Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Harvest of Friends (Season 1, Ep. 1)


The Ingallses left Kansas and settled at Plum Creek, near the town of Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Pa builds the little house, trades his team horses (named Pat and Patty - I can only think of the Backpack Shack on SNL) for a pair of oxen, and plans to plant a wheat crop.

At Oleson's Mercantile, Pa tries to get credit. Of course, he prefers "cash on the barrel" (the first of literally HUNDREDS of 'cash on the barrel' references during the series), but he's desperate to get some seed and a plough and start farming. Harriet Oleson, proprietor, basically tells him to piss off. Some long time citizens of Hero Township don't even have credit extended to them, so jog on.

Across the way at Liam O'Neil's Seed Potatoes, Pa looks longingly at a plough-rig. O'Neil's a rotten bastard, but he'll cut a deal with ya. Pa can take the seed and plough in exchange for putting a new roof on O'Neil's shed and stacking many, many grain sacks into neat floor-to-ceiling piles. He has 3 weeks to complete his end of the deal. Pa's not hip to how it works in tha WG, and expects O'Neil to take him at his word. It is the word of Charles Ingalls, so it will be done. O'Neil wants a signed mortgage with Pa's new oxen team put up as collateral, and as we know, desperate people often have no choice, and a deal is struck.

Pa works his days and nights away: ploughing and planting, roofing, stacking grain, and working at Hansen's lumber mill. By Sunday, he is so tired that he falls asleep while tying his tie for church.

At church, the rest of the family is treated to a classic Reverend Alden speech. He may seem pretty tame to most people, but I'm not into church and brainwashy shit like this scares me. He's like, 'Oh, many wives without your husbands in attendence, we are all sinners and cannot be forgiven if we don't attend church. The only excuse for not being here is DEATH. Let us sing 'Come, Sinner, Come.' That song title sounds pervy; I like it.

Mary takes it personally and is all upset that Pa's gonna go to hell or something. Dude, check out his work schedule: he's already there. It gets worse when Ma and the girls return from church to find Pa working in the field. Ma goes ballistic! It's THE SABBATH!!!

Pa realizes he's been spending too much time working and needs a day off with his family. The Ingallses have a picnic where they relax in the sunshine, run around with Jack, and fly kites. Well, Charles flies a kite. The others just have to watch him perform cocky kite tricks. Pa's string catches in a tree branch and he climbs to the top of a tall tree to detangle it. I've read enough Peanuts comics to know: You don't mess with a kite-eating tree.

Oh no! Pa falls from height, breaking 4 ribs. Doc Baker orders him to stay in bed and rest. Fall from height? I recommend calling Jim "The Hammer" Shapiro. Ma takes over at home, ploughing and planting, but Pa's debts go unpaid... until Liam O'Neil and his goon come and take the oxen. Pa is furious. He gets out of bed and pulls on his boots. Hours later, he shows up at O'Neil's business, covered in sweat and holding his ribs in agony. Doc Baker and the blacksmith look on in shock. Hansen is incredulous. Charles Ingalls has a beef with this guy... but he's in too sorry of shape to get his fists swinging. So he uses the law.

That signed collateral sheet doesn't expire until tonight! Pa still has time to finish the job! He can't even lift the bags of grain, but tries to, like, headbutt them into place. While climbing (why, Charles, why?) up a pile of sacks, he falls. Teary Mary and Laura watch from across the street. Heartless Liam O'Neil has been enjoying the show so far, and appears to like it even more when Charles's little daughters come and start pulling grain bags bigger than they are across the warehouse floor. What an unsympathetic bastard.

About a dozen menfolk of Hero Township come into the warehouse and finish the job, while Charles continues laying on the floor, smiling.

And the twist ending (not really, guys, come on) is that Hansen has set up a ploughing and harrowing contest and he wants the Ingalls family farmland to host it. They will have a crop after all! Unless... ok, I won't spoil it. You'll just have to keep reading...

No comments: