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.