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Thursday, March 30, 2006


When Little House Jumped the Shark

My sisters, cousins and I share a strange fascination with Little House on the Prairie. We read all the books, we watched all the shows, we collect all the DVD's, and spend an alarming amount of time and energy on LHOP trivia.

The fascination may have come from the fact that there are 4 sisters in my family (no boys) and there are 4 sisters in my cousins family (no boys) and we felt that even though we don't live in a lean-to on the prairie, nor did we ever shove apples up our dresses, we had a kinship with the Ingalls girls.

We just can't get us enough LHOP.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly when LHOP Jumped the shark. In my opinion, there were at least 20 episodes that included shark-jumping elements. Things like adding random orphaned children to the family every season. Things like..ummm...MOUNTAINS on the prairie (there ARE no mountains on the Prairie. The fact that although they claimed to live in Minnesote, the only time it snowed was Christmas and that one blizzard where everyone died. Perhaps this was because the show was actually filmed in CALIFORNIA and not MINNESOTA. It's really pretty hard to make California look like Minnesota. Damn hard.

Apparently other people noticed these things too. I just spent some time chuckling uncontrollably over at Jump the Shark.

I can't decide if the episode where Carrie apparently dropped a hit of LSD and leaps down the rabbit-hole complete with visions of giant bugs(Ah-LEEEE-SA!) was jumping the shark or pure 70's genious.

Here are some highlights:

-"I never saw this show, but I understand the last episode, where Michael Landon hacks the girls into little pieces and freezes the meat, is quite good

-It jumped the shark when they moved to the city. It was a couple of episodes after Mary went blind.

-JUMP: Move to the city. Exciting premise twist but now there's no little house on...
-FALL-OUT: Backpedaling, Albert, More kids, Blind guy can see, M Landon leaves, blowing up of Walnut grove.

-I loved this show, but it jumped so many times that the shark actually ate it. Here it goes...
-when you realize that Doc Baker never got paid by anyone, all he got were eggs and chickens for his work
- when Laura gets braces in the 1880's I mean was there a dentist on the Prarie or something or was chicken wire used?
- when Laura gets older she suddenly wants to become the towns teacher and so Ms. Bettle dissappears
- when Nellie leave and the Olsens replace her with a look-alike
- towards the end when the Engles adopt like 15 kids, and they are all crammed into that same shack that Mr. Engels built
- Mary's husband is blind, falls down, gets sight back, runs into a tree and reloses sight
- Mr. Engels hair is mysteriously professionaly frosted (little hair dresser on the prarie?)
- Laura gets married at the age of 12 to a guy in his late 20's!!!!
- the fact that you never saw one crop growing on the Engles farm for the entire run of the show (what was he plowing?!)
- The Engels and Olsens start their own restaurant in a town with a population of 20.
-Albert becomes a morphine addict! Albert burns down the school for the blind and kills Mary's Baby! The only redeeming thing he ever did was die... after much cringe-worthy whining. Albert, damned art thou!

-The all-time winner and champion of the Adopt-a-Brat syndrome. First, Albert, who definitely grated on my nerves, then later, about 3 or 4 more brats! What the hell was Ma and Pa's problem? Their own daughters, Carrie and Grace, were lost in this shuffle of stray kids, and NEVER GOT A GOOD STORYLINE! Poor Carrie and Grace.

-When Albert became addicted to drugs. They actually showed him vomiting on camera!!! I couldn't eat for a week after that episode!

-This show jumped when Laura suddenly grew up and became this oversensitive bitch. Over one summer hiatus she went from a sweet little girl to hell on wheels who wanted nothing more than to marry Zeldamo. Then when she finally bagged him, she spent the rest of the time screaming at him.

-For me, LHOP jumped when Pa failed to practice what he preached. Remember when they moved to the big city and were living above a bar? One night at dinner, Carrie (who my sister and I always called "the actress") dropped a dumpling in her lap and exclaimed, "Damn!" Needless to say, Pa and the crew were upset at how the big city had tainted their poor daughter's vocabulary. Pa voiced strong concerns over the use of such language. Now fast forward with me to when Albert is in detox and puking all over the place. During a brief break in the regurgitation, he tells Pa, "I'll make you proud of me, Pa." To this, Pa answers, with tears streaming down his cheeks, "I am proud of you. DAMN proud!" Maybe it happened when Michael Landon went gray, but somewhere along the line he decided to play the hypocrite and send this show right down the toilet.

-It seemed that everything that COULD go wrong for Mary DID! Not only did she go blind but ALSO she lost her baby when her blind school burned to the ground! Sounds bad enough, eh? Well, what REALLY made this show shark-bait was them showing the usually sensitive and caring Alice Garvey getting stuck in the middle of the inferno, pick up the helpless baby and SMASH THE WINDOWS USING THE HELPLESS BABY LIKE A BATTERING RAM!! Well, even though she appearantly was in a crazed panic, this HORRIFIC deed went IN VAIN since both she and her friends' baby died in the blaze! This was an UTTERLY gruesome and unnecessary plot device and went TOTALLY contrary to EVERY other action Alice Garvey had been depicted doing! Oh, and, since in Real Life, Mary Ingalls NEVER married or had children, it was SHEER fiction, too! NOWHERE in any of the 'Little House' books is anything even *remotely* like using a baby as a battering ram even HINTED at!

-Little house jumped when they ran out of stories and started repeating stories from earlier episodes.First Carrie fell in a hole,then Nancy fell in a hole.Laura was held hostage by a crazy lady who thought she was her dead daughter,then she's held by Robert Loggia who thinks she's his wife. Not to mention the whole Nellie-Nancy thing.And what about all those people who supposedly lived in the town forever yet were only in one episode?Oh,and both Laura and Charles had run in's with angels.Also Michael Landon making his real life daughter the new teacher (miss Plumb) really sucked.

-When Alice Garvey used Mary's baby as a battering ram during the big fire. I saw that as a kid and had nightmares for a week. A family show would actually use this as a plot ugh!
-Boy a lot of very funny people watched this show!!Enjoyed reading that stuff. But I had one comment about Alice and Mary's baby. I have a strange fascination with this espisode--I cry every time i see it and I have seen it plenty. But Alice DID NOT use that baby as a battering ram!! She was holding the baby in one arm and ramming her other elbow through the window. Check it out if you don't believe me!!!

-A whole episode centered on a crippled Mr. Edwards (Victor French) trying to kill himself was downright surreal when I saw it. Plus, did they ever explain in the later episodes how he suddenly wasn't crippled anymore??"

Little House fans are good people. Good People.


Anonymous Ms. Jen said...

I have been a HUGE fan of the books since I was 9 or 10. When I was 11 and 12, I had my mom make me clothes that a girl in the 1870s would wear. Really.

This was a BIG problem in my 6th grade in 1980, as everyone else was into Van Halen, smoking pot, and wearing Vans. I got beat up in the park by hessian Van Halen fans for being the "freak".

But I did have great eyelet black boots...

Fast forward to 1991, when my hair was waist length and I gave my self my first pair of "Laura, circa Those Golden Years" short, short fringe. Friends said, "Nice Madonna bangs."

Now people say I have Bettie Page hair, but I know where the fringe really comes from.

Ok, maybe Laura wouldn't have had a purple streak, but I still have a predilection for long dresses with lace and calico print...

((I never really watched the TV show, because at the time it was aired I was very bothered by all the ways that it never followed the books))

smiles, jen ;o)

2:26 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I am also a huge fan of the books. I own a leather-bound set, in fact. I was just given a copy of "The Little House Guidebook" so I can spend years planning a vacation to all the Little House sites, which my child will no doubt find super boring.

The TV show always made me mad not only because it was so unfaithful to the books, but because it contained all kinds of anachronisms like telephones, baby bottles, running water, etc.

They keep making TV movies, and they still vary from the books. They even made a TV movie that was supposed to be "the true story" that was NOT in the books, but that was wrong too. I don't know why they bother.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

YES. I am one of three sisters and we were rabid LH fans also.

I have to agree the move to Mankato was very very bad. OR when Shannon Dougherty joined the cast as Almanzo's orphaned neice. Both bad choices.

The Nellie/Nancy thing happened when I was still young enough to see past the sillieness of it all so I never had a problem with it.

I always assumed that Ms. Beetle was pushed down a well by Laura so she could have the one teaching job in the whole town. Actually, if you'll remember she finally got a man and he asked her to marry him and they left town. Although, where were they going to go with as much excitement as Walnut Grove?

5:47 PM  
Blogger DDM said...

OMG, I wasn't much of a fan (Sorry!) but I loved this post! Seriously funny. My only real memories of LHOP, were the Albert frothing at the mouth from drug withdrawal ones.

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Lynn said...

I'm peeing with laughter!! This is so great. Can't wait to share this post with my sister. We were huge fans....actually still are. My sister can tell you any time, any station that LHP is on. We still try and beat each other as to who can guess the episode first. Our kids think we are crazy. Does anyone know if The Waltons are still on anywhere. That was one of my other favorit shows.

6:51 AM  
Anonymous jess said...

I was a huge fan of the books and the show too. Except the halloween episode when they serve Nellie's head on a platter? Still gives me nightmares. *shudder*

11:25 AM  
Blogger cmhl said...

oh my,,,,,,,, I too am a closet lhotp addict..

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Alice Garvey. Watched "May We Make Them Proud" this weekend on TVLand. All of this is ancient history, but for what it's worth, I agree with one of your other posters. I reviewed the sequence over and over again and agree that Alice Garvey DID NOT use the baby as a "battering ram". Please stop the vicious attack on her poor departed character! She used her right elbow to smash the window, while cradling the baby, who was wrapped in blankets, in her left arm. As she smashes her right elbow into the glass, her whole body, including the baby she's carrying, twists toward the window. It's easy to imagine how children might look away and not be able to distinguish the difference in such a franctic, unpleasant scene. Anyway, what else was she supposed to do while she was inches away from fire and death? Not panic and isolate her window-smashing arm movements from the rest of her body? I don't think so. This is a reminder for all of us to check the batteries in our smoke alarms. Alice Garvey was a great character from beginning to sad end.

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, regarding Alice Garvey and the baby ramming: I thought it looked as if she was using the baby to ram the window, too. But, how about this: Maybe she was trying to knock the poor dear out so it wouldn't suffer?? ;-)

9:25 AM  

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