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The Illustrated
Little House On The Prairie
Episode Guide

Michael Landon next to a film camera on location in Simi Valley

Little House on the Prairie is a fondly remembered hour-long, family TV show which ran on NBC-TV in the United States from 1974 to 1984. It was based, very loosely, on the well-known Little House series of children's novels written by Laura Ingalls Wilder during the 1930s and 1940s. The TV show clocked up an impressive 205 episodes.

The series followed the adventures of a pioneer family living in a log cabin in Minnesota through the decades of the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s in a town called Walnut Grove (bought to life for the screen courtesy of a custom-made set constructed on the Big Sky Ranch in the Simi Valley, California). The featured family – the Ingalls – comprised Pa, Charles; Ma, Caroline; eldest daughter, Mary; middle daughter Laura; and youngest daughter, Carrie. As the show progressed, other characters would be brought into the family circle. The show's remaining key roles included other people living in the town, notably the bickering Olesons, husband-and-wife owners of the local store, and their spoiled children, Nellie and Willie; the local physician-cum-vet, Dr. Baker; and the town's minister, Reverend Alden.

The show was the idea of Michael Landon who, fresh from 14 years of playing Little Joe on Bonanza, was looking for a new TV vehicle in which he could not only star and act as showrunner, but also write and direct many of the episodes. NBC executive Ed Friendly held the rights to produce a TV show based on the Little House books, so a collaboration between Landon and Friendly was the obvious way forward.

During its run, Little House on the Prairie explored many different themes including alcoholism and drug addiction, faith, poverty, blindness and disability, loneliness, rape, terminal illness, suicide and death, child abuse, romance and love, bullying, and prejudice of all types including racism. Although primarily a drama, the program included many lighthearted and comedic moments as well.

The show remains popular in syndicated reruns and has been on the air in the US continuously since its original run. It is also shown regularly in many other countries across the world. It is available, complete, on DVD and Blu-Ray and as downloads. A number of the surviving original cast have written memoirs about their time on the program, and there are also yearly get-togethers and conventions which eager fans attend.

In the guide that follows, airdates have been researched afresh from primary sources as many/most sources on the Internet were found to be unreliable in this respect. Similarly, while mostly accurate regarding guest roles, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) – the main Internet repository for TV cast details – is very unreliable in documenting which regulars and semi-regulars appear in a given episode. Again, these details have been redone from scratch.

Most episodes include a pull-down "drawer" (a slider) where you can read assorted comments about the episode. Most of these are drawn from the long-defunct Television Without Pity site where I spent many an amused hour (the Little House thread was the longest on the site). The comments also include mistakes/goofs, though I have left out any involving characters' ages and dating issues as there are too many to mention. I also omit ones involving "this is different from the books" type of moans (the TV show was never intended to be a faithful re-telling of the books).

A second pull-down drawer contains the Internet Movie Database reviews for that episode. These are presented "as is".

Images can be clicked or touched on to show a source-sized blowup of the picture.

"Spoilers" in the synopses are generally obscured; you can mouseover or touch to reveal these.

Newspaper listing The icon, right, indicates an original newspaper billing can be viewed by clicking. Unfortunately, some of these are via multi-generation copies and are fairly poor quality.

The "Cartwheel" ratings for each episode (shown inside the Landon graphic) are out of five relative to the other episodes (rather than TV in general). Your feelings may vary! As a general rule of thumb, 3½ cartwheels represents a good, engaging episode of the series. Three cartwheels is a more run-of-the-mill episode. Below three indicates some significant shortcomings in the episode. Four or more represents an excellent episode.

The unit's original production number codes are included. These give a closer indication of the order in which the episodes were shot than do the eventual airdates.

I hope (unlike many examples of this kind of fansite) that this site gives a satisfactory experience on smartphones.

I can be emailed for comments or corrections:   (Click to see e-mail address)

Little House on the Prairie: Pilot Movie

Newspaper listingEpisode# 0.01 (1) – 2 hours
Written by Blanche Hanalis
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast March 30, 1974, NBC (part of NBC Saturday Night At The Movies)

Starring: Michael Landon1, Karen Grassle2, Melissa Gilbert3, Melissa Sue Anderson4, Lindsay Sidney Green Bush5 [sic]. Executive Producers: Ed Friendly and Michael Landon. Based Upon the "Little House" Series of Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Ted Voigtländer A.S.C. (Director of Photography), Kent McCray (Associate Producer), David Rose (Music), Trevor Williams (Art Director), John Loeffler (Editor), Miles S. Middough (Assistant Director), Dennis Peeples (Set Decoration), Edward P. Ancona Jr. (Color Consultant), Photographed with Panavision Equipment®, Processed by Consolidated Film Industries, An NBC Production In Association with Ed Friendly.

Interiors shot at Paramount Studios, Hollywood.

Copyright © MCMLXXIV [1974] by National Broadcasting Company, Inc.

Guest Star: Victor French6. Cal Bellini (Brave), Sam Vlahos (1st Indian), Richard Alarian (2nd Indian), Marian Beeler (Grandmother), John Steadman (Grandfather) And Vic Mohica (Soldat Du Chene). Hal Burton (Indian Brave/Soldier)7, Ruth Foster (Aunt Ruby)7, Patrick O'Hagan (unknown)7.

1 Charles Ingalls.
2 Caroline Ingalls.
3 Laura Ingalls.
4 Mary Ingalls
5 Carrie Ingalls (played jointly by twin actresses Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush).
6 Mr. Edwards.
7 Uncredited on episode's titles; these entries have been taken from the Internet Movie Database and have not been verified.

After supplies of game dry up, the Ingalls family – Charles, Caroline and their daughters, Mary, Laura and Carrie – leave their house in the woods of Wisconsin to head south-west to Kansas to look for somewhere new to live. After an arduous journey in a covered wagon, the family settle on a prairie in Indian territory near Independence. A friendly neighbor, Mr. Edwards, helps the Ingalls build a cabin, and to celebrate their first Christmas in their new home. The family also meets Indians, both friendly and unfriendly. Ultimately, a land deal between the local Indians and the government evicts the Ingalls from their home, and they are forced to leave for pastures new once more.

This pleasing TV movie effectively formed the pilot for LHOP though, to be honest, unless this film had been an absolute disaster, the series was pretty much guaranteed to follow. Unlike the rest of the series, it sticks very closely to Laura Ingalls Wilder's book, although it omits a couple of the grimmer bits, such as the family nearly dying of malaria.

I re-watched the Pilot again yesterday. No matter how many times I see it, it remains perfect. There are some actual edge-of-your-seat moments (crossing the river, when Jack disappears, when the first 2 Indians enter the cabin) as opposed to the overly melodramatic moments later in the series. But I especially love how real the relationship seems between Pa and Ma, when they're short with each other and have little arguments and moods, which seems much more accurate than the later series where it's all rainbows and unicorns no matter what and they're never impatient with each other at all (cue: "Oh, Charles! *giggle*").
It really could just have been Ma, Pa and Laura though. I think Mary had 2 or 3 superfluous lines ("Pa said not to untie him!" and, "Laura wanted to untie him!" Bite me, Mary) and Carrie just perfected her famous outhouse run (holding clean stockings?? WTF?) (charlieboo)

charlieboo, you are so right about the pilot. That film is a thing of beauty, and I love watching it. It's faithful to the books, well acted, beautifully shot and there's so many moments that stand out. My favorites:
"Dear Lord, we thank you for bringing our good and dear friend back to us." (When Jack returns.)
"Hear that? Hear what, Pa? The stars, singing Hallelujah." (Pa and Laura by the campfire.)
When Pa and Ma have a moment alone to share a kiss in the Little House. Whew. Smokin'.
Laura and Mr Edwards' goodbye scene. Makes me cry every time. (prairiegal)

In the first scene, as the family is walking to the wagon, Melissa Sue Anderson briefly slips over.

At about 5 minutes in, a sunset shot of the wagon shows a jet contrail in the sky, top right. (Steve)

That made so mad about Jack. They could have made room for him. (bigskygirl)

Then Pa was so pissed because he didn't have a dog to guard them at night. Well, if he was so damn important to your safety you should have looked out for the dear dog a bit better. (merylinkid)

Right at the end, just after Mr Edwards has said goodbye to the Ingalls, he walks behind the wagon and somebody or something quickly moves out of sight.

Leaving the Little House in the Big Woods in Wisconsin
Laura Ingalls takes lessons in spitting from Mr. Edwards
Caroline and Charles Ingalls in their new cabin in Kansas
Laura and Mary are visited by Indians
The family outside the cabin on the Kansas prairie
Mr. Edwards visits at Christmas after battling through the snow

The opening titles of the pilot film.
(NB: Video file 1800kbps – you may not want to play this on a mobile/cell tariff!)

The closing of the pilot film..
(NB: Video file 1800kbps – you may not want to play this on a mobile/cell tariff!)

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