Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Seriously, look at the red logo on those sacks of cornmeal and tell me it doesn't look like a warning of danger. It looks corrosive or something. A rat comes out of the pile and starts climbing over everything & the music even changes to let you know that rats in your cornmeal isn't a good thing.

The deal is that Mr. Peterson, a local nobody, is selling the stuff for cheap and totally undercutting Hansen's price. Some townie goes by complaining that he can't afford Hansen's cornmeal & buys up a shitload of Peterson's.

Hansen is pretty much outraged when he sees people going with wagonloads of markdown meal. Edwards is a sleaze and has no loyalty to his employer - he's buying the cheap stuff too.

Later, the Boulton family sits down to dinner with TWO loaves of bread made from cheapskate cornmeal. The patriarch of this fine family is - of course - the townie from 2 paragraphs ago. He prays for the kind soul of Mr. Peterson. What a fine and excellent man he is to provide such affordable death, uh, I mean, cornmeal to this family.

Elsewhere in Walnut Grove, the Ingalls family sits down to some kind of non-deadly meal. Laura can't chew her meat because of a toothache. Pa's going to take her to see Doc Baker in the morning. & FYI, guys: "Sweets are the worst thing in the world for your teeth."

But you know what? Nellie & Willie are always eating sweets and their teeth are fine! One time Willie bit Mary, so she knows. Pa is furious and tells Mary to "CUFF HIM!!" For real, take Willie's effing head off if he tries it again. Even Ma gets in on it with a: "Yeah, cuff him good, Mary." Anyone want to finish this for me?... Mary says "I already did" and the whole family laughs their asses off. Holy crap, the goofy shit that goes down at the Ingalls residence. Good thing they balanced advocating schoolyard violence with one line about tooth decay.

So, Doc decides he's gonna have to pull the offending tooth outta Laura's mouth - but wait! Mr. Boulton bursts into the office! His boy is sick! Come quick!

At Boulton's place, his son Paul is burning up with fever. Doc sends the father to get ice and the mother to get rags. Sorry, Doc. Looks like you're going to have to get your own rags, because Mrs. Boulton is on her raggedy, sweaty deathbed, collapsin' in the hallway.

And in case you haven't been paying attention, there's a close up of little bugs/fleas crawling in the dangerous-looking bag of cornmeal. No pic of that because, seriously, I don't ever want to see it again.

Doc makes ice caskets for young Paul and his mother. It's too late for Mrs. Boulton. She dies almost instantly. Q: How much extra freaking cornmeal did she munch down while baking the bread? A: Waaaayy too much.

A short time later, church is in session. Alden delivers his final thoughts. Take care of yourselves and each other. Or something like that. Doc Baker interrupts the sermon to tell everyone to quarantine themselves at home until he can find the source of the illness affecting the Boulton family. He thinks it could be typhus.

But no stinkin' quarantine is gonna cage Charles Ingalls. He goes hunting, which is really an excuse for him to spot something deviant going on in the distance.

It's a wagon! Driving itself! The driver is slumped unconscious with disease. It's Carl Harper. You know, Carl Harper! Anyway, his wife Alice is sick and apparently so is he. After Pa takes them to Doc Baker's, the Doc confirms that it is typhus. The PLAGUE!!

Pa's been exposed and can never go home again. He yells to Ma that he's going to help in town for a few days, as long as he doesn't die first.

While looking for sick people to take to the hospital(/church/school), Pa stops at Boulton's to bring the son to town. Mr. Boulton is delusional with grief, cradling his son's body while pretending that he kept him home from school because it was a nice day. I guess the writers had to save deranged humming of musicbox lullabies while clutching the body of a dead/charred offspring for later.

When Pa arrives back at in town, he sees that Edwards is among the ill. Nooooo!! Pa talks with an ill young girl who is not afraid to die. This actress apparently is Leslie Landon, daughter of Michael Landon.

Doc Baker is obsessed with finding the source of the typhus. No way should it be spreading like this if everyone's staying at their own farms. Pa has a lightbulb moment! It's the cornmeal. Even Edwards is sick. He's been eating that stuff like a fiend. Oh, man, Pa's gonna go fisticuff Peterson SO HARD.

When there's no answer at the door, Pa breaks into Peterson's. The guy's laying unconscious. Yeah, I bet he's just trying to look pathetic to avoid punishment. Downstairs in the shop area, they find a million rats chillin' on the unsold corn. I'm gonna die. I hate rats. I think Pa & Doc take Peterson out of the building before Doc says, disgustedly, "Burn this place to the ground."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Doctor's Lady

Doc Baker and Lars Hansen are playing some kind of probably immoral card game in the doc's office (spoiler: it's pinochle) when the stage arrives. Hansen says that the stage is late. Doc counters that the stage is early. Jeez, why are these guys even friends? Well, I guess it's this or else being BFF with some knob like Charles Ingalls. You'd have to be a big fan of the fiddle and meddling to wanna go down that path.

The stage delivers Kate Thorvald, teenage-ish niece to Harriet & Nels Oleson. She promptly falls out of the stage and requires medical care from Doc Baker. TV has had a long tradition of hunky medical doctors, from George Clooney to McDreamy, and apparently it all started with Doc Baker sexing it up on the prairie.

Pa was working at the mill when Kate fell, so naturally he had to be the one to carry her into Doc Baker's office. Like, none of the other 25 tools who come to gawk at the stage every week would be able to do anything with Hero Township's finest on the scene.

So, Kate has a dislocated thumb. Whatever. Look at the eye contact between these two. Feel the attraction!

Kate is smitten. She interrogates her uncle Nels about why such a good doctor would stay in such a shithole like Walnut Grove. I think Kate was from Chicago, so I guess she's allowed to hold such strong opinions.

The next day, she goes for a horseback ride. Spotting Doc Baker at the Ingalls place, she smacks the horse to send it running away, then runs down to the little house with a lie about being thrown.

She's all devious, like: "Oh, Doc Baker, fancy seeing you here, hahaha!" And just look at the way these two are eyeballing each other.

Doc Baker, or maybe I should say Hiram, because that's what Kate's calling him now, drops her off at the Oleson's. Kate asks if he would like to take her for a drive tomorrow. Harriet comes outside and is a stunned witness to the flirtation. Doc & Kate make plans for the next day, and Doc celebrates with a twirling maneuver after Kate goes inside.

The next day, the Doc and Kate enjoy a picnic, and a tender moment.

When he leaves her at the Oleson's, she thanks him for a lovely time. Doc says something completely ridiculous like, "I don't know what to say. I enjoyed it, but that sounds lame." If, like me, you're wondering 'Could that possibly really be what he said?', yeah, it is. What is Doc Baker's history and experience with courting, anyway?

In the house, Harriet confronts Kate. Is Doc Baker falling in love with her? He's old! And a freaking veterinarian! And HE HAS NOTHING! NOTHING!!!

Later, at the mill, Hansen complains to Charles that Doc Baker never has time for him anymore since that young girl came to town. Hell, Hansen's only 5 years older than Doc Baker and you don't see him trying to hook up with... well, anyone.

I guess Doc Baker sensed that Hansen was feeling jealous, so he invited him over for more pinochle. Doc's mind is obviously elsewhere and he keeps making mistakes. Doc, dude, you're gonna have to get your shit together if you wanna play cards with Lars "Shark" Hansen.

Hansen figures it's a waste of time to continue the game, so he starts in with the "Kate Is A Child, And You're Old" tactic. Doc Baker's already been thinking about if they got married and had kids, how messed up that would be. But he doesn't care. He feels alive for the first time.

Kate accompanies the Doc on his rounds, which for some reason includes stopping at the Ingalls place to give candy to the children. Laura asks if they are going to get married.

After they drive off, Kate repeats Laura's question. Doc starts off saying what we're all thinking: He's too old. But he loves her. Doc's probable first kiss is interrupted by some townie yahoo yelling about an emergency.

As Doc's carriage rips toward the scene, he yells a proposal to Kate.

Later, Doc checks the mercantile's jewellery selection, but leaves with nothing.

At home, Doc Baker checks out some old watch chains he's got lying around, and cuts one into a ring size length. That night at a fancy party at the Oleson's, Doc Baker proposes officially to Kate and gives her a ring made from his father's watch chain.

Everyone is happy for the couple. Except Harriet and Nels.

Ma and Pa discuss it in bed. Ma is concerned about the age difference. Pa thinks it's cool if they're cool. But his daughters best not get any ideas about courting with older men, which I think we already knew.

Kate & Doc accept an invitation to the Ingalls for dinner. Kate plays baseball with Mary and Laura while Pa takes the Doc fishing. Doc Baker is troubled by Kate running around like a kid. He goes home and looks at his old face in the mirror'

The next day, he is called to the Olafsen's for a baby delivery. Kate comes along to help. Afterwards, he realizes that not only did he deliver the baby, but also the parents. Holy Hell, he's freaking ancient. This shit has to stop.

He breaks up with Kate, and she leaves town - never to be seen again.

Laura narrates that Doc Baker was depressed for a month, and then entirely back to accepting his celibate lifestyle.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Family Quarrel

Nels is outside the mercantile, palling around with an enormous dog.

His first mistake is going inside, where Harriet is complaining about the new hunting dog, and the mess Nels left, and his stinking fishing gear. Jeez - anything else? She continues griping in the store room, while Nels uses his moment of solitude to throw back a little booze.

But Harriet's onto him and his sly cough syrup drinking. It's demon rum. Yeah, and it's about to turn Nels into a demon. Stay tuned! Ma Ingalls comes in to sell eggs. OMG, always with the drama surrounding the egg sale.

Harriet says the eggs aren't as good and won't fetch top rate. Nels says that the eggs are OK. But it doesn't end there. Harriet wants to be left to judge the eggs.

Nels: "Judge? You're not the judge of anything. You want to know what you are? I'm going to tell you what you are. You are a mean, nasty-tempered woman. It would be better off for this whole town if you were locked up in a cage and fed with a stick. You have made life miserable for- "

Harriet finally interrupts.

Dude, how else did you think this was gonna end?

And Ma is still standing right there! Awk-ward! Nels pays her for the eggs, and she leaves .

Back at the little house, Ma describes the whole terrible scene to Pa. Pa loves it and is pretty much dying doing the weeze laugh.

Later on at the Oleson's, Nels and Harriet are 12 feet away from each other trying desperately to ignore the other. Nels decides to make peace, but bungles it by saying that everything he said was true, just not very nice, and that Harriet loves nagging. Loves it!

Harriet: "You are a cheap excuse for a man. You are a lazy and cowardly and snivelling stubborn jackass!"


That night Ma's guilt over inadvertently causing the Oleson's quarrel goes waaayyy outta control. She wants to invite Nellie and Willie over for a few days. It's winter. Are ya gonna make them sleep in the hayloft, like you do your other guests? And seriously, Nellie and Willie? You don't want them around. Trust me.

The next morning, Mary and Laura (in my favourite hats!!) spot Nels leaving the mercantile with his dog and all of his worldly possessions, and renting a room at the post office/hotel.

They run home to tell Ma and Pa. Poor sensitive Ma can't stand the thought of a family broken apart like that. What a phony. She probably loves it.

Nels reports for work to find a line-up of busybodies and gawkers waiting for the mercantile to open. Cripes, people, get a life. There's like 15 Walnut Grove nobodies crammed into the mercantile, just waiting for the next blow up.

Pa follows Nels to the back room, where Nels confides, "I'm a clown, Charles". Sorry, Nels, but that is not news. If you are only becoming aware of this now, then you should probably have Doc Baker check to see if you've had a pulse during the last 15 episodes.

Ma offers to take the kids from Harriet for a few days. Harriet is flustered and almost breaks down, but rushes away to help Mrs. Foster in the ribbons and trims section.

Sunday at church, Nels and Harriet sit pretty much as far away from each other as they can. Nels is sitting with Hansen, for jeez sake! That's kinda immature. Think of what you're doing to your kids.

Naturally, Reverend Alden butts wayyy the hell in. He recites some wedding garbage, and implores that Harriet remember her vows. Harriet wants no less than a public apology, but Nels is all: "No dice."

Doc Baker thinks that his job includes healing broken marriages for some reason. He starts bugging Lars Hansen. This is priceless. No one cares about losing something that no one else wants. There needs to be a threat of someone stealing Harriet away to make Nels react.

Hansen listens to Doc Baker's plan... and then tries to run away. Doc Baker outlines a future where Hansen's mill goes under when the Olesons close the mercantile and move and the town collapses.

The Doc and Hansen (complete with suit, hat, and flowers) walk toward the mercantile. Hansen is clearly uncomfortable with this plan of pretending to be attracted to Harriet Oleson. He tries to escape once more, but Doc Baker manages to get him inside the mercantile, then skips merrily away. I wonder what the hell Doc Baker was supposed to be on during some of these episodes. He's friggin' bizarre at times.

Ma is somehow in the mercantile AGAIN when Hansen arrives, so luckily we get to hear what happened firsthand as she tells Pa. Harriet was so shocked by the cheek of Hansen that she dumped a scoop of flour on him. Now she's taking the children and going back East... for good!!

The next morning, Mary and Laura meet Nellie and Willie on the way to school. Nellie confirms that they will be moving east with their mother, and says that she will write to Mary and Laura, her only friends. Laura "supposes" she will write back. Yeah, I'm not that confident in her pen pal abilities.

Ma is preparing for her last visit with Harriet. Oddly, she is sad. Pa has one last meddlin' plan though.

As Ma helps Harriet pack, she starts ragging on Nels... hardcore. Not only is he "not an ideal husband", he's lazy. Messy. Bad at business. A bad father. How much further can Ma take this before Harriet intervenes? Disreputable.

That's the one. Harriet starts defending Nels and reflecting on his good qualities.

Outside, Pa plays the same game with Nels. Nels is quicker to come to Harriet's defense, and even gets to the point where he's dissin' himself.

Pa looks real smug when Nels runs off toward to mercantile. Come on, Pa. We know that always having the answer is just all in a day's work for you.

Nels and Harriet reunite, and Ma slips quietly out of the mercantile.

An unspecified amount of time later, Ma is back at the merc selling eggs. ZOMG, how many times? Harriet butts in on Nels's egg dealing, while Ma does a major teeth-grit. It's so extreme that Harriet is insulting Nels's handwriting - but he won penmanship awards, I'll have you know!!! Ma leaves quietly, again. A crash sounds from inside the shop, and the large dog runs out and away, probably never to be seen again.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

TV Time '79

I present: TV Time '79.

Once upon a time this book lived in my grade 4 classroom, and, being Little House obsessed, I looked at it all the time. One day I asked my teacher if she would photocopy the Little House pictures for me. In 1994, a book about 1979 television programming was of little interest to most 10-year-olds, so she said I could just take it.

(click the pages to make them bigger, if you wanna)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas At Plum Creek (Season 1, Episode 15)

Laura has a pony, which for some reason she's allowing Nellie Oleson to ride. Now I don't have a mortal enemy (or a horse), but that whole scenario seems kinda loopy.

And, uh, speaking of "loopy"...

What kind of hat is that?? I do all sorts of yarncraft, and I've never even seen it suggested that anyone wear anything like that on one's head.

And look, it has a giant crazy medallion-shaped bow fastener on it! What the hell is the deal with this hat? It's an ideal example of the "old lady/doily/cake-on-the-head" hat. Well, I've gotta stop fixating on Laura's cold weather accessories and get on with the episode, I guess. But it won't be easy... I can't get over that damn hat!

Nellie wants the pony. She starts in on Nels to buy it for her, but Laura says it's not for sale. Nellie heckles Laura because she doesn't even have a saddle.That doesn't last long though, because Nels manhandles Nellie to get inside the mercantile, and then continues hanging festive construction paper chains.

I gotta say: I really like Nels's outfit here. The rarely seen ensemble of "three piece suit + apron", for that extra touch of holiday class.

Back at the little house, Pa explains Christmas to Carrie. You know, the star and Jesus in the manger and all that.

Later that night, Laura and Mary are in bed counting their savings.

They can't think of anything special to get for Ma and Pa this Christmas, their first one in the little house at Plum Creek. But one thing is sure: the amount of money they've got to work with ain't gonna do it.

Downstairs (oy - down...ladder??) Pa is counting his secret stash of coins hidden in his fiddle case, and Ma sneaks a peek into her hiding spot in the baking soda can (or something).

The next day while doing laundry, Mary asks Ma what Pa would like for Christmas. Ma says something special would have to be homemade. My first thought is: "Naw, that sucks", but Mary is struck with inspiration.

The Ingalls family takes a trip to the mercantile, which is totally decked out holiday-style.

See? Mary has one of those stinkin' hats, too. OMG. It's too distracting. I can't focus.

The Ingallses slink around the mercantile like a family of spies, each one trying to get an idea of what everyone else is interested in. Mary checks out the yardgoods - plain and fancy. Ma prefers the woodstove. But it's $7.87. Way too much... waaaaay too much. And who doesn't remember Carrie loving the Jesus star?

Ma goes over and starts handling the same yardgoods that Mary just looked at, a masculine plaid print. Uh oh, I don't like where this is going. BACK OFF, MA! For your own good!!!!

Mary and Laura go wait outside while Ma and Pa finish up. And one more hat shot. I love how Mary's is all sticking up like some kind of two-tone wintertime mane.

Inside, Pa and Nels make a deal that Pa will become a wheelwright and build four wagon wheels for Nels to make some extra Christmas money.

I guess the next day, Mary comes in after school and wants to play a guessing game with Ma. Ma despises guessing games, and shuts Mary's "I bet you can't guess" down with a quick: "You're right, dear, I can't." Pa comes in, and Mary asks permission to go work with Mrs. Whipple, the seamstress. "I sewed her I can show!"

The next day, Laura wants to ride Bunny into town while the rest of the family goes in the buggy. Pa asks if she's doing it to make Nellie Oleson jealous. Well, that's not the only reason. Pa decides that no commandments are being broken, so Laura can go for it. Yeah, forcing someone else to covet isn't nice, but it isn't illegal.

In town, Mary takes off to Mrs. Whipple's to start working. The Whipp has a man-sized shirt on her dressmaker's mannequin. It's going to be Pa's Christmas gift from Mary.

Meanwhile, Ma goes into the mercantile first, alone, to buy the yardgoods to make a shirt for Pa. She chooses the identical fabric that Mary is already using, natch. What a disaster.

Laura goes into the mercantile next, and whispers a deal to Nels.

It's time for the obligatory montage of everyone doing their Christmas thang. Ma works on Pa's shirt, Mary works on Pa's other shirt, Pa makes wheels, and Laura casts on some knitting.

If Laura's, like, 7 and can do decent looking stuff like this, then who the hell was responsible for those hats? It's not like there's some out-of-style grandparent or aunt giving them hideous clothing every holiday.

Meanwhile, Carrie has found a penny among her possessions, so Laura takes her to the mercantile to spend it. Nels is practicing good customer service in the flannel shirt department with Mrs. Foster when the girls arrive. He leaves Mrs. F alone for 2 seconds to help Carrie, and Mrs. F takes off saying she can find better stuff in Mankato.

Soon after, Pa delivers the wheels to Nels. Man, he can't even get a second of relief from this family. Pa wants to put his wheel money toward the woodstove. Aha, but Pa wasn't the only Ingalls who noticed Ma had been admiring it. Nels hedges. He says it's sold. He desperately tries to sell Pa something, anything. An imported clock. A knickknack stand. That would set off the house real well. Yeah... no.

Pa rips the picture of the stove right out of the catalogue, so he can put it on the tree.

Suddenly, Pa is on snowshoes in a snowy field with his gun. This snow looks pretty legit. Not like the massive snowfall in that blizzard episode where Miss Beadle sends all those kids out early to their untimely deaths. Or like 90% of all the snow on Little House on the Prairie, which usually looks fake as hell. I've got some magazine-type books from the 70s and apparently the worst thing about being an actor on this show was wearing the wardrobe in the California heat. And, like, pretending it was winter while your face was melting off.

Pa makes it back from his hunting trip with a fine Christmas turkey.

The girls dance while Pa fiddles until they're interrupted by a Christmas delivery from Nels Oleson. Of course, Pa thinks the giant box is the stove (yes) that he ordered (no).

On Christmas morning, everyone opens presents. Pa opens the scarf Laura knitted. There's gingerbread for Jack from Santa. Mary got a fur capelet. Carrie has a new beaded necklace. Mary pre-threatens Pa as he's about to open her gift: "You better like it because I made it."

Pa holds up his shirt, and Ma incredulously checks under the tree to see if her gift to Pa is still there. Two matching shirts? It can't be. Ma secretly takes her parcel and hides it.

Now, the famous Gift of the Magi scene. Pa made Laura a saddle. But... she's sold her horse to Oleson for money to get the stove for Ma. God, it just makes you want to die. Laura hugs Pa with tears in her eyes and the whole family is still none the wiser about what she's done.

Ma can't wait any longer, and starts busting into the giant box with a hammer.

"Oh! It's a stove!" From Laura??

Right then, the Olesons show up to collect Bunny, the horse. Um, shock to Ma and Pa. Ma is devastated that Laura sold her beloved animal just to buy a Christmas gift. Laura tearfully hands over the pony, then goes back inside where she tells Pa she's so sorry about all the work he did on the saddle.

There's one gift left for Pa to open. It's the star that Carrie bought. They put it on top of the tree. "Happy birthday, baby Jesus!"