Friday, April 3, 2009

Programming Note

I'm going to take this week off. I promise not to take a whole month like the last time I took a break.

Also, for those who are reading this and trying to find reruns somewhere, it looks like Little House is off the Hallmark Channel schedule for at least April. There are some episodes showing sporadically on TV Land at 4am (thank you, TiVo), but it looks like the episodes showing in the near future aren't what I would consider to be fun to recap. I do have a few episodes saved and hopefully I can add a few more over the next few long as TV Land doesn't dump the show as well.

Anyway, have a good week and I'll see you back here soon!

Oleson Versus Oleson 5/5

Laura hides behind a tree as Charles storms out of the church/school house. That’s not a good sign and Laura knows this. She goes inside to speak with Caroline who is angrily pacing up and down the aisle. Uh oh, it turns out Laura may have fibbed a little when setting up this meeting. Caroline is disappointed that Laura tricked her and even though Laura meant well, negotiations have deteriorated further. Caroline storms out the back door of the building while Laura tries to come up with a Plan B.

Dinner time at the homestead and the Raccoon is not in the mood. Pa tries to sell his stew as “almost as good as Ma makes”, but Grace isn’t buying it. Albert uses this impasse as an opportunity to ask if women need to be taken care of. Charles doesn’t really want to have this conversation, but he humors the boy. He explains that men and women help each other, but Albert pushes forward the theory that Charles won’t sign so he can take care of his woman. Charles denies this and puts an end to the conversation. Pa tries once more to feed the Raccoon, but she just starts to whimper.

Later on, Charles rides into town and runs into Almanzo and Nels. All the men have gathered outside of the restaurant because they have given up on cooking. The three decide to eat together until Reverend Alden asks if he can join in. Charles walks in and the place is packed. It looks like the entire population of Walnut Grove is eating out tonight and Percival informs Charles that there won’t be any food left by the time a table becomes available. This is all accentuated by some child screaming. As the men leave, Nels notices Harriet literally strutting over with a piece of chocolate cake. She waves it in front of his face before sitting down and partaking in the sweetness. Nels gets a murderous glint in his eyes, but he leaves before the scene gets interesting.

Outside the men try to come up with a backup plan when Reverend Alden suggests raiding the church pantry. All the men and screaming children from the restaurant gather in the church. There doesn’t seem to be any food, so I guess the plan is to turn the church into a de facto Moose Lodge and go from there. Or maybe they’re just waiting for a dozen pizzas to be delivered. As Almanzo and company continue to grouse about their current predicament, Charles says that he thinks Caroline’s crusade is finally sinking in. Although Walnut Grove may not necessarily need the effects of a petition, there might be parts of Minnesota that do. He claims that he has been so busy calling his wife foolish that he didn’t listen to what she was saying. Nels asks if Charles is going to sign and he replies yes.

The men head out of the church and over to the restaurant. The March of the Matriarchs plays as Charles enters the dining room. All the ladies look up as Charles confronts his wife. He grabs the pen behind Caroline’s ear and signs the petition that is hanging on the wall. Harriet is blown away by this. Charles turns around and hugs Caroline as the rest of the men sign. Once the signing is done, all the couples leave the boarding house hand in hand. It looks a little like Noah’s Ark Cruise Lines has reached a port and all the tourists are scrambling. Laura voices over that Caroline won her fight and the petition is moving along in the legislative process. “She said someday,” Laura’s voiceover continues, “that women will even have the right to vote. Maybe, but I doubt it.” Way to pay attention to current events, Laura.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Oleson Versus Oleson 4/5

Laura is walking up to the boarding house with a suitcase in her hand. Caroline hugs her as she walks into the restaurant. She takes Laura’s bag but before she leaves the room Laura asks if they are doing the right thing. Caroline says that they are, but Laura is dubious about how successful this petition drive is going to be. She becomes more concerned when Caroline tells her that Percival is the only signer so far. Caroline shares her daughter’s concern but reminds her that if you believe in something you have to be courageous enough to stick with it. Laura isn’t fully comforted by this pep talk and she doesn’t look forward to the possibility that Pa might never sign the petition. Caroline reminds Laura that Charles can be stubborn sometimes but he is a fair man and will come around eventually. As the two of them walk toward the stairs, a couple of ladies come down the stairs and are excited to see the new member in the ranks.

Over at the Mercantile, a group of customers have surrounded Nels and are shouting their orders at him. Really? Harriet was the only person capable of enforcing the concept of a line? Nels is getting overwhelmed and inventory is starting to run low. One customer is asking for diaper materials even though he bought some yesterday. “It beats washing ‘em,” he explains. If you think that’s wasteful, you might be surprised. As Nels squeezes his way past some customers to get to the baby supplies, we see that Harriet has disguised herself as a ranch hand to spy on Nels. But is it for the cause or for her? Before we get the answer to that question, Mrs. Foster comes in and gives the fellas a “well, well, well” speech. “Don’t you know how to cook,” she sneers to her husband Orville. “That’s one thing you and I have in common, woman,” he replies. Eh, they’re both tied at zero right now on my scoreboard. Mrs. Foster doesn’t like being called “woman”, so she grabs a handful of flour and throws it at her husband. A flour fight breaks out and Nels runs over to the counter to try to stop it. Harry-et is not impressed with what she is observing, but she does get a kick out of Nels getting pummeled in the flour fight.

The restaurant is packed again at dinner time and Harriet (out of drag) is working the floor. Mrs. Foster calls Mrs. Oleson to her table so that she can tell the other ladies sitting there about how “Nels took the store away.” I’d like to hear this story too, since that’s not what happened. When Harriet gets to the table, we cut to an exterior shot of the restaurant and only hear muffled voices. What was the point of that scene?

Back at the Wilder house, Almanzo is in his pajamas and has poured himself a glass of milk. He doesn’t seem too happy with the current situation. We hop on over to the homestead where Charles, also in his pajamas, has poured himself a glass of milk. We then hear a bowling ball fall from a table and The Raccoon screaming and crying for her mommy. At the Oleson place, Nels completes the pajama/milk trifecta. Except the milk pitcher is empty. Willie!

The next day, Laura runs back to her house where Almanzo is attempting to follow a recipe. The two hug when Laura gets to the kitchen and she tells her husband that they need to work together to get Pa to sign the petition. Almanzo reminds her that they agreed to stay out of this and let Caroline and Charles figure it out, but Laura is still fairly certain that some intervention will be required. Laura has to go and says they can chat about a plan later. Before Almanzo can chase after her, a pot boils over on the stove.

Laura’s next stop is the homestead where Pa is in the barn milking the cow. Pa’s joke about Laura conferring with the enemy falls flat and he blames it on the town not having much of a sense of humor these days. Laura ignores the self pity and asks how Pa is doing. He mentions the Raccoon being in “freakout” mode 24/7 which Laura attributes to the kid missing her Ma. Laura asks if Pa misses Ma, and he says that he does. Laura says Ma misses Pa also and he seems surprised by this. Laura says that Caroline wants to talk with him, but he wants to have the conversation on neutral ground. Laura suggests the church and Pa agrees. Laura looks awfully pleased with herself.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Oleson Versus Oleson 3/5

Mrs. Oleson is...climbing down from a tree? I guess she wanted to see what Nels was up to in the Mercantile but didn’t want to be seen herself. She apparently doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary so she sulks back to the boarding house. Percival is setting up the restaurant dining room and greets Harriet as she passes through on her way to the kitchen. The “fire/cholera/bank robber is about to break out” music starts to play as Harriet returns from the kitchen with a cup of coffee. Is the coffee poisoned? The music stops when Percival starts chatting with his mother-in-law. She starts complaining about how her livelihood is gone now that Nels is working the Mercantile without her. That situation is your own doing, Mrs. Oleson: the law had nothing to do with it. Caroline comes in as Harriet whines and Percival advises that she go back and apologize to Nels. Harriet starts to agree with him, but Caroline comes out of the kitchen and tells her she shouldn’t and that Harriet should fight for what’s hers. It’s another general (Caroline)/specific (Harriet) argument that is just going to lead to more trouble. Oh, maybe that’s what the cholera music was foreshadowing.

Harriet is taken aback by Caroline’s suggestion that she stand her ground about the Mercantile and is even more surprised when Mrs. Ingalls suggests that the women in town band together to further the cause. Caroline stands and tells Percival that she can’t cook today and tells Harriet that she must fill in for her. I should try that at work sometime – get all riled up about a cause and then have someone fill in because I tell them to, nobly.

Montage! Caroline chats up the petition with three schoolgirls, the leader of which dresses young but looks to be about forty. They politely refuse Caroline, but she shall persevere! Then we see her going door-to-door and getting refused before she reaches the period of her first sentence. She blocks the second door about to close on her with her foot, gives the women a look that says “bitch, please” and ends up invited into the house. We see her exit later with a look of accomplishment on her face.

Back at the homestead, Caroline is getting ready for work and talking through the process with the Raccoon. Caroline hands Grace a doll and the girl says something to her in I think Japanese. Seriously, I did not get a word of what she said, but Caroline replies with a polite “oh really?” Caroline then kneels down and gives the Raccoon a hug. The hell? Albert and Carrie walk in and Caroline asks about their school day. Carrie says “Fine! [More Japanese] Asia!” Albert notices his Ma’s overnight bag and asks what that is all about. Caroline gathers the kids around and tells them that she is going to be hanging out at the boarding house for a few days to “have an adventure and prove something to your father.” Albert asks if Pa is going too, but Caroline says he isn’t and that the kids should still be themselves and have a good time. Albert and Carrie ask about various chores and duties and Caroline takes great delight in telling them to leave it to their father to figure out. This is starting to become rather Brady Bunch in its execution – I’m not sure how I feel about that. As Caroline walks out, she tells the kids they can visit her at Nellie’s and reminds them to have a good time.

Dinnertime at the Oleson house. Willie is really going to town on his dinner when Nels walks in from the kitchen. He tells the boy to slow down but of course Willie doesn’t listen. There is a knock at the front door and Nels gets up to answer. Charles is there and he tells Mr. Oleson that Caroline has moved into the boarding house with Harriet. Nels is all like “Old news, old man,” and adds that Caroline has gone around town and chatted with all the women to encourage them to leave their husbands until the petition is signed. I kinda want to get Caroline this shirt. This news really causes Charles to dig in his heels until Nels confides that he might go ahead and sign. He liked things the way they were before but Charles warns him that this is exactly what the women want. Charles gets all “one for all!” about his position in the debate and he and Nels shake on the idea of not signing the petition. After Charles leaves, Nels rejoins Willie at the table. Nels looks at his plate and notices it’s empty. Willie! Chew with your mouth closed.

At the Wilder house, Laura is working on her lesson plans as Almanzo meekly exits the kitchen with cups of coffee. Almanzo tells his wife that he is surprised that Caroline didn’t ask her to move into the boarding house also. Laura says that she did which makes Almanzo all kinds of nervous. He asks if she is going to go, but Laura isn’t sure yet. If she does go it would be more to support her Ma than her Ma’s cause. Almanzo says the situation is crazy and Laura suggests that he sign the petition to help end the craziness. He says he will as soon as Charles signs it. Laura doesn’t think Pa will ever sign it. Almanzo says he has to work with the guy, but Laura reminds Manly that he has to live with her. He apologizes before the fight escalates.

Breakfast at the restaurant is packed with just about all of the wives of Walnut Grove. Harriet is working the floor and having a good time of it. Nellie and Percival, who are both working in the kitchen, seem to be having a little less fun while Caroline is grinning at the stove. After Harriet leaves to do coffee rounds, Nellie talks about how the restaurant has never been so busy. Maybe if they came up with a new efficient system...nah. Percival asks what Caroline said to all the women but she replies that it’s easy to make the sale when you believe in the cause. True that.

Back at the Ingalls’ place, things aren’t going as swimmingly. The Raccoon is having a tantrum of sorts and Charles is trying to calm her down. Albert and Carrie are leaving for school, but Charles tells them they haven’t finished breakfast. The kids are late for school, so they run out the door. Charles puts the Raccoon in her high chair and tries to calm her down with some bacon. Um, she’s not a schnauzer, Charles. He goes to the kitchen to make some oatmeal while the kid continues to freak out. Pa tries to calm her down with some milk, but she is not interested. Meanwhile, the oatmeal boils over and Charles burns himself on the stove. He yells towards the Raccoon, in the friendliest way one can yell, “don’t cry!” I’m not sure if that was more for Grace or for Charles.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oleson Versus Oleson 2/5

Back at the Olesons’ after the lecture, it sounds like Nels took the part about the men owning everything to heart. He is lecturing Harriet about how he now expects everything to be done his way. When Harriet tries to reply in a surprisingly civil way, Nels waves his hands and says “end of discussion”. As he unties his necktie, he orders Harriet to go fetch his slippers. Nels, I realize you have now found a way to revitalize your standing in your marriage, but you are dangerously close to the asshole label. Do not make me start defending Harriet. Anyway, he pours himself a drink and Harriet exits the parlor, slamming the door behind her. A few moments later, we hear the sound of shattering glass.

Nels goes up to the bedroom to investigate. Harriet tells her husband he will need to fetch his own slippers as she starts packing her suitcase. Basically, she is calling her husband’s bluff and wishes him luck in running the Mercantile by himself, taking care of the house, and taking care of Willie. Nels tries to stop her, but she just says “end of discussion” and closes the door behind her. He tells the door to forget the slippers. Wait a minute, what was with the breaking glass? Meanwhile, Caroline and Charles are finishing dinner at the restaurant as Nellie and Percival chat with them. As the Ingalls get up to leave, Harriet walks in and tells her daughter that she will need a room.

Back at the homestead, Caroline is brushing her hair as she and Charles get ready for bed. Charles is still laughing about the events at dinner, wishing he was a fly on the wall in the Oleson living room. Caroline doesn’t seem to find it as funny, but she sort of sympathizes with the unsympathetic Harriet. See what you’re doing, Nels? It turns out that Caroline agrees with the Lady Lecturer and believes that, in a sense, Nels is stealing from Harriet. Charles thinks the commingling of property goes both ways, but Caroline believes the current law states otherwise. She shares her fear that at any moment her husband could take everything away from her. Charles insincerely offers to split up everything and put little “Caroline” and “Charles” labels on each item. Why not go the I Love Lucy route and draw a big white line down the middle of the little house?

Caroline is not amused by any of this and restates her argument more generally so that the Olesons aren’t part of the equation. Charles seems to be ambivalent about the whole issue, which is somewhat understandable. The underlying notion is that this law would only go into effect should one spouse try to leave the other. I think Charles is reasonably confident that he and Caroline will never get divorced and therefore he doesn’t need to worry about the law for his specific case. Caroline is looking at things more generally. I don’t think she is contemplating divorce either, but I think that is where the disagreement is coming from. Charles is looking at the specific and doesn’t care about the general; Caroline is only focused on the general. This is sort of articulated by Caroline when she tells her husband that she is surprised that he is standing up for what’s fair and then walks out of the bedroom.

The next day, Charles and Almanzo talk about the lecture during their lunch break. Manly asks Charles what he thought of the speech and he replies that he didn’t really care one way or the other. Charles also says he is surprised that Caroline is wound up about the subject and that he isn’t sure if he is going to sign the petition. His concern is that marriage is about commingling property and something happens if you start dividing it up. Charles’ view is basically if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Almanzo has nothing to contribute to the debate.

Over at the restaurant, Percival is sweeping the stoop as Lady Lecturer exits the building. She greets Percival and he asks about the petition. He offers to sign the petition and she can’t believe it. Apparently Percival is the only man to sign so far. He suggests trying to get Mr. Ingalls to sign the petition since he is the King of Walnut Grove. Just then, Caroline walks up to the building and the two women set up an appointment to chat politics.

That evening, Charles is finishing up dinner as Caroline gets home from work. Aww, he’s playing house husband. After Caroline sits down she starts to reminisce about their time as newlyweds in Kansas. She goes into great detail about raising the logs on their house and working as a team. As a smile crosses Charles’ face, Caroline asks “wouldn’t it be nice to have it written down somewhere that we’re equal partners?” The smile fades as Charles reads between the lines. He gets awfully offended that she tried to exploit their happy memories to get him to sign the petition. Caroline takes offense to this and also to his offer of signing the petition because she’ll eventually con him into it anyway. They argue a bit about “fairness” and “principle” and it becomes very Judge Judy very quickly. Caroline storms off to the bedroom. I guess that part of the house is on her side of the white line.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Oleson Versus Oleson 1/5

Nighttime has fallen on the prairie and we start this episode peeking into the window of the Mercantile. Nels is counting up the day’s receipts and the arithmetic doesn’t seem to be working for him. That’s so frustrating when that happens. Of course, I usually don’t have the additional handicap of Harriet screeching my name from the other end of the house. You would think someone who enjoys counting her gold as much as Harriet Oleson would know not to talk to someone who is tallying, but she insists on interrupting Nels with complaints about what little business they did. All it takes is two transactions to bring about some math, honey. This last interruption causes Nels to lose all focus and Harriet moves in to take over the accounting.

As Nels goes up the stairs, his wife asks if he is going to lock up the store. “Oh, you can’t trust me to lock up,” he sneers. “You want things done right: do it yourself.” He goes up the stairs, but before he can slam the door and cry “no one understands me!!!!” he slips on a baseball bat and falls down the stairs. “Willie!” The boy is reading in his room when Nels storms in with the bat in his hand. Oh God, he isn’t going to beat Willie to death, is he? No, but he yells at his unresponsive son about leaving crap lying around the house. Nels informs Willie that he is locking the bat away for two weeks. Willie whines and then calls for his mom to intervene.

Harriet enters her bedroom as Nels takes off his shoes. She asks where he hid the bat, but Nels tries to play dumb. Harriet starts rummaging around the room while lecturing her hubby about picking on Willie. Nels tells her he isn’t picking: he’s trying to teach the boy a lesson. Why not both? It’s the best of both worlds. After Harriet pats her husband on the face, dismissing his “serious” demeanor, she finds the bat hidden in a dresser drawer. As she walks towards the door, Nels tells her that he will not allow the bat to be returned. Harriet scoffs at this and Nels decides enough is enough. He grabs a suitcase and starts packing. They bicker some more before he slams the door on his way out.

A few minutes later Nels arrives at the boarding house. Caroline and Nellie are finishing up closing the restaurant when he asks his daughter for a room. Nellie asks why he would need a room while Caroline tries not to listen in on the conversation. Nels is insistent about this but Nellie wants to know the details. Nels raises his voice when he says he doesn’t want to discuss it, so Caroline decides to exit. As she leaves she reminds Nellie about a lecture that will be happening later in the evening. Nellie takes her father to his new temporary digs. It isn’t a fancy setup because the lady lecturer and her entourage have taken all the good rooms. Doesn’t “Lady Lecturer” sound like some quaint Gilded Age dominatrix? Anyway, Nellie invites her dad to the lecture, but he politely refuses since he now has his freedom. Nellie is all “it’s after six, what is there to do in Walnut Grove?” but Nels says he’ll be fine. After Nellie leaves, he closes the door, sits in a chair, and contemplates the last twenty minutes.

At the homestead, Caroline is filling Charles in on the whole Nels situation. She thinks the whole thing is kind of hilarious, especially with Nels so riled up. Charles seems only half-interested in the story and then suggests to Caroline that one of them should stay instead of going to the lecture. Caroline is all “Albert almost eloped, I think he's old enough to watch Carrie and Grace the Raccoon for a couple of hours.” She can tell something is up and she tries to pry it out of Charles. It turns out he is not all that comfortable going to a women’s meeting since he might be the only husband there. Caroline corrects her husband, saying that it is a town meeting and not a women’s meeting. This doesn’t assuage Charles’ fear about being the only y-chromosome in attendance, but Caroline tells him there’s only one way to find out if that will be the case. He grumbles as they walk out the door.

About a dozen women have gathered at the school house when the Ingalls arrive. So far Charles is the only dude. He notices this and quickly comes up with the idea to go check and see if Nels is alright. Caroline warns him that she will be saving a seat so he had better come back. Nels is unpacking when Charles stops by. They chit chat a bit before Charles invites Nels to the meeting. When the two of them return to the school house, the crowd has doubled in size. It also looks like Percival, Nellie’s husband, is the only other fella in the congregation.

Charles rejoins Caroline just as Elizabeth Smith, the Lady Lecturer, begins her speech. She is pleased that “so many men” have decided to take in the lecture, which causes Harriet to take notice that Nels is in the room. The subject of the lecture is property rights, specifically the issue that women give up most of their property when they get married. Oh, Almanzo is here with Laura. She is enthralled and he becomes nervous rather quickly, putting his hand on her shoulder. Harriet is shocked by the information being presented while Nels seems somewhat intrigued, particularly when m’Lady says that the husband could send the kids off to an orphanage if he so desires. Elizabeth has brought a petition proposing a change in the property laws. Her goal is for every man in Walnut Grove to sign the petition -- since women can't vote, their signatures would be invalid. This is going to be interesting.