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.