Little House on the Prairie (1974–1983)
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Of course, it would be silly for me not to mention the other wonderful actors who made Little House so enjoyable to watch: Michael Landon and Karen Grassle as Pa and Ma Ingalls. Was there ever a cooler, prettier mother on TV than Karen Grassle??? Melissa Sue Anderson as gentle Mary Ingalls was incomparable, especially after she became blind. She was very convincing playing blind! Also noteworthy are Kevin Hagen as Doc Baker, Dabbs Greer as Rev. Alden, Victor French as Mr. Edwards, and Richard Bull and Katherine MacGregor as the nosy, rude, crass, but hysterically funny Nels and Harriet Oleson. And last but certainly not least is one of TV's best villainesses, Alison Arngrim as the snobby, bratty and whiny Nellie Oleson. What would LH have been without the great rivalry between Laura Ingalls and Nellie Oleson? Did they give the writers of Dynasty ideas for the mudfights between Krystle and Alexis???
It's hard to describe what it is about Little House I love so much. I think I love the extreme closeness of the Ingalls family, and the romance. Whether it be the love and romance between long married Charles and Caroline, the sweet love and romance of Laura and her "Manly", among others, or also the fact I grew up watching the reruns on my grandmother's lap and we bonded to this show in a certain sense, I truly have a big spot in my heart for this show and also Laura Ingalls Wilder's wonderful books.
My favorite episode is "Divorce, Walnut Grove Style", Laura and Almanzo's separation over the girl's song, and how they reconcile. What a wonderful show!
"Little House On The Prairie",had enough staying power for the nine and a half years that it ran on NBC-TV(1974-1983)and from there became one of the best family oriented shows of the 1970's,and it stayed that way throughout the remainder of the early-1980's. The series produced 203 episodes,and also developed a spin-off as well,"Father Murphy",which ran for three seasons. Not to mention three successful made for TV movies based on this series as well,from the premiere episode in 1974,to the fiery climax of the series in mid-1983. However,about the episodes,as one comment mentioned them as sweet and sappy as it was remembered,but in other terms it was a series that tackled some very disturbing issues that were relevant in its day while at the same time staying within the frame of the moralistic/family oriented genre. Some of it tackled even darker subjects,and this was a first in the family oriented dramas of the 1970's. But at the same time,it has some very touching moments. Also it had some classic episodes to boot too....Who remembers the episode were Laura Ingalls and Nelly Oleson duked it out against each other? But for most part,and as far as the characters were concerned,we got to see Melissa Gilbert's character of Laura transform during the series run from the development of a little girl to a beautiful woman,and it was during this series that she got married too. The chemistry between Michael Landon as Pa and Melissa Gilbert as Half Pint was perfect in every aspect and it shows in the Golden Globes this show rack up,not to mention the Emmy nominations it received as well. As for the mom,Karen Grassle,there was no cooler mom that she was. The mom every daughter wanted to have. Compassionate,caring and down to earth. Oh yeah,let's not forget Laura's oldest sister,Mary(Melissa Sue Anderson),and the baby girl Carrie(played by twins Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush)who also grows up before our eyes during the show's entire run. And the family's faithful and reliable dog,"Bandit",who comes to the rescue just in case the children get into any danger. And as far as the townsfolk are concerned,out of all the characters in Walnut Grove, there was NOBODY so devious and deliciously evil as Nelly Oleson and actress Allison Arngrim,played it to the tee as well as her mom Harriet Oleson,played by Katherine McGregor...In other words..Nelly was the girl everyone loves to hate!!!
This was a show that was way better and way focus than the other family shows that came out during the 1970's,and "Little House On The Prairie" was that show! Not even its competition,"The Waltons"(which was on a rival network)does not even come close!!! Out of all the shows this one tackled subjects that were too intense for a family show and it shows in some of the episodes. Landon basically went by the books that were the basis for the series that were written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and from there it worked. If you want a wholesome show that the family can love then leave it to Michael Landon and Company to bring you the best. There are some lessons and messages in some of the episodes. This is why it became NBC's most successful show,until it was cancelled in 1983.
The lost episodes includes those which adhere most closely to the actual books which the series was supposed to be based on but wasn't. The only agreement with the books is that some of the characters have the same names but often different personalities. Some of the lost episodes are as follows:
"The Curse" - a special Halloween two hour special where Laura decides to put a curse on Mary by 'casting her eyes' to the demon Asmodeous. The purpose was to win the romantic attention of Nellie's brother. Because Laura doesn't spell Asmodeous correctly when making the curse, Mary doesn't go blind until the following week's episode and Willie escapes her clutches.
"Feeding the Blind" - Nellie blackmails Willie into killing all the cats in town. Willie is then forced to thread them onto a spear like shish-kabobs and roast them over the fire at the local blacksmith's. The two playful sibs then feed the cats to the children at the blind school. This results in the usual hilarity when the ruse if found out.
"High Times in Walnut Grove" - the kids band up after school and attack the doctor rendering him unconscious. They steal his supply of morphine and dose each other heavily. They, high as second avenue crack whores, wander the streets of Walnut Grove performing a drunken dance some critics have likened to 'the Bolshoi done right'.
"A Picture is Worth A Thousand" - George Eastman comes to town on a trip designed to test his new film camera. He stops to water his horse at the Inghall's farm where he sees Mrs. Inghalls and Mary bathing in the creek. He snaps a few shots of them naked. To retrieve the photos before they appear in 'Farm and Nude' magazine, Pa has to travel to Rochester, NY and ransoms them from Eastman. Pa agrees to Eastman's demands which do not include money.
"Where's the Field?" - Pa decides to do some farming but discovers he lacks any seed, does not own a plow, rake or harrow and comes to the self realization that he has no idea what it means to be a farmer. He explains this to his wife who laughs at him saying what difference does it make since your so called farm is only a half acre mostly taken up by a house and barn!
"Little House on the Prairie" tells the story of Charles Ingalls and his family as they move to Kansas and then Minnesota to start a new life. They settle down in Minnesota and face many hardships as they build a home for themselves outside of the town of Walnut Grove. As they settle into the challenges of everyday life, they make friends and learn to deal with a colorful group of people who run and live in the the little community.
If you're looking for good clean family-friendly entertainment, "Little House on the Prairie" is most definitely the answer to your prayers. It's a show that teaches the importance of family and the strength it provides to weather through the storms life throws at you. Any fan of classic television should clean off a spot in their home library for this new edition of the hit series.
The series was largely written by, directed, and starred Michael Landon, who was a television veteran of the program 'Bonanza'.
In "Little House", Landon portrays Charles Ingalls. Along with his wife Caroline (Karen Grassle) and children Mary (Melissa Sue Anderson), Laura (Melissa Gilbert), and Carrie (Lindsay-Sidney Greenbush), the Ingalls family endures tremendous hardships in their daily lives, including life among American Indians, crop failures, disease, hunger, wild animals, rough weather, and their neighbors in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. The series is depicted from the perspective of Laura Ingalls.
My favorite character in the series is Harriet Oleson, portrayed by Katherine MacGregor. To prevent the story lines from becoming stale, it is crucial for every successful series to have a good villain. Along with her TV daughter Nellie, Harriet Oleson is without a doubt one of the most appealing villains in TV history. Week after week during the 1970s, Harriet Oleson (and her daughter Nellie) did everything possible to make the lives of the Ingalls family difficult.
At the end of each episode, however, it was the Ingalls family who inevitably endured and survived life's challenges due to their belief in God, community spirit, work ethic, and mutual love and devotion to one another.
My siblings and I watched "Little House on the Prairie" each and every Monday night while growing up in the 1970s. During my childhood, I recall that it was not considered "cool" to admit that you watched this program, although it was consistently a top-rated program during it's original run on NBC.
"Little House on the Prairie" is an American television classic that has endured the test of time. Belief in God, helping your fellow neighbor, a solid work ethic, and family values are all promoted by this outstanding program.
The series chronicles the everyday experiences of the simple farming Ingalls family, who live near the Prairie village of Walnut Grove. The family consists of father Charles Ingalls, mother Caroline, and their three young daughters...Mary, Laura, and Carrie. Later the family is joined by baby daughter, Grace, an adopted son, Albert, and orphaned siblings, James & Cassandra. The viewer witnesses the growing up years of the Ingalls children. Mary learns to cope with blindness, later marries Adam (a teacher at the blind school), and suffers through the tragic death of her baby. Laura matures to take up teaching, weds sweetheart Almanzo Wilder, and becomes a mother to little daughter, Rose. Other Walnut Grove townsfolk are also regularly depicted, including the schoolteacher Miss Beadle (and later others), the parson Rev. Alden, the country doctor Dr. Baker, and the Olsens, who operate the local mercantile. Ingalls family friends, especially the Edwards and the Garveys, are included in some of the episodes.
The Olsen family members, chief rivals to the Ingalls, are especially cleverly depicted. Harriet, the snobbish, opinionated, buxom family matriarch, frequently receives her comeuppance, but by the next episode is unrepentantly as bad as ever! Her nasty daughter, Nellie, with her well orchestrated blonde curls, is one of the most deliciously evil villains in TV history. She is a constantly whiny, jealous, uppity, and conniving thorn in young Laura's side...the girl everyone loves to hate. Nellie's mischievous younger brother, Willie, sometimes aids & abets his sister in her various schemes to outshine, hoodwink, or humiliate the Ingalls girls. Rivals Laura and Nellie frequently duke it out in one form or another. Only the long-suffering Olsen patriarch, Nels, emerges as a decent and sympathetic personage, forced to cope patiently with the arrogant, unscrupulous antics of his other family members.
Years later Nellie grows into quite a reasonable young woman, who unexpectedly chooses a Jewish husband. The Olsen parents adopt Nancy, another girl with blonde curls and intended as a nasty little carbon copy of the younger Nellie. However, whereas Nellie was primarily a spoiled brat, Nancy seems downright hatefully dangerous.
The stories of the strong, loving Ingalls family and their neighbours are amusing or heart wrenching, sometimes a little of both. I'm always touched by the earlier episodes' heart to heart talks shared by sisters Mary & Laura in their little loft bedroom at the Ingalls farmhouse. I also enjoy the portrait of the small, friendly community of Walnut Grove and the assorted goings on at the one room schoolhouse, as viewed from both the perspective of the pupils and later the young novice teacher, Laura. The program at times tackles some difficult issues, such as gossip, racism, child abuse, adultery, murder, and drug addiction. A sense of faith in God and messages of kindness and integrity shine through even in the darker tales.
Family and village life are often viewed through the eyes of the middle daughter, Laura, the heroine of the piece. We are given a vivid portrait of her growing up years, as she blossoms from a dreamy, feisty schoolgirl to a lovely young woman, who finds her own fulfillment as a schoolteacher, wife, and mother. The series beautifully captures Laura's romance with the handsome, teasing young Almanzo (her 'Manley'), who always calls her Beth, her middle name. Her older sister, Mary's struggles in adjusting to her blindness are also moving, but the series is really Laura's story.
The acting is universally stellar, especially the wonderful late Michael Landon, who portrays the hard working, good natured father, Charles Ingalls. Other notables include Karren Grassle as the gentle, compassionate wife & mother, Caroline, Katherine MacGregor as the condescending & domineering Harriet Olsen, Victor French as rough around the edges Mr. Edwards, Dean Butler as Almanzo Wilder, and Lucy Lee Flippin as his spinster sister, Eliza Jane Wilder. The young actresses portraying the girls are brilliant for their years... Melissa Sue Anderson as the gentle Mary and Alison Arngrim as that nasty bit of goods, Nellie Olsen. Above all, the incredible child pro, Melissa Gilbert, sparkles as the empathetic young heroine, Laura.
This series provides surely one of the most brilliant ever TV portrayals of a touching father-daughter relationship, between Half Pint (Laura) and her Pa (Charles). Laura questions her Pa at times but always with love and respect. As for Charles, he's usually wise and patient, always has a twinkle in his eye and a good understanding of his young daughter. It's very moving to learn of the warm real life relationship enjoyed by the two stars, Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert, and to read trivia tidbits as to how the mature actor could elicit tears from the child actress when called for by the script.
In terms of family viewing, the only other series in its category is the Waltons. The Little House characters are so familiar that they almost seem like family members. Far better this warm, wholesome, and uplifting show than The Simpsons, with its glorification of rude manners (and even worse programs these days). Little House makes excellent family viewing, a series infinitely re watchable in re runs. If only we had more TV programming of its quality and values nowadays!
Although I loved the show I can't remember too many similarites between the books and the TV, other than some of the characters. In the books there were no Garveys, no Albert, no James and Cassandra BUT I understand that these characters were added to the show for an interesting cast. I liked the fact that they made Mrs. Oleson like her horrible daughter Nellie, but if you had read the books you would remember that Mrs. Oleson wasn't too bad, although I think she should've knocked some sense into Nellie. :-) Other characters that are left out of the show are Mary Power and Cap Garland (who was one of my favourites from the books). It would've been cool to see Nellie try to worm her way into Almanzo's heart like she did in the books. I don't remember a plot line like that. I do remember some woman that liked Almanzo in the TV show, and Laura humiliated her somehow, I think she didn't sew a dress properly and if fell of the woman? I can't remember clearly. I read in a biography that Willie went blind from a firecracker - that would've made a good story! I still loved the show though. My favourite episodes are when Laura steals the jewel box from Nellie, and she had the nightmares about jail, and when Nellie pretends to be crippled and Laura pushes her down a hill in her wheelchair. I remember the one where Carrie fell in the mine, that one made me cry.
It goes without saying that Michael Landon was a major figure head in the television industry, starting with Bonanza, following with Little House on the Prairie, and culminating in Highway to Heaven. His legacy will live on forever.
The DVDs are released just short of the pearl (30th) anniversary of this great series.
Once again, Huzzah!
But for those of us who do... its a winner. History glamorized, easier to look at, and made with morals and messages (too deep for some of us)just seems a bit more appealing. It's made for TV, so it is TV. Nice stories, good advice, and a good way to get your daily dose of endorphins. Little House on the Prairie is a crowd pleaser that any good natured soul could enjoy. I feel empowered just thinking about Michael Landon crying in nearly every episode, and I love it.
Strange, isn´t it, how your taste differs through the years?
Thank you Monica-5, for a full explanation on why and how The Little House is so good!..
I´ve grown to admire Michael Landon for being so diversified - acting, writing, directing - isn´t that great? And our dear Melissa Gilbert as "Laura" - she´s so perty in a nonAmerican
way... maybe that is why I love her so much! She was/is just such a good actor - like the rest of the crew!..
I just love to tease around & complain about old series - but "The Little House" has a strange way of getting me quiet and with my eyes flooded - It´s so heart-warmingly good!! I wish people were like that today...