Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Hello readers,

I'm a little late with this, but this project recently celebrated its first anniversary last week! Woo! Yeah, it's a little bit of a cheat since it has been a few months since the last recap, but I assure you that the project has not been abandoned. Besides, the analytics for this site show a YTD traffic increase of 7636% -- surely that level of growth can be maintained.

Did I mention that stats are not my strong suit?

Anyway, I just want to thank all you readers for checking out this project. I hope to have the next recap ready to go in early January. In the meantime, please check out the blogs in the Hero Township section of the sidebar to your left.

Have a safe and happy holiday and new year!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Season Finale

Hello readers,

I think I need to take some time and step away from this project. Currently there are 24 episodes (including two-parters) on the blog which is a full season. That's...a lot. I don't want the quality to diminish because of burnout.

That's not to say that I am done writing about shows or doing recaps. If you head over to my main blog you'll find reviews and comments about current TV plus some other randomness. I also have another recap blog in the beginning stages, this time focusing on the 1967-1971 show Dragnet (thanks Hulu!). I'll post that info once that project is in full swing.

The word on the street is that the winters here in Syracuse are particularly harsh, so I'm sure I will be back to recapping Walnut Grove as soon as the snow starts to fall.

Thanks everyone!


P.S. If you have any suggestions of Little House episodes I should keep an eye out for, please let me know.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Matter of Faith 5/5

Establishing shot of the house as seen through the open barn door. Inside the house, Caroline is using the table to lift herself up to the medicine cabinet. Horse linament? No -- she grabs a smaller bottle and starts chugging. After she takes whatever medicine was in that bottle, Caroline looks over at the table and sees the key to the front door. She slowly works her way across the table and grabs the key. We’re zoomed in on her hand, specifically her wedding ring, as Caroline struggles to reach the door. Once there she unlocks it, opens the door and goes outside. She steps with her right leg and drags her left (which is even grosser looking than before) and grabs some firewood.

Later, Caroline is sitting by the fireplace and is pulling a soaking cloth out of a kettle over the fire. She takes a moment before she throws the hot, wet cloth onto the wound. Caroline probably should have grabbed a wooden spoon to bite into before doing that. She does grab onto the rocking chair as the pain courses through her body. More wedding ring close-ups.

Then Charles, in his red full body underwear, swings on a rope and jumps into a lake. Laura is next to go. Really show? White nightgowns for the girls, the oldest of which is 14? I understand that those were probably the style of the time, but from a filming perspective WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Anyway, Laura and Pa are laughing and tell Mary to hop in. Mary’s all pensive, saying she doesn’t want her head to go underwater. She asks Pa to make sure he’ll catch her and he promises. He then crosses fingers on both hands and shows them to Laura in a way that even Mary should have been able to see but she doesn’t. And no, she isn’t blind yet. Mary grabs onto the rope, swings, and Pa completely misses his daughter. Mary isn’t too bothered by it, saying it was fun. Laura takes another turn and there is more laughter. Then Pa says they should get cleaned up before Reverend Alden shows up.

Meanwhile, Caroline is contemplating her current predicament. She looks like she has an idea and grabs her Bible. She starts flipping through it as if it were a magazine with a really good recipe for gingerbread. She’s found the passage she was looking for (here it is for those playing along at home). We get a closeup of the passage, then we see Caroline reading the passage aloud, then we get a tighter closeup with a literal spotlight on the phrase “cut it off”. Caroline thinks about it for a moment, then a third closeup with “cut it off” completely filling the frame. But it’s not your foot – it’s your leg. Caroline doesn’t seem to care about that argument, instead looking around the room for the sharpest thing she can find. She gets out of the chair and hobbles over to the drawer to get the dullest knife she can find. Yuck, self-amputation is bad enough but that knife is going to make it take forever. Caroline drags herself back to the Bible to reread the passage, knife in hand.

A babbling brook, some swimming ducks, and the Ingalls family playing Blind Man’s Bluff nearby. Charles is wearing the blindfold as the kids and Jack taunt Pa. Laura sneaks behind him to snap his suspenders while Jack bites at his feet. Did Jack read that passage, too? Charles eventually grabs Carrie and tries to guess who he has. He jokes about feeling whiskers on her face and guesses Mr. Edwards. Cute. Pa takes off the blindfold and says “It’s Carrie! How are you?” What’s funny is it works both as a daddy/daughter moment and a “oh, you’re still on the show?” moment.

Laura and Mary notice a wagon approaching and Charles can see that it is Reverend Alden. The family goes to greet the Reverend and Mrs. Foster. Alden tells Mary and Laura that their Ma’s pies were the first items to sell at the fundraiser bringing in $4. Alden takes some of the credit, boasting about his salesmanship. Uh huh. Charles approaches and asks if Caroline changed her mind about making the trip, but the Reverend thought she left early to join the family. Ruh roh. Charles is surprised that there wasn’t even a note but the reverend tells him he need not worry. Um, actually, that is exactly why you should be concerned. Charles decides to go home to check things out.

Back at the chop shop, Caroline’s leg is still attached but she is preparing for some unpleasantness. She has tied a spoon around her leg and seems ready to do what she believes she has to do. She moves the knife blade into the fire. Then we fade to a Scrubbing Bubbles commercial.

On the road back to the house a neighbor stops Charles. Apparently the Ingalls cow has been causing all sorts of trouble. Charles is surprised that Caroline has come to retrieve the animal. While the neighbor passive-aggressively complains about the cow, Charles decides to pick up the pace to return to the house. When Charles arrives he finds Caroline passed out on the floor. I don’t see any blood, but I also don’t see Caroline’s legs.

That night, Laura looks through the window into the bedroom as Doc Baker examines his patient. She walks over to join Pa and Mary, commenting that she has never seen her Ma that sick. Mary asks if Ma is going to die, but Pa tells her not to talk like that yet saying “God takes care of those that love him.” Laura suggests they all pray with all their hearts before she starts to cry.

Charles goes inside and sees Reverend Alden holding a sleeping Carrie in the rocking chair. The Reverend looks like he has seen better days. Outside, Mary and Laura are comforting one another. In the bedroom, Charles is praying at the foot of the bed while Doc Baker changes out Caroline’s wet cloths.

Sunrise the next day. Yet another closeup of Caroline’s wedding ring as her hand reaches over to touch Charles’s hand. He fell asleep at the foot of the bed, but his wife’s touch wakes him right up. Charles calls for Doc Baker who pronounces the fever broken. He says if Caroline didn’t open the infection when she did she probably would have lost her leg or even died. Instead, the prognosis is significantly better. Doc Baker goes out to tell the girls the good news. The Reverend overhears this as he stands watch outside the house. Doc Baker walks over and confides that he would have had a tough time making the decision that Caroline did. “How she picked exactly the right moment … only God knows,” says Baker. “I’m sure he does,” the Reverend replies. The entire family is now gathered around their recovering Ma. Aww, Deus ex Machina works in mysterious ways.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Matter of Faith 4/5

A song of mourning plays as we return to Casa di Tetanus. There is a close up of an unlit lantern sitting on the mantle that we pan down from to find Caroline, who is writhing in her rocking chair. She decides to take a look at the wound and we switch to her POV. Ew, if her discolored foot is any indication you may want to wait until the end of your lunch break to finish reading this. No joke, y’all, it’s about to get unpleasant. Caroline slowly lifts up the nightshirt to reveal the now festering and pus encrusted wound. Even Caroline, who I look to as a model of resilience, seems a bit squicked out by what her leg looks like. She looks across the room and things get all squiggly again. Caroline decides to go for the scarf hanging by the door but after about two hobbles she falls to the ground. It would have been funny if it was Mary.

The next day a drove of piglets are snacking out of a trough while one is checking out the open bar that is the mama pig. Mary is holding a different piglet while Carrie pets its snout and Laura is petting Carrie’s hair. Mary says not to scratch too hard since it is a baby. Who is she talking to? Oh, Laura is now interacting with the pig as well. “PigglywigglyI’lltakehimhomeandputhiminmybed,” Carrie...says? Laura tells her that probably won’t be happening. Over at the smokehouse Charles is chit chatting with the pigs’ owner about the quality of the meat. The owner notices how the girls are interacting with the piglet and jokes about a new member in the Ingalls family. He says something as he takes the pig from Mary’s hands but the piglet acts like every other piglet on TV and starts to freak the fuck out. Laura tells Pa that Carrie wants to take the semi-subdued beast home, but Charles says they can’t because the piglet needs to stay with its mom. “ButMarysayswecanfeeditwithabottle,” Carrie “says”. Mary Ingalls sucks at weaning. Ha! Charles is giving his eldest daughter a look that agrees with that sentiment. Pa firmly says that the pig must stay and grow up on the farm. “Thenwherewillitgo?” Pa stammers as he tries to euphemize porcine university (Go Razorbacks!) before the farmer cuts in and says the pig will find a lady friend and raise a family. This satisfies Carrie so Pa uses that as a cue for the family to skedaddle. Carrie waves goodbye to the piggly wiggly.

Back at the homestead Reverend Alden and Mrs. Foster are arriving to pick up the baked goods. I’m surprised the ones sitting outside weren’t ruined by the storm. The Reverend knocks on the door and calls out for Mrs. Ingalls. She is a bit indisposed at the moment, having not yet regained consciousness from where she fell the night before. Oh good, she starts to come around as the pies are transferred. Ick, another unnecessary extreme close-up of Caroline’s eye. She can hear the Reverend and Mrs. Foster chatting outside but all she can focus on is the window shutter that is slightly ajar. Oh goodness, Caroline is dragging herself across the floor. First off, couldn’t she just call out so that they know she’s in there? Also, the door is closer than the window and jiggling the doorknob is a bit more helpful of a signal. The cameraman is careful not to have the door in the shot but still – it’s a little house, show.

Uh oh, Reverend Alden has loaded the last pie and Caroline is still crawling. She manages to reach the window shutter and opens it just as the Reverend’s wagon is driving away. I will say the execution of this shot is quite lovely, but the circumstances make me say “hmmm”. Caroline says nothing as she has another spasm of extreme pain. She struggles to pull herself up by grabbing onto the table but eventually gets a grip on the rolling pin instead. She smashes the window with the pin, but since no one is nearby it doesn’t really help her situation. Caroline, who is looking a lot like Jodie Foster at the moment, is sitting up and starting to cry.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Matter of Faith 3/5

Caroline eventually comes to but there’s no indication as to how much time has passed. It is still raining and when she looks over to the house it looks all squiggly and out of focus. Also, there’s a cat on a Theremin. Caroline struggles to pull herself up and she staggers over to the house. Once inside, she tries to towel herself off and takes refuge in front of the fireplace. She slips off her skirt and it is revealed that the poultice has moved down her leg revealing the full extent of the gash. Yikes! That cut is at least four inches long and who knows how deep.

Charles and the kids are also caught in the storm, but they have a tent sent up alongside their wagon. Not exactly ideal campout weather, but it looks like they’re going to try to make the most of it. As Pa serves dinner he guesses that Caroline is having “the time of her life” with the house all to herself. It’ll be memorable I’ll give him that.

We cut back to Caroline who has her hair down and is dressed in one of Charles’s nightshirts. That was me about a week or so ago after I got caught in the rain. It’s almost liberating – like you have a frumpiness license. Anyway, she is shivering as she lights a match. She has something wrapped in paper that she lights on fire with the match. Hmm, WebMD doesn’t say anything about pyromania being a symptom of gangrene. Oh, we get a closeup of the paper she is burning and see the article that Charles was reading earlier. Caroline looks over at the door but then a clap of thunder freaks her out and the room gets all blurry and out of focus. Many close-ups of Caroline’s eye before she hobbles over to lock the door. That seems like a bad idea. Maybe Caroline’s thought process is that she won’t be able to defend herself but chances are the storm would be enough to keep any would-be thieves at bay. Besides, no one likes to steal wet stuff. After slamming the window shutters closed, Caroline turns around, takes two steps and buckles under the pain in her leg. She’s able to hobble over to the fireplace and stoke the fire a bit. Speaking of fire, what was the purpose of burning the paper earlier?

Some water is dripping down onto the lip of a pot as Caroline is reapplying some bandaging on the wound. She looks like she could use a nice cup of hot tea. She wraps a shawl around her shoulders and starts to read her bible. Rather, she tries to read but the camera makes it all blurry and tricky. Knock it off, camera. Caroline is a little overwhelmed at this point and has to take a bit of a breather before continuing. Good idea.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Matter of Faith 2/5

Caroline takes another tasty looking pie out of the oven. When she sets it on the table she feels a twinge in her leg. She checks the wound and...Caroline Marie! You don’t even have that thing bandaged? She goes over to a loaf of bread and grabs a hunk of it. After she dunks the bread in a pitcher of water we cut to Caroline finishing tying a cloth around the wound. Hmm, apparently this is a remedy called a “Bread Poultice”. I had no idea. Once Caroline is all bandaged up she gets back to her baking project. Without washing her hands. Ew.

Later on we see her placing a pie on the outdoor cooling shelf. Wow, she’s got a lot done – there are at least seven pies cooling. Caroline looks a little winded, but I’m not sure if it is from her leg or from working with a hot oven all day long. As she stands around to get a second wind Doc Baker is riding by. She calls his attention and he asks if Charles is around. Caroline tells the Doc that Charles and the kids are out of town for the weekend, which disappoints the Doc because he was hoping Charles could fix a squeaky wheel. Caroline invites the Doc in for some pie (not a euphemism) and he decides to take the offer. As they walk towards the house, Doc Baker notices that Caroline is barefoot and looking a little flushed. Are bare feet a symptom? So that’s what was wrong with all the hippies during undergrad. Doc Baker asks if there is anything wrong and Caroline doesn’t think there is. She does mention that she cut her leg and shows the bread poultice. Doc Baker is all “that’s what I would have prescribed” but offers to look at Caroline’s leg just in case.

Just as the two are about to enjoy some pie, a man rides up to the house calling for the Doc. The man kvetches about not being able to find the Doc before explaining that his son Toby fell out of a loft and broke his arm. As Doc Baker leaves Caroline asks if there is anything she can to do help, but the man says that won’t be necessary. Caroline looks pained, but I don’t think it is from the rejection.

Doc Baker finishes putting a sling on Toby while giving his “You’re Very Lucky” lecture. Toby’s Ma is all like “the boy won’t listen!” so Doc Baker tells the kid point blank not to get out of bed for two weeks. As they leave the bedroom, Toby’s Ma invites Doc Baker to stay for dinner. At first he declines because he has a few more calls to make, but then Toby’s Pa comes in and says that storms are rolling through and the Doc probably won’t be able to make it back to Walnut Grove. Sounds like Doc Baker is crashing for the night.

Speaking of crashing, it looks like Caroline has hit a wall. She looks really out of it. You can tell she doesn’t really want to move, but there’s something mooing outside (presumably a cow) and she goes to the window to investigate. Yup, the cow is still outside in the pouring rain. That sounds like the start of a country song. Anyway, Caroline wraps herself in some rain gear and runs outside to lead the cow back to the barn. The cow is not having any of it and puts up a fight. Caroline is pretty soaked and worn out at this point and has to sit down to take a breather. The cow looks over and stands around as if nothing is wrong. Hmm, the camera goes out of focus for a moment. Sinister violin music starts to play shortly before Caroline passes out in the rain. If she is already under the weather this development is not going to improve Caroline’s situation. Rather than help, the cow calmly walks away. Cows suck.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Matter of Faith 1/5

Establishing shot on the homestead on a sunny day. Jack is sitting outside just waiting until he hears the wagon ride up to the barn. The girls greet the dog as everyone disembarks. Once the girls hop off, Caroline climbs from the buckboard to the flatbed to help Charles unload a few crates. As her husband walks off with a sack of grain, Caroline goes to the back of the flatbed and injures herself somehow. Charles checks what happened as Caroline frets over her now ruined pair of stockings. We move in for a close up of a metal wire that has given Ma a decent sized gash. The music gets all “spoiler warning” – changing from a bucolic theme to a more pestilence nuanced movement. Charles tells his wife to clean the wound and that he’ll get her another pair of stockings. How about not leaving metal wires flopping about where your children are being transported, Charles?

Caroline enters the house with her crates of baking supplies. She sets down the items and looks over saying “Oh Carrie, what have you done?” There’s an open jar of something spilled on the floor, but there isn’t really much of a mess. Carrie robotically apologizes anyway. Caroline rushes over to clean the mess, telling Carrie not to move. I guess there’s broken glass? I don’t know, and Carrie's robo-pologies aren’t bringing clarity to the scene. I wonder if she grew up to become the pioneer of the online chat help cable and phone companies offer. When I was setting up cable in my new digs I was asking what I thought were basic questions and not getting any semblance of a real answer so I asked if I was speaking with a robot. “I can assure you that you are interacting with LiveHelpTech Traci,” was the reply. Thanks a lot, Carrie Ingalls.

Meanwhile, Reverend Alden is riding up to the homestead. Oh, Caroline is already outside, so I guess it is “later” instead of “meanwhile”. Anyway, Reverend Alden is stopping by to ask if Caroline would be interested in baking some items for an upcoming fundraiser. Caroline is flattered by the offer but stops to consider it. Meanwhile (for real this time), Charles saunters over and chats with the Reverend. They have a casual conversation about the family outing the Ingalls are planning on enjoying this weekend. Reverend Alden apologizes to Caroline for asking for the favor since it would interfere with those plans. Caroline gets Charles up to speed on those details and he reminds her that the outing isn’t for a couple of days. Caroline says the pies should be fresh, so they should be baked on Saturday for Sunday’s bazaar. Alden gets all “Won’t somebody think of the children?” and Charles says he can postpone the trip for a week. Caroline doesn’t like that idea, so she suggests that they go on the trip since it will be easier for her to bake without a bunch of kids running around. Reverend Alden offers Caroline a ride to the bazaar on Sunday where she can be reunited with her family. This solution seems to work for everyone. Good, can we move on?

Caroline and Charles are in bed. Charles is reading a newspaper and Caroline is reading over his shoulder. He points out an article about a family whose house was cleaned out because they left the door unlocked. Caroline is horrified by the thought, so Charles suggests that she keep the door locked while the rest of the family is gone. Um, I got the sense from the story that nobody was home and that’s what made the house an easy target. Caroline knows how to defend herself, but she humors her husband. Pa lets on that he thinks Caroline might be shooing the family away but she says she’s just excited about having a day off. They turn off the lights and go to sleep.

The next day Charles is packing up the children on the Ingalls Express. As Laura and Mary dump their items (and run back inside to get items they forgot), Caroline comes out with some first aid supplies and the first pie of the day. Charles and the girls ride off waving. Bye Ma!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Next Week's Episode

A Matter of Faith

Is hydrotherapy recommended post-amputation? Yes -- it is THAT episode.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Wolves 5/5

The kids are still holed up in the barn. Laura asks Mary how long they’ve been waiting and she replies, “a couple of hours.” Carrie says she’s hungry (or “hungwee” as she says it) but Mary says it is too dark outside to tell if the dogs are gone. Laura hears a rustling sound outside so Mary goes to investigate. Mary can hear the sound but she can’t find the source. A dog barks behind Mary and she sees that one of the dogs is trying to dig under the wall. Seriously? Did the kids bathe in meat that morning or something?

The sound of the dog pack freaking out starts up again, so Mary decides to move up to the loft. Except that the ladder is now next to Laura’s treehouse. Oops. Mary spots a table and uses it to climb up to the loft. As the kids struggle to climb, the injured mama wolf starts to paw at her muzzle. The dogs are now working at three separate points around the perimeter trying to dig in. This is dumb. Before Andy climbs up he decides that the pups need to go up to the loft. Meanwhile, Old Yeller and Rin Tin Tin are almost done with their holes. As the mama wolf works on her muzzle, the kids are trying to get Bandit up to the loft. Bandit is not a fan of this change of elevation but doesn’t put up much of a fight. Andy gets up into the loft just as a dog gets through the wall and mama wolf gets off her muzzle (uh, “Muzzle Fail”). As soon as Andy turns around he and Mary get a front row seat for the dogfight. Judging by their faces, the dog they bet on isn’t winning. At this point the entire pack has infiltrated the barn. Wait a minute, that’s not a wolf – that’s the Shaggy Dog! Is this episode an allegory for gangs or something? Boooooo!

Mary rejoins the other kids in the corner of the loft. She hugs Carrie and tells her everything is going to be alright. Andy wishes his Pa would come looking for him, which causes Laura to wonder what will happen if no one comes for them. Weren’t Charles and Caroline only supposed to be gone for a couple of days? They should be back soon I would think. Mary has a better idea: “Bandit knows the way to Andy’s house. Maybe he could get Mr. Garvey!” First, Bandit is not Lassie (who may or may not be part of the “wolf” pack down below. Second, Bandit is not a carrier pigeon. What’s great about this is that Bandit’s head is resting on Laura’s arm in a way that makes it look like Bandit is thinking “I need to talk to my agent about getting me on a show with scripts that aren’t stupid.” Laura resists the idea and I could swear I just saw Bandit roll his eyes. I think I understand why Charles and Caroline left town for this episode.

Mary stands up and opens a chute just above Laura’s head. Laura tells her dog that he is their only hope. The girls send the dog outside and it starts bounding towards the hills. Benji, who is keeping watch outside the compound sees Bandit and starts to chase after him. Oh good, not only is this entire premise preposterous, the filming is poorly conceived as well. It’s that point after dusk where it is more dark than light and the dogs are running through an area with trees. In other words, there’s not enough natural light to light the scene but there is just enough light to cast shadows everywhere. Anyway, the chase is on but Bandit has a plan. He puts his Bugs Bunny skills to work and runs into a hollow log. Benji follows but gets stuck while Bandit (the larger dog) gets out the other side. Whatever, show: check-minus.

Over at the Garvey farm Jonathan is tying up his horse in the stable. He notices the wolves are gone and runs into the house. Alice hears Jonathan come in and mentions that he is late. Jonathan asks where Andy is but Alice thought he was with her husband. Jonathan asks if Larabee or anyone else has been lurking around but Alice hasn’t seen anyone. At this point Bandit walks in with a pretty bad gash on his leg. Jonathan takes a look at the dog and realizes that trouble is a-brewin’ at the ol’ Ingalls place.

While Jonathan is in the barn hitching up his horse, at a pace not quite as urgent a few moments ago, Larabee arrives. He has a couple of thugs with guns and says they need to continue the discussion from earlier. Jonathan says he’s a little preoccupied with his son and the Ingalls girls being in possible danger. He invites Larabee and company to tag along or get out of his way. The camera zooms in on Larabee for no real reason.

Meanwhile at the dog shelter, the canines are milling about on the ground floor while the asinines are grousing in the loft. Then the yuppie dog from Best in Show decides it’s time to hop onto the table and climb into the loft. My guess is Carrie is made of jerky. Mary grabs a sandbag and starts swinging at the dogs trying to leap up. It’s going fine until one of the dogs grabs the bag in its teeth. Mary Ingalls sucks at whac-a-mole. She grabs a pitchfork, but just before things get gruesome or hilarious Jonathan kicks in the door and the thugs start firing shots. After eight shots are fired Jonathan hops up into view and asks if the kids are alright. Larabee also pops into view and sees Andy hugging Jonathan as the kid whimpers about the mama wolf saving his life. Jonathan turns to give Larabee an “I told you so” glare. Shut up, Jonathan. Mary is crying in the corner.

The next day, Jonathan, Laura, and Andy set the pups free. They talk about what the deal was with the dogs from last night. Jonathan’s theory was that the dogs used to be good family dogs but their masters didn’t love them. So it is an allegory. Booooo!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Wolves 4/5

A pack of dogs is running through fields. Wait a minute, is that Harry the Dirty Dog? not a wolf.

As suddenly as we see that image it is gone and replaced by a ball getting kicked outside the school. What is up with these transitions? I’ve been doing film editing for the last three weeks so maybe I’m just more aware of them now but some of them are just plain weird. Anyway, the ball ends up underneath the porch of the Mercantile and Andy chases after it. While he’s there he overhears Mrs. Oleson and Larabee discussing their plans to dispose of the wolves in the Garvey barn. Andy doesn’t waste any time as he runs to the barn with a cart and collects the wolves.

A few moments later, Andy pulls the cart towards Laura’s treehouse. Shouldn’t both of them be in school? Laura climbs down the ladder and Andy updates Laura on the situation. She asks if Mr. Garvey knows what’s up but Andy hasn’t had a chance to tell him yet. Laura decides to hide them in the Ingalls’ barn, but suggests they don’t tell Mary the Hun.

Back at the homestead, Mary asks Carrie if she knows where Laura is. Carrie says she’ll go look for her, but that doesn’t seem to ease Mary’s anger. She’s been amped up this entire episode, even before the parents left. What is her deal? Carrie goes outside with Bandit and calls out for Laura. Just then, the pack of dogs from earlier is running down the hillside near the little house. Mary can hear the dogs from inside and runs outside to check on Carrie. Mary runs, grabs her sister’s hand and promptly trips over her own feet as she drags her little sister to the barn. Way to go, Mary. Despite this misstep, the two girls make it into the barn where Laura and Andy are already taking cover. Laura and Mary work together to bar the doors shut.

The dog pack arrives and starts running circles around the barn and chicken coop. One of the dogs is able to leap into the chicken coop and we hear the sound of chickens getting mutilated. That’s a sound effect that gets a surprising amount of mileage on this show. This time it is mixed with the sound of either a cow or an elephant. If it is the latter, this situation has gone beyond serious.

The kids gather in the center of the barn to wait out the dogs. Everyone is scared but there isn’t really anything they can do. Mary suggests that they start to sing to pass the time and feel better. What better way to get rid of a pack of angry dogs than to draw attention to yourself by singing? Mary asks for requests and Andy is quick on the trigger with “Oh! Susanna”. Oh Stephen Foster, where would the public domain be without you? They start to sing and, as expected, the dogs grow even wilder. As the dogs run more circles around the barn, the LHotP Orchestra plays an upbeat adaptation of “Oh! Susanna”. Good times.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Wolves 3/5

The next day Doc Baker examines the injured wolf. Isn’t this really outside of his area of expertise? Or is this his wheelhouse and taking care of the townspeople is the outer limits of his knowledge? Either way, the prognosis looks good. Meanwhile Jonathan enters and muzzles the wolf so that she won’t hurt anybody. Before Andrew runs off to school his Pa asks him who knows about the wolf. Andy replies that Laura is the only other person who knows and Jonathan asks that it be kept that way for now. Doc Baker asks Jonathan if Andy is getting attached to the animal and warns against it. Before the Doc leaves Jonathan asks him to also keep news of the wolf on the DL.

Meanwhile, Mary and Carrie are walking hand in hand towards school. There’s the sound of hammering up ahead and Mary sees that her sister is the source. “Laura Ingalls what are you doing up there?” Even Carrie is aware that Laura is building a treehouse. Mary demands that Laura come down from the tree “this instant” and head off to school. You give Mary one iota of responsibility and she institutes Hammurabi’s Code. Mary Ingalls sucks at chillaxing. Laura climbs down the rope attached to the tree and the girls continue to bicker as they make their way to school.

Lunchtime! Andy updates Laura on the wolf situation, starting with the fact that it is a wolf situation instead of a dog situation. As they chat about the animal’s prognosis, Nellie steps out from behind a tree a few feet away from the other kids. She asks what the big secret is that the two of them are sharing, but they decide to play dumb. Nellie offers them some penny candy for the inside scoop and both Laura and Andy look like cheap suits in need of folding. Laura comes up with a bluff about her new treehouse, but Nellie doesn’t buy it. As she walks away Andy cracks and asks Nellie to swear not to tell anybody if he tells her. Nellie crosses her heart so he spills the beans. Nellie, who is sucking on a piece of candy, flatly says “how interesting” and then hands Andy some candy. As the school bell rings, Nellie runs off towards the Mercantile before heading to the school. Andy wonders where Nellie is going since she crossed her heart not to tell anyone. Laura quietly reminds him that the girl doesn’t have a heart to cross. Oh, snap!

Doc Baker happens to be in the Mercantile when Nellie rushes in to tell her mother the news. Harriet laughs off the news, claiming that no one in their right mind would keep a pack of wolves in their barn. Nellie claims she is telling the truth and says that Doc Baker can vouch for her. Harriet asks if that is true and he quickly replies that it is. Andy at least held out for a piece of candy before he blabbed, Doc. Harriet starts to over react (or react, relative to her) but Doc Baker says the adult wolf is muzzled so no one is in danger, particularly since Jonathan is apparently the Jack Hanna of Hero Township. Harriet asks if Baker is a doctor or a veterinarian and he replies that, considering some of his patients, he isn’t always too sure himself. That is not charming. After he leaves, Harriet tells Nellie to take a message to Larabee after school.

After school Andy and Laura are playing with the pups. They are cute in a lupine sort of way. The pups, not the children. Jonathan enters the barn and smiles as he sees the kids and the animals interact. Andy says he wants to name the pup he is holding Jonah. Jonathan playfully reminds his son that the animal is a wolf and not a whale. He then seriously reminds Andy that naming the animal brings him one step closer to making that animal a pet. Jonathan is certainly handling this situation a lot better than Charles handled the Jasper fiasco. Jonathan then provides a short lecture on animal domestication and somehow works God into the order of things. I guess that would explain cows. Anyway, Jonathan goes on to tell a story about this one time in Chicago when he saw a lady walking down the street with a lion on a leash. “There was a look in that lion’s face that said ‘I ain’t happy.’” I call no waysies on that story actually happening. Regardless, the kids get the point and agree to let the wolves go once the mom is healthy.

Later on Laura is continuing work on the treehouse. She consults with the project foreman, Bandit, who barks his approval. Laura decides that the treehouse is missing one vital component but she isn’t sure what it is. A lantern goes off in her head and she heads back towards the barn. Not too much later, Mary comes out of the house in her Aunt Jemima garb and starts calling out for “Laura! Laura Ingalls!” Shut up, Mary. She doesn’t and tells Laura that dinner is ready. Laura complains about the food and Mary says in a particularly flat and nasal voice “I’m running out of patience.” I think this line reading completely sums up the character of Mary Ingalls. Anyway, before heading into the house, Laura takes the ladder from the barn to the tree.

Meanwhile, Jonathan is taking inventory at the mill when Larabee drives up. Jonathan rolls his eyes slightly and returns to his paperwork. Larabee tells Garvey that he wants the wolves that are shacking up in the Garvey barn. Jonathan tells Larabee to bug off and just take care of his town business. Larabee walks over to his wagon and unveils a dead calf as his town business. Larabee has determined that Live Wolves + Dead Calf = Garvey’s Problem. That’s a fair equation, but Jonathan explains that he has a wounded mama wolf and two pups. Larabee isn’t too concerned about that and would rather make sure that all wolves be eradicated from the planet. Garvey says no and tells Larabee to stay away from his land. Honestly, it looks like Larabee is about to cry as the dramatic music plays.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Wolves 2/5

Laura and Andy are out gathering berries (not a euphemism). Bandit starts to bark and the kids go investigate. Did Carrie fall down a well again? Oh, a wolf got caught in a trap. They must be in Larabee territory. The kids run over to check on the animal and decide to unlatch the trap, thinking this animal is a dog. Frankly, I don’t know the official difference, so we’ll just go with this taxonomy for the time being. Once free, the dog scampers off and the kids follow. They eventually find the dog and her pups. Aww. The kids decide to take the animals to the Garveys' so they can tend to the wounded dog. Uh, Laura, haven’t you gone down this path before?

Back at the homestead, Mary is peeling a potato while carry snaps peas. Laura barges in to tell Mary the news, but the eldest daughter starts in on her power trip. “Where have you been young lady, you’re late!” she yells. Laura’s reaction: “Huh?” Awesome. Mary keeps on yelling at her sister, but as Laura tries to explain all Mary can do is admonish Laura with various “I’m the boss, applesauce,” reminders. It should probably be noted that Charles and Caroline have probably only been gone for perhaps two hours, so Mary’s shtick is going to get old fast. Laura gets over this quick and leaves.

Back at the Garvey residence, Jonathan walks into the barn and finds Andy petting a pup (still not a euphemism). Andy recaps the first paragraph of today’s entry for his Pa. Jonathan takes one look and tells his kid “they’s wolves.” “They’s” you say? Andy is surprised by this news which is soon replaced with disappointment after Jonathan says he can’t keep them. Andy points out the injury, but Jonathan stays firm and says that they can’t keep wild animals. Andy tries a new tactic: if the wolf is one of God’s creatures and Jonathan says that everyone needs to take care of God’s creatures, then they are obligated to take care of the wolf since God loves all His creatures equally. If that were true, wouldn’t Larabee have not set out a trap with the intent to kill the wolf? Rather than follow my line of questioning, Jonathan agrees to have Doc Baker take a look at the animal. Eh, I suppose this compromise is okay for the time being. As Jonathan leaves, the pup starts to have its noms on Andy’s finger. Aww.

We then see a calf suckling on its mama cow. Ick, that transition was even more unpleasant than the sheep goring/Bandit reveal. Suddenly, this tranquil scene is attacked by a pack of dogs. Um, okay. Then the camera goes in for a dramatic zoom on what I suppose is the leader dog who is watching everything from the top of a hill. Dun dun dun! Sure, why not?

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Wolves 1/5

A nausea-inducing dolly shot traveling over the prairie opens this week’s episode. The last time I went through that part of the country was back in 2001 and even then the vastness of the landscape was somewhat incredible. All that is in this portion of the vastness is a lone dog. Oh, and a sheep. The dog sees the sheep the same time we do and begins to chase after it. Suddenly a whole pack of dogs appear and the sheep is all like “uh oh” and starts to run away. I hope this whole episode isn’t a nature film because I am not in the mood. Long story short: the sheep doesn’t stand a chance. We see the lead dog lunge at the sheep then see Bandit running down a hillside. Interesting idea for a transition but it doesn’t quite match up.

The Garvey house is at the base of the hill. Laura and Andy are practicing the long jump for the Olympics that won’t be happening for another 23 years. Andy tells Laura her jump wasn’t too good, but his isn’t any better. He decides to invite his Ma to show her mad skillz. She declines, saying that she has laundry to do. The kids whine but Alice says she doesn’t have time for such “foolishness”. Jeez, lady, why don’t you just send your kid to the iron mines then? Laura challenges this notion, claiming that adults are dismissive of such activities so that they don’t have to prove that the kids are better at them. Alice takes the bait, but before she can embarrass herself Bandit arrives and distracts the kids. Laura assumes that Bandit is there to let her know that it is time to go home. Can a dog really be that well trained? My housemates’ dogs still freak out whenever I enter the room and they have had plenty of time to get used to me. After Laura leaves Andy asks his Ma if she is ready to jump, but since the girl is gone Alice has nothing to prove and sends her son inside to do homework. Once he is in, Alice decides to go for the jump. And lands square on her butt. Andy is quick to point out that his Ma didn’t get much distance either.

When Laura gets home she sees that Pa and Ma are finishing packing up for a weekend getaway or something. Ma is reminding Mary of all the things to take care of while they are away. Mary is in charge? This weekend is going to suck. Charles calls for Caroline as she kisses her daughters goodbye. Caroline mounts the wagon and the two of them are off. As soon as the wagon is out of sight the girls are all like “Toga! Toga! Toga! 1900!” Or they would be if I was writing this episode.

Jonathan is over at the Mercantile carefully examining pans. He puts the pan down for a nice reveal of an incredibly bored Mrs. Oleson. She asks him to make a decision because she has other work to do. For once I don’t think Harriet is being bitchy as I can imagine Jonathan Garvey taking several hours to decide between cast iron or Teflon. She tries to upsell but Jonathan finally decides on the economy model. The shop bell rings as a man enters the store. Hey, it’s Larabee! I didn’t realize he was a recurring character. He is not in the mood to chit chat with Jonathan and asks Harriet for some wolf traps. As Harriet goes to grab them, Jonathan tells Larabee there aren’t any wolves in the area. Larabee coldly says that two of his sheep were attacked and that Garvey should mind his own business.

Jonathan leaves and as soon as he is out the door Harriet thanks Larabee for talking down to Garvey. She takes Larabee to the store room and talks about the bad blood the two men had from their Kansas days. Ooo, back story. Also, this must have taken place before the barn burning. Larabee doesn’t engage with Harriet despite her Barbara Walters impersonation. Larabee takes a couple of traps and leaves. Nels enters the store room as Harriet comments on how mad Larabee was when he saw Jonathan. She lets on that Larabee believes that Garvey stole some furs. Nels stops what he is doing and says that the story is wrong. Harriet reminds her husband that Larabee’s story matches up with what he told the judge, but Nels points out that the actual crook was caught red handed. He goes on to say that Larabee is just mad because he was embarrassed by the situation and blames Jonathan. Harriet is all “whatevs” and says she still doesn’t trust Garvey. Nels is surprised and asks why. Harriet thinks for a moment and says it’s because he chews tobacco and spits. That I could actually get on board with – chaw is DISGUSTING.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Election 5/5

Election day! Mary is giving a speech about how honored she is by the nomination. She references the conversation she had with Pa regarding campaign promises and refuses to make any. “If you do vote for me, I’ll appreciate it,” she says meekly. Mary Ingalls sucks at stump speeches. Hmm, the class disagrees with me on that one since they give her a healthy round of applause. Nellie is up next. See Mary, Nellie actually stepped onto the dais that Miss Beadle’s desk is on to make her speech. Oh, but she blows her goodwill by referring to her classmates as “fellow Americans.” Miss Beadle actually has to look down to stifle a chuckle. As Nellie confidently blah blah blahs, Laura whispers to her sister that Nellie is really giving a list of reasons to punch her in the nose. Hehe.

Meanwhile Elmer, still muddy from the bay of pigs invasion, is walking up to the school. He stops when he reaches the steps and considers whether or not to enter. He decides to walk in just as Nellie is finishing her speech. “And finally,” she says “you should vote for me because my mother will give a party if I win.” I’ve always been dubious about student government and this is pretty much why. When Nellie steps down, the only person to applaud at first is the girl who seconded Nellie’s nomination. A few other people catch on and politely clap, but it is not as rousing as Mary’s support.

Elmer finally enters the classroom and Miss Beadle is shocked by his appearance. The kids laugh at him. Shut up, children. The teacher asks what happened, but instead of telling the truth Elmer opts for the “Luka” defense and says he slipped and fell. Miss Beadle asks if the other boys were responsible but Elmer is all mum. She tells Elmer to go home and get cleaned up before making his speech, offering to postpone the vote until the afternoon. Elmer thanks her then says he isn’t going to run for president after all. He goes on to say that he is now in on the joke and he’d rather not waste the time. The kids laugh and Miss Beadle tells them to stop. Elmer says it’s fine since he knows that they don’t think much of him anyway. “I don’t even know what a class president is supposed to do,” he says. I bet if you ask your fellow candidates they wouldn’t know either, Elmer.

Elmer goes on to say that he does know what’s right and wrong and that he doesn’t think the older kids should be picking on others. It looks like Joel is taking the words to heart but Kenny still has a stupid look on his stupid face. “And it ain’t right to give someone something to make ‘em vote for you,” he says directly to Nellie. She promptly makes her bitch face (no, the other one). He adds “no pushing people into mud” to the list and that finally makes Kenny reflective. “My mother made me this shirt because she loves me,” Elmer says. “You probably all think that’s dumb. But that’s what’s wrong around here: people don’t pay no mind to other people’s carings.” Ooo, establish that narrative. My government professor from undergrad would be pleased. Laura is starting to get choked up and Mary is already glassy-eyed. Oh, there’s the tear.

Miss Beadle, who is also choked up, thanks Elmer. Mary raises her hand but Miss Beadle says the time for speeches has passed. Mary says she doesn’t want to make a speech: she wants to withdraw. Mary then throws her support behind Elmer. “I know you’re not supposed to run,” Mary says, “but you have to cause you’re the only one that really knows what a president should do.” First off, “not supposed to run”? Based on what criteria? Second, unless a president is supposed to shame people for their bad behavior, I fail to see what Elmer has done to demonstrate a total grasp of the job specifications of the nebulous “class president” position. Anyway, Elmer thinks about it for a moment and decides to stay in the race. Time to vote.

Laura gets her Jeff Probst groove on and tallies the results. The last two votes are for Elmer, making the final tally twelve for Nellie and twelve for Elmer. Ooo, now we get to see a fire-making challenge. Miss Beadle declares a tie, but Mary says there should be twenty-five votes. Nellie points out that Willie went to the outhouse. He couldn’t have voted before leaving the room? Or they couldn’t wait until he came back? Willie comes back in and everyone stares at him. Miss Beadle asks for his vote. Nothing like a secret ballot. Laura tallies the last vote: and it’s for Elmer. Nellie asks how her brother could betray her like that and he says “you’re always picking on me and Elmer won’t let you.” Nellie screams and runs out of the classroom. I just don’t get Minnesota politics. The class cheers for Elmer.

After school, the Ingalls girls rush out of the building and make a bee line for the mill. They cannot wait to tell Pa the news about Elmer’s victory. Mr. Dobkins is at the mill and overhears the story. Laura is beaming that Elmer beat Nellie despite the candy-based disadvantage. Elmer is now walking towards the mill and sees his Pa. Mr. Dobkins excuses himself to meet up with his son. They stare at each other for a moment before Pa Dobkins takes off his hat and says “Congratulations, Mr. President.” They both smile and hug. Aww. Congrats Elmer! This is your first step on your way to becoming Super Nintendo Dobkins!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Election 4/5

That evening, Mrs. Dobkins is getting ready to iron some clothes as her husband enters the house. He compliments the shirt his wife is holding and she says it’s the shirt she tailored for Elmer. Pa asks where his son is and is not surprised that the kid is in the barn taking care of the animals. The stray animal count is up to six – I’m not sure if that includes baby squirrels or not. Pa heads back outside.

Elmer is practicing his speech for a chicken and a rabbit and his stuttered opening has already lost his audience. He starts again but he seems to be battling a case of writer’s block. I give him credit for having the sense to practice ahead of time. Meanwhile, Pa walks into the barn and asks to have a talk with his son. Before Elmer agrees, Pa goes ahead and asks what the boys were doing to Elmer in the schoolyard earlier. Elmer turns around and doormats that the boys were “just making jokes.” Pa isn’t buying it for a second and tells Elmer that those boys are not his friends. Aw, Elmer actually looks wounded when he hears this. Poor kid. He doormats some more and his Pa is getting tired of it. He asks who, if anyone, fed Elmer worms, assuring his son that he won’t get into trouble unless he lies. Elmer contemplates the rabbit hutch for a moment before admitting that Joel was the feeder. This confirms Pa’s theory which lays the groundwork for the truth of the whole election situation: that Elmer was nominated for exploitation purposes only. Ugh, Pa goes back to the chicken flock metaphor again. We get the point show, move along please.

Before he leaves the barn, Pa declares that he will talk to Kenny and Joel’s parents in the morning. Elmer begs him not to saying that it will just make things worse. I never get tired of that plot construct because there is so much truth behind it. TV shows fifty years from now will probably still be able to use that type of conflict and it will likely be just as effective. Pa doesn’t watch TV or has little imagination because he doesn’t understand how things could get worse for his son. Elmer doesn’t offer any specific examples but knows that Koel will find a way to make life that much more hellish. Pa finally agrees, but instructs his son that he is to withdraw from the election. Elmer accepts this and turns around to share a sad with the rabbit. Pa walks up to his son and gives him a hug.

The next morning we see Ma Dobkins fixing the collar on Elmer’s new shirt. She is really happy with how her son looks, but the males in the room seem a bit resigned. Elmer didn’t even know he was going to get a new shirt. Ma says it was so he would look extra nice on election day. Oh, I guess Pa didn’t tell her what happened in the barn. Pa still doesn’t reveal that little tidbit, reminding Elmer to remember what they discussed without specifically saying what was said. Elmer takes his things and heads off to school. Once the door closes, Ma asks her husband what that little reminder was referring to. Pa keeps it vague, but Ma looks as if she is figuring things out.

We rejoin Elmer on his way to school. He is walking along until he hears Kenny and Joel complaining about an upcoming test. That kid has great hearing since the sound is clear as bell despite the fact that the other boys are a couple hundred yards away. Kenny, the proverbial red-headed step-child, grabs a rock and throws it at a tree. Instantly he says that if a bird was on the branch it would have been killed. Uh oh, bird metaphor. Run Elmer! No! Don’t sit down under a tree! The boys spot Elmer and walk over to torment him. The boys pretend to be nice by complimenting the new fancy duds, but Elmer says that he isn’t running in the election. The boys tell Elmer that if he doesn’t run, then they don’t have a candidate. Well, that’s what happens when your platform is “Anyone but the XX chromosomes”. Kenny is all “you don’t want a girl for president, do ya?” Honey, when has any class president done anything of any import in the entire history of education? Joel tells Elmer that it is okay if Elmer doesn’t want to run and that they will still be his friends. Elmer is confused by this turnabout. They get up to walk to school together.

Joel asks if Elmer has seen the new piglets at the Stinson place. Kenny adds that one of them has a bad leg. They decide to go check on them on the way to school. Hmm, my spidey sense is tingling, and it isn’t weaving TEERRRRIIFFIICCCC. Elmer looks at the drove of piglets but doesn’t notice anything wrong at first. He straddles the fence to get a better look but still sees nothing. Joel suggests that Elmer get even closer. Once Elmer swings his other leg around the fence, the boys push him into the mud. They laugh and run off. Hey, campaign managers? Mudslinging – ur doin it wrong.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Election 3/5

What’s this? Nels is handling this week’s egg transaction? Oh, it’s Mary who brought the eggs instead of Caroline so Harriet’s cattiness is unnecessary. Anyway, Nels counts the eggs and starts some chit chat about Nellie’s upcoming party. He lists every fabulous aspect of the event but Mary just looks at her shoes. Nels supposes that every girl in the school is invited until Laura, who is browsing in the hip wader section, clarifies that the Ingalls girls did not receive an invite. Mary tries to be diplomatic by suggesting that maybe Nellie forgot, but Nels isn’t buying it and invites the girls. I don’t think they elect Secretaries of State in class elections, Mary. Laura is all “thanks, but no thanks,” and fibs that she and Mary have chores to do at the time of the party. Again, Nels isn’t buying it but he doesn’t press the point. The girls leave as Nels shakes his head in disappointment.

As the girls walk through town they pass by Elmer who is sitting on a bench near a tree. He greets them and they join their fellow candidate. Elmer observes that a number of girls are hanging out with Nellie in the Oleson’s yard. “Boss Nellie Tweed is at it again,” Laura says. Elmer doesn’t get the reference so Mary explains that Laura’s joke was a callback to Boss Tweed, a New York politician. Elmer is all like “oh,” which is fine: even if you get the reference Laura’s joke wasn’t funny. Laura goes on to accuse Nellie of stealing votes. Mary excuses the tactic by saying that Nellie is just having a party. That’s fair, considering the Ingalls girls are planning on doing the exact same thing. Elmer asks why Laura and Mary aren’t at the party. Laura begins to sulk as she explains why. Elmer says he hopes Mary wins but she replies that Elmer has a good chance to win also. The boy disagrees since he already suspects that this might be another Koel prank in the making. Laura reminds Elmer that he can vote for himself, but he believes that one vote doesn’t mean much. Tell that to Paul Metzler. The conversation reaches another awkward lull, so Laura uses the opportunity to say that she and Mary need to go home.

Back at the Dobkins’ house, Ma is mending a shirt while Pa is looking through some papers. Ma mentions that a squirrel that Elmer is caring for is about to give birth while Pa is complaining about the price of seed. The conversation starts to focus on how Elmer is better with animals than with people, which Ma thinks is a good thing but Pa is not so sure. Somehow this circles back to their concerns about the election. Ma is still supportive of the idea and is going to fix up a shirt for her son for election day. Pa suggests using one of his old shirts and trimming it down for Elmer’s size. Oh good, it sounds like Pa is coming around to the idea. Yay!

Breakfast time at the Homestead. Pa asks Laura who is coming to the election party. Laura says everyone except Nellie and Willie is invited. Pa, surprisingly, is in favor of the turnabout/fair play ratio. He goes on to say that he suspects that these election tactics are setting the stage for an Elmer win. Pa explains the math and Mary is less than ecstatic about this revelation. Laura asks what they can do to rectify this situation but Pa is all like “uh, you’re stuck, monkey butt.” I’m paraphrasing.

Later on, Laura and Mary are leaving the storage house with ears of corn as they see Elmer approaching the house. They run down to meet him. There’s some awkward chit chat before Elmer asks if the girls are expecting a lot of guests. He goes on to explain that there was a group of girls ahead of him on the road but they got intercepted by Nellie and Willie who had free candy available. Laura accuses Nellie of buying votes again. Uh, Half-pint, what exactly was your plan with all those ears of corn again? Elmer assures the girls that not everyone is going to vote for Nellie but Laura doesn’t seem convinced. They are still going to have their party regardless of the turn out.

We join Mary and Laura in the barn with Pa. He is polishing a saddle as Mary works on her campaign speech. They toss around some campaign promise ideas. Laura asks if it is even possible to keep all the promises one makes and Pa tells her it isn’t very likely. Mary asks if that is kind of like lying but Pa corrects her by saying it is lying. Hmmm, yes and no. Most campaign promises are actually framed as goals (except for the ones stupidly beginning with the phrase “I promise to…”). If you set a goal and fail to meet it, that is not a lie. Either way, Mary is quickly becoming a fifth party candidate in a three way race. Laura asks if candidates call each other names because she has a few good ones for Nellie. Pa gives Laura a warning not to head down that path. Pa sends the girls to bed. On the way out, Mary says she is going to list the things she thinks would make the school better and make a speech. Yeah, long lists always make great speeches.

The next day at recess the girls are jumping rope while Kenny and Joel kick around some kids on the teeter-totter. Joel then spots Elmer off by himself by the schoolhouse steps. The boys get stupid smiles on their stupid faces and head over to torment the boy. Joel asks Elmer how he is going to win the election. Joel tells Elmer to get on the see-saw stump (say that three times fast) and make a speech. Elmer isn’t interested, but his self-appointed campaign managers grab him and force him onto the stage. As the candidate is dragged to the center of the crowd, Pa Dobkins happens to be driving by and watches what is happening to his son. Joel and Kenny keep jostling the boy as they make a bunch of promises of the “eat one worm for every vote” variety. But what about tort reform? Social security? What is his stance on human/animal hybrids? These are the questions that need answers! Before those questions can even be asked, Miss Beadle exits the school and tells the boys to stop. She asks what they are doing and Joel says they’re campaigning. Miss Beadle tells them to stop and ends recess. Way to go, jerks. As the kids file inside, Pa Dobkins hangs his head and drives away.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Election 2/5

As the kids are leaving school, Nellie is admonishing the girl who seconded her nomination for not doing it fast enough. The girl is all like “whatever, just keep the candy coming.” Following them are Mary and Jim, the former thanking the latter. “It’s nice, you being a boy and all,” Mary says. I have to wonder if Laura would have nominated Mary, unless nominating goes against Leviticus or something. Regardless, Jim says he just wanted to be fair and I’m not really sure what that is supposed to mean in this situation. Mary thanks him again despite this little logic lapse and heads home. Jim sticks around to reconvene with the prankster set. Oh, it turns out that their plan is to not only split the girl vote by having two female nominees but use Elmer to prove that he can beat the smartest kids in the class. Does it count as schadenfreude if you plan for it? That doesn’t seem right.

That evening at the homestead, Laura and Mary are busy working at the table. Laura puts down her crayon and shows Mary the campaign poster she designed: “Vote for Mary (underlined in red) The best cantitate [sic].” Mary says “no”, obviously, but Laura says the kids won’t care. It’s sad that almost 140 years later that would still probably hold true.

As Mary evaluates the poster some more, Pa enters the house. “Pa, you’ll never guess,” Laura says. Pa takes a couple stabs at Laura’s news: “You got 100 on an arithmetic test. You got a zero on an arithmetic test. Your sister Mary got nominated for class president.” Laura accuses her father of peeking, but he says he heard about it from Nels. Pa congratulates Mary and calls her Madame President. Mary says he should be congratulating Nellie, but Laura calls herself Campaign Manager and says that her sister is going to win. Carrie (you remember her – the one who falls down the hill all the time?) says that she’ll vote for Mary. Pa believes that more than the Ingalls girls will vote for Mary, but the candidate doesn’t think so since Nellie is going to have a campaign party. “Nellie invited all the girls to her house except us for ice cream and cake tomorrow,” Laura says. I guess Mary is running as a candidate for the Pity Party. Pa goes against the party’s mission statement by suggesting the girls host their own event the following weekend.

Meanwhile, Elmer is at his place tending to the chickens in the coop. As he takes particular care of one chicken, Elmer’s father enters the barn. He greets his son who reports that the chicken’s neck is looking a lot better. Oh, I get it. The wounded birds are a metaphor. That’s one of the tricks of the trade I’ve learned in the last couple of weeks: anything that seems heavy handed or cannot be easily explained can just be described as “artistic vision” or a “metaphor”. Try it in your day to day life: it is amazingly liberating. Anyway, Elmer asks if the other chickens will attack this bird again if he reintroduces it to the flock. Pa says that they might and it’s just in their nature. I’m just waiting for a spider to weave “Some Pig” over Elmer’s head. Pa tells Elmer it is time to wash up for supper. Elmer says he just needs to feed his rabbit and then he’ll be done. Please let the rabbit be named George, please. Lenny would be even more awesome.

Elmer changes the subject before we learn more about the rabbit. He tells his Pa about the nomination. Rather than congratulating his son, Pa asks who nominated Elmer. “Joel and Kenny,” Elmer replies. They also appointed themselves as Elmer’s campaign managers. Pa doesn’t like where this is going and checks to make sure that Elmer is talking about the kids that pick on him and not some other Joel/Kenny combo (Koel? Jenny?). Elmer is being all Pollyanna about the whole situation which doesn’t seem to sit well with Pa. He doesn’t say anything at the moment and decides to remind Elmer that supper is almost ready.

Pa goes back into the house where Mrs. Elmer’s Mom is setting the table. The parents chit chat about what Elmer is up to in the barn. Ma likes that he takes such good care of the animals, but Pa is concerned that if they aren’t careful there will be sick stray animals all up in their business. At least the kid has aptitude in some area. Pa walks over to Ma and tells her that the “dag burn Turner boys” were the ones who nominated Elmer. Ma reminds her husband to remind Elmer that he should not count on winning. Wait, why are these parents being realistic? Don’t they watch this show? I don’t have a Good Mommy/Good Daddy tag.

Ma walks over to the kitchen to do final dinner preparations as Pa draws out the wounded bird metaphor. This is also where they confirm that Elmer is a little slower than the rest of the kids, just in case that wasn’t already clear. They also reflect on whether it was a good idea to keep Elmer out of school for a couple of years after a bad experience in Springfield. Pa wonders if maybe they should have kept him out of school in Walnut Grove. “He wants to go, Sam,” Ma says. Sam contemplates this as he stares at a fire in the hearth. Ma gives her husband a hug. Aww, don’t be sad Dobkins family.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Election 1/5

A wide shot of a hillside opens this episode as we watch a boy traipsing along the crest. He slows down as he approaches a tree and begins to crouch towards the ground. He’s found a baby bird struggling in the grass. Fortunately the bird has developed a little bit so it isn’t those ugly slimy creatures that you sometimes see splattered on pavement. The boy looks up and sees the nest that the bird must have called home a few minutes earlier. The boy climbs the tree and places the bird in the nest and tells a nearby bird that he didn’t hurt the chick before he continues on his trek. We don’t see if the mama bird nudges the chick out of the nest again.

The kids are playing outside before school begins and there are a couple of older boys, one with dark hair and one with red hair, running around interfering with everyone’s activities. The boys end up wrestling over by the school house until they notice the Birdman of Walnut Grove approaching. “Did you bring ‘em?” the dark haired boy asks the redhead. The kid says yes but he isn’t in the mood to get into trouble. “Aw, you fret too much,” dark hair says. When was the last time you heard anyone under the age of 18 use the term “fret”? Anyway, the redhead produces an earthworm for dark hair. The boys walk up to the arriving kid and greet him by the name of Elmer. Dark hair says to Elmer, “open your mouth and close your eyes and I’ll give you something to make you wise.” Ooh, a remix (I’m used to the “big surprise” version). Elmer obliges and promptly gets a mouthful of worm. The boys laugh as Mary and Laura look on, scandalized. Elmer tries to rationalize that worms aren’t so horrible to accidentally ingest, but no one is really buying it. The redhead then dives behind Elmer so that dark hair can push the kid over him. Hmmm, Elmer needs to work on his reflexes.

As the twerps run away, Laura jogs over to help Elmer. “If I were you I’d give them both black eyes,” Laura advises. Elmer says that fighting isn’t very Christian like (um, YMMV) to which Laura responds “Oh, I’d do unto ‘em” while brandishing her fist. I do enjoy feisty Laura. Elmer seems a bit blasé about feistiness, claiming that the boys are his friends. Almost immediately the redhead calls over saying “Elmer is the dumbest kid in Walnut Grove.” See, friendly. Yeesh.

Inside the school Miss Beadle announces that during civics class that afternoon there will be nominations for class president. There is some excited chatter after this announcement until the redhead, Kenny, raises his hand and declares that the girls don’t get to vote since women don’t get to vote. Yeah, I can just imagine a progressive like Emma Beadle not allowing females to vote. Shut up, Kenny. Fortunately, since women in 1876 could vote in Wyoming, that will be the precedent Miss Beadle will use to justify the female vote. Some of the boys actually start booing while Nellie screams “And we’ll win!” Sing it Sister Suffragette! Oh, she goes on to say that it is simply a numbers game since there are more girls than boys in the class. Still, you gotta find progress where you can.

During recess we see Nellie and Willie run over to the Mercantile. Inside we see a close-up of the jelly bean canister getting emptied and pull out to find that it is Harriet and not Nellie doing the emptying. She asks her daughter if that will be enough but Nellie mentions that a couple of the girls are partial to sour balls. Willie tries to cash in on the candy giveaway, but Harriet says no way since he is going to vote for his sister anyway. Willie is all “nuh-uh”, so Harriet gives in and fulfills his candy requests.

At this point Nels comes down the stairs and tells the kids to stop raiding the candy. Harriet says it’s alright before sending the kids back to school. “You know what the dentist in Mankato said and I paid dearly for the words,” Nels reminds his wife. Harriet explains that the candy is merely a contribution to her daughter’s political campaign. Harriet leaves to check on the roast in the oven and Nels starts to mumble something about the kids borrowing Harriet’s teeth. Harriet asks if he said something and he bluffs his way out by saying something about the roast being a good piece of beef. Hehe.

Back at school it is nomination time. “We’re going to hold our election just like the national election, the one that gave us Rutherford B. Hayes for our new president,” Miss Beadle explains. Oh jeez. I truly doubt that she is going to establish an Electoral College in the classroom so already it won’t be like the national election. Also, the election of 1876 was a political wrangling nightmare. First off, Samuel Tilden, the Democratic candidate, won the popular vote. However, results were disputed in four states – three of which were in the South (including Florida) where Reconstruction was the status quo. The validation of electoral results had to be determined by congressional committee. This resulted in the Compromise of 1877 which included bringing what some historians believe was the premature end to Reconstruction. Have I mentioned yet that this era of American history (the Gilded Age) is my favorite? Also, if you ever find yourself on I-80/I-90 between Cleveland and Toledo, I highly recommend the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center (exit 91).

So yeah, nominations. Miss Beadle opens the floor and Willie instantly nominates his sister. It takes a while for anyone to second the nomination and Nellie has to “psst” one of the girls sucking on a sour ball to do so. Miss Beadle writes Nellie’s name on the board. Nellie then proposes to close nominations. The class erupts into angry chatter before Miss Beadle calmly reminds her that more than one candidate is needed for an election. Kenny turns around and slaps the blond boy sitting behind him to remind him to nominate someone. This kid, Jim, nominates Mary. Mary is quietly surprised while Laura is ecstatic about this development. Another boy seconds the nomination. After Mary’s name is on the board, Kenny nominates Elmer Dobkins. All the kids laugh as dark hair seconds the nomination. “We need one boy to run against the girls,” one of the pranksters says. Hmmm, I wonder if Elmer’s slogan will be “Choo-choo-choose me!”

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Next Week's Episode

The Election


The boys want to prove a slow-witted male classmate can beat Mary and Nellie for class president.

Be warned that next week's recap will have high nerd content, and not because it is a Mary episode (well, not just because). Also, if you have not seen the movie Election, please do so immediately. It is one of my favorites.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bunny 5/5

That night Charles is in the barn working on a project of some sort. There’s not much light in this scene but it looks like it might be a wheelchair. Laura comes in dressed in her pajamas. Pa asks her what she is up to and Laura says she wanted to say good night. After they hug, Laura inspects the Pa's project. He confirms that it is a wheelchair that he is fixing up. I hope he does something about the seat back because it is worn through to the point that it is framing Laura in the shot. We can see through the busted wicker that Laura is a little freaked out by the wheelchair concept. “But she doesn’t need a wheelchair,” she claims. Pa pauses before responding, “Half-pint, we don’t know that.” Laura calls no waysies based on the fact that she prays to God every night that Nellie will get better. Pa tries to begin rebutting this point (I would start with “even God has limitations when it comes to Nellie Oleson”) but Laura flat out denies her father. “God’ll fix everything,” Laura says as she inches toward the door with a tear rolling down her face. “You wait and see.” The Melodramatic Piano of the Dentist Office Waiting Room music begins to play as Pa calls out for his daughter.

The next morning Charles ties the chair to Doc Baker’s wagon. They chit chat a bit before Caroline comes outside to greet the Doc. She invites him to the picnic that the Ingalls family will be hosting that afternoon, but he has to decline the invitation. “Folks around here seem dead-set on getting sick whenever the fish are biting,” he quips before taking off.

Charles walks over to his wife and asks if Laura has changed her mind about going to the picnic. Caroline says she hasn’t, so Charles offers to ask one more time. Inside the house Laura is working on an assignment. Pa enters and tells his daughter that the family is leaving. She tells him to have a good time and continues to work. Pa starts to say something, but Laura interrupts him again to say that she doesn’t feel like fishing anyway. Pa makes a frowny face then leaves.

Over at the Oleson house, the wheelchair is set up in the parlor and Doc Baker is carrying Nellie down the stairs. That girl has huge feet. Her nightgown is robin’s egg blue – a color that does not do her any favors. Doc Baker sets the girl down in the chair and she is instantly enthralled with the new digs. Harriet is being a, well, nervous Nellie, and I’m not sure if it is because of the second-hand nature of the chair or because her daughter is supposedly an invalid. Doc Baker tells Nellie how to work the chair and also reports that her arm splint will be able to come off in a couple of days. Nellie does a couple of donuts in the parlor (we see that some sort of patch was put on the wicker) while Harriet continues to fidget. Nellie seems pretty satisfied with her new toy and asks when her father will be back. Harriet reports that he should be back this afternoon when he and Willie return from Springfield with the new doll house. Doc Baker calls his patient a lucky girl and then heads out the door.

Harriet thanks Doc Baker for his service and says she will have to ride out to the Ingalls’ place to thank Charles in person. Once the door is closed, Nellie suggests to her mother that she ride out now. Harriet says she can’t leave Nellie alone, but the girl says she can take care of herself. She goes on to say that she can watch the store and that the customers can take down any items that are out of reach. Harriet is still reluctant until Nellie whines “Pleeeeease?” Harriet calls her daughter “brave”. You know who dislikes that sort of terminology? Disabled people. She then decides to head out. As soon as the front door is closed, Nellie hops up from her seat, runs to close the door to the Mercantile, jumps, and does a jig. Seriously?

We join Harriet as she rides up to the Ingalls homestead. Laura is in the stable and has Bunny all saddled up. She’s telling the horse that they’ll go for a ride so that they both won’t be cooped up all day. Harriet walks by the barn and stops once she sees the animal inside. “Where did you get that horse?” she demands. Laura acknowledges that she has been hiding the horse and Harriet jumps to the conclusion that that is why Laura has been so nice to Nellie. I guess since guilt is a concept unfamiliar to Harriet, this would be the next logical conclusion to reach. Laura denies Harriet’s reconstruction of the scenario but it is irrelevant since Harriet says she will take the horse with her. Laura screams “No!” and hops on the horse. Her stunt double rides the horse as fast as possible into town.

The stunt double arrives at the Oleson’s place. Laura dismounts and peeks through the window. Well, well, it looks like Nellie asked her doll to the Sadie Hawkins dance and they are getting their waltz on in the parlor. The filming switches to voyeur-cam as Laura sees the action between the curtains. Laura backs away from the window when she realizes that she has been scammed. She knocks on the door, causing Nellie to slam the music box shut and hop into her chair. However, Nellie’s nightgown gets caught under her right foot causing the fabric to tent. Aside from the almost instant continuity error, wouldn't Nellie realize that there is no way for that to happen and therefore fix it before telling whoever is knocking to “come in”? Check-minus, show -- do a second take next time.

Anyway, Laura opens the door and asks Nellie what she is doing. Nellie says she is watching the store for mother. Laura says she just saw Nellie’s mother and that she was asked to take Nellie outside for some fresh air. Laura is all catatonic as she is delivering her lines, which Nellie doesn’t seem to notice. Laura pushes the girl out the door. Hmm, another error: how did Laura get Nellie down from the porch when there’s no ramp? Laura is jogging behind Nellie and tells her she needs to pick up speed to get up the hill. Nellie is getting rather nervous at this point. They reach the top of the hill near the mill and Laura claims she has to take a breather. Nellie is all "whatever" at this point, mainly because she is somewhat powerless to extract herself from this situation. Laura starts to ramble about how her life has changed after the accident, causing Nellie to ask if she is alright. Laura wonders why she would ask that. “You just seem to be acting funny,” Nellie replies. No, more like acting poorly.

Just then, Mrs. Oleson rides into town and Laura notices the wagon. She stands up and calls for Mrs. Oleson’s attention. Harriet stops, looks up and yells “Laura Ingalls, what have you done with that filthy animal?” Laura runs behind the chair saying, “Nellie, your mother wants you!” She then pushes Nellie’s chair down the hill. Nellie starts to scream, most likely because she is in a situation where she could ACTUALLY BE KILLED. WTF, Half-pint? “You’re such a good friend, Nellie!” Laura says smiling. Nellie and her stunt dummy make it all the way to the bottom of the hill but the chair hits a rock causing Nellie to flip over and land in some water. Harriet is shocked that her daughter is soaking wet but rather subdued for someone who might have just seen her daughter being murdered. Nellie stands up and whines and sobs about being soaked. Harriet sees this as a miracle and swoons backwards out of her wagon. Jeezy creezy, this is so cliché and stupid.

Back at the Oleson house, Laura is pacing outside as Bunny stands off to the side. Nels comes outside and Laura asks if Nellie will be alright. He says yes and says he doesn’t blame Laura for wanting to scare his daughter. He acknowledges that Nellie may be more in the wrong here than Laura. I have to disagree. Laura was stubborn and a doormat in dealing with the Nellie situation but her reaction was a little bit over the top and not quite justified. Whatever, if Nels is okay calling it zero sum, that’s his business. He then surprises Laura by giving her the horse. “An animal is no different than a person,” he says, “it needs to be with someone who loves it.” Sure, why not? Laura’s stunt double rides down the street a bit before running into Jason. Laura asks if he would like to join her and Pa on their next fishing trip. He agrees and they head out.

Nellie watches this scene unfold from her bedroom window and she is not happy. “I HATE YOU LAURA!” she screams (and repeats) as she begins to trash her room. She throws her doll against the wall then gets in a pillow fight with a vase of flowers on her desk. After throwing some books, she grabs a hairbrush and sets her sights on the new doll house. As she gets all smashy smashy on the roof, Willie barges in and tells her to stop. “Don’t break that stuff, give it to me,” he says. Nellie keeps swinging as she calmly says “it’s girl stuff.” Willie says he could sell it, but his sister turns around and she has this look in her eyes that seems to suggest that he will be the next smashy smashy target if he doesn’t leave the room. After Willie runs out, Nellie grabs a horse figurine and says, “I’ll fix you, Laura Ingalls. I’ll fix you.” She throws the horse at a framed needlepoint picture of Harriet. Girlfriend should go to Charm School.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bunny 4/5

Dinner time, but there are only four people at the Ingalls table. Pa is grumbling that this is the third time that Laura has been late for dinner. Basically he is getting fed up that Laura has put everything on the back burner in her efforts to help Nellie. Mary says that it is only until Nellie recovers, but Charles keeps open the possibility that Nellie may never get better. I'm with Charles on this one, especially since Nellie has managed to fool Doc Baker who would be the arbiter in determining if she is healthy or not. The barn door squeaks and Caroline goes outside to see if it is Laura arriving. Laura calls over to say that she was late because of Nellie's math homework but as soon as she feeds Bunny she'll come in. Ma tells her she missed dinner, but Laura doesn't seem to mind. Pa wants to give her a talking to, but Caroline says she'll speak with her daughter.

Caroline enters the barn and Laura asks if Pa is angry. Caroline clarifies that he is worried, not angry. Caroline is worried too, but Laura says that she'll be fine and it was just this once that was the problem. Caroline tells her that it wasn't "just this once" and then reasons with Laura that if this trend continues, she is going to have to stop helping Nellie. Laura starts to panic, but then Ma asks if Laura has her geography assignment ready for tomorrow. Laura tries to stall, but Caroline wants to see her progress. Laura goes to her books, but she knows she has nothing. She begs Ma to not tell Pa and that she needs to keep helping Nellie until "she sets things right." How long is that going to be, Half-pint? Caroline gives Laura a hug and tells her things will be all right. Laura tells her Ma that Mrs. Oleson spoke to her for the first time today and thanked her for all she has done for Nellie. This convinces Caroline that Laura should continue with the indentured servitude so long as she is home before dark and keeps up with her own school work.

Later that night, Willie is exiting his bedroom. As he lights a candle, he hears some noise coming from Nellie's room. As he investigates, we see that Nellie is sitting in a chair telling her doll about all the nice things they will be getting as long as Nellie is able to keep up her charade. Willie opens the door and asks "How did you get in that chair?" Nellie hops over the bed, closes the door, and prepares to murder her brother. She puts her hand over his mouth and tells him that if he says anything she'll say he is lying. She knows it will work because he lies more than she does. Nellie tells him if he doesn't say anything, she'll give him a cut of her candy supply. Willie asks her why she is doing this and she says she's in it for all the free stuff. Well duh. Nellie offers her brother some candy, but he has to go to the outhouse. That might be where Nellie's plan is going at this rate.

Laura heads up to Nellie's room the next day after school. When she arrives, Nellie is refusing to let Doc Baker examine her. She claims that she can't feel anything, but Doc Baker insists that his tests are necessary to see if Nellie is improving. "I don't like to be stuck by a needle," Nellie whines. Well if you can't feel anything then you won't know if you were stuck, right? Doc Baker asks if it hurts, and Nellie says she wouldn't be able to feel it but she just doesn't like being a part of a process. She begs her mother to tell Doc Baker to leave. He agrees and says he'll check back in a day or two.

Once Nels and the doctor leave the room, Nellie invites Laura in to look at her new doll from England. She goes on to brag that her mother has ordered a whole bunch of fancy new stuff. Laura seems unfazed by any of this and instead presents Nellie's map assignment. Nellie got an A; Laura did not. Harriet feigns disappointment before suggesting that Nellie might want to assist Laura with her homework. WHAT?! That doesn't even make sense. Shut up, Harriet. Nellie thanks her mother for the doll, to which Harriet replies, "You deserve it for that 'A'." She leaves the room before I can throw my shoes at her.

Laura sits at Nellie's bedside and gives her an update on the chat she had with her Ma last night. Laura lays it out that she can't do Nellie's work and her own work. Nellie says it is too hard for her but that doesn't seem to work on Laura. She then claims to feel dizzy. Nellie asks if there is any homework and Laura says there's some arithmetic. Funny, Nellie's dizziness gets worse. Tell her there are fractions and see if she vomits. Nellie begs Laura to do her homework for her. Laura reluctantly agrees. As Laura sets to work, Nellie reminds her to write the numbers small (like Nellie does). Then she pulls out a candy cane and sucks on it while Laura toils away. Yeah, Nellie sucks.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bunny 3/5

Before heading over to school, Laura stops at the mill to ask Pa if it is alright that she becomes Nellie's slave for the next while. She doesn't phrase it quite like that, but I have a hunch that's the direction things are going. The arrangement that Laura wants is that she will help Nellie after school, simultaneously do her own homework, and Mary will cover her chores. Pa is reluctant but Laura says this would help her feel better about what happened. Pa eventually gives his approval and gets back to work.

As they leave school, Laura offers to do Mary's chores on the weekends since Mary will be doing Laura's during the week. Mary says it isn't necessary, but Laura still thinks this entire situation is her fault. Let's review: Nellie was the one abusing the horse. The horse fought back. Laura is not a part of that equation. The sooner she realizes this, the happier she will be. Particularly since she won't be as overextended as she appears to be making herself. Before the girls leave, a goofy looking boy calls Laura from the steps. "Hey, you wanna go fishin' Saturday?" Laura and this boy start chatting as Mary walks away. When the older girl passes the Mercantile, we see Nellie peering through the window. She's looking right at Laura and the boy with a wry smile forming.

Later on in Nellie's room, Laura is helping with spelling. "The next word is 'allowed'," Laura says. Nellie spells it correctly immediately, which is pretty impressive given that there was no context provided that would separate "allowed" from "aloud". Nellie isn't concerned about that: she is more concerned about whether Jason was in school or not. I'm guessing that's the name of the goofy looking kid. Laura says yes and quickly moves on to the next word: "marmalade". Nellie would rather reminisce about the arguments she and Laura had over Jason. Laura becomes very stiff as the conversation turns. Nellie asks if they talked today and Laura says they did for a little while. Nellie asks if she came up in their conversation, and Laura says he said "hello". Nellie then asks Laura to keep a secret: she loves Jason and with her current condition he probably won't give her the time of day. She confides that she will be "so hateful to any girl that would shine up to Jason." Laura is picking up what Nellie is putting down. "You're such a good friend, Laura," Nellie says before spelling "marmalade" correctly.

That weekend at the homestead Caroline, Carrie and Charles are working on some laundry. As Charles fetches a bucket of water, Jason toddles over. Jeez, is Napoleon Dynamite the bee's knees of Walnut Grove? Laura could do better. Besides, he's age appropriate so you know it won't last. Anyway, he asks Mr. Ingalls if Laura is okay since they were supposed to go fishing together. He wonders if she is sick or mad at him, causing Charles to ask if he did something to make her mad. "No, but sometimes girls get mad at you anyway," Jason says. Charles laughs in agreement. I wonder if he heard the one about the lady stagecoach driver. Oh, mercy.

Jason finds Laura sitting up in the barn loft. He says "hi" and Laura pops out of her thought. He said he was waiting for two hours at the fishing hole but Laura says she just finished her chores. "So I see," he says in a way that seems to challenge Laura's sincerity. "Well I just finished a few minutes ago," Laura retorts. "Alright, I believe you," Jason replies, sounding sincere. Laura doesn't hear it that way and they argue about how he said what he said. It's a pointless argument and Jason acquiesces just to get it over with. He climbs all the way into the loft to say that he stopped by to make sure Laura was alright. Laura asks Jason why he hasn't visited Nellie and he says he didn't have a fishing date with her. Laura concludes that Jason doesn't feel the same way about Nellie since she had her accident. He's all like "what the what?" since he apparently never felt squishy for Nellie and her current condition has not really changed his opinion of her. "Aw shucks, Laura," he says before she tells him to go away. "Dab burn it, Laura, what's the matter with you?" Dab burn it? Laura, honey, you can do better. She sends Jason on his way. As he climbs down, he gets in the last word saying he didn't believe Laura about the chores.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bunny 2/5

The next day Pa takes Laura to the Mercantile. As Charles gets out of the wagon, Doc Baker exits the store. They greet one another and Doc Baker updates Nellie's condition: no change. Pa pushes for a prognosis, but Doc Baker is unsure of what to expect. But hey, that's what makes being a town doctor exciting, eh? Speaking of, Doc Baker leaves to take care of other patients. Pa tells Laura it's time to go inside, but Laura tries to resist. Pa says he understands how she feels, but she really does have to go inside. Besides, I doubt Harriet will do anything to Laura if Pa is around. But hey, that's what makes dealing with the town crackpot exciting, eh?

The Ingalls enter the store and we see Nels in the storeroom coping with the situation. Charles says hello and Nels instantly pulls himself together. They chat a bit about what Doc Baker had to say, with Nels adding that Nellie is being brave about the situation. Nels also jokes that Nellie's appetite has been unaffected -- she ate a box and a half of bonbons just that morning. Nels says he is holding up but it's Harriet he is concerned about. Charles explains that part of his visit is to tell Nels about the horse, but Mr. Oleson is already aware of the situation and is okay with that solution for now. Charles apologizes that Laura had no right to take the animal, but Nels disagrees saying that Laura had every right since the animal was not at fault. Guh, if this act is going to just reiterate that point again and again, I'm just going to stop right now. Anyway, Nels asks Charles not to mention the status of the horse around Harriet since she thinks the horse just ran away.

During this entire exchange, the camera keeps cutting back to a guilt-stricken Laura. Eventually Nels apologizes for all of the horrible things that were said the day before. He also tells her that Nellie was asking about Laura and wanted to see her when she got a chance. "Maybe I should wait until she's feeling better," Laura says quietly. Nels says Nellie asked this morning, so she should go visit. Pa agrees, so Laura heads upstairs.

Nellie is in bed eating candy when there is a knock on the door. She quickly hides her treats and asks who is at the door. Laura announces herself and Nellie asks her to come in. Harriet is in the room too, so I'm not sure why Nellie was panicky when there was a knock. Laura enters as a cat running across a piano provides the background music. Harriet is still in a snit so she exits and closes the door behind her. Nellie invites Laura to sit on her bedside then asks what it is like outside. Laura says it's a fine morning. "That's what I miss the most," says Nellie. "Seeing the sun, the blue sky, hearing the birds sing." Honey, it's been a day. Also, you have a window. "I guess I'll have to get used to it," she adds. Okay, that point I'll give you. Laura begs Nellie not to say that and Nellie gives her a hug and says "I forgive you." Laura says she wants to help Nellie and do whatever she can. Uh oh -- Nellie's got that look in her blackened eye.

Nellie says that since she will never be able to go to school again ("It would take a miracle") she would like Laura to bring her assignments home so she doesn't fall behind. Why would she need to keep up if she is not expecting to go to school ever again? I realize that most people would do that to hedge their bets, but Nellie doesn't seem like the type. Anyway, Laura says she will and Nellie calls her "such a good friend," the second time in as minutes. Nellie then has a pain of some sort and claims to need to close her eyes and rest for a moment. I think she's just trying to get Laura out of there. I should try that at work some time. Laura leaves for school. As soon as the bedroom door is closed, Nellie pulls up her foot and starts to rub it. Laura must have made it fall asleep with where she was sitting. Hey, wait a minute...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bunny 1/5

Laura is running across a field and grabs a bright red apple from a tree. She doesn't stop until she reaches a corral where a black horse is hanging out. Laura gives the horse the apple and says she doesn't have time to chat. The horse doesn't seem too broken up by this revelation. Laura continues down the road into town, dropping some books along the way. She retrieves them and moseys on to school. As the horse finishes the apple, we see that this episode was written and directed by Michael Landon. That's always a sign that some really bud stuff is going to go down in Walnut Grove this week.

Laura runs into school, throws off her hat and lunch pail, and then scrambles to her seat. She apologizes to Miss Beadle who asks why Laura was late when Mary was on time. "I had to stop by Simpson's orchard to get an apple for someone," the girl replies. Miss Beadle is touched by the sentiment and thanks Laura. Laura sheepishly corrects Miss Beadle, saying that the apple was for someone else. Nellie announces that the apple was for a horse. The class laughs while Mary rolls her eyes. Miss Beadle tells Laura that she should do her gift giving after school from now on. She then gives the class some time to review some spelling words before an oral exam. The school/church/playhouse is also a dentist office? Oh, wait, I get it.

Nellie leans forward and whispers to Laura to stop feeding her horse. Laura says the horse likes apples, but Nellie doesn't care since the horse is not Laura's anymore. "You only do it because you want her to like you more than she likes me," Nellie says. Laura smiles and says to Nellie, "so that's why you give Miss Beadle apples." Miss Beadle notices the chatter and asks Laura why she is talking instead of working. Laura tells her that Nellie was explaining why she gives apples to the teacher.

After school, Mary is reprimanding Laura about the talking incident from earlier. Really? Nothing else happened at school that day? As they walk home, Laura shares her regret about trading the horse to Mr. Oleson. Mary reminds her that the trade got a stove for Ma. Laura is just disappointed that Nellie is treating the horse so poorly. As the girls walk by the Oleson Corral, Nellie is on top of the horse and is continuously lashing it with her whip. The horse is not a fan and Laura notices this. Laura reaches out to pet the horse's face, but Nellie tells her to back off as she lashes the horse some more. "Don't do that!" Laura commands. But Nellie just does as she damn well pleases saying, "I know how to handle a horse," and continues to thwack it. The horse has had enough and busts out of the corral. Laura screams for Bunny, the horse, to come back. The horse runs up a hill into a wooded area and Nellie gets hit with a tree branch right across the face. She flies off the horse as the girls continue to run after both of them. When they reach Nellie she is unresponsive. Mary goes to get Doc Baker.

Nellie is still unconscious during the examination. She has been moved to her bedroom and Doc Baker looks a tad grim after he examines her eyes. The Ingalls girls watch along with Nels and Harriet. Nels asks if the Doc knows anything yet, but all he can report is that Nellie has a slight concussion. Harriet is horrified by the news. She asks why she won't wake up, and the Doc says although the concussion is slight, the hit to the head was rather significant. Nels asks about Nellie's arm and Doc Baker says he'll get a splint on it just in case there is a slight break. Harriet asks Nels why he let Nellie keep the horse but Nels isn't too worried about his daughter. Since Nels won't engage, Harriet turns on Laura, saying it was her horse and that she should have said it was dangerous. Seriously, lady? That's like saying "how was I supposed to know that this gun shot bullets?" Nels cuts in and says it was an accident, but Harriet believes that the horse deliberately ran her daughter into a tree. Either way, how would that be Laura's fault? Harriet says the horse should get snuffed, but Laura says it wasn't the horse's fault. "I know where the fault lies, Laura Ingalls," starts Mrs. Oleson. "You traded a vicious animal because you wanted to get rid of it for a stove that cost a great deal of money." I realize a lot of this is just the anger talking, but it takes two to trade, Harriet. An "as is" sale is an "as is" sale. Nels tells his wife to calm down, but she continues to threaten the Ingalls girl.

Meanwhile, Nellie wakes up and calls out for her mother. Both her parents go to her side as Doc Baker tells the patient that she gave everyone quite a scare. Laura is relieved as is Mary. The Doc asks how Nellie feels but she says she doesn't know, just that she feels strange. Doc Baker asks for some clarification and Nellie says she can't feel her legs. Harriet gives Doc Baker a look that seems to say "You broke my daughter!" but the Doc cordially offers to do a little test. He pulls out a needle and Nellie gets all kinds of nervous. Doc Baker says it won't hurt and Nellie should speak up if she feels anything. Wouldn't it "not hurting" be a bad thing in this scenario? Anyway, he pokes the tip of Nellie's toe and asks if she feels anything. She says no, so Doc Baker pokes other toes and parts of her feet. She doesn't give any sort of response, but I have to wonder if maybe she has managed to psych herself out of feeling anything. Doc Baker really should poke the center of her sole, but he doesn't. Instead he asks if she can move her legs and Nellie says she can't in the most matter of fact way possible. Harriet is devastated by this news and Nels consoles her. Doc Baker says it should only be a temporary condition. Really?

The Ingalls girls watch this unfold, Mary looking stern and resolute while Laura looks like she is about to start panicking any moment. Harriet, mid-sob, tells Nels to go downstairs and shoot the horse. Nels tries to reason with his wife, but she says she'll shoot the horse if he won't. She then turns to Laura and says "I hope you're happy Laura Ingalls, now that you have made my little girl crippled." Everybody is a little offended by the statement, though I think it is almost fitting that Harriet get thrust into such a situation. With all of her fat-phobia, deaf-phobia, and classist bullshit she has spewed over the years, it's about time some real life hit her. Doc Baker tells Mrs. Oleson that no one is to blame and that she is jumping to conclusions. Before he can finish, Harriet interrupts to say, "Well, make her walk, Doctor." She then turns to her daughter and instructs her to walk. "I can't, mother," Nellie says, the way one would say "I'll mow the lawn this afternoooooon."

Harriet begins to sob and yell. "You get out of my house, Laura Ingalls. And don't you ever come back here again." She then tells Nels to "put that animal to sleep." I think she meant the horse, but Laura runs out of the room with Mary chasing after her. Laura runs all the way down to the stable and starts to cry just outside of Bunny's stall. Mary tells Laura it isn't her fault, but Laura believes that it is. Laura claims it isn't Bunny's fault because the horse didn't know any better. Laura mounts Bunny and Mary asks what she is doing. Laura says she needs to take the horse so the Olesons won't kill it. Mary shouts after her sister when she rides out of the stable.

At the homestead, Caroline looks a little stressed as Charles contemplates at the mantle. She starts to say something, but Charles snaps "I looked every place; we're just going to have to wait." Jeez, a little touchy there. There is the sound of a horse's whinny, which causes both Ma and Pa to go outside. Laura has returned with the horse. Caroline hugs her daughter as Laura explains that she wanted to hide Bunny but didn't know where to go. Charles says he'll put Bunny up in the barn and tells Laura to go inside. She asks her Pa not to let anyone hurt Bunny. Okay, show, I think we have the basic theme here, can we move along please?