|Index||3 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Movie "heavy" Leo Gordon gets to shine as an aged wrestler that has
been forced to do the small town circuit, after his many years of
successful wrestling in his native Europe have passed. His character is
forced to "lose" in the various "scripted" matches to the delight of
the locals and his pride takes a pummeling. When he makes it to Walnut
Grove, Mr. Garvey (Merlin Olsen) takes up the challenge and "defeats"
the old man. However, in a private bout witnessed by Charles Ingalls
(Michael Landon), the elder wrestler shows that he was holding back to
allow the much-wagered-upon Garvey win.
Later, a young and brash "champion" challenges the old man in a heavily-touted match. The elder successfully beats his opponent, but, unfortunately, the contest takes its toil and the old man succumbs with his wife, Ingalls, and Garvey at his side.
His death, though tragic, is a triumph of his skill and his pride.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So you're thinking that today's wrestlers are just in it for the money
and there's no other foreseeable reason to get into the ring with a
giant muscle-head and try to kill each other than just the spectacle of
it, right? Well, that's the way it's always been. The sport is
virtually no different now than it was 100 years ago, granted the
fighters back then didn't wear as much make-up. Milo Stavroupolis is a
wrestling champ in these parts, albeit somewhat up there in age, and
today he and his manager, Jimmy Hart, were looking for a worthy
candidate to fight Milo in the ring and go up against his champ, Hans
Mueller. They searched the Mankato bars, but couldn't find anybody
gullible enough. That's when they spotted Jonathan Garvey unloaded
sacks of flour with such an ease, and given his size, he might make a
worthy opponent, so Milo went over and picked a fight with him. The
whole town gathered around and watched as Jonathan emerged the victor,
despite Milo putting up quite a fight. Jimmy rushed to congratulate
Jonathan and mentioned the upcoming fight and asked if he would like to
enter. At first the Garvey patriarch was hesitant, but then Jimmy
mentioned the prize money. $100 for the winner of the first round, and
$300 to the winner of the whole thing. Jonathan agreed and Jimmy had
the contracts drawn up almost instantly. Big John Garvey! He became a
celebrity around Walnut Grove, many folks were planning to bet the bank
on him. Harriet being one of them, she was so daring she bet the church
fund on it, but it was for a good cause. Well let's hope so, for both
Big John's sake and her's.
Big John and Andrew left for Mankato, a cavalcade of supporters behind them. Meanwhile, Milo was having an existential crisis. He took pride in his work and was dismayed that he had to lose to Big John in the fight that night, but the only reason he was still in the wrestling game was because of his ailing wife, and those hospital bills won't pay themselves. The fight commenced that night, Milo "The Greek God" Stravroupolis vs. Big John "The Farmer" Garvey. Let's get rrrrready to rrrrrrrrrrrr-fight! The match lasted a good twenty minutes, Big John taking down the old man easily. As if Milo's night didn't stink enough, he received a letter which was a passionate plea from his wife, professing her love for him the way he was, and an accompanying note saying his wife was dead. Wow, that was abrupt. Grief stricken, Milo went to confront Jonathan, telling him he didn't win fair and square, which he didn't believe, and then challenged Big John to another match right then and there to prove himself. This time, Big John didn't stand a chance because Milo played for reals. He pinned down Big John and warned him that his friends will lose their money if he doesn't forfeit. Milo also decided this would be his last fight, so he had to make it count. So Big John threw the fight, feigning a broken arm and Milo was put in his place to fight Hans "The Champ" Mueller. The veteran fighter really gave that young whippersnapper what-for. Walnut Grove won and Milo was their hero, but he suddenly didn't feel so good, so Charles and Jonathan brought him back to his room. Milo Stavroupolis passed away a few minutes later, but on the plus side, he is now reunited with his wife and he went out as what he had always wanted to be, a true wrestling icon and a hero in everybody's eyes.
I wonder if Jonathan Garvey ended up becoming Jimmy Dean's inspiration for "Big Bad John" many decades later? Anyway, this episode was very well done. Leo Gordon was really good and really believable, from beginning to end, he sold it. Yet another actor cheated out of an Emmy. Merlin Olsen was also terrific, not to mention Ray Walston as Jimmy Hart. Walston was such a good character actor in his day. If you're a wrestling fan, a Little House fan, you should check this episode out, and see that the sport of wrestling was just the same in 1883 as it is today, just with flashier costumes. This episode is heavy on the drama, but fortunately we've got Harriet Oleson to provide comedic relief here and there. It's first-class entertainment. You can bet on that.
This episode is definitely on my bottom ten list. I'm not a wrestling
fan, but I still enjoyed the other episode (Joe Kagen's story) much,
much more than this one. I am yawningly board watching this. And
Harriet Olsen's "comic relief" only serves to isolate me further. She's
done a lot of low things in her time, but gambling with the church
money was pretty low. I think the episode would have been much better
if she had lost it...
If you like wrestling, this one's a good episode for you. But I could do without it. We don't get to see most of the Ingalls' family, nor do we get to see my new favorite character - Almanzo Wilder...
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