Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Little House On The Prairie S1 Pilot

I'm certain I will be deemed old-fashioned or quaint to express an enduring affection for a series like Little House On The Prairie (1974-1983), but here I blog before you expressing that very affinity for the classic series and frankly my dear I'm okay with it. As a result of that great love for the classic series I've been purchasing each newly restored, remastered Blu-Ray upon release.

Today, Little House On The Prairie, thanks to the Blu-Ray restoration, looks truly magnificent and as vivid as ever. It's ironic for the dirty, dusty era in which the series captures, but by God the wonderful series looks glorious. More importantly Little House On The Prairie holds up remarkably well beyond appearance but in its storytelling, messaging and performance. These aspects of the show are as strong, important and timely as ever. Next to the likes of restored classics like Star Trek: The Next Generation, another series with a timeless tale to tell, Little House On The Prairie is another shining example of quality television that stands the test of time. Quite frankly I was more impressed than expected when I sat through re-watching Season One.

Exceptional turns from Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, Karen Grassle, Melissa Sue Anderson and even the late, great Richard Bull (who passed in February 2014)) as Mr. Oleson are all outstanding.

Stories like The Lord Is My Shepherd (written and directed by Landon), Christmas At Plum Creek, Family Quarrel and Plague all round out fine examples of great storytelling, values to be cherished and just plain, old-fashioned, life-affirming goodness that seems to have all but disappeared today. It's high quality and attention to detail is a true testament to why the series lasted nine seasons (203 episodes).

I was genuinely moved watching the series again at how sincere, engaging and entertaining it remains some forty years after its introduction to television audiences.

As much as I adore The Incredible Hulk and The Six Million Dollar Man from the 1970s there is a wholesome quality and a sincerity to the realities of Little House On The Prairie's storytelling, based on the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, that has held up even better than most television from the 1970s. Perhaps its historical backdrop benefitted the series ability to endure. All in all, it really captures the imagination, our hearts and transports us to another era. The series while set in a different time and place nevertheless manages to share universal themes or stories that still affect us, challenge us and hold true for us today regardless of technology.

I'm not often a church going man, but strive to be a good Christian and it never ceases to amaze me just how fulfilling some of the messages and lessons are from this series.

A recent Sunday morning viewing of the show saw the folks of Walnut Grove at church and the messages remain as true today as they were then. These messages are indeed life-affirming even refreshing and seemingly absent from our busy lives. The series has as much to say today as it did in 1974. Surprisingly perhaps, it's more relevant than ever. One could certainly attend church, but if your life is the whirlwind it is for many of us, look no further than Little House On The Prairie to remind us of a simpler time that cherished God, family, community, love and kindness and understood the importance of making mistakes, but being held accountable for those mistakes.

The series' charms magnifies just how poorly sometimes we are to our fellow man today. It is frightening to consider how much of what is so good about this show seems to be devoid from our own lives today. Little House On The Prairie was never excessively sentimental but it wasn't above moving one to a tear from time to time and still can. Okay call me a softy or square that's fine.

Sometimes watching and covering a classic series we once loved of our yesterdays for coverage on a blog can be something of a chore. Truly, Little House On The Prairie was so well produced and written it remains a genuine treasure and a pleasure to experience again, Laura Ingall's chores and all. When the rose-colored glasses of our youth are removed sometimes these classic shows have their challenges, and don't hold the magic they once enjoyed, but Little House On The Prairie was gifted with all of the chemistry and creative people that make great series like Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969). It may not have the same influence, but Little House On The Prairie is a beautiful little time capsule of its era exploring another period all its own. It's a great place to visit. It's doesn't feel the least bit dated because it already was.

Some might find Star Trek: The Next Generation a much cooler proposition series to throw their support behind over and above the wholesome, seemingly square stories of Little House On The Prairie, but let's not forget there are those who would cast stones upon our Star Trek too. Many would love to just discard this series as an insignificant childhood memory. There is nothing insignificant about the messaging of family values and I'm certainly not willing to go there myself.

Little House On The Prairie was released on September 11, 1974 at the end of the Vietnam War amidst the unrest and stress of those final months. It also arrived following the resignation of a sitting American President in Richard M. Nixon. If ever there was a desire to escape it was then. Little House On The Prairie was an escape into another world as much as following the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha hurtle through space on the moon on Space:1999 (1975-1977) led us to new worlds and new discoveries. And like the Alphans, the Ingalls on Little House dealt with real problems. In fact, I've thought about it and most people don't know what hard is in America today. These people had it hard.

Little House On The Prairie was indeed one of those rare series that took on human interest stories and tales that seem to stand the test of time just set against another time, another place, but the problems and solutions, however infinitely more difficult in contrast to the troubles of today, are still undeniably relatable. The quality of its stories rests squarely on strong stories with a moral center and the chemistry and individual talents of its principals. My mother said to me recently as only a proud mother can, "you're a good kid." I told her, "Well, that's thanks to you, Gram and Little House On The Prairie." She laughed but there's a hint of truth to that I suppose even though that last part was meant to be funny.

Seeing Little House On The Prairie again was a real treasure.

I thought a small bit of coverage to offer fellow fans of the series some images from the show would be nice from time to time since there does not appear to be much out there, much like The Courtship Of Eddie's Father (1969-1972). We'll do our best to deliver a little Landon and Gilbert love when time permits. Seeing a series like Little House On The Prairie again and losing the likes of Leonard Nimoy recently makes you realize how much you miss a fellow like Michael Landon or Bill Bixby. It's sad to see the good ones go. I hope you enjoy the selection of images from the Pilot of Little House On The Prairie Season One.

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