Saturday, March 21, 2009

Next Week's Episode

Little Women

1977 -- Mrs. Oleson casts Nellie as lead in the children's play; a girl plots marriage for her widowed mother.


If at some point in the recap I refer to "the girl with the face", realize that I will not be talking about Nellie. At least, not this time.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Raccoon 5/5

Laura and Mary are lying in bed. Mary asks her sister if she hates her. “Why should I hate you?” Laura asks. Oh, honey. Mary goes into a determinism monologue about how she brought Jasper into everyone’s life, she didn’t tell Pa about the bite initially, and then she did tell Pa after promising Laura she wouldn’t. Laura argues against all these points and tells Mary that she did what a sister should do. Mary then takes the approach that she broke a promise by telling Pa. Guh, I find people like this to be so tiresome. If you want to wallow in your failures, that’s your business, but don’t come to me to validate you. I did not RSVP for your itty bitty pity party, ok? Anyway, the girls go back and forth, swap “I love you’s”, cry, and start braiding each other’s hair.

Jack is trying to get some sleep in the barn but someone is rustling some hay and making a lot of noise. It’s Caroline, who is trying to work off some stress. She stops out of surprise when she sees Charles, but then they hug and he tells her everything will be all right. Mary calls from the stoop that Laura is thirsty. Caroline’s face lights up since Doc Baker said it would be a sign of progress, but Charles calms her down. Up in the loft, Charles helps Laura drink and then tucks her in. Jack starts barking again and the whole family looks at each other before looking out the window. Jack is jumping and barking and carrying on far more than usual. Charles closes the shutter as everyone holds back tears. He tells everyone to stay in the loft. Once downstairs he takes the gun off the coat rack and fills it with powder.

Charles slowly walks towards Jack and the barn as Caroline cradles her crying daughters. Jack is still carrying on once Charles arrives. I should point out that Hallmark thought it was appropriate to cut in at this point to advertise for Slim Fast, toilet paper, KFC, and the Scooter Store. Charles pulls back the hammer of the gun and starts to lift the barrel. Jack starts to whimper and back away. Pa is getting ready to aim when something jumps up behind him. He turns around and sees a raccoon. The raccoon does the face covering trick. Charles is so happy to see that it is Jasper, which means he wasn’t the rabid raccoon. Charles runs into the house and tells the family about the mix-up. It’s just like Three’s Company, except I don’t think Mr. Roper ever tried to shoot Jack in the face. Laura runs down to the barn to untie the dog. If you ignore the part about not being a complete plot resolution, happy ending!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Raccoon 4/5

Mary and Carrie are sitting on the Ingalls’ wagon outside of Doc Baker’s office. Inside, the Doc examines Laura’s bite and asks when it happened (four days ago). “Well then we better start treatment immediately,” he says. He reaches for a jar of gumdrops and prescribes one for Laura. Doc Baker gives Laura a couple extra for her sisters and then sends her off so he can talk with the parents. After he closes the door behind the girl, Caroline says “Doctor, does she.” I’m guessing she was supposed to trail off or Doc was supposed to interrupt, but neither happens. He says it is too early to tell if there is a problem and advises that they watch the dog to see if any symptoms present. Basically by the time the dog goes through the entire Rabies ordeal Laura should start presenting. In other words, Laura should avoid the dog if she doesn’t want any spoilers. Caroline takes a breath before asking what the treatment is should Laura develop Rabies. I believe you just saw the treatment take place, Ma. Doc Baker just looks sternly at Charles who answers that there isn’t a treatment. Doc Baker looks down. I love how this show can turn a really stupid episode into a House/Old Yeller hybrid that is beyond over-the-top.

Back at the homestead, Caroline is tucking Laura in and tries to talk up all the perks of being bedridden. Laura can tell that there is something going on and asks what is going to happen to her. Caroline tells her daughter that nothing is going to happen aside from Laura getting plenty of rest. You’ll never win at poker with a face like that, Caroline. Caroline leaves to get some milk as Charles looks on. Laura asks her Pa for the truth, so he goes on to tell her that because a raccoon bit her she will develop dark circles around the eyes, pointy ears, and a craving for eggs. He leaves out the part about high fevers, seizures, and breathing spasms. Laura still knows what’s what and calls her Pa on this. She’s figured out that since Jasper bit Jack and Jack is tied up, that must mean that Pa thinks the dog might get sick, therefore Laura might get sick. The kid’s perceptive, I’ll give her that. They hug. Aww.

Jack is sitting in the barn and looking into a key light. Charles brought a bowl of water and sets it down in front of the dog. Jack takes one look at it and sashays to the left and politely sits down. Aiiiiieeee! Hydrophobia! Or, like the dogs I had growing up, total disinterest in anything I present it that isn’t classified as “doggy treat” or “meat”. Meanwhile, Caroline is in the loft and offers Laura some water. Or they’re playing Password. I’m a little confused, see if you can follow:

Laura: gigglingWater?
Ma: Drink.
Laura: Milk.
Ma: Cool.
Laura: Orange Juice
Ma: Water.

I don’t get what is going on there. Mary is sitting in the common room reading to Carrie as Charles returns from the barn. He looks up at Caroline and walks away. Laura says “Plow” and Mary starts to read again. Later that night, Charles is sitting in the common room contemplating when he hears Jack barking. He goes outside to investigate and Jack stops and lies down once he sees Charles. Charles looks up and notices Laura looking out the window. She closes the shutters as Pa goes for a walk. We can see Caroline kneeling by the bed praying.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Raccoon 3/5

The family is gathered in the common room doing their nightly routine. Caroline takes Carrie to bed as the other girls are at the table finishing homework. Pa hears some scratching at the door and lets Jack in. The dog jumps on the table and Charles pulls him off and starts to play with him. Charles asks Laura where she was all day and she replies that she was looking for Jasper. She’s holding out hope that the raccoon will come back, but Pa tells her that maybe the animal has decided to stay in the woods. Pa tries to console Laura by pointing out that Jack is still there, but she blames the dog for all of her current woes. “It wasn’t Jack’s fault,” Mary interrupts, “Jasper bit him!” Mary Ingalls sucks at lies of omission. Laura calls her on this, but Pa intercedes to find out the whole story. Mary spills the beans and Charles tells the younger daughter that the raccoon could have ripped Jack to shreds. He continues by saying that this resolution is probably the best for all involved. The girls finish their homework in a pouty fashion.

Later that night, we see a raccoon sneaking into the henhouse. Jack is on the case and starts barking. I think the dog has had more lines of dialogue in this episode than Carrie had in the entire series. Anyway, the barking wakes up the girls and the sound of chickens getting mutilated wakes up Ma and Pa. Judging by the lack of wardrobe for Charles I think he and Caroline may have been up to something. Either that or Michael Landon felt the stupidity of the plot should be balanced out by some beefy man-chest action. He goes to the barn to investigate. After lighting a lantern, Charles notices some rustling in the loft. He goes to the ladder and then the camerawork gets all horror movie-like. When he gets midway up the ladder, about the point where his head would be above the base of the loft, a raccoon lunges at Pa’s face. Charles falls to the ground, but quickly gets up and grabs a pitchfork. As he makes quick work of the raccoon, the rest of the family runs out to see what’s going on. Charles notices them and tells Caroline and the kids to go back inside. Laura lingers until he tells her to go with her mother.

Back inside, Caroline is cradling a weeping Laura on the parents’ bed. Charles describes what happens as “sorrowful” and then tries to claim self-defense. Laura blames herself for what happened since she kept giving Jasper eggs. Mary is making her Kathy Selden face as she watches the scene unfold. Charles explains to Laura that raccoons have been harassing chickens for years, but Laura starts wailing “you were right!” Oh, to be eight again.

We now see Charles back in the barn wearing gloves and slowly stroking Jack’s head. Caroline comes in and starts to approach Charles, but he tells her to stay back. Uh oh, the raccoon had Rabies and Charles discovered that the bite Jack received broke the skin. The dog is now in quarantine in the barn.

The next morning Mary is going about her chores when she hears Jack yelping in the barn. She sees that the dog is tied up and goes to let him loose. I guess someone forgot to bring up at breakfast that the family dog might be rabid. Charles enters the barn just as Mary starts to work on the knot and he explains the situation. Mary starts to freak out since she knows Laura’s deep, dark, “my pet bit me” secret. She asks Pa through her tears if people can get Rabies from a bite and when he replies affirmatively, she hugs Pa and starts weeping. Mary finally tells Pa that Jasper bit Laura and starts doing that weeping/babbling thing that supposedly builds up the dramarama. This entire exchange is filmed in extreme close-up of Mary, which reveals one thing: Mary Ingalls sucks at crying.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Raccoon 2/5

It’s show-and-tell day at school. Guess what Laura brought. All the kids are gathered around Miss Beadle’s desk and they are totally enthralled. Miss Beadle quizzes the kids on the diet of raccoons. Survey says: bugs, fish, birds, eggs. Willie Oleson guesses toes. BUZZ. Willie would so be the guy in the fifth spot on Family Feud. Could you imagine the Ingalls family playing against the Olesons? And Richard Dawson making out with Harriet and Nellie? Anyway, one kid mentions that raccoons are around his house all the time and there’s nothing special about them. Maybe your family should be putting the trash cans away, kiddo. Laura finishes her demo by feeding Jasper an egg. Everyone is impressed. Miss Beadle thanks Laura and then reminds the kids to think about their new raccoon-related essay assignment. Miss Beadle dismisses the class, and one girl takes that as her cue to ask Laura if she can hold Jasper. All the kids lurch forward and Jasper snarls at a hand that comes close to his face. The class steps back and Miss Beadle warns them to be careful. Is there something in the town water supply that is making all the adults dumb as posts in this episode? “See, I told you,” whines Willie. “He eats toes and fingers, too.” Shut up, Willie.

It’s Sunday morning and Charles is hitching up the team. Laura is wearing her church dress as she runs to the barn to say bye to Jasper. She explains to the animal where she is going and why he can’t go. She then tells Jasper that if he hides his eyes, she will give him an egg. The raccoon then puts its paws on its nose as if he was hiding. Okay, that was sort of cute. Laura hands Jasper the egg, says bye, and runs out of the barn closing the door behind her.

Shortly after the Ingalls leave for church, Jasper sneaks out of the barn through a hole in a board. He chases around a few chickens and then finds a way inside of the house. Jack sees all of this from a distance and knows what’s up and starts barking his head off. Jasper is seen rummaging through the house and knocking things off the kitchen surfaces. When the Ingalls clan returns, Jack is still freaking out at the front door. We then see the raccoon covering his eyes as if he knows the jig is up. Oh please, show. Mary runs over to Jack to calm him down as Laura opens the front door. Jasper runs out as Laura looks inside. She takes one glimpse then runs over to the barn. Charles walks in holding Carrie and he and Caroline survey the damage. Pa is fed up and says the raccoon is outta there.

Laura storms into the barn and starts to scold Jasper. Honey, that doesn’t work on domesticated dogs, why would it work on your little beast? Charles walks in and grabs a sack from over Laura’s head. He tells her that the fun is over as he snatches Jasper into the sack. We see Charles ride out to some undisclosed location and then dump Jasper out in the wild. We see Jasper scamper off as Charles gets back in the wagon. However, when he returns to the barn he is greeted by the raccoon doing his eye-covering trick and Laura smiling. Wait a minute, not only was Jasper able to find his way back but he was able to beat a team of horses? I call no waysies. “I’m the only mommy he’s got,” Laura tells her father. As Charles tries to think of a plan B, Jasper walks over to Laura and...oh. Oh no. It starts to lick Laura’s hair and face. GROSS!!!!! That’s just, oh, nonononononono. Charles says he’s going to build a cage.

That evening, Laura goes to feed Jasper but Jack is giving her trouble. We can hear him carrying on as Laura tries to open the door, so she asks Mary to hold onto the dog. Laura goes over to the cage and asks Mary to ask Jack to be quiet. “Stop it,” Mary says with the flattest affect possible. Mary Ingalls sucks at dog whispering. Jasper is rather feisty as Laura opens the cage. She puts the bowl of food into the cage and goes to pet Jasper but he snarls and bites the hand that feeds him. Mary pushes Jack away as she runs over to check on Laura. Jasper gets out of his cage and the two animals get into a barking/snarling match. Jack is ahead on points until Jasper lands a bite on the dog. The raccoon runs off before Jack can chase after it. As Laura tries to see where her animal went, Mary checks the dog. She sees that Jasper did indeed land a bite on Jack, which Laura dismisses as a little nip. Mary mourns the fact that Jasper turned wild, but Laura claims that Jasper was just agitated and he’ll come back eventually. Mary warns her sister that Pa won’t like that once he finds out about the bites, but Laura asks Mary not to tell Pa. Laura doesn’t want to lose Jasper, so she decides to engage in a little lie of omission. “I opened the cage and Jasper ran off. And that’s the truth,” Laura asserts, enlisting her sister in the story. Yeah, I’m sure that will work out great for everyone involved.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Raccoon 1/5

This episode is starting out at the homestead with a title card that reads “The Racoon”. Really, show? Who signed off on that spelling? That does nothing but make me nervous about what the next hour has in store.

Moving on, we can hear Jack the dog barking and Mary and Laura playing outside. Mary wants to play catch with her sister, so Laura sets the doll she is playing with down on a fallen tree as she and Mary start to toss a ball. Mary throws the ball high and Laura bobbles the catch. Mary apologizes and Laura tells her she needs to aim better. Mary Ingalls sucks at life and slow-pitch softball. Laura throws the ball back to Mary, or, more accurately, throws it in Mary’s general direction. Opening day is less than three weeks away, girls. You’re going to need a LOT more practice. Laura tells Mary to throw the next pitch right over the plate. Mary interprets this as “throw the ball as high as you possibly can” and Laura keeps backing up to catch it. She goes ass-over-teakettle across the fallen tree and knocks her doll to the ground. Mary runs over to check on Laura, who is crying over her now headless doll. “I feel like I killed her,” Laura weeps. Mary apologizes as Laura clutches the doll to her chest. Mary Ingalls does not suck at gross negligence.

That evening Charles is working on trying to glue the doll head back together. Caroline comes down from the loft, presumably after tucking the girls into bed, and comments that Laura is one unhappy child. Charles says that the unhappiness will probably continue because there is no way he’s going to be able to reconstruct the head, what with all the teeny tiny shards. Caroline starts to ask if they can afford to buy a replacement, but Charles just doesn’t have the money right now.

We’re now flipping through a catalog of disembodied heads. “Ah, here we are,” says Mr. Oleson. Ah, he’s helping Mary with getting a replacement for the doll. Mary’s purple dress and ribbon ensemble really reminds me of the New Jan Brady without the fright wig. It’s a good look, but seems a little anachronistic. Anyway, the cheapest doll head is 59 cents, so Mary is SOL. Mr. Oleson apologizes for not being able to help in that friendly businessman way he has. Aww, no worries, Nels!

As Mary returns home, she notices Jack barking at something hiding in a bush. She goes to investigate and asks Jack what he’s doing. “If you flushed another skunk,” she starts. Yeah, I don’t think she needs to finish – I think we can all guess what happened. Mary pulls the dog back and looks into the bush to find a baby raccoon. Actually, toddler raccoon would be a bit more accurate given its size. “Poor little baby,” she says as she reaches out to pet it. Uhh, that seems like a bad idea. Jack seems to agree with me as he is still carrying on.

Back at the house, Laura is cradling the raccoon in her arms. Wait, what? She speaks some baby talk at the animal and then asks Mary if she can really have it. Meanwhile, Caroline is snapping peas calmly at the table as she watches this conversation play out. Wait, WHAT? Laura walks over to Carrie so that she can pet the raccoon. Laura continues with the baby babble as Mary looks on with a stupid smile on her face. Laura asks Ma if the raccoon can sleep in her bed, but Caroline says that raccoons aren’t really indoor animals. Laura promises she’ll take care of her new pet and to prove it she christens him “Jasper”. Caroline decides to adopt a non-committal approach to the whole “raccoon as a house pet” debate as she hears Charles riding up to the house. Mary walks to the window to get a look at Pa and tells Laura that he looks like he is in a good mood. Charles walks in, greets everyone, and then notices Laura with her new pet. He asks where the raccoon came from and Mary fills him in on the details. “I’m gonna make a pet out of him,” Laura says proudly. “I’m sorry half-pint, that isn’t going to work,” he replies. Finally: someone who is responding to all of the red flags popping up throughout this scene. Mary and Laura both try to argue their case, but Charles points out that when the raccoon grows up it will be “as big as a dog and nowhere near as reliable.” Laura says it will be tame if he lives with the Ingalls, but Charles said he would be really surprised if it stayed tame. He tells the girls they can play with it outside for a little while and then set it loose. As the girls exit, Mary apologizes and says “I never thought Pa would say no.” Have you met your father, Mary?

After the girls exit, Caroline suddenly becomes pissed about something. Charles notes this and asks if she thought he was wrong. “No, I think what you said was very sensible,” she replies in a way that is extremely difficult to determine if she is being facetious. Charles prods Caroline a bit and she reminds her husband that Laura has been missing her doll a lot. Is there no affordable happy medium between a broken doll and a toddler raccoon? Somehow, this argument works on Charles and he goes outside to let his daughters know that he changed his mind. There are a couple of conditions: Laura is only going to take care of Jasper until he is old enough to take care of himself and he is going to live in the barn. The girls go to the barn as Charles muses on the name “Jasper”. It’s not just the name that’s stupid around here.