Exploded House on the Prairie

The following post was written by a “guest-editor” – my dear friend Betsy. Here’s a bit of background, before I give her the stage.

We have been friends since the tender age of 10. We both loved “Little House on the Prairie” as kids, were obsessed with it, totally into it … I remember a brief period in 5th grade where I actually wore a BONNET TO SCHOOL. (What a loser. But anyway, I digress.)

Later, during our adolescence, there is one night that will live in infamy in the minds of Betsy and myself: we were 16 or whatever, and we watched an episode of “Little House on the Prairie” and we saw it in a whole new light and we COULD NOT STOP making fun of it. It was the episode where Carrie fell down the well – I am sure those of you who watched the show religiously will remember it very clearly. One of the things that made us laugh the hardest was Michael Landon TRYING to cry. He was desperate to get some tears on his face, so his face was all scrunched up. I describe me and Betsy’s response to this during the following Diary Friday.

Betsy, now a mother of three gorgeous kids, a guidance counselor, a great woman, recently got sucked into an episode of “Little House” – She was surfing around, came upon it, and settled in to watch. As she watched, observations began to fly through her brain, and she started to sketch them down.

She promptly sent her observations to me – and as I read it, I felt everything freeze up in me. Why did I freeze? Here is why: I felt, as I read it, that: This is too funny for me to even DEAL WITH RIGHT NOW.

I asked her if I could post her writing on my blog, and she said Yes.

“Little House” fans and enemies (Ann Marie – I think you are gonna love this), I present to you – the words of BETSY:

— This is only the second time I have seen this episode where they blow up the entire town to end the series. Every other episode I have seen many times over.

— Although Charles and Caroline had left they show, they returned for this finale, and we did get the regular Charles crying scene (more on Charles later).

— Caroline had a new hat.

— I think the costume budget was the lowest on the set, because the clothes everyone wore to blow up the town were:
1. everyone’s finest
2. the same finest clothes as seen from the beginning. Laura never got a new dress beyond her wedding (the red-flowered very fitted piece), and Mr. Edwards never wore anything beyond the red and black flannel shirt

— I had to laugh at my recollection of a man on the show “I love the 70s”, calling Nellie “the original prairie bitch”. Although she was not present with Percival and the twins for the town destruction, her replacement, the new bitch, was there.

— While Willy Olsen was always a pain-in-the-ass kid, he grew up to be quite hot

— And staying with that subject, Almonzo, while originally thought of as a hot babe, can’t hold a candle to Willy, and also can’t cry nearly as well as Charles, even when blowing up his own house

— Favorite episodes:
1. Albert falling in love with the girl who gets raped and becomes pregnant (Olivia), and then who dies in a fall trying to escape her rapist and whose dying words are words of love to Albert
2. Laura and Almonzo breaking up and how they get back together in the bed filled with ice to soothe Manly’s fever

— Featured characters who got to blow up pivotal buildings:
Doc Baker (gay?)
Nels Olsen (had a fat sister in the circus)
Mr. Edwards ( … get out of the way for Old Dan Tucker)
Manly (with Laura, baby Rose and Shannon Dougherty (Jenny) looking on)

— Reverend Alden also returned to blow up the town, but he just stood about crying and praying

— The show and series ends with people leaving the blown-out remains of the town, singing “Onward Christian soldiers” – and then riding out to their new homes (Sleepy Eye, perhaps?), past the original Little House on the Prairie – I find this odd as that place was always as far out of the way as one could get, and finally it becomes the main thoroughfare out of town? And the last shot closes in from the house to a group of rabbits that had been released from the barn before the final destruction … Perhaps I have never really understood the show …

— And finally – with the passing of John Ritter, I couldn’t get through the show without thinking about the impact Michael Landon had upon my life and his early passing. I wept along with him.

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15 Responses to Exploded House on the Prairie

  1. Betsy says:

    Thanks Sheila – that was really fun – love you!

  2. barefootkitchenwitch says:

    Betsy, Sheila, that was wonderful!! Thank you for the laughs this morning. A confession: I always wanted desperately to “be” Laura…but deep down inside I knew the pathetic truth – I am Mary. I still struggle with it….

    And I always thought Almanzo was pretty goofy-looking, myself.

  3. red says:

    Ah, I remember so well Mary going blind. And then Pa Ingalls took her “to town” to see a specialist – because Mary thought that she could see light. But it ended up being an illusion. And Mary stood with her hands against the window pane, sobbing, “But I can see the light! I can see the light!”

    Jeezus. It probably took me about 4 days to recover from that episode when I was a kid.

    Jayne – I always wanted Mary to let loose. I really did. Perhaps “The Troubled Days and Nights” was your way of breaking free from Mary’s grip.

    Just a theory.

    And would Mary ever write a short story which featured some poor sap who had “needles in his teeth” – in order to keep him quiet?? I think not.

  4. barefootkitchenwitch says:

    Perhaps, had Mary been born in a different century, she would have indeed written about needles in the teeth…I do remember an episode where Mary was pretty cool – she had gone to teach somewhere (pre-blindness of course) and there was that crazed, fanatical religious woman – Mrs. Peale, I think, who preached stuff from her imagined version of what was written in the Bible…anyway, Mary finally stood up to her in front of the town, exposed the woman’s ignorance, and – most important, made Pa mighty proud.

    So she had some fire in her….

    I can’t believe I’m here at work writing about this…the sad thing is I could go on and on too..

  5. red says:

    I remember Mrs. Peale.

    And please – let the memories flow. I am feeling hysterical laughter bubbling up in my throat, which is rather inappropriate in my current setting, but also completely enjoyable.

  6. Betsy says:

    This is the gift from the praire – it brings people together – ha ha ha

  7. red says:

    That is – until you blow up your own town and leave the rubble for the prairie rabbits

  8. barefootkitchenwitch says:

    Bringing in the sheaves,
    Bringing in the sheaves,
    We shall come rejoicing,
    Bringing in the sheaves….

    By the way, did either of you happen to see a movie recently on Lifetime – I forgot what it was called, and I only saw a bit of it, but it was about Laura and Manly leaving the Prairie after losing their wheat crop in a hail storm…John Boy Walton played Pa, which was a little bizarre to me…and the woman who played Caroline looked way older then John Boy/Pa (even though he was accurately sporting a beard – this was “the real story” after all)…anyway – I just wonder why they always pick some goofy, googly-eyed guy to play Almanzo. Obviously this bothers me a good deal….

  9. beth says:

    THE GIFT OF THE PRARIE!!!!!!!!!! ha ha ha hah ahaha I cannot even breathe!!!!!!! Oh, my GOD! I must confess a few prairie thoughts, myself.First of all, I always thought that Mary was WAY cooler than Laura and her buck teeth.I actually found her quite annoying. Although, I loved the idea of sleeping on a mattress in a loft with a bonnet on my head. Ceileidh has been reading the Little House series, and I absolutely CANT WAIT until she gets to The Long Winter. That and On the Banks of Plum Creek are my favorites.

  10. Betsy says:

    I wish Chelsea would read the series but they would have to change the name to “Little Crib in the Hood” to capture her interest…

  11. red says:

    Jayne – I did not see the recent Lifetime movie.

    John Boy as Pa? What?? A sensitive 70s guy playing a rough pioneer man?

    Uh – NO.

    Maybe cause Laura is seen as such a powerhouse or something – they always have to cast a wus (is that the correct spelling?) as her husband. Manly should be a stud. A hot prairie stud-man.

  12. red says:

    And Betsy … Little Crib in the Hood.


    As I recall – once the TV series was into its 6th or 7th season – they began to bring black people on board. I remember them quite well – I can even picture the face of the actress who played the one black woman in town. She still works today, I believe.

  13. barefootkitchenwitch says:

    Yes, John Boy was Pa. I knew it was him because of that mole on his face. The beard didn’t cover it. He did his best to seem a rough pioneer man…but actually Caroline seemed tougher. I turned on the TV when he was saying he wanted to go west again, and Caroline got very angry and said if he went he could go without her and the girls – she was tired of moving. It was quite tense. I felt uncomfortable. Meanwhile Laura was standing there in her wedding-dress-to-be just watching this whole exchange in horror. She yelled “Ma!” at one point but Pa hushed her (Yes, he hushed her!) and said, quietly (John Boy once again) that Caroline was absolutely right. Harmony was restored. Phew. And that was only a tiny part of this movie…

    I think you’re right about the reasoning for casting goofy men as Almanzo. But it’s still not true to the way I remember the books. He seemed much more *manly* (haha) in print.

    I think I need to read them all again now….

  14. red says:

    The Long Winter was my favorite.

    Yeah, I think I need to read them all again, too.

  15. Betsy says:

    When Mary and Adam opened the blind school in the “big city”, they eventually employed some black people – he was a former fighter (with a past that caught up with him to fill an episode). Of course, because they were the only people of color on the show, they eventually got married. Aside from them, there were several black, blind students in residence at the school, even when it moved back to Walnut Grove …. they didn’t have to SEE the town blow up –

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