Sunday, September 12, 2010

Still fishin'

Hello readers,

I realize my last post hinted that I would only be gone for a week. Obviously that was inaccurate. There are two reasons for this:

•I am currently writing for the site Along with articles about the latest happenings in the world of television, I have been recapping/liveblogging Big Brother, So You Think You Can Dance, and one episode of Bachelor Pad (that last one was not by choice). Although the recaps aren't as in-depth as the ones I write here, at the height of the summer I was recapping 7+ hours of television a week (with very short turnaround time), so you can understand why this additional writing wasn't happening. I hope y'all will check out the site -- it has been a fun writing gig and with fall season starting the content will only increase.

•I am also jobhunting for a permanent gig. Things are tough everywhere, but my neck of the woods (especially in my field of interest) would make the Lorax very unhappy, if you know what I mean.

I am not abandoning this project, but it just cannot be a priority right now. Believe me, I am looking forward to returning to this project simply because it means other priorities have been taken care of.



Monday, July 5, 2010

Gone Fishin'


I won't be doing a recap this week -- I have some other projects that, although not as fun, need my attention. Also, with this being a holiday weekend I figured everyone could benefit from a little break. The next episode has been selected so be sure to drop by next week.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Music Box 5/5

Laura finds Anna crying in a field. Her tears are either made of Vaseline or her nose is running up her face. Laura apologizes saying that she didn’t know that Nellie was going to be a horrible person. “I trusted you,” Anna says. At this point the stutter is indistinguishable from the sort of staggered speech someone Anna’s age would have when sobbing uncontrollably. Anna says she just wanted to be a part of the club because Laura was in it. Laura tells her she isn’t in the club anymore. Laura promises to spend her time after school helping Anna with her stutter and exacting revenge on one Nellie Oleson. Anna smiles and hugs Laura. The girls run home while singing “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring.”

That evening, back at the house, Mary and Caroline battle a ball of yarn while Charles worries about Laura’s whereabouts. We hear thunder as Laura walks in totally soaked. Wow, who knew that song worked? Caroline guides Laura to the fire and asks Mary to get some dry clothes for her sister. As Pa wrings out Laura’s pigtails, Laura decides to confess to stealing the music box. Ma and Pa are disappointed, but Laura recaps the entire story. Oy! That’s my job! Laura finishes by saying that she tried to figure a way out and couldn’t. Pa lectures that Laura couldn’t find a way out because she avoided the easiest way: telling the truth. Laura says she’s ready to face her punishment, but Pa says he’ll leave that up to Mr. Oleson. Laura apologizes to Mary and they hug.

The next morning, Laura hands the music box to Mr. Oleson and apologizes. “I know I was wrong,” she says. “Not as wrong as somebody else,” Nels says before yelling for his daughter to come downstairs. Charles tells Nels that he should be the one to decide Laura’s punishment. Nels says he can’t condone stealing, but Laura may have been punished enough. Did she tell him about the dreams? Because really, that’s the only actual negative consequence she has experienced.

Nellie comes down the stairs and almost runs into the music box that Nels is holding up to her face. Nellie pretends to yell at Laura for being a thief, but no one is buying it. Nellie tries to continue to school, but Nels tells her to go to her room. Looks like option A again. Whoops, nope, Nels grabs the strap as he goes upstairs.

As Laura and Anna run down the Mercantile steps, Willie commands Laura to carry his water buckets for him. Laura refuses, but Willie starts doing his “dum dum” impression again. No, the music box one. Laura and Anna look at each other and smile. Laura agrees and they both grab buckets. They both dump the water over Willie’s head. The two girls head to school arm in arm.

So I guess the lesson here is if you are going to steal, make sure you have a tenuous friendship with someone who has a speech impediment, that way you can live your life without consequences.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Music Box 4/5

Laura runs through some woods and slows down when she reaches a clearing. She creeps up to a tree and tags Willie. “Gotcha,” says Laura. “No you didn’t,” says Willie. Sounds to me like Willie is planning on a career in soccer refereeing. Laura says she just tagged him, shaking his shoulders a bit to illustrate her point. Willie still claims that Laura didn’t find him. Has Willie started reading up on existentialism? I already have to deal with the dream sequences; don’t throw philosophy into the mix, show. Instead, Willie mimes holding a box and singing “dum dum dum, dum DUM dum, dum dumdumdumdumdumdum.” Laura recognizes the Nerd March and her eyes widen. Willie smiles. “You’re right,” Laura says catatonically, “I didn’t find you.” I think this episode is slowly turning into The Manchurian Candidate.

That evening at dinner everyone is quiet. Charles asks how things are at school, but both Mary and Laura mumble, “Fine, just fine.” Charles asks if the girls are using the new dictionary. “Some,” they both answer. Yeah, evidently. Charles asks about the music box, but this causes Mary to ask to be excused. Mary heads up to the loft. Pa asks if the two girls had a fight. Laura hems and haws, but Charles doesn’t press the point. He sends Laura upstairs.

When Laura gets up to the loft, Mary asks her why she didn’t tell Pa how mean she was to Anna. Laura denies that she was mean and that she likes both Anna and Nellie. Mary calls BS on this, saying that Laura didn’t like Nellie until she received the music box. Isn’t that how gifts work? Laura throws out the “you’re just jealous” but leaves off the “I’m not here to make friends.” Mary snaps back that she doesn’t want to be in the club.

At this point Charles comes up to see what all the fighting is about. Mary says that Laura and Nellie were being mean to Anna. Laura says she didn’t do anything mean, which I think I agree with based on what we saw. “Anna thought you were her best friend,” Mary snarls, “and then you hurt her just like all the others.” Come to think of it, Laura has gone through quite a few “best friends” on this show. Mary might have a point. Mary says Laura made Anna cry, which Laura denies doing on purpose – she just wanted to play with Nellie. Charles reminds Laura that she made a promise (she did?). Laura says, “I guess so,” which fails to impress Pa. Also, he doesn’t understand why Laura can’t be friends with both girls. Mary explains that Nellie’s club doesn’t like Anna because she stutters. Indoor voice, Mary, please. Pa asks if that is true and Laura reluctantly agrees. He tells Laura to tell Nellie that she can’t be in the club unless Anna can be in the club. Everyone leaves grumpy. Laura sits on the bed and contemplates the music box.

Oh no, not another dream. This time the Nerd March has some sort of dragon breathing sound effect accompaniment. That’s a bad sign. A battalion of redcoats beat on drums as a wagon carrying prisoner Laura approaches. Is that a gallows? A man in a hood leads Laura off the wagon and past her family gathered at the foot of the gallows steps. Laura hugs Caroline, but the hood pulls her away. An executioner sucking on a candy cane watches from above. Laura walks up the steps and the executioner (played by Nellie) grabs Laura and puts her into position under a noose. Nellie pulls the rope down and places it around Laura’s neck.

Time-out! There is no way in hell that a scene like this could get on TV today. The Parents Television Council would throw a level five shitfit if this were on broadcast TV. You know anyone who describes ‘Little House’ as “quaint” or “banal” has never watched an episode because you have this, which was on during the family hour in its original broadcast. And there was no “viewer discretion is advised” or “TV-14”.

Time-in. Nellie tightens the rope around Laura’s neck(!). Laura glances over to the lever as a drumroll starts to play. Nellie stands for a moment and grabs hold of the lever. Laura watches. Nellie pushes the switch.

Laura, who is wearing a pillowcase over her head, rises out of bed and grabs her neck. Mary just glares at her sister. “Good night, Laura,” she says flatly. What the friggity frig, yo. “Goodbye, Mary,” Laura says. Mary does a slight double take before both girls nod off.

Nellie spots Laura on the front steps of the Mercantile the next morning. Laura tells Nellie what Charles told her about Anna’s membership. Nellie says he can’t force Anna into the club. I don’t think Charles really cares about your bylaws, Nellie. Laura says she’ll have to quit, but Nellie says Laura better talk to her father or she will. I realize Nellie wants control over Laura, but what is so important about needing Laura in the club? Anyway, Laura says her hands are tied. Nellie thinks for a moment and a sly smile crosses her face. Uh oh. She says that maybe Anna can be in the club. Laura is not suspicious at all and the two girls run to tell Anna the news.

After school the club gathers in Nellie’s room. It is time for Anna’s initiation. Nellie asks why Anna wants to be in the club. Anna says it is a good club and the girls are all her friends. Laura is smiling while the rest of the girls look stoned. The girl to Laura’s right looks like the guy that Wayne and Garth pick up at the beginning of Wayne’s World. Nellie asks who makes the rules (the prez and VP) then hands Anna a sheet with the club’s secret password. Anna looks at the sheet and her face falls. She looks at Laura whose smile fades quickly. Apparently the VP didn’t know about the password rule.

“This isn’t a password,” says Anna. Nellie says it is and tells Anna to read it. The password is “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers.” *ding* That’s going to be difficult to convey with just one-word clues. Even Betty White would have trouble with that. Anna struggles through the phrase as an evil smile creeps on to Nellie’s hateful face. “No, no,” Nellie scolds, “you have to say it fast.” The girls start to giggle as Nellie heckles the girl. Laura looks mortified. “No Anna,” Laura says, “take your time. You can do it if you take your time.” Anna nods and tries again. Nellie keeps screaming “fast!” Anna struggles to the point of tears and runs out of the room. Laura runs to the door and calls after the girl. She then turns to Nellie. “I hope you’re proud of yourself,” she says. “That’s the meanest thing anybody ever did. “ Laura deduces that this was all a ruse by Nellie to make Anna cry. Laura says Anna just wanted to be friends. Stoner girl looks to Nellie as if to say “where’s your mom with the snacks?” Laura leaves. Nellie rushes to the door and threatens to tell if she doesn’t come back. Nellie slams the door.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Music Box 3/5

Laura, Anna and Mary are carrying their books as they walk past the Mercantile on their way to school. “Laura Ingalls!” Nellie races down the front steps as Laura stops in her tracks. Nellie sneers that she wants to talk to Laura then offers her a gumdrop. Willie observes the bi-polar action from the porch. Laura accepts the gumdrop while Nellie invites Laura to eat lunch with the club. Laura says she is still mulling over her membership. Anna volunteers that she will be in the club, but Nellie says Anna can’t be a member until she learns how to talk. Laura doesn’t take too kindly to this, so she returns the gumdrops and tells Nellie she won’t be joining. Laura and Anna walk away arm in arm. Nellie screams after them. “A chicken can squawk, a butterfly can flutter, but Anna can’t talk, all she can do is st-st-stutter.”

Nels is out on the porch at this point and yells at his daughter while Willie giggles. Nels tells her to get in the house and get the strap ready. Yikes. Nels looks at Willie who says he didn’t do anything. Nels pulls Willie into the shop anyway. The kids run to Harriet and hide behind her. She doesn’t know what is going on (as usual), but begs her husband to give the kids another chance. Nels brandishes the strap saying that Nellie doesn’t deserve another chance. Nellie apologizes and even vouches for her brother that he didn’t do anything. Nels tells Nellie that she will be grounded from school for the day and will go to Anna’s house that afternoon to apologize. Harriet is horrified, insisting that her daughter will be humiliated. Nels says that’s the point. He gives Nellie the choice between the strap and a half-assed apology. Nellie says she doesn’t know where Anna lives, but her father says to ask Laura. Nellie doesn’t like that idea, but Nels brandishes the strap again and tells Nellie to choose. To recap, the choices are A) Stay home from school for the day and then walk over to Anna’s house to “apologize”, or B) A whuppin’. Nellie chooses A. Nellie goes upstairs and Nels tells Willie to clean his room. Today is a school day, right?

That afternoon, Laura is in the barn trying to fix the music box. It isn’t going very well. Outside, Nellie approaches the homestead and Jack goes into Cujo mode. Good for him. The sound isn’t great, as they play barking sound effects when Jack’s mouth does not show any sort of barking or growling, just drooling. Nellie rushes into the barn to hide from the dog. Laura is caught off-guard (she didn’t hear the dog?) and Nellie realizes that it is her music box that Laura is tinkering with. Laura tries to lie that it is her own box but Nellie calls BS on that instantly. Laura insists that it’s hers, so Nellie suggests asking Laura’s parents. Laura, realizing that she’s caught, confesses. Nellie says she is going to tell, but Laura says she will do anything that Nellie says. Nellie verifies this incredibly stupid statement, but Laura insists that she will do anything that Nellie says. Nellie tells Laura that she is going to be in the club and warns Laura that if she steps out of line, Nellie will tell and possibly try to have Laura put in jail. Laura promises to follow Nellie’s orders.

At this point Pa walks in. He asks what’s up and Laura says they were just listening to Nellie’s music box. “Oh it’s your music box now, Laura,” Nellie says. Pa is pleased with this news, especially since it appears that the two buried the hatchet -- and not in anyone’s skull. Nellie leaves but as she exits she asks Mr. Ingalls if Laura can go to her house after school tomorrow. Charles is okay with this. Nellie asks Laura how to get to Anna’s before she leaves. Once she is gone, Pa says he is really happy to see this new development. Laura catatonically agrees.

Nellie’s arrival at Anna’s house is inexplicably framed through the arms of a chair on her porch. Inside, we see that the props office used the “LHOTP – Generic” item list, which includes a shawl, butter churn, rocking chair, and a woodpile. Anna’s mom answers Nellie’s knocking by opening the door, but answers Nellie’s questions in Swedish. I wonder what obnoxious schoolyard rhyme Nellie has for that linguistic trait? Anna comes out of her room and asks Nellie what she wants. Nellie apologizes, but Anna doesn’t quite believe it. Anna’s mother asks, through Anna, if Nellie would like to stay for dinner, but Nellie politely refuses. Anna gets the door for Nellie and walks her outside. Nellie apologizes again, but the insincerity starts to drip when she tells Anna that she is talking much better. Anna doesn’t have an insincerity detector, so she is thrilled by this development.

That evening at the homestead, Laura puts down her dictionary and asks her Pa what it’s like to be in jail. Did Charles do hard time? That would be amazing. Aww, he says he has never been. Charles asks why Laura wants to know and she says it’s for homework. Did Miss Beadle ask the kids to write prison letters? Charles said he met a couple of guys who went to jail during the War, but he isn’t inclined to repeat their stories. Laura asks what sort of crimes lead to jail time – cheating, hurting somebody, and stealing are what Charles list. Laura speculates that stealing only applies to big things like horses, but Charles says you can hang for a crime like that. “No, they put you in jail for stealing just about anything,” Pa continues. This does not ease Laura’s nerves.

The Nerd March plays as we enter another one of Laura’s dreams. A fire burns in the center of a medieval prison. One prisoner is stretched on a rack while several others sleep on the stone floor. Someone is laughing as Harriet enters wearing a hood and carrying a giant bucket. Laura is looking even more bedraggled than in her previous dream. Harriet reaches into the bucket and pulls out a wad of breadcrumbs that she chucks to the ground. All of the prisoners scramble to the food except for a Leif Garrett impersonator chained to the wall. As Harriet feeds the birds, Nellie walks in wearing a hood and eating from a chicken bone. She laughs as Laura notices the meat. Laura crawls towards the Oleson jailors who continue to laugh at the girl. Once Laura reaches Nellie and begs for food, Nellie bludgeons the girl with the chicken. Nellie leaves and slams the door.

Laura starts to bang on the door and we fade out of the dream. Back in reality, Laura is banging on the wall screaming, “I’m hungry.” Mary wakes up her sister and tells her to knock it off. Charles yells up to the loft to find out what’s going on. Laura and Mary say nothing, but Charles yells up again demanding an answer. Mary says flatly, “Laura rolled over and fell out of bed.” Mary Ingalls sucks at plausibility. Charles asks if she is all right and Laura responds just as flatly that she is okay. Pa tells them to go to sleep.

The next morning outside school, Nellie explains to the club that she will decide who is "it" and, as president, she will never be "it". That’s not much of a game, whatever it is you’re playing, honey. Nellie calls over to Laura and Mary, who have just arrived, that they are going to play Hide N Seek. Mary declines, which Nellie is okay with. Nellie then commands Laura to join her. Nellie has decided that Laura will be “it”. Mary and Anna are shocked by this. Laura apologizes to Anna and promises to play with her after school and dejectedly walks towards Nellie and the girls. Anna is deeply disappointed by the development.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Music Box 2/5

Laura and Anna walk home through a field. Laura asks Anna to name all the items she can in Nellie’s dollhouse. Anna rips through the list without a stutter or stop. Laura has Anna go through another list, this time shouting it as loud as possible. I forgot that Laura has a knack for speech therapy. You go girl! Both of you!

As Laura returns to the Ingalls barn, she remembers she has a music box in her petticoat. She rushes up to the loft to play with it. She winds up the music box and enters into an almost drug-induced euphoria as the music plays. Laura sets the music box on a shelf and starts to sway to the music. She then gets up and pretends to waltz. I guess she didn’t get dance lessons for her birthday either – she is a bit rhythmically challenged. Suddenly, the barn door slams and Laura panics. She tries to close the music box but knocks it to the floor instead. The door squeaks and slams a few more times and Laura realizes that it was just the wind. She goes back to the box but the music is all warped. Laura realizes she may be in big trouble.

That evening Charles entertains the rest of the family with his fiddle while Laura contemplates her fate next to the hearth. Charles asks if there is anything wrong. Well for starters the scene is shot at a weird angle that I don’t recall seeing on the show before and the lighting is just wrong. Oh, he was talking to Laura. She murmurs that there’s nothing wrong. Caroline also asks if Laura is okay and gets a meek “I’m fine” in response. Mary speculates that Laura has a stomachache from a candy overload at Nellie’s. Laura snaps at her sister. Before the fight escalates, Caroline notices Carrie entering into sleep mode and decides to take the youngin’ to bed. Charles decides that it is bedtime for everyone. Mary gives Pa a good night kiss and heads upstairs. Er, upladder? Laura follows without any affection for Pa – he calls her down. Pa asks again if Laura is all right, and she says again that she is fine. Charles kisses her forehead and she goes up to the loft.

We join Laura as she appears to have a bad dream of some sort. Uh oh, the screen is getting all wavy and a harp starts to play – we’re going in! Oh, I just realized that the music box song is the Nerd March! Now that it is being played in a minor key I totally recognize it. Anyway, we see that Laura is dressed as a serf and is standing in handcuffs in a defendant’s stand. The camera pulls out until the top of a judge’s bench can be seen. A gavel comes down. The judge asks for a verdict from the jury. Madame Foreperson (who sounds an awful lot like Harriet) declares a guilty verdict. Um, mistrial? The judge affirms the verdict and sentences Laura to 100 years of school where she will have to write “I will not steal” 10 million times. Laura begs for mercy, but she is met with an awkward close-up of the judge just nodding like a bobble-head. It’s a good thing fisheye lenses were still in the development phase when this was produced or this would have been a really freaky scene instead of just weird.

After fog shrouds the judge, we see Laura back in the house saying she didn’t mean it. Mary wakes up her sister to get her to shut up. Mary Ingalls sucks at sympathy. “Try to dream of something different,” Mary tells Laura. Laura lies down again and says she’ll try.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Music Box 1/5

Oh God! Bees are chasing the girls down the hill! Oops, I hit the soccer ball button by mistake on YouTube. Damn vuvuzelas. No worries – the girls are safe. See, a closeup of a bunny rabbit ornament opens the show – everything is super. We pan across the window display and see all sorts of toys. Uh oh. This one is directed by Michael Landon. I take back what I said about the girls being safe – some bad shit is about to go down.

Deep breath. Okay.

Laura stands outside the Mercantile as she looks through the window display. Mary comes out from around the corner and tells her sister that they are going to be late. Laura is anxious not because of Mary’s tardiness but because her birthday is coming up and she wants to know what she is getting for a present. Mary says she isn’t going to tell, mainly because she doesn’t know. This angers Laura. The girls leave for school.

That evening, we see Charles exit Carrie’s room with a wrapped square-shaped item. Hmmm, too thick to be a DVD. Too light to be a laptop. Too small to be an N64. I wonder what it could be? Laura opens the present and it’s…it’s…a dictionary? What the frick kind of present is that? I can see Mary finding 101 uses for it, but it’s Laura’s birthday. She politely thanks her Pa, but you can hear the disappointment in her voice. Pa talks up the book saying that it has all the new words and a science section. As I paused the video to write that last sentence, Mary is giving Charles a look that says “really old man? Even I think that’s pretty square.”

Later on we see Charles and Caroline talking about the book as they get ready to go to sleep. Charles can’t get over the astronomy maps or the atlas. I will admit that does sound like a handy reference tool, but it ranks right up there with a sock-making kit as “most boring present to give a 10 year old”. Caroline smiles and nods, causing Charles to realize his folly. Caroline tries to coddle her hubby by saying she would have picked out the same thing. She justifies this by saying that Laura needs to be happy with getting what she needs rather than what she wants. Although I can agree with that sentiment, I still think this would have been a much more appropriate gift for Mary, especially if the whole family will be sharing the reference material. Actually, the sock-making kit would probably have been a better choice for Laura. Caroline also suspects that years from now Laura will still use the dictionary more than any fancy doodad from today.

The next day Laura resumes her post outside the display window. A blonde girl named Anna runs up and stands by Laura’s side. Laura asks which toy Anna would choose if she got to take one item home. Anna struggles as she says she would take the doll. As Anna stutters through her answer, Laura advises her friend to take her time. Eventually Anna says that she would want a doll, because it would be like having a sister, and she would name it Laura. Aww, this is so sweet – something horrible is going to happen to this girl, I just know it.

Just then, Nellie and a group of girls enter through the back of the Mercantile. Nellie calls over to Laura and demands that she come upstairs to play. Laura politely refuses, but Nellie says they are starting a club – no boys and only Nellie’s bestest friends are allowed. “Why did you invite me?” Laura asks. Nellie’s eyes narrow and she repeats her invitation. Laura says she’d rather play with Anna. Nellie grumbles that Ann can come along, causing the nice blonde girl to perk up. Laura considers for a moment before reluctantly agreeing.

Upstairs the girls browse through Nellie’s toy collection. While the extras murmur about the dollhouses, Laura focuses all of her attention on a music box playing atop Nellie’s desk. Nellie slams the box shut before calling the meeting to order. Nellie recites the agenda that includes roll call followed by election of the vice president. Laura point-of-orders that there needs to be a president, but Nellie says that the club will meet at her house therefore she is President. First, that would make her a dictator. Second, that sounds more like a qualification for Secretary or Sergeant-at-Arms. Nellie nominates Laura for VP, but Laura suggests Anna instead. “She can’t be in the club,” Nellie states. Laura asks why. “Y-y-y-y-you kn-kn-kn-know w-w-w-w-why.” Anna looks down as the other girls giggle. What a b-b-b-b-b-bitch. Before things get really awkward, Harriet barges in and announces that she has snacky snacks ready for all the girls. Laura and Anna stay behind. Anna suggests that they join the others before she leaves the room, her head still hanging down. Laura follows but stops to look back at the music box. She waits a moment before she snatches it from the bed.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Next Week's Episode

The Music Box

The song in the video: "Across the Universe" by Laibach

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fred 5/5

Laura and Carl are walking Fred through a field. Carl mentions that Reverend Alden didn’t seem to demonstrate the compassion and understanding he was advocating earlier. Laura decides that she is just going to have to abandon the animal. Fred looks resolute in this decision. Or sleepy. Or hungry? His face is difficult to read. Fred is an enigma. Laura waffles at her own decision, convinced that someone has to love the animal. “Like Pa would,” Carl says, “with biscuits and gravy.” Hehe. Laura removes the rope from the goat’s collar and sets Fred free. He scampers away while Laura holds back tears. Carl says she did the right thing as they walk back towards town.

That night me see Fred chomping on some grass in a storage shed. Sleeping on the ground nearby is Mr. Janks. The man rolls over and hears a loud belch. He wakes up and investigates, finding a rather gassy Fred in his wagon. FRED STOLE FIZZY LIFTING DRINKS and a significant amount of the grass that Charles sold to Janks.

The next morning we see the Ingalls family riding back to the homestead after church. Caroline comments that the Reverend’s sermon was particularly fiery this morning. Apparently the topic switched to the wages of sin. I wonder if Fred hit a few inches to the left would the topic have dealt with Sodom and Gomorrah?

Charles parks the wagon and notices that Janks’s wagon is approaching. Neither Caroline nor Charles is happy to see him. Janks explains that he needs more rushes and is willing to pay good money for them. Charles asks what happened to the last batch. The businessman claims that the grass was eaten and trampled by an “evil, monstrous goat.” What’s with all the supposed malevolence? It's. a. GOAT. All of Fred's behavior is rather consistent with his character. As the Ingalls family holds back from laughing, Janks goes on to say that he is liable to lose his shirt if he can’t deliver on the grass order to some guy in Kansas City. “I think you’d look good without a shirt,” Charles says. First, wrong. Second, when did Charles become such a flirty Gertie? Anyway, Janks offers Ingalls eight dollars for the same workload as before. Charles responds that he would only consider the job if it was twelve dollars in advance. Good job, Charles is learning! Janks balks at this, but Charles says he is happy to raise the price to thirteen. Janks panics and pays Charles the twelve dollars saying that this will be the last time they do business. This doesn’t seem to bother Ingalls.

After Janks leaves, Laura loudly declares that Fred must have been the culprit. She claims it’s a new trick since Fred did a good thing. Laura might benefit from some reading about relativism. Laura tries to push the argument that this is a good reason to keep Fred and therefore she should be allowed to keep the goat. Charles tries to explain that that isn’t what he meant, but he can’t seem to find the words. I have one: extortion. Caroline tries to bat for Laura saying his deal had no strings attached. Mary mentions that Fred ate her essay (so that explains why Mary didn’t like him) and Carrie says, “ILIKEFRED.” Charles relents and Laura goes to find her goat.

Laura runs through the fields calling out Fred’s name. Y’know, Half-Pint, if you just bend over Fred will find you almost instantly. She continues with her strategy. After several minutes of running and “Fred!”, Laura ends up in another expansive field. She finds a rock to sit on and gets all Alice in Wonderland about her lost goat. She hears some bleating and sees a goat in the distance. She hugs Fred and tries to lead him away by the horn. He runs off and joins a tribe of nanny goats. The slide trombone gets all “Sexy Time” as Fred checks out ladies’ night. Laura realizes she can’t compete and is happy that Fred won’t be the last of his kind.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fred 4/5

Caroline feeds the chickens while Charles and Mr. Janks chat about swamp grass. Janks picks up a few tufts and declares them “tolerable, tolerable.” Since the grass passed a rigorous inspection, Charles asks for his payment. Janks puts his thumbs under his armpits – that's a bad sign. He offers Charles five dollars even though the original deal was for eight. Janks claims the price for grass went down so his price also goes down. Charles is pissed, but Janks says that with nothing in writing Ingalls has to take it or leave it. Charles throws a tantrum but Caroline runs over to stop him. Janks waves the money at Ingalls and after a few seconds of grousing Charles accepts the deal. Thank goodness the Ingalls family isn’t litigious or we would probably see one of them every couple of days on The People’s Court.

Laura and Carl are walking back to the still carrying a bag of oats. They discuss various places where they can shop Fred around. We hear belching followed by a slide trombone. Oh no! Fred’s discovered jazz! Oh wait, he’s just drunk from whatever Mr. Edwards was brewing. Laura determines that the goat is sick, even though Fred is just standing in place staring blankly like he usually does. I don’t think Laura should pursue a career in veterinary medicine. The two kids spin the goat around a couple of times as they figure out which way to take him back to town. The booze must not be that strong since Fred doesn’t boot.

The kids enter Doc Baker’s office with Fred. Doc finishes washing his hands and does a double take when he sees the goat, which belches again. “Laura, Carl, you know better than to bring a goat in here,” he lectures in a tone that suggests that this may not be the first time this has happened. Laura pleads with Doc, telling him that the goat has been poisoned. He thinks for a tic before he closes the door, locks it, and pulls the shades because he doesn’t want people to know he’s treating a goat. He treats other animals and the Oleson kids, why would this be a problem?

Outside, Grace Edwards drops off a package on the Doctor’s stoop. Mr. Edwards walks by and the two go to lunch. Inside, Baker is examining Fred’s eye when the goat burps again. Baker starts to sniff and comes up with his diagnosis – the goat’s drunk. The kids are surprised by this news. Doc Baker opens the door and tells the kids to take Fred and get out. Doc spots the package that Grace dropped off and bends over to pick it up. The camera zooms in on Fred’s eye before we see Doc Baker charge towards the stream. The techie in me needs to point out that this is a really sloppy edit since Fred is nowhere near Doc Baker’s hiney.

The Edwards couple hears the splash and goes to check on the doctor who is now in a foul mood. Jeez, everyone in town has a severe case of the Mondays. As he stomps back to his office, Baker yells to keep the drunken goat away from him. Grace laughs at this before she checks out the goat. It burps again and she reels back from the stench. She declares the goat as drunk as a lumberjack on payday. That doesn’t sound like any lumberjacks I know. Hmph. Anyway, Grace asks the kids how the goat got drunk and Carl starts to spill the beans about his Pa’s “thinking place.” Busted!

Grace switches her attention from the goat that butted Doc Baker to the goat that she married. Fred shows no remorse, causing Edwards to threaten to make roast goat if he sees Fred again. I kinda like how this animal is turning into the Hawaiian Tiki of Walnut Grove. Is Vincent Price in our future?

Carl suggests that Laura just abandon the goat somewhere. She doesn’t like this idea one bit. “God,” Carl says, though not in an exasperated way. “God takes care of everything.” This gives Laura the idea to consult Reverend Alden. The kids walk over to the school/infirmary/playhouse/church to see if the preacher is in. Carl spots him through a window. The two of them lead Fred inside.

Reverend Alden wipes down the desks as he practices his sermon. The subject, coincidentally enough, is “All Creatures Great and Small.” As soon as he finishes with his Bible recitation about how man owns and operates EVERYTHING, the kids loudly “AHEM” to get Alden’s attention. Alden is surprised by their visit and they explain that they need to talk with him about Fred. Laura lists all the people who don’t like Fred -- Charles, Edwards, Harriet, Parsons, Doc Baker and Mary, though I thought she was indifferent. Alden is surprised that any of those people would bear such harsh feelings towards an individual, not realizing that Laura is talking about a goat with a butt fetish. Alden bends over to scrub the cloak closet as he asks if Fred is new to Walnut Grove. Laura starts to explain Fred’s status but is interrupted by a bleat and the camera zooming in on Fred’s eye.

Outside we hear a loud crash. At least the Reverend’s horse isn’t spooked.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fred 3/5

Oy, it’s Mr. Edwards. I hate this episode. Drunk music plays as he walks over to a sheet hanging over a tree limb. He moves away some branches – I think he was trying to hide the sheet? Even Mary in her later years would have been able to see it, Edwards. He lifts the sheet and reveals the Edwards Distillery. He takes a sip of his concoction when someone yells “Pa” offscreen.

Edwards yells at his son Carl for sneaking up on him, but the kid claims he wasn’t sneaking. Carl starts to check the tent but Edwards grabs the kid and asks why he isn’t in school. Carl says he was hoping that his Pa was going fishing. Edwards sends the kid along after he explains that what is happening in the tent is a secret. Carl asks for some details and Edwards says he’s “inventin’.” Really? Is that the best you could come up with? Carl says it smells bad and Edwards continues his lie by saying it’s a new brand of turpentine. Actually, knowing how some stills work and how much faith I have in Mr. Edwards, that might not technically be a lie. Time will tell, I suppose. Anyway, Edwards reiterates that the tent is a secret between him and Carl before sending the boy on his way. Once Carl is gone, Edwards samples some more turpentine.

Over at the school we see Willie exit the outhouse. As he runs back towards the building Laura squeals for him to come over to the tree she is hiding behind. Laura brought Fred and shows him to the boy. She says it’s a very special goat, but Willie says it couldn’t be special if she owns it. He asks what a goat is good for, leading Laura into a sales pitch very similar to the one Parsons used on her. Laura opens with barn protection, but Willie points out that the Olesons don’t have a barn. Laura thinks for a moment, then mentions goats make the best cheese there is (true dat!). Willie ponders this a moment and Laura pushes harder saying that goat cheese is so yummy you won’t eat anything else. Ewww, could you imagine a goat cheese only diet? My stomach has a sad just thinking about that. Laura leads Fred away, but Willie chases her down to get some more info. Whatever you do, Half-pint, don’t shake hands at the end of the deal – Willie didn’t wash.

Outside the Olesons’ house, Harriet hangs laundry on the clothesline while Willie prattles on about how he pulled one over on Laura. As he ties his “gen-u-wine” goat to one of the clothesline posts, Harriet continues scrubbing and “uh huh”-ing while her back is turned. In her half-listening she does manage to remind her son not to swindle Laura too often since the Olesons are the business people and shouldn’t take too much advantage of others. Willie says he’s going to start a cheese empire then runs off to school. Fred bleats, snapping Harriet into attention. She turns around and sees the animal. She calls for Willie to come back, but he’s gone.

Back at the school, Laura tells Carl about the transaction as they play on the whirly see-saw. Carl tells Laura he would never sell his goat if he had one, but Laura recaps that Fred and Pa didn’t get along. Hey, who’s telling the story here, Ingalls? A kid runs by and grabs Carl’s hat. Laura and Carl chase after him.

Fred watches Harriet continue to do laundry. He looks about as interested in that activity as I do. Fred starts to nibble on a dress hanging on the line causing Harriet to have a conniption. She manages to free the clothing from the animal’s mouth then runs over to the post to untie him so he can leave her sight. Fred takes a couple of steps, stops and turns back. Harriet continues to mutter as she bends over to pick up something off the ground. Fetish Fred looks over and charges over towards Harriet’s checkered rump. Harriet lands in a mud pit. Hmm, this episode is starting to show some promise.

Inside the school we see Mary handing her essay to Miss Beadle. Before the sucking up switches from “Low” to “High”, we hear Harriet screeching for Laura Ingalls. All the kids stand all Children of the Corn like as Harriet, who looks much muddier than when we last saw her, stomps toward the school. Willie and Nellie run over to join their mother. Harriet confronts Laura about the goat, accusing her of swindling her son. Laura says “did not!” Willie’s rebuttal: “Did so! How’d she do it, Ma?” Harriet glares at her son before saying “A billy goat? To make cheese?” Harriet bops her son on the head and then he finally gets it. In fairness, that didn’t really register with me right away, so I think the chuckling that Mary tries to hold back is well deserved. Laura returns the items Willie traded claiming that she didn’t cheat Willie. That’s debatable. Laura asks where Fred ran off to, but Harriet tells her that it’s not her problem. Miss Beadle tells the kids to go back inside for class.

Laura, Carl and Fred walk home. Carl says tomorrow is Saturday, so that should give them time to come up with a plan. However, Laura still needs a place for Fred to stay the night. Carl says he knows a place, but Laura has to promise to keep it a secret. When has that ever worked on this show? Laura goes through the whole cross heart/word of honor/”hope the rats will eat you up”(huh?) ritual before Carl agrees to share his hiding place. They end up at the still which Carl says is okay because this is an emergency. That’s a pretty loose definition. Laura pokes around and asks what the bubbling liquid is. Carl says it is turpentine of some sort, though Laura is surprised that raisins and sugar are some of the ingredients. As soon as Carl and Laura head out Fred helps himself to the cauldron. More drunk music.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fred 2/5

Mary giggles as the family eats dinner. Charles asks her what her deal is and Mary says she still can’t get over how Laura named the goat Friendly Fred. Mary Ingalls sucks at irony. Charles doesn’t find it funny, saying that he found more friendship after poking a hole in a hornets’ nest. Huh? It stops Mary’s laughter, so I guess mission accomplished?

He then sets his sights on Laura asking if she thinks its funny. Laura lifts her head up from grousing and says no and that she feels sorry for Fred. Pa takes offense to this, but Laura supposes that maybe Fred thought he was protecting the barn from a robber. Even Caroline is like, “Girl, you crazy.” Charles tells his daughter that while Fred was protecting the barn he ate a half-bushel of oats and pulled the feed bin off the wall. Laura apologizes for Pa not liking the goat. Pa explains that it isn’t a matter of liking the animal, but whether they should keep him or not. Laura thinks for a moment then suggests that Fred could eat weeds in the garden. Caroline thinks this is a terrible idea.

Before Laura comes up with yet another bad idea (she’s had quite a few this episode), Mary tells Pa that the grass he’s been collecting can be used for furniture. Charles doesn’t give two hoots about that, saying that he just wants his money from Phinneus Janks so he can be done with his contract. He grabs his pipe from the mantle. As he starts to light it, Laura unwisely mentions that Fred is a very special goat saying he is the last of his kind. Charles’s response: “I certainly hope so.” This disappoints Laura. Perhaps this will teach her how to read a room.

Fred wanders around outside while the girls lay in bed. Laura asks Mary if she is awake. Mary responds with a no. Laura explains the sleepers’ fallacy that Mary just committed. Mary, defeated, rolls over. Laura asks her if she has any ideas on how to save Fred. Mary says she read that goat leather is used for fancy purses. Laura doesn’t find that funny, but Mary explains that Pa might be in a better mood to consider Fred’s fate in the morning.

Downstairs, Charles and Caroline are ready for bed. Just as Charles nods off, a loud crash and bleat are heard from outside. Charles pulls the blanket over his head and whines “Friendly Fred.”

The next morning, Laura exits the house and Jack has a bit of a spaz attack. Laura yells at the dog to stay by the door. Laura runs towards the corral with a bowl of food for Fred, but she sees that the goat is no longer tied to the fence. She hears a bleat and follows the sound. Laura finds Fred chowing down on the grass that Charles picked yesterday. Laura is remarkably calm, particularly since her father is now charging over to the pile and liable to raise some holy Hell in about two seconds. Charles tells his daughter that it is going to take hours in the swamp just to replace what the goat ate. Laura tries to make some more excuses for the animal, but Charles tells her to zip it because that goat is gone today. As Charles turns away, Fred belches. “Today,” Pa repeats. As he stomps off, Charles kicks a bucket in his path but stubs his toe in the process. Fred sneers.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fred 1/5

We see a lone goat chomping away in a field. An elderly gentleman carrying a bucket into a nearby barn catches the goat’s attention. The goat bleats before investigating the man in the barn. Inside, the man attempts to sing, but it sounds like he may be drunk and a horse whinnies in disapproval. The man strikes up a conversation with the horse before checking its hooves. The goat enters. The man starts to sing again while he moves some bags. As the man bends over, the camera, er, goat, zooms in on the man’s keester.

Outside, we see the farmer busting through the barn wall. A woman and Laura run over to check on the man. The woman asks if he hurt himself, but he starts to blame the goat. He stands and starts ranting and raving like Yosemite Sam about what he is going to do to that animal. As he starts gesturing wildly, Laura (or perhaps Melissa Gilbert) tries to hold back from laughing. As the farmer’s wife tries to talk her husband out of shooting the goat, Laura walks over to check on the animal. The woman lets on that Laura was hired to do something at the farm and Farmer Sam needs to pay her before he goes gun crazy.

The farmer tries to do some arithmetic to figure out how much he owes Laura. It doesn’t go very well. As he gets every detail of the transaction wrong, Laura examines the goat and determines that it looks healthy. Laura asks the farmer, whose name is Parsons, if he is really going to shoot the goat. He tells the girl that goat-shooting is next on his agenda, then he starts to count out the money. He’s short a penny and asks Laura if that’s okay. Instead, Laura offers to take the goat in lieu of cash. Parsons eyes light up and he decides to push all of the positive aspects of the goat. Besides the fact that most of what he says are bold-faced lies, he already has the sale so why is he pushing it? It’s an as-is transaction, but what he’s doing is actually hurting himself in the long run. Laura sort of catches on to this and she asks, “if he’s so special, why are you going to shoot him?” Mr. Parsons does not strike me as a savvy businessman. Despite this Laura takes the goat over the money. We do not hear zonk music, so can we see what’s behind curtain number 2?

Back at the homestead, Caroline snaps some peas while Mary does some homework. “You know just looking up answers to homework questions isn’t too hard,” Mary says, “but writing a long essay on why things happened is a lot more work.” Tell me about it. At least you aren’t trying to throw in jokes when you can. Caroline tells Mary that Miss Beadle wants Mary to think. Isn’t that what the Internet is for? The two of them hear some bleating outside and decide to check it out. Caroline peeks out the window and her walk becomes stern.

“Laura, what on Earth is that?” Caroline asks. Laura explains the situation, but in the way that a ten year old gives all of the details out of order and never actually answers the question. She isn’t being evasive, she’s just giving the points without the argument. She says she saved his life, but Mary asks if she meant Mr. Parsons or the goat. See what I mean? Mary pets the goat and suggests the name William the Conqueror. Caroline laughs at this, but Laura says she already decided on the name Fred. Laura says he kinda looks like a Fred, and based on my experience with the Freds of the world she's right. Caroline cautions her daughter that Pa might not be too keen on having a goat around. “But you know how Pa likes animals,” Laura says. Yeah, because that raccoon you brought home wasn’t a problem at all – Charles loved that. Laura calls Fred friendly then realizes that his name should be Fred the Friendly Goat. I wonder what Ed Friendly (the guy at the end of the credits) thought about this episode? Caroline tells Laura to put Fred in the barn and get started on her homework.

Meanwhile in the swamp, Charles is gathering some sort of grass. You see, I have this theory about Little House where you can tell the stupidity of a given story based on certain factors. If the episode is unbearably dumb, Charles and sometimes Caroline will be out of town or otherwise unavailable. If it is only sort of dumb but still likely to cause the ladies to change the channel, then we get some Michael Landon Beefy Man Chest Action. As Charles carries the grass out of the water, we not only get MLBMCA but wet MLBMCA. He hears a carriage driving by. Charles looks down and panics. Oh right, people usually went into the water nakkers in those days. Once the carriage is gone, we see Charles rise up out of the algae covered water. Hubba hubba?

Later on, Caroline is heating up some water as Charles rides up to the homestead. He looks rather haggard as he starts to unload the cart filled with swamp grass. Apparently Charles is gathering all this grass for some guy who is paying him a rather paltry amount for all the work that is involved. Caroline tells Charles that there is a bath ready for him and she can finish unloading the grass.

Charles enters the barn and starts to undress. As he takes off his boots, he grabs onto the barn door for support. Fred decides to check out the visitor and his eyes lock on to Charles’s rump. Caroline remembers while she is unloading that she should tell her husband about the goat, but by the time she gets to the barn Charles has already been introduced. Hard.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Next Week's Episode


(1976) - Laura is tricked into taking a billy goat home with her, who she names Fred. After Fred eats the crops, however, Charles tells Laura that she has to find Fred a new home.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Camp-Out 5/5

Charles and Nels are still searching for their daughters. After a few barks from Jack, we rejoin the girls on their White Water Adventure. Nellie manages to put aside her sense of survival to whine and pout some more. She’s like a more annoying version of Willie from Temple of Doom.

Charles calls out for Laura while Nels skips a stone on the river. Jack starts to freak out and bark at the bushes where Nellie fell in. I think there’s a dog that could benefit from some Lassie training. Charles spots Laura’s leaf bag and both men start to get a bit more concerned. Charles speculates that the girls are probably farther downstream, but that causes Nels to suppose that they might have fallen into the river. Charles tells Nels not to “chase shadows”, which I think is a little unfair.

The girls enter another set of rapids and manage to avoid slamming into rocks again. I call no waysies. We then see a series of waterfalls that the girls are sort of approaching. Of course, they end up taking a fork in the river, so they were never in any (additional) danger. Laura manages to steer the bush towards a tree branch that just happens to be in a shallow part of the river. She forces Nellie to accept the branch as a means of escape from the river, but not after a bout of extreme whining. Shut up, Nellie. Lemmings have a stronger sense of self-preservation than this girl.

As the girls reach the shore, the bush floats over towards the waterfalls and gets swallowed up by the white water. Let’s just pretend they were in danger, shall we? Ooooo! Ahhhh! Ahem. After a short breather, Nellie starts blaming Laura for bumping her into the water, attempting to drown her, and then causing her to cry because she can’t swim. It is at this point that I first notice that Nellie has a rather nasty snaggletooth. Laura tells Nellie to stop bawling, but to no avail. Nellie complains about freezing, but Laura suggests that walking back will probably warm her up. Actually, I don’t think that’s the recommended treatment for hypothermia.

Caroline surveys the river as Harriet walks over. They acknowledge that several hours have passed. Harriet takes responsibility for the whole situation, saying that it was her idea to have Nels finagle an invitation for the Olesons. Caroline says she kinda figured that out already, much to Harriet’s surprise. Harriet still thinks that if she were a better person, this situation would never have presented itself. Caroline’s response: “It takes two to argue.” Love ya, Caroline! Harriet promises to Caroline that if/when the girls come back, she will strive to be a better person. So if the girls don’t come back, you’ll strive to be more like this?

Mary is on calamine duty with Willie. After she applies some goop to his elbow, Willie tells Mary that she doesn’t seem as mean as Nellie says she is. He even goes so far as to call Mary nice. As Mary starts to confess about the poison ivy debacle, Charles bellows that he has found the girls. Everyone runs over to hug the girls. Laura says they rode the rapids, followed by Nellie blaming the Ingalls girl for pushing her off the riverbank. Laura is outraged, but then Nellie accuses her of pushing her head underwater. Mrs. Oleson returns to her regular Orange Threat Level self and chastises Laura. She then tells Willie to share all his leaves with Nellie since she lost all of hers in the river. Even the special leaves. Mary and Laura smile at this.

Back in Walnut Grove, Miss Beadle is ready to announce whose collections won out. She says they came from two students. Mary and Laura perk up, but it is Willie and Nellie who won. Miss Beadle leads the class in a round of tepid applause. The kids turn around and…hey! They stole my Halloween costume! Miss Beadle starts itching her neck. Laura and Mary look at each other but don’t say anything. Are they the only two people in Walnut Grove who can recognize poison ivy? Wah wah.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Camp-Out 4/5

The next morning Willie and Harriet are covered in some homemade paste that Caroline applies. Laura and Mary watch as the Olesons scratch themselves. Thank God for TV – that is not my idea of entertainment. Harriet tells Willie to stop scratching, causing Laura to smirk. Mrs. Oelson wonders aloud why she and her son are the only ones to be affected. Well, if you let Willie share his treasure trove then everyone would be complaining. Happy now, Harriet? Mary doesn’t offer my answer and instead uses the semi-rhetorical question as an opportunity to exit before she shares her knowledge about the poison ivy.

Nels saunters over and asks his wife if there is anything he can do to help her. She tells her husband not to worry and to go fishing as if nothing were wrong. Strange, but there is no air of a guilt trip when Harriet says this. Nels notices this too, so he and Charles scamper off before Harriet has another change of heart.

Later along the riverbank, we see Laura and Mary running towards more leaves. Nellie yells for the girls to wait up so she can “search” along with them. Mary suggests that they split up to maximize their leaf count. Nellie decides to continue to tag along with Laura. It’s probably for the best – we don’t want Nellie to get eaten by a panda bear drinking from the Danube now, do we?

Jack leads the way down a narrow path along the river. Laura gingerly walks towards a leaf but Nellie swoops in and snatches it. Farther down the path, Nellie spots some leaves right by the river’s edge. Laura calls over to Nellie, telling her to be careful. Nellie scoffs at this. A moment later she screams as she lowers herself, er, “falls” into the water. Laura runs over to grab the girl, but the bush that Nellie was holding onto uproots and pulls both of the girls into the rapids. Of course. Jack barks in disapproval.

Back at camp, Charles swoops in to steal a sandwich from a stack that Caroline had prepared. He asks how the leaf hunters are doing and his wife reports that Mary came back but Laura and Nellie were still out and about. Charles checks in with Mary to see her leaf collection. Over at the Oleson side of the camp, Harriet tells Nels that lunch is almost ready so he should call for Nellie. He looks around a bit before asking Mary if she has seen his daughter. Mary says she hasn’t, but she found Jack nearby so the girls must be around somewhere. Charles and Nels decide to go look for the girls.

Meanwhile downstream, Laura and Nellie cling to the bush as the rapids carry them. “We’ll have to wait until it gets shallow,” Laura says. Nelly whines at an ear-piercing frequency about not being able to swim. After navigating past a fallen tree trunk, we enter into an homage to Deliverance. If anyone tells Nellie that she has a purty mouth, I am so done with this project. Despite the bush’s incredibly weak roots, the girls manage to hang on and not slam into any rocks…so far…

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Camp-Out 3/5

Later on, we see Caroline bringing some tree branches to Harriet who is struggling with setting up the Oleson tent. Caroline offers to help, but Harriet insists on trying to get it done herself. Mrs. Ingalls observes for a bit before complimenting Mrs. Oleson on her outdoors skillz. Harriet jokes about giving her brothers camping lessons when they were growing up. Who is this pleasant person and what did she do with Mrs. Oleson? As Harriet starts to lay down the branches in the tent, the support tie comes undone and the whole thing collapses on Harriet. Whoops.

A bit later, Charles and Nels walk back to the campsite carrying a couple bundles of fish. The kids run to their respective fathers as they show off their hauls. Nels stops in his tracks when he sees the camp completely set up. “I never thought you could do that by yourself,” he marvels. Harriet stammers for a second before Caroline pipes in that she was also amazed with her work. Nice save, but now I’m starting to worry that something is wrong with the water in the river. What’s going on with these people? The women take the fish and get ready to cook dinner. Nels is dubious of Harriet’s extreme chipperness.

That dubiousness is replaced with indigestion as Nels struggles to get his fork into the charred piece of fish meat on his plate. Harriet is not a top chef when it comes to campfire cooking. Charles offers to trade some of his fish for Nels so that the latter will have something for dinner. Meanwhile, the kids are showing their respective Ma’s the leaves they have collected. After Caroline sends her daughters to bed, we hear Willie telling Harriet about his extra special find. There is some bickering about sharing (Willie doesn’t want to, surprise) that catches Mary’s attention. She points out the poison ivy to Laura, who asks what they should do. “I think we better go to bed – NOW,” says Mary. Laura disagrees and suggests telling Pa. Mary thinks the best course of action is to say nothing, especially if the Olesons don’t end up touching the plant enough to get affected. We then see Harriet rubbing the leaves on her face. Horticulture FAIL.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Camp-Out 2/5

I guess Charles reconsidered, because we now see him carrying Carrie and leading a horse down a trail with the rest of the traveling party following. Laura grabs some leaves from a bush and Nellie grabs some as well. Good strategy Nellie, go for the tie. Bringing up the rear are Nels, who appears to have packed the same way Waldo does, and Harriet, who is struggling to keep her balance while walking with a parasol. I have to wonder if Jennifer Saunders used this scene as inspiration for Edina Monsoon.

Nels and Sweetie Dah-ling reach a small mud creek. Nels hops over it with ease, but Harriet, who is also carrying the tea service, struggles with leaping. Apparently the umbrella was Harriet’s center of gravity as she falls backwards into the creek. Wah wah. She tries to save face as Nels helps her up.

As Charles enters a clearing, Caroline calls ahead and suggests that they take a break so the Olesons can catch up. Laura asks if she can go hunt for leaves and takes off to go search. When the Olesons finally arrive at the pit stop, Charles informs them that this is a non-elimination leg and they can eat, sleep, and mingle with the other travelers. The Olesons look relieved.

Over in the foliage follies, Nellie instructs Willie to stick with Mary and to get two of everything that the Ingalls girl grabs. That way both the Oleson kids will have the same set of leaves. Nothing like a three-way tie. Mary tells Willie to bug off, but he refuses. After an unnecessary cutaway to Laura, Mary spots a plant that has three leaves. Her eyes bug but she doesn’t grab any of the leaves. Willie sees Mary’s p-p-p-poker face and runs over to collect the foliage. Mary tells him to stop, but he tells her the leaves are his. Oh, Laura was joining the scene, as she now tells the two that the pit stop is over.

Willie sticks his tongue out as he leaves. Once he’s gone, Laura chides her sister for letting Willie be a twerp. “He should be taught a lesson,” Laura says. “He will be,” Mary replies, “that was poison ivy.” Laura giggles after another close-up of the plant.

We see some snow-capped mountains. Umm, where are they exactly? The highest point in Minnesota is Eagle Mountain, but that’s only 2300 feet and next to Lake Superior. Walnut Grove is in the opposite corner of the state. Nice attention to detail, show. Anyway, we see the party arrive next to a flowing river (probably the Potomac or the Ohio) and everyone washes up. The kids run off to find more leaves, the women offer to set up camp, and Nels and Charles head off to go fishing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Camp-Out 1/5

Walnut Grove hasn’t changed much since our last visit: Kids still running down the hillside, the wagon still rolling into “The Town”, same old, same old. This episode begins in the school where Miss Beadle is hanging some pictures above the chalkboard. The chalkboard reads “HAppy HoliDAy”. I’m guessing Miss Beadle was an early adopter of MySpace. As the camera zooms in we see the pictures are of different types of leaves.

Miss Beadle acknowledges that the kids are probably excited about the yet-unnamed holiday that is approaching and she has decided that she will not assign any homework. The kids cheer, but Miss Beadle reminds them that their leaf collections are still due the first day back. Willie’s jaw drops just enough so you can fit a beach ball in his mouth. He says he already has his leaf collection. Since when did he become an overachiever? Miss Beadle says that’s fine, but the project still won’t be due until the kids get back.

Laura raises her hand and tells Miss Beadle and the class that the Ingalls family will be going on a camping trip. “We can get all kinds of leaves up in the hills,” she brags. Mary is beaming. Is there a question in there somewhere, Laura, or are you just showing off? Nellie thinks it’s the latter and announces that she thinks it’s unfair that they have access to exotic leaves while everyone else scrambles for the cheap-ass ones in Walnut Grove. Miss Beadle says it really isn’t a big deal. Mary asks, with severity in her voice, if they are going to be graded. Homegirl has her game face on. Miss Beadle says they will and that the best collection will go on display. She dismisses the class. As Laura leaves, she sees that Nellie has her game face on as well.

We join Harriet mid-chew as she kvetches about the Ingalls and their camping trip. “Giving their children an unfair advantage,” she forces through her full mouth. Lovely. Nellie adds to the whining before Nels is all like “I don’t know what you expect me to do about it.” Harriet tells her husband to find out where the Ingalls will be camping and then follow along with kids in tow. Nels finds this incredibly tacky, but Harriet plays the “It’s a free country” card, or whatever the equivalent was back then. Why do they have to go to the same spot as the Ingalls family? Couldn’t they just go on their own camping trip and get their stupid leaves that way? Before the logic police start to gather, Harriet and Nellie do a tag team guilt trip about how Nels is allegedly a bad father. Nels counters with his concern about having to close up shop and losing business. Ooo, now it’s a tennis match! Harriet says she can take care of the store. Nels realizes that if Harriet sticks around Walnut Grove, then he gets a vacation from her. He decides to ride out to the Ingalls farm to find out where they are going.

Charles is either working on a chair or his pecs with some hand crank tool in the barn. Nels rides up and chit chats about fishing. He shows Charles his rod (not a euphemism) and Charles says he would love to try it out (still not a euphemism). Charles invites Nels and the kids to tag along, just as long as they don’t mind roughing it. Nels accepts the invitation.

The next day we see Carrie accepting a piece of candy from Nels in the Mercantile. As Caroline and Nels work out the bill, Harriet enters the room. Nels comes up with a total, but determines that the Olesons will use many of those provisions so he gives Caroline a huge discount. Harriet didn’t realize that Caroline was going on the trip also and she starts to reminisce about camping trips she went on when she was a child. Oh, her poor parents, I can just imagine. Caroline nods politely until Harriet says, “I wish I was going along.” Caroline’s eyes widen with panic and Nels rushes to change the subject. It doesn’t quite work, even when Nels reminds his wife about the store. Harriet muses some more as Caroline and Carrie leave.

That night, Nels puts out the lamp in the bedroom and tells his wife that he’ll try to be quiet when they leave tomorrow morning. She tells him not to worry because she is going to make them breakfast. And every meal on the trip. She rises out of bed and I cannot for the life of me figure out what is on her head. It looks like Coolio threw a tickertape parade on her scalp. I’m guessing she’s trying to curl her hair but it looks bizarre. Nels is shocked, not by the hair but by Harriet’s declaration that she will be camping with them. Nels tries every tactic he can think of to convince Harriet to stay but she won’t have any of it. Wah wah.

The next morning, Charles and the family are finishing packing up their stuff. The Olesons ride up and they chit chat about the beautiful weather. Charles offers to help unload the Oleson wagon and Harriet tells him she’ll take care of the package with the tea service. Why would you bring that? Caroline and Charles immediately know that the only person who would pack such a thing would be Harriet, so she must be coming along. Nels confirms this, so Charles and Caroline decide to have a confab in the barn. Charles says he will not go on the trip with Harriet Oleson. Caroline doesn’t like the situation either, but she does mention that Harriet is trying so hard to be nice so they should give her a chance. Charles mutters all Milton-like after Caroline leaves the barn to break the news that they won’t be going on the trip to her children.