Friday, October 31, 2008

The Voice of Tinker Jones (Season 1, Episode 11)

The most PADDED episode yet opens with a deaf guy (pictured above) showing up at the little house in his tinker wagon. I guess Ma had special-ordered a copper pot, and now it's come in. Ma and Pa talk to the guy as though he's gonna suddenly start hearing, like just repeating stuff. "It's good craftsmanship... craftsmanship... craftsmanship."

Tinker Jones has a special no-charge gift for each of the girls: horse figurines for Mary and Laura, and when Carrie makes the surliest chubby baby face (and it's actually kinda cute, I think... Oy! I'm scaring myself. Maybe I need to do a Little House marathon of annoying Carrie episodes to put my mind straight), Tinker Jones gives her a little fishie.

Apparently the Rev Alden is still only visiting Walnut Grove monthly. Mr. Dorfler is sleeping in the first pew, so Alden assaults him to wake him up.

Alden talks his scary bible talk, then moves on to trying to extort a church bell from the citizens of Hero Township. Harriet Oleson immediately offers a donation of a bell, and a plaque dedicating it in her name.

Mr. Kennedy, father of Mary's friend Christy, steps up to say that because it is, you know, the house of the lord and all that, that one person's name shouldn't be on the church. Dorfler feels entitled to an opinion: let the Olesons donate the jeezly bell. They know quality. It would be a wicked bell, for certain.

Kennedy responds in an angry manner, and a major throwdown is narrowly avoided only because they're still inside the church walls. Alden will not allow any misbehaviour.

As the townspeople exit the church, Alden tells the Tinker how nice it is that he never misses a service. Well, they must be those Sleepy Eye services, because no way has this guy been here before. It's, like, 10 episodes into the series, and I seriously can't figure out how the writers were still coming up with original fake backstories for new characters every single week. And they do it for 10 years!!

So, no arguing in the church, but outside is FAIR GAME. Dorfler and Kennedy get waaaayyy into it. Kennedy: "Oleson's not gonna run my religion, I tell you!" Dorfler: "It's a plaque! You don't even have to look at it!"

Miss Beadle would enjoy having a bell for school purposes. Yeah, Bead, you REALLY wish. That's sacrilegious-ish. Harriet gathers her family and leaves the conversation in disgust.

Later, the Rev pays a visit to Charles. Obviously any social problem can only be solved with the help of Charles Ingalls. The townspeople are choosing sides! The Olesons have threatened to attend a different church if their offer is rejected! Alden wants what's best, but doesn't know what to do!

Pa calls a meeting to discuss the bell. There's a little gem of a scene where Pa goes to Kennedy's, who is chopping wood, and tells him about the meeting. He doesn't want to attend because he will never to agree to an Oleson bell. Or "We don' wan' no Oleson bay-ell!!" as he puts it.

Pa officiates the meeting, which quickly descends into craziness. Kennedy can't "keep a civil tongue". The Olesons storm out... well, Harriet does. Nels just goes along. Hansen tells everyone to keep it down in the house of the lord, then starts yelling like a lunatic. It goes so poorly that people are going to write to Alden's superior to have him removed. Which seems like a giant, ridiculous leap, even for the tools of Hero Township.

Even the children get involved. Some of the schoolgirls aren't allowed to play with Mary and Laura anymore because of what Charles said about the bell.

The next church service has only 10 worshipers, and 5 of them are freakin' Ingallses! Rev Alden visits the Ingalls family at home, and Charles tells him that they will do their own thing at home from now on.

So, it's war in Walnut Grove.

And it's also a 20 minute "Tinker Jones Makes a Bell" montage. He gathers up all the toys he's given to children during his visits. Kids steal pots from their parents. Scrap metal is burgled from all over the town. The melted metal fills a bell mold, while the kids poorly act the state of amazement. "Oooooh!" "Pretty!" "Wow!"

This bell is The Voice of Tinker Jones telling everyone to get over themselves. The town is happy again. And no one had to pay anything... other than the money they're going to have to spend to replace all the metal goods their kids stole. So, Tinker Jones wins. And we never see him again... ever!


Susan said...

Yeah, the bell-making montage took WAY too long. Also, the whole "The Entire Oleson Family Minus Nels is Evil" bit got kinda old and unbelievable, even for this show. The only time Mrs. Oleson is mentioned in the books (that I can remember off the top of my head) is at the party Nelly throws in On the Banks of Plum Creek, and she seems perfectly nice, offering to let Laura look at book when she doesn't feel like playing with the other girls after Nelly yells at her. But I do like watching Nels get his little victories throughout the series...

BadKat said...

Wouldn't they probably buy some of those pots and pans from the Olesons? Then basically GIVE them the money for the bell?

tctill said...

This episode bored me when I was a kid, so I haven't watched it since. Love the recap though!

Anonymous said...

Look, is no one going to comment on Sean Penn's appearance in this episode - his 1st acting 'job' (if getting a job b/c your Dad is directing...).
You'll notice his dimpled chin and quizzical look at his face that he will so successfully use a few years later as the stoner in Fast Times at Ridgemount High.
He is engaged here as the 1st up the hill to go steal tin/brass/steel or whatever a bell looks like (more like melted copper-coloured chocolate when boiling in the pot).