Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ma's Holiday (Season 1, Episode 8)

Pa and the kids are sitting at the table, looking shifty. Ma says they look like they have something up their sleeves, but I think they look like a bunch of creeps. Pa's taking Ma on a holiday to Mankato. He even calls it a "second honeymoon".

It's all planned. The Widow Snider will watch the children, but oh no! When Pa goes to pick her up, she has a sore throat. At home, Ma is all dressed up and giving the girls a bunch of last-minute instructions. It's going to be so hard for Pa to tell her she can't go... but wait! I hear something... is that - "Old Dan Tucker"?

Mr. Edwards, you are in the right place at the possible worst time. The girls beg him to stay with them so Ma can have her holiday, and he pretty much says he will. He's laid off from the mill and needs something to do.

So, Ma and Pa leave in the buggy, trusting Edwards to watch the girls. Which, like, what? Is that even intelligent?

At dinner, Mr. Edwards tells some story about being trapped under a tree and being rescued by Indians, who named him "Sitting Bull". Yeah, this frickin' story sounds like sitting bull to me. Carrie is fussy, so Edwards tells her, "Open up yer face". I gotta admit: I love Mr. Edwards. Old out-of-shape, uncouth, sauce-lovin', Old Dan Tucker singin' bastard. And he rocks a full beard.

That night, after Carrie is tucked in, the girls want a bedtime story. Edwards says no, and no backtalk. Laura convinces him to listen to their prayers and kiss them goodnight before he's had enough, now get in the goddamn loft, girls.

We catch up with Ma and Pa, who are camping out. Ma sits straight up, nightmare-style, and screams: "THE EGGS!" Pa makes her agree to not worry about the kids anymore.

Carrie's crying wakes up Mr. Edwards, who gets up to tend to her wearing, like, a onesie long john sleeping outfit. Carrie is hungry, so Edwizzle dishes up some leftovers. When he goes to feed her, she's back to sleep again. Edwards's thwartment is emphasized with a lighthearted woodwind instrumental of Old Dan Tucker.

A bunch o' stuff happens, like Ma and Pa dine in a restaurant and joke about the portion sizes. And Mr. Edwards does laundry, shoots a rattler, and makes supper. Rattler soup is grody, btw.

At bedtime, Laura wants Edwards to read a story to Carrie. Which he obviously can't. Both of you know he canna read a word.

The next day, Ma and Pa shop for souvenirs. Ma tries on a bonnet in a store run by a kindly shopkeeper who tends a lady who is mentally ill from grief. She spends her days looking for her children, who are dead, but she can't accept it because she wasn't at home the day they died. Ma's high strung as hell about it, and leaves without buying anything.

That night, Mary and Laura are tucked in bed when they realize they didn't gather the eggs! OMG, Ma's worst nightmare has come true! It's a pouring storm out there, but they illegally light a lantern (no matches!) and go out to the coop. They wake up Mr. Edwards and he thinks it's chicken thieves. He gets his shotgun ready. Mary and Laura sneak back in, and Edwards shoots a hole through the ceiling.

Let's take a minute to talk about Carrie. Carrie sucks. Carrie is a frickin' tool. But in this episode Carrie is actually decent. Looking at this, you wouldn't think Carrie would become a walking prop who only spoke every 5 or so episodes, usually to say she wet her skirts or something. God, sometimes Laura would be so annoyed with Carrie it almost seemed like real life. Like Melissa Gilbert actually had a beef with the Greenbush twins that day. But I'll get more into that later on.

So, the next day Edwards has to fix the ceiling hole, but Carrie is hiding or lost. The second, more ominous verse of Old Dan plays, but it's not fooling me. Nothing's going to happen to Carrie. We're not that lucky. Edwards finds her and nails her dress to the roof so he can keep an eye on her while he works.

In Mankato, Ma and Pa go to some fiendish - I don't even know - puppet show, where the children whine at the mother for leaving. But she doesn't care and she has to live her own life. Ok, whatever. It really gets to Ma and she runs out crying. And that spells the end of Ma and Pa Ingalls's second honeymoon in Mankato.

Laura is selling eggs at the mercantile when she spots Pa's buggy in the distance. She asks Nels to stall them. She runs home, and the girls clean up quickly. Ma, Pa, and the kids have a happy reunion, and Pa lies to Mr. Edwards about having had a good trip. When really it was three nights of Caroline having nervous breakdowns every 14 seconds, and not the hot prairie sex he had obviously planned. Yeah, good times.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Town Party Country Party (Season 1, Episode 7)

Laura and some other girls are running a 4 X to-the-post relay, but not gimpy Olga. She sits alone until it's time for class, and then it takes her half the day to walk up the stairs to the classroom.

The next day it's Nellie's birthday party, and all the girls in school are invited. As Mary and Laura get ready, they have to shine their shoes. Complete the phrase: "Shoes should shine like a..."? Laura guesses "Christmas penny". Wrong! The answer is "Sunday smile" and Ma is VERY firm about it.

The girls arrive at Nellie's, where Nellie tosses their gifts aside. How rude! Willie and some of the girls are playing with an ark toy set (just kidding, they're obviously only watching Willie play with it) on the floor of the magnificent living room, with the nicest furniture of any furniture in any house in Walnut Grove.

"And there's two of everything. Except for the giraffe because Nellie hid it on me 'cause she knew it was my favourite," says Willie, accentuating every word to the freaking max. I have never heard delivery like that. The cadence is killer.

Nellie has a new doll, but no one can touch it or play with it. As she shows it to her guests, Laura touches the dress. Nellie pulls it away quickly and part of the trim is ripped. Nellie goes nuts and pushes Laura over. "Pa can fix it. He's finer'n most with a needle," Laura offers, but Mrs. Oleson rudely tells Laura off and makes all the kids go outside.

Laura twisted her ankle when Nellie pushed her, so she sits with Olga while the other girls run around. After the party, Olga lies to her father and says that she played with all the girls, but he sees through it. He just doesn't want her to get hurt by being left out.

Ma suggests that Mary and Laura could have a party. Laura is home from school because she can't walk on her ankle yet, but Mary invites all their school chums. Olga says that Nellie is poor because she has no happiness inside. She's a philosopher. I wish she would have stuck around. I love how sweet and soft-spoken she is.

That evening, Pa is shoeing Patty, the horse. Her leg is bowed, so she wears a special shoe. Laura asks Pa, "What makes cripples?" He doesn't know. Laura mentions that Olga walked on a plank outside of Hansen's and she didn't limp at all, which gives Pa an idea...

Charles visits Olga's pa and grandmother. Her pa won't let Charles fix her shoe so she can walk better. Later on, at the little house, Olga and her grandmother show up with a shoe for Pa to work on.

The day of the party, Pa reveals the shoe he rigged up. It's basically a platform shoe. When she puts it on, she can walk across the floor of the little house no problem. While the family watches proudly and happily, Olga hugs Pa. I'm such a sap for stuff like this. Can someone pass me the Kleenex?

The other party guests arrive, and Mary shows them the loft. One of the girls: "This is the kind Miss Beadle wears!" The bottle of lemon verbena, Laura's pretty much only possession. The girls go outside and play some tomboy game with running around bases. Olga is so awesome with her shoe that she beats Nellie, who becomes irritable and vindictive.

After the game, Nellie suggests - oooh, that bitch! - that they take off their shoes to wade in the creek. How evil can one kid be? In the water, Laura scares Nellie with a giant crab and Nellie falls facedown into the cruddy looking part of the creek.

Back at Olga's, her father has done some footwear examination and found her extra pair to be missing. Now he's onto the scheme! He shows up at the Ingalls's with the intention to knock Chuck's block off. Pa is working, unsuspecting, in the barn, when a shadow darkens the doorway. The Russian (even though he's, like, Dutch) Terminator says: "Ingalls. I told you not to meddle."

The two men engage in some choking and eye-gouging, until they are interrupted by the sound of children's laughter. The kids are playing tag, Olga included. Her pa stops trying to kill Charles. He is moved beyond words.

The party ends with Nellie giving a crazy outburst speech to warn Pa about the killer crab in the creek, followed by a curtsy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

If I Should Wake Before I Die (Season 1, Episode 6)

At the Ingalls's, an old woman is playing what I called a "lap harp", but later found out was an autoharp. Ma, Mary, Laura, and Carrie are singing along to Go Tell Aunt Rhody. In that song, the goose dies. Laura is very sensitive about it and doesn't want to sing about death. I hear that: I hated The Cat Came Back when I was little. Even though that's not death, just animal cruelty. I think I used to cry at school if we had to sing it. That's a sick song.

Elsewhere in Walnut Grove, Pa and an old lady called Miss Amy are decorating a living room with construction paper chains. The occasion is an 80th birthday party for Miss Maddie, who is being distracted from her upcoming surprise party by having the Ingalls children pretend to care about the autoharp. Slick.

Miss Maddie and Miss Amy are widow rooommates. Maddie is a Kentucky Presbytarian; Amy is Catholic and not from Kentucky, but somehow they get along. A sad news letter comes for Miss Maddie. Her daughter and grandchildren aren't going to be able to attend her birthday. Instead of partying alone, Miss Maddie dies in her chair.

At Miss Maddie's funeral, Laura says how unfair it is that people can miss your birthday but not your funeral. These girls are so profound sometimes. Of course, this sparks an idea in Miss Amy's brain to fake her own death so that her children, including her son Andy who went to war 15 years ago and hasn't been seen since, will come to her funeral, but - HA! - she won't really be dead and then they'll have to visit with her.

In the meantime, Pa orchestrates a plan to invite Miss Amy over every Sunday and make the girls visit her after school... and before school... and pretty much constantly. They can even miss school, just so this old lady won't be lonely and depressed.

Miss Amy reveals her scheme to Doc Baker and Pa, who immediately say they won't have any part of it. She convinces them like suckers with some crap about 'you'd do for my corpse, but not for me'.

Pa contacts, I dunno, the Makato diocese to find a Catholic priest to come officiate the "wake". The father comes to the little house to find out about Amy, but Ma and Pa can't lie to him. Miss Amy, who is listening from the other room, comes out and poses as an old friend of Amy's. She takes the father for a walk outside. Ma, Pa, and the kids think she's confessing and start hardcore munching on all the food Ma's been preparing for the wake for the last three days. Whoops! Turns out that Amy seriously told the priest all the good stuff about herself. Has she no shame?!

To remind you what era we're dealing with here, Doc Baker and Nels Oleson have a conversation on the front steps of the mercantile about the introduction of paper money. Doc Baker prefers silver dollars. Nels, who never gets paid in chickens, says money's money and has no preference.

So, the wake takes place, all of Miss Amy's children show up, she reveals herself from under a black veil, it's a jolly reunion, Pa is verklempt, and a-fiddlin' he will go. It's a right party from here to the end credits. And we'll never see Miss Amy again... for realz this time :)