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.

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