ben. Come in.

I don't want to interrupt
anything, Sheriff, but I'm

looking for a lost little boy,

about 6'4" any way
you wanna measure him.


No, Ben, I ain't
seen Hoss all day.

Meet Mr. Crippen here.
Mr. Crippen, this is Ben Cartwright.

- How do?
- Mr. Crippen.

Mr. Crippen has got a problem
that, if you don't mind my saying so,

not only spoiled my dinner but just
about gave me the indigestion, heh.

As you know, Ben,
I'm a simple lawman

and I don't claim to
know a dang thing

about international
detective work.

- International detective work?
- That's right.

Mr. Crippen here claims that
he come all the way from England

hunting a Dr. uh... What
did you say his name was?

Mundy. Dr. P.A. Mundy.

Dr. Mundy. And he also claims
that Dr. Mundy murdered his wife.

He did, all right, and
don't you forget it.

And he further claims that
Dr. Mundy is right here in Virginia City.

Now, the only doctor I know
around here is old Dr. Keefer.

- Do you?
- Yeah, that's about the only one.

Are you a lawman, Mr. Crippen?

I am not.

Would you have a warrant or
whatever they call it in England

for the arrest of
this Dr. Mundy?

- No. It's a personal matter, Sheriff.
- Personal matter.

Well, if you don't have an
official charge against this man,

I'm warning you, don't try to
take the law into your own hands.

Sheriff, all I want is a simple
answer to a simple question,

do you know whether
Dr. Mundy is in Virginia City?

No, I do not.

I think you're holding
back. But it don't matter.

I'll find him.


Are you holding something back?

Ben, the truth is, I don't know
any Dr. Mundy in Virginia City.

There is a medicine
man been in town

and he lives in one
of them fool wagons.

Goes under the name
of Professor Poppy.

And he does talk with one
of them English accents.

You think he might be the one?

Well, I don't know,

but I'm gonna find out before
that Crippen does. Come on.

Well, uh, I'll tell you, old Doc, I
didn't know how bad I was feeling

until I got to feeling
this good again.

I'll tell you, old Hoss,
take care of that foot

and don't wear the boots
until it's completely healed.

Lord have mercy, I'm
hungry. I mean really hungry.

I ain't had nothing on my
stomach since supper last night.

Come on in here. I'll buy us a
dinner like you ain't seen before.


HOSS: Howdy, Miss Allie Lou.
- Well, hello, Hoss.

- Ma'am.
- Your pa's been looking for you.

Is he? Well, thank you, ma'am.

Uh, Miss Allie, I'd like you
to meet a friend of mine.

This here is Professor Poppy.

- Miss Allie Lou.
- Charmed, Miss Allie.

How do you do?

- Heh, how's your foot, Hoss?
- Oh, just fine, ma'am.

Thanks to the professor here.

Oh, are you a medical
man, Professor?

- Well, I, uh...
- Not exactly.

- What a pity.
- It is, indeed.

That's him! He's a murderer!

- You murderer! You murderer!
- Wait a minute.

- You crazy little varmint.
- Murderer!

What's the matter with you?

He's the butcher that
killed my old woman!

- He's a murderer!
- Hoss.

- What' the matter with you.
- Killed my old woman!

ROY: Will you shut up?

Is that your real
name, sir? Mundy?


And were you a
doctor in England?

Yes, that's right.

Crippen here claims that you
murdered his wife. Did you?

Am I on trial?

No, we don't need no trial
just to determine a few facts.

Does Mr. Crippen have
any proof of his accusations?

ROY: No, he just said
that you murdered his wife.

My wife's dead. Ain't
that proof enough?

Mr. Crippen's wife was fatally ill.
As a physician, I tried to save her life.

She died on the operating table.

Do you call that murder?

No, I certainly do not. I'm sorry,
Doc. He didn't say how it happened.

The British authorities will
be happy to verify it for you.

But I call it murder.

He took the will of God
in his own hands, he did.

I call it murder!

Unless you have any further
questions, Sheriff, I'd like to go now.

You go right ahead.
You're free as a bird.

The rest of you folks can go
on about your business too.

And you. You cause any
more trouble in this town,

you're gonna be the one
to wind up in jail, you hear?

HOSS: Hey, Doc.

Hey, wait a minute. Hold on,
there. Where are you going, anyhow?

What about that big feed
me and you was gonna have?

- I'm getting frail.
- Well, thanks, old Hoss,

some other time.

Come on.

Hello? Is anyone here?


Oh, heh, I thought
the place was deserted.

Well, uh, relatively
speaking it is, at the moment.

Young lady, uh,
what can I do for you?

Well, I'm Allie Lou.

I remember, you're, um, Hoss'
friend. I remember you very well.

If, uh, you're not busy,
I'd like to speak with you.

No, heh, I'm...

I'm all disengaged at the
moment. It would be a pleasure.

Oh, my drawing room is
currently in a state of disorder.

If you'll excuse me one moment.

Here we are.

Well, it's much more
pleasant in the garden, anyway.

- Won't you sit down, Miss Allie?
- Okay.

There we are, hah.


No, you'd, uh,
probably disapprove.

- Could I brew you some tea?
- Oh, no.

Please, I really don't
care for anything.

But, uh, you go right ahead.


Thank you, Miss Allie Lou.

Do you know an expression,
"Physician, heal thyself"?

That is my cure.

That's what I came out
here to talk to you about.

- You being a doctor, I mean.
- You are mistaken, I am not a doctor.

But you said in the
restaurant you were Dr. Mundy.

Yes, I was once a romantic,
idealistic young man too.

But that was a long time ago.

I see.

Well, uh, I was just hoping...

You see, we so desperately
need another doctor in Virginia City.

I thought maybe...

That's impossible,
absolutely impossible.

- Why?
- Why?

Tell me, why is an attractive young
woman like you still unmarried?

Because I've never
found the right man.


And I have never found the
right reason to be a doctor again.

Then I'd better be
getting back to town.

- It's been nice talking to you, doctor.
- It's nice talking to you, Miss Allie.

You know, between people
like you and Hoss Cartwright,

I'm almost beginning to become
nostalgic about the human race again.

- Goodbye, doctor.
- Goodbye, Miss Allie.

It would be nice having
you back in the human race.

That's what all the
fellows said, anyway.


Hey, Hoss.

Hi, Hoss.

We sure waited long enough for
that stage to come in from Sacramento.

Then the driver gives us a message
that Adam won't be back till next week.

Oh... [SIGHS]

What's the matter with you?


What are you staring
at the fire for, then?

Ain't I got a right to sit
here and stare at the fire?

- How's your foot?
- Fine, Pa. Just fine.

Doc Keefer's back in town,
if you want him to look at it.

No use in Doc Keefer
looking at it. It's healing fast.

I'll be back in my boots
in two or three days.

Hmm, sure is wonderful the way
that's been healing up so quickly.

Sure is.

What's, uh, what's
happening in town, anyhow?

Nothing much, I
can tell you that.

Sheriff Coffee's about to run
that Crippen fellow out of town.

- Oh, yeah. What's he done now?
- Oh, mostly talk.

He's going around town
trying to stir people up,

saying that Doc Poppy
murdered his wife.

Yelling about the "will of
God" and "an eye for an eye."

"An eye for an eye," huh?

I sure don't like
that kind of talk.

You know what Doc Keefer said?

Dr. Poppy, at one time, was the most
promising young surgeon in London.

And how would
Dr. Keefer know about that?

Well, I know Virginia
City is off the beaten path,

but I guess he reads
the medical journals.


Is Doc Poppy still around?

Yeah, I'm sure he is.
His wagon's still there.

That Crippen fellow is
like a human locoweed.

BEN: Yeah, trouble is that

some people put a lot
of stock in locoweed.


Look, Pa, I wanna take
a little ride into the town.

- Getting kind of late for that, isn't it?
- Yeah, but, uh...

Doc Poppy is one of
the finest fellows I know.

Ain't no telling what this
fellow Crippen's liable to do.

Hoss, I don't want
you to get involved.

I gotta get involved, Pa.



Glad to see you, boy.

You're just here in time to let me
beat you at a game of checkers.

Howdy, Roy. Roy,
I ain't got time.

Besides, uh, I wanna talk to
you about something serious.

About what?

Roy, what are you gonna
do about this fellow Crippen?

Hoss, what can I do? I don't like
this Crippen any better than you do

but he ain't done nothing.

Well, he's going around
accusing the professor...

The doctor, of murdering
his wife, ain't he?

And talking about
"an eye for an eye"?

Hoss, them are just words.

You know I can't arrest
somebody for just saying words.

Besides, they don't seem to
be bothering the doctor none,

leastways, he ain't
making no complaints.

Yeah, but it's just because the doctor
don't know what's good for himself.

It's like he's so dang beat,
he just don't care no more.

Well, if he don't
care, why should you?

Maybe that's just the
reason I do, because he don't.

- I'll see you, Roy.
- Yeah. Sure.

- Hope your foot gets better.
- Thank you, Roy. It'll be all right.



- Hi, Doc.
- Heh.

I brung us something
good to eat.

Doc, you ain't, you ain't
taking care of yourself.

You ain't eating right. And you're
taking too much of your own medicine.

Hoss, this is my friend, my
best friend, my only friend, heh.

No. That ain't exactly true.

You've got another friend
whether you want him or not.

Hoss, now you know
the answer to the question

you were too much
of a gentleman to ask.

Now you know why

an apparently intelligent,
well-educated man, leads the life I do.

No. I'm not for sure
that I know at all, Doc.

Crippen, Crippen, my old
friend, Thomas H. Crippen.

You saw him, the little man who
made my destruction his life's work.

He made a very
good try of it too.

Well, I understand that, but

what I don't understand
is how a little polecat

like Crippen could do
a thing like this to you.

Well, I say a doctor is the
most vulnerable of men.

And a surgeon is the most
vulnerable of the most vulnerable.

His reputation is as
delicate as the little soft spot

on the top of a
newborn baby's head.

Crippen just talked me to death.

Mrs. Crippen did not have a chance,
but I, Dr. P.A. Mundy, I had to try.

Hoss, I know you won't
tell anybody about this.

I'm gonna tell you what
the "P.A." stands for.

It stands for
Percival Alexander.


Ugh, look, Doc, lots of folks
die in operations, don't they?

Yes, they do, regrettably.

There's some day,
when we know more...

No, death comes very
often, but a Crippen, very rare.

He's a sort of genius.

In no time at all, he
turned me into a regular

Jack the Ripper with
a scalpel in my hand.


But that's all over and
done with and so am I.

Oh, Doc, you can
always start all over again.

I mean, around this country,
we need lots of doctors.

Oh, no, no...

Whatever it was I had is gone.

There's a hope, a courage, a
magic. That's, uh, that's all gone.

Uh, there's nothing to start with
anymore, and very little to end with.

Wish you'd eat some of this food.
We've got a mighty good cook.

Yeah, well... Uh,
thank you for bringing it.

Doc, why did Crippen do
it? I mean, what's his reason?

Oh, don't ask questions,
don't dwell on the reasons of

the Crippens of this world.

That would ruin you, and I
like you as you are, Hoss.

Well, he worries me, he
worries the stuffing out of me.

Going around with
all that talk about

the "will of God" and
"an eye for an eye."

His liable to do
more than just talk.

Nonsense, nonsense...

Well, why did he follow you
all the way out here for, then?

Perhaps he couldn't bear to
be separated from the object

of his obsession, and he
might even... I don't know.

- Hey, Doc. Doc?
- Hmm?

- Doc, you gotta go to bed.
- Oh, yeah.

Come on, get in your
bunk. I brought a bed roll.

I'll stay here for the night.

That's a good idea,
a guest in the house.

You take the bunk, and
I'll sleep in the fresh air.

Yeah, as a matter
of fact you do, at that.

Hey, you'll be here in the
morning to see me hit the trail,

right as the sun rises.

Just where you gonna
be going at sunrise?

Look, I'll, uh, I'll, uh, push on to
the Pacific like a weary Balboa.

And when I get to
the Pacific, I'll, uh...




Oh, my God. Hoss.


Hoss, don't move. Don't...
Stay where you are, don't...

Gently, boys, that's
it, just easy, easy.

Who in God's name would
wanna shoot Hoss Cartwright?

And in the back too. All right,
give me some room, please.

Sam, I believe you best
ride out to Ponderosa

and tell Ben Cartwright
what happened.

And circle by Poppy's camp, see if
you can't find some trace of Crippen.

Henry, you look for him in
town. He cannot get away far.

Now, if you need help, get
it, but bring him in back fast.

Doc. Will you come
with me, please?

Doc, if you will, I'd like to
hear the whole story in detail.

I just heard, Dr. Keefer.
I'd have been here sooner.

- Is it bad?
- Worse than bad.

More cotton, please.

Thank you.

Doc, you'll have
to excuse me, but

it's just awfully hard for
me to believe. Now, you say

you're not sure that
you heard a shot,

but you are sure it was Crippen
you saw coming out of the wagon.

It was Crippen.

I should have run
you both out of town.

I had a mind to and I
should have done it.

Crippen thought I was asleep
in the wagon. I wish I had been.


Quick, Doc, in here.

You ain't got no right to haul
me in here like this, no right at all.

Found him in his room at the
hotel, Sheriff. Found this too.

I've got a right to have a gun.

But you got no right to
use it on a sleeping man.

I don't know what
you're talking about.

It wasn't me that did
it. You can't say I did.

You got no proof and
you got no evidence.

We got a witness saw you
sneaking out of that wagon.

That's a lie, Sheriff.
There was nobody to...

- Nobody to...
- Nobody to what? Go on.

There was somebody,
Crippen, and he saw you.

You think I killed him because I
hated him for what he done to me?

It was "an eye for an eye."

He deserved everything he
got for what he did to my wife.

And there ain't a
magistrate in London,

who won't agree with me on it.

It's out of your hands now, Sheriff.
It's a matter for the British Law.

Is that a fact?

I'm a British subject.
Mundy is a British subject.

And what happens is a
case for the British police,

not the Sheriff of
Virginia City, Nevada.

It was Hoss Cartwright
that you shot.

And that does make it
a case for Nevada Law.

And if Hoss dies,

ain't a man in this whole territory
who wouldn't vote to hang you.


Joe, that's not the way.

What should I do?
Wait till Hoss dies?

Is it that bad?

JOE: Doc Keefer said
he can't get that bullet out.

He says my brother
doesn't have a chance.

JOE: So let me in here...
ROY: No! Now wait a minute.

We gotta do this thing legal.

Your dad would want it
that way and so would Hoss.

If my brother Hoss dies,

and Crippen doesn't hang,
I swear to you, I'll kill him.

Now, Joe...


No, no, I can't consider it.

- But he's bleeding to death.
- I tell you, I can't get to it.

Of course you can't,
not with a probe.

But you're asking for
the kind of surgery that...

It's too tricky, too risky.


Rob, you've got to do something.

I can't, Ben.

Why? Why?

I don't have the knowledge.
I don't have the skill.

Are you telling me that...

my boy just is gonna
lie there and die

without help from
either one of you?

I can't help him, Ben.

But Dr. Mundy is a surgeon.


He was one of the best.

He has the
knowledge and the skill.

That was another
man, another world.

I'm sorry, I can't.

BEN: Doctor.

I am no longer a doctor.

You'll always be a doctor.

When you took your
Hippocratic Oath,

you pledged yourself to be
a doctor the rest of your life.

- Will you leave me alone?
- My son is dying.

Do you want me to kill him?

I haven't used these as a
surgeon for... For too long.

You don't forget,
Doctor, you don't forget.

No. I can't risk it.

Risk it? What are
you risking, Doctor?

My son is in there, maybe dying,
because of his friendship for you.

What about his risk?

He believed in you, Doctor.

I believe in you. Help him.

Miss Allie, would you get me a
large pot of black coffee, please?

Ben, would you get my bag
of instruments from the wagon?


Little Joe is right.

The man that you've been so
anxious to kill is now the only man

that can possibly
save your neck.

You can't let them get at me.

They can't take the law in their
own hands. You gotta protect me.

I've got my rights.
I'm a British subject.

I'll tell you what you are.

In my opinion you're
positively the lowest...

It's awfully close to the heart.

Not for a sure hand, Doctor.


ALLIE LOU: Ready, Doctor?

Well, old Hoss, you
gave us all a bit of a scare.



Old Doc,

I wouldn't even...

I wouldn't even consider
dying without my new boots on.

Thank you, Doctor.

The knowledge, the
skill, and the courage.

Yes, sir.

And remember, no hard riding

and absolutely no brawling
for at least another six weeks.

HOSS: I sure wish you'd
change your mind, Doc.

And old Doc Keefer would
love to have you stay too.

would a lot of people.

I really wish you
would consider it.

You know I'm grateful
for a lot of things.

I'll be back one day, soon as
I've straightened out a few things

in merry old England.

What if the little skunk there
turns into a snake again and

comes after you after he
gets out of Territorial Prison?

ROY: Come on.

He can't hurt me. Not anymore.

- Miss Allie Lou, I hope to see you.
- You will, I'll be right here.

- Ben, Joe.
- Take care, Doc.

Well, old Hoss.


Take him home.

MAN: Hyah!

You know, those
boots aren't so bad.

No, sir, I mean it.
As matter of fact,

I think they're
pretty nice boots.

Real fine boots.

You don't have to tell me that,
little brother. I know they are.


Come on.

Behind the Scenes of Once a Doctor

In season 6, episode 22, the large red show wagon used by Borelli reappears in the episode, albeit repainted, as Dr. Poppy’s wagon.
When Ben and Little Joe speculate about Hoss’s condition, Ben’s reference to the “living room” is an anachronism. During this period, a house with a designated area for relaxation or entertainment would typically be called a sitting room or parlor. The term “living room” didn’t come into common usage until the mid-twentieth century.

Dr. Mundy’s mention of Jack the Ripper is historically inaccurate, as Jack the Ripper was active in 1888, whereas this episode is set around the Civil War (1861-1865).

During the attempt to remove the bullet from Hoss’s back, the Doctor states that it’s too close to his heart. However, the operation is being performed on the right side of Hoss’s back, which is not near his heart.

In another instance, while operating on Hoss, the comment is made that the bullet is “awfully close to his heart,” despite the operation being conducted on his right side, which is not near his heart.

After Hoss grabs Crippen in the restaurant, his hat is knocked off his head, but in the following scene, it mysteriously reappears on his head.

Lastly, Dr. Mundy’s comparison of himself to Jack the Ripper with a scalpel in hand is historically inaccurate, given that this episode is set more than twenty years before Jack the Ripper’s infamous murder spree.

Looking for More Bonanza Episodes?

Bonanza is a beautiful, family-friendly show for solo viewing or enjoying with loved ones. Once a Doctor is episode 191 out of 430 episodes. NBC produced and aired Bonanza on their network from September 1959 to January 1973, encompassing 14 seasons.

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