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Season 4

4.01 Castoffs  (68)

4.02 Times Of Change  (69)

4.03 My Ellen  (70)

4.04 The Handyman  (71)

4.05 The Wolves  (72)

4.06 The Creeper Of Walnut Grove  (73)

4.07 To Run And Hide  (74)

4.08 The Aftermath  (75)

4.09 The High Cost Of Being Right  (76)

4.10 The Fighter  (77 - 1½ hours)

4.11 Meet Me At The Fair  (78)

4.12 Here Come The Brides  (79)

4.13 Freedom Flight  (80)

4.14 The Rivals  (81)

4.15 Whisper Country  (82)

4.16 I Remember, I Remember  (83)

4.17 Be My Friend  (84 - 1½ hours)

4.18 The Inheritance  (85)

4.19 The Stranger  (86)

4.20 A Most Precious Gift  (87)

4.21 I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away: Part I  (88)

4.22 I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away: Part II  (89)

Season 4 DVD cover

Starring: Michael Landon (1-11,13-221), Karen Grassle (1-11,13-221), Melissa Gilbert (1-6,8-14,152,16-221), Melissa Sue Anderson3 (1-8,10-221), Lindsay Sidney Greenbush4 (1-8,10-14,152,16-221). Executive Producer: Michael Landon. Produced by John Hawkins (1,3,5,7,9,10,13,15,17,19,20), William F. Claxton (2,4,6,8,11,12,14,16,18,21,22). Developed for Television by Blanche Hanalis. Based Upon the "Little House" Series of Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

The Town: Richard Bull (Mr. Oleson 1,3-8,10-13,17-19,205,22), Dabbs Greer (Reverend Alden 1,3,6,8,15,18,21,22), Kevin Hagen (Dr. Baker 1,3-8,10,13,17,18,20-22), Jim Jeter (Dorfler 1), Katherine MacGregor6 (Mrs. Oleson 1,3-7,10-13,17-22), Charlotte Stewart (Miss Beadle/Mrs. Simms7 1,6,8,12,14,18,20,22), Karl Swenson (Mr. Hanson 5,6,8,10,18,21,22).

John Hawkins (Executive Story Consultant), John T. Dugan (Story Consultant 14-22), David Rose (Music), Kent McCray (Associate Producer), Ted Voigtländer A.S.C. (Director of Photography 1,3,5,7,9,108,13,15,17,19,20), Haskell Boggs A.S.C. (Director of Photography 2,4,6,8,11,12,14,16,18,21,22), Walter M. Jefferies (Art Director), John Loeffler (Editor 1,3,5,7,9,10,13,14,16,189,20,22), Jerry Taylor (Editor 2,4,6,8,11,12,15,17,189,19,21), Don Webb (Set Decoration 1-9,12,14-17,20-22), Morey Hoffman (Set Decoration 10,11,13), Dennis Peeples (Set Decoration 18,19), Miles S. Middough (Assistant Director 1,3,5,7,9,10,13,15,17,19,20), Maury Dexter (Assistant Director 2,4,6,8,11,12,14,16,18,21,22), Susan Sukman10 (Casting), Marvin Coil A.C.E. (Supervising Editor), Allan Snyder S.M.A. (Makeup), Gladys Witten (Hair Stylist 1-8), Larry Germain C.H.S. (Hair Stylist 9-22), Andy Matyasi (Men's Costumer), Richalene Kelsay (Women's Costumer), Vince Gutierrez (Sound Effects Editor 18-22), Edna Bullock (Music Editor), Edward P. Ancona Jr. (Color Consultant), Barry D. Thomas (Sound Recording 1-13), Dave Dockendorf (Sound Recording 1,2), Gordon Day (Sound Recording 3-22), Frank Meadows (Sound Recording 14-22), Reid Rummage (Second Assistant Director 18-22), Gary L. Wohlleben (Production Controller 18-22), Photographed with Panavision Equipment®, Processed by Consolidated Film Industries, Sound by Glen Glenn Sound, An NBC Production In Association with Ed Friendly.

Interiors shot at Paramount Studios, Hollywood.

Copyright © MCMLXXVII [1977] by National Broadcasting Company, Inc. (1-13)
Copyright © MCMLXXVIII [1978] by National Broadcasting Company, Inc. (14-22)

1 Credited across all episodes, but only appears in those indicated.
2 Only appears in long-shot in episode 15, possibly a double.
3 Melissa Sue Anderson for nominated for an Emmy for her work on this season. She lost to Sada Thompson from Family.
4 Carrie is played jointly by twin actresses Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush.
5 Only appears in long-shot in episode 20.
6 aka Scottie MacGregor.
7 Billed as "Mrs. Simms" from episode 14 onwards.
8 Ted Voigtländer won an Emmy for his cinematography for episode 10.
9 Some copies of episode 18 credit John Loeffler; some, Jerry Taylor.
10 aka Susan McCray.

Overall Nielsen rating for season: 24.1 (7th).


Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.01 (68)
Written by Tony Kayden
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast September 12, 1977, NBC / Production #4003

Guest Star: Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey)1. Special Guest Star: Hermione Baddeley (Kezia). Featuring: John Brandon (Freighter), Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Jonathan Gilbert2 (Willie Oleson), Hersha Parady (Alice Garvey)1. Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster)3.4

1 This is the first episode for Merlin Olsen as Jonathan Garvey, and Hersha Parady as Alice Garvey.
2 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).
3 Uncredited on episode's titles.
4 Additionally, near the end of the episode, a boy is seen accompanying the Garveys into church. It is likely this is intended to be their son Andy, though he is played by an extra and not yet by Patrick Laborteaux.

Kezia Horn, an eccentric old woman, has set up home in a ruined house in the center of town. The kids befriend her but the adults take against her. Back at home, Jack the dog has died and, by chance, Charles returns with a stray dog who has followed him. Laura feels guilty that she neglected Jack and refuses to bond with the new dog. Kezia makes Laura understand that the new dog is only after a bit of love. Consequently, Laura has a change of heart and starts to warm to the new dog, now called Bandit. Meanwhile, Kezia, feeling unwelcome, is leaving town, but Laura makes the adults change their attitude towards her.

The Kezia character never really worked for me and isn't very consistent. She is shown here as absolutely barking mad (using imaginary objects etc.) but is later shown to be merely eccentric and, for example, compos mentis enough to work in the post office.

A barrel of water with one bottle of spirits poured into it would not make Nels (or anybody else) anywhere near as drunk as portrayed. (Steve)

Nearish the end, as Laura is running through the grass after Bandit, she slips over. However, the fall was kept in the finished episode.

Kezia with pet crow
Laura and stray dog Bandit
Times Of Change

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.02 (69)
Written by Carole and Michael Raschella
Directed by William F. Claxton
Broadcast September 19, 1977, NBC / Production #4002

Guest Stars: Radames Pera (John)1, John Milford (O'Connell), Herbert Nelson (Hancock). Co-Starring: Lisa Reeves (Claire Lawrence), Paula Shaw (Angela), Richard Stanley (Wesley Cox), Mike Lookinland (Boy on Train), Bernie Kuby (Conductor). Featuring: William Mullikin (Hotel Clerk), Hank Stohl (Reporter), Michael Dan Wagner (Chairman), Joe Medalis (Train Waiter), Len Lawson (Bellboy), Barbara Morrison (Dowager). Maggie Munro (City Girl)2.

1 This is the last episode for Radames Pera as John Jr., though the character's death is investigated in Chicago in Season 8.
2 Uncredited on episode's titles; this entry has been taken from the Internet Movie Database and has not been verified.

Charles travels to Chicago for a Grange meeting and takes Mary with him so she can see her boyfriend John, a reporter in the city. Upright Charles finds the behind-the-scenes politics at the Grange distasteful and makes an angry speech to that effect. At a later grand ball, Charles discovers that John is two-timing Mary, and the pair subsequently break up. Both father and daughter return to Walnut Grove in somber moods.

A plush episode with some lavish filming for the Chicago parts (you'll be seeing that fountain again, I assure you).
The plot about the Grange is nothing more than the usual "the cities are Bad; the countryside is Good" homily from Charles, but the Mary bits are more interesting. There are also a good couple of LOL (but un-PC) moments when Charles' hotel room is visited by a prostitute touting for business.

Note the zippers down the backs of some of the ball gowns! (Steve)

Charles lets rip at the Grange
A heartbroken Mary
My Ellen

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.03 (70)
Written by Michael Landon
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast September 26, 1977, NBC / Production #4007

Guest Stars: James Wainwright (Cal Taylor), Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey). Special Guest Star: Corinne Michaels1 (Eloise Taylor). Co-Starring: Ken Johnson (Busby), Mia Bendixsen (Ellen Taylor). Featuring: Bryce Berg (Jason), Matthew Roberts (Tommy).

1 aka Corinne Camacho.

Eleven-year-old Ellen Taylor accidentally drowns while swimming with the Ingalls girls. Her mother, deranged with sorrow, begins to imagine Laura is her dead daughter and imprisons the girl in her basement. A missing local misfit called Busby is adjudged responsible for Laura's disappearance and the menfolk begin a search. When Busby is located, he makes a run for it and is shot and injured. Meanwhile, Laura takes advantage of a lapse in concentration by Mrs. Taylor and manages to escape.

This story always fails to hold my attention for some reason, and I'm not sure why – it just seems rather flat. The slapstick sequence involving Garvey stuck in the waterwheel feels rather misplaced, too.

How about the scene where Mary and Laura WATCH as the men dredge up the body from the lake? At this point shouldn't Ma and Pa be like, girls you go on home and get some sleep, we'll let you know what happens. (becky14624)

What also cracks me up about Busby is Pa and Ma never blinked an eye when Laura spent hour upon hour fishing with creepy old men or helping them fix up their houses or mourn their lost loves, but suddenly when Laura wants to say hello to Busby they freak and nearly imply he's a child molester. (becky14624)

Ellen's mother buys 12 candles at the mercantile, but the cake is later shown with only 10. Deliberate (maybe she bought two spares?) or mistake?

The girls go skinny-dipping but tragedy strikes
Mrs. Taylor mistakes Laura for her dead daughter
The Handyman

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.04 (71)
Written by Arthur Heinemann
Directed by William F. Claxton
Broadcast October 3, 1977, NBC / Production #4004

Guest Star: Gil Gerard (Chris Nelson). Special Guest Appearance: Hermione Baddeley (Kezia). Featuring: Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Jonathan Gilbert1 (Willie Oleson), Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster).

1 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).

Charles is called away on work and a handsome young live-in handyman, Chris Nelson, steps up to complete an extension on the Ingalls' house. Soon tongues are wagging that the relationship between Nelson and Caroline is not exactly platonic. Mary misunderstands several incidents and tells Nelson that she wants him to leave, and he does so realizing that he is indeed beginning to fall for Caroline to some degree.

"Buck Rogers Ma" [Gil Gerard later played Buck Rogers on TV] is one of my favorite episodes because it seems so realistic (aside from the fact that Pa suddenly had money to pay a handyman). There was real chemistry between Ma and Buck. I think CaroLINE would've totally jumped Buck if it weren't for Pa. And we get to see Mary being mature enough to realize it, while Laura was still in the dark. I liked the small details of the story, like when Ma made the new blouse and Pa isn't appropriately wowed. Whoever wrote it did a good job I thought. (sparky)

Close-ups of the stupid, incredibly man-made looking "creek" in front of the Ingalls' house. In the scene where Ma and Buck have their heart-to-heart you can plainly see that the sides of the "creek" are cement. (Tim McD)

Handyman Chris Nelson, played by Gil Gerard
Caroline Ingalls - behaving herself?
The Wolves

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.05 (72)
Written by Lawrence M. Konner
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast October 17, 1977, NBC / Production #4005

Guest Star: Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey). Co-Starring: Don "Red" Barry (Larabee). Featuring: Patrick Laborteaux (Andy Garvey)1, Hersha Parady (Alice Garvey), Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Jack Lilley (First Man).

1 This is the first episode for Patrick Laborteaux as Andy Garvey.

Laura and Andy find an injured mother wolf and her cubs and take them back to the Ingalls' barn. The kids and Jack the dog – alone at home – are attacked by a pack of wild dogs and barricade themselves in the barn. Jack is dispatched to fetch help and brings back Mr. Garvey and a gang of menfolk. By now, the wild dogs have tunneled into the barn but are kept at bay by the presence of the mother wolf. The men shoot the dogs. The wolf family are released back into the wild.

I'm a bit confused why the wolf here doesn't look more "wolfish"; when I Google "wolf", I don't get images which look much like the animal in this episode (which seems to be just a black dog).
I also think Larabee may have a point about Garvey raising and releasing a family of wolves into the wild right near farms containing livestock!

Good grief, Mary was a bitch and a half in [this] episode! I shoulda known Ma leaving her with the girls was going to send her into a crazed power trip. She even put on an apron and handkerchief to further cement her dominance. Laura was what, two minutes late, and Mary screamed at her and demanded to know where she was and when Laura tried to explain she was rescuing a poor animal caught in an inhumane trap. Mary cut her off and kept peeling her potatoes with an oversized knife like a psycho. (becky14624)

"Grandma, why does that mommy wolf have a weewee?" (Meaghan Edwards)

Mary and Carrie make a (presumably) unscripted fall into the dirt while running for the barn.

"It's too dark outside to tell," says Mary when she is asked if the dogs have gone. Judging by the shot of the dog trying to dig under the door, there is still adequate light outside.

Laura and Andy with the cubs
Mary fights off the dogs
The Creeper Of Walnut Grove

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.06 (73)
Written by John T. Dugan
Directed by William F. Claxton
Broadcast October 24, 1977, NBC / Production #4006

Guest Stars: Bernard Behrens (Bailey), Johnny Doran (Timothy), Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey). Featuring: Patrick Laborteaux (Andy Garvey), Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Jonathan Gilbert1 (Willie Oleson), Hersha Parady (Alice Garvey).

1 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).

Andy Garvey and Laura become detectives to solve a series of burglaries in Walnut Grove. But they merely manage to annoy everybody with their bungled attempts to catch the thief, one of which ends up with Charles covered in green paint. Eventually, it is discovered that a boy called Timothy was the burglar all along, stealing to support himself and his sick father.

I usually like stories involving the kids but this one leaves me indifferent. It's neither a mystery (the culprit is revealed near the start) nor funny enough to be a comedy.

What falls on Charles as he investigates the hen house looks more like water than the green paint it is supposed to be.

Andy Garvey, super-sleuth
Charles covered in green paint
To Run And Hide

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.07 (74)
Written by John T. Dugan
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast October 31, 1977, NBC / Production #4001

Guest Stars: Collin Wilcox1 (Beth Novack), Burr DeBenning (Dr. Logan), Michael Pataki (Stanley Novack), Kevin Hagen (Dr. Baker). Co-Starring: Eddie Quillan (Jed Haney). Featuring: Queenie Smith (Mrs. Whipple).

1 aka Collin Wilcox Paxton.

When Dr. Baker is unable to save a patient, he feels incompetent and resigns. While he struggles trying his hand out at farming, a new physician, Dr. Logan, replaces him. However, Dr. Logan proves to be self-interested and has no compassion for his patients, prompting Charles to go all out to convince Baker that he is a capable doctor and that the people of the town really do need him.

A 19th-century rural doctor would have lost patients numerous times, so the reason behind Baker's "retirement" doesn't make much sense. Otherwise, fine.
Doctor Hiram Baker, played by Kevin Hagen
Doctor Baker bids farewell to his surgery
The Aftermath

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.08 (75)
Written by Don Balluck
Directed by William F. Claxton
Broadcast November 7, 1977, NBC / Production #4008

Guest Stars: Michael Conrad (Broder), Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey), Dennis Rucker (Dankworth [Jesse James]), Frank Marth (Lewis Ford), John Bennett Perry (Hobbs [Frank James]). Co-Starring: Tony Markes (Bob Ford). Featuring: Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Jonathan Gilbert1 (Willie Oleson), Troy Melton (Ned Watkins), Henry Wills (Turner), Bill Shannon (Slade). Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster)2.

1 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).
2 Uncredited on episode's titles.

Feelings run high when pupils at the Walnut Grove school start studying the Civil War. Meanwhile, fugitive brothers Frank and Jesse James arrive in town, fleeing from the law. They adopt false names, rent a house, and co-opt a flattered Mary as an errand girl. A group of bounty hunters arrives in town looking to capture the pair and summarily execute them. As insurance, the Jameses take Mary hostage. While Jonathan Garvey leads the bounty hunters on a wild goose chase, Charles warns the brothers to take flight, not wanting them or Mary to be killed.

Clearly inspired by the movie Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid from a few years previously. Dennis Rucker (as Jesse James) even looks like Robert Redford!

Walnut Grove ordered their large, empty Houses of Convenience in the same catalog from which they ordered their easily forgettable Friends and Relatives of Contrivance. (HelgaVanOlef)

Ooo – Miss Beadle tries to bring the anvil of current events – i.e. discussing the "Civil War" when you could have inserted "Vietnam" and there was your afterschool special. Very current with the times since it originally aired sometime in the early 1970's. (Rudywill)

When Mary comes out of school and talks to Laura, she mentions a "Mr Dobbs" (instead of "Hobbs").

The James brothers
Guess who's at school in Walnut Grove?
The High Cost Of Being Right

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.09 (76)
Written by Don Balluck
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast November 14, 1977, NBC / Production #4009

Guest Stars: Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey), Hersha Parady (Alice Garvey), Patrick Laborteaux (Andy Garvey). Co-Starring: Eddie Quillan (Judge Picker). Featuring: Carl Pitti (Silas), Alex Sharp (Sloan), Hal Burton (Harris), Dick Durock (Sharp), Denver Mattson (Wiggins).

When the Garveys' barn burns down and they lose their entire harvest, Alice Garvey wants to take a job at the post office to bring in some money, but husband Jonathan believes that it's a man's role to support his family and so he forbids it. Their disagreement grows to the point where they attend a court hearing to get a divorce. However, as they appear before the judge, the ridiculousness of their squabble dawns on them and they make up.

A very uneven episode. The Garveys go from an (apparently single) argument to separation and planned divorce so quickly that I actually thought my DVD player had skipped a large chunk of the story! Then, right at the end, the episode abruptly lurches in another direction altogether and the thing finishes with everybody laughing, Scooby-Doo style.
Additionally, without being nasty, I think Merlin Olsen's acting was not really up to the standard needed by a story such as this (even given its deficiencies) – his performance feels rather flat.

Just finished watching the one where the Garvey's are splitting up (again), after their barn burns down (again). Or maybe this was the first time. I have to say that Jonathan selling the team was incredibly stupid... And they were gonna get divorced after a couple of heated arguments? Really, you're ready to throw away your entire marriage and family that quickly? (coffeemom)

Okay, my LH viewing for today is The High Cost Of Being Right, alternately known as "I'll Do the Earning, Woman" or "How to Solve your Marital Problems with Raucous Laughter". I spotted yet another potentially child scarring moment when Jonathan frees his horses from the burning barn then runs out of the barn WITH HIS ARMS ON FIRE! Holy G-rated TV, there was nothing that scared me much more as a kid than seeing people who had caught on fire. It's still not particularly fun to watch as an old woman in my 40's.
All I can say is you would have thought Jonathan wouldn't have been so eager to divorce a woman who not only smothered the flames with her apron, but also had made him such high quality farmer shirts that he had no burns or scarring, and his experience as a human torch was not even referenced the following day. They should have just covered the corn with sheets of that flame resistant cloth and they would have been all set. (Libby96)

Jonathan Garvey, played by Merlin Olsen
Alice Garvey, played by Hersha Parady
The Fighter

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.10 (77)1 – 1½ hours
Teleplay by Michael Landon, story by Lawrence M. Konner
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast November 21, 1977, NBC / Production #4011

Guest Stars: Raymond St. Jacques (Moody), Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey). Special Guest Star: Moses Gunn (Joe Kagan)2. Co-Starring: Ketty Lester3 (Janie Kagan), Paul Bryar (Jake Barky), Daryl Roach (Tim Kagan). Featuring: Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Jonathan Gilbert4 (Willie Oleson), Patrick Laborteaux (Andy Garvey), Hersha Parady (Alice Garvey), Justin Moses (Little Tim), Sandy Rosenthal (Reporter), Thomas Moore (Referee). Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster)5.

1 Ted Voigtländer won an Emmy for his cinematography for this episode.
2 This is the first episode for Moses Gunn as Joe Kagan.
3 Ketty Lester would go on to play regular Hester-Sue Terhune in Season 5 onwards.
4 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).
5 Uncredited on episode's titles.

A worn-out traveling boxer, Joe Kagan, comes to town offering to take on newcomers in the ring. When Jonathan Garvey pulls out due to injury, Charles accepts the challenge instead and manages to badly injure Kagan. Kagan eventually gets better but realizes the next fight might kill him, so he retires from the sport and decides to settle down locally. He then finds out that his estranged son – who doesn't remember him – is also trying to become a boxer. Joe takes to the ring one last time to defeat his son and teach him that boxing is not a worthy profession.

On the face of it this is a tedious sports story, but the actual fighting is kept reasonably brief and doesn't outstay its welcome. Unusually, this episode makes fairly good use of its extended running time.

According to the Internet Movie Database: "When Joe Kagan walks to the ring in the 1865 flashback, the fighters already in the ring are wearing modern-style boxing gloves. That they were wearing gloves at all for a professional fight would be very unlikely, with the Marquess of Queensberry rules not being written until 1867 or ubiquitous until the 1890s."

Again, according to the Internet Movie Database: "There is a preliminary bout in the 1865 flashback. Since boxing matches at the time weren't timed or limited as to rounds, and often lasted for hours, prize fights almost always featured just a single bout."

When Nels enters the ring he goes through the actions of putting his gloves on twice. (Steve)

Beat-up boxer Joe Kagan, played by Moses Gunn
Charles enters the ring!
Meet Me At The Fair

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.11 (78)
Teleplay by Arthur Heinemann, story by Bradley & Ray Berwick and Arthur Heinemann
Directed by William F. Claxton
Broadcast November 28, 1977, NBC / Production #4012

Guest Stars: Dick De Coit (Cass), Michael Morgan (Patrick). Featuring: Steve Eastin (Shell Game Barker), Dick Armstrong (Pickpocket), Helen Hintz (Little Old Lady), Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Jonathan Gilbert1 (Willie Oleson), Enzio Cantini (Baseball Barker), Sandy Rosenthal (Chair Dump Barker). Clinton James Austin (Zane)2, Charles Haigh (Man With Child At Carousel)2.

1 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).
2 Uncredited on episode's titles; these entries have been taken from the Internet Movie Database and have not been verified.

The Ingalls and Olesons travel to the local fair, where Mary is meeting up with her newest boyfriend, Patrick, operator of a tethered balloon ride. Instead, she falls for the charms of Patrick's smooth-talking boss, Cass. Meanwhile, Carrie wanders off and falls asleep deep inside the basket of the balloon. Annoyed with his boss for stealing Mary, Patrick cuts the balloon free and Carrie wakes up to find herself flying through the air. Patrick races to the rescue and becomes Mary's hero.

A simple-but-fun story. Nothing big or deep, but entertaining.

Cass' Irish(?) accent vanishes after his early scenes. (Steve)

The jackass-riding contest Charles and Nels enter promises a prize of $50. That's over $1000 in today's terms, which seems a bit extravagant for a local fair. (If you want to work out the amounts of money in modern terms, the ratio is about 1:20, so Charles giving the kids 50¢ each (=$10) is vaguely right.) (Steve)

Yep, he ran a hot air balloon ride that Mary's hapless tertiary one-episode "boyfriend" assisted with. The Asshat Balloon Guy, who's walking around a country fair in a shiny shirt-n-cape combo that would make Siegfried & Roy say, "Hmmm, maybe we should go with something a little more masculine than that..." forces the Tertiary Boyfriend to work extra and keep an eye on things so he can squire Mary around the fair himself. And then there are some hijinks with Carrie somehow getting trapped in the balloon basket and setting it loose, and when they finally get her down (by shooting the balloon, I think), ABG is all, "You ruined my balloon!" and Mary's all, "You don't care about me, you only care about your stupid balloon, I'm outta here!" and the Ingalls clan leaves in a self-righteous huff. Even though it was TOTALLY Carrie's fault that the guy's balloon got ruined, but whatever. (Fraoch)

Watching "Carrie Gets Carried Away" now. It's kind of not fair how Mary gets to hang out with her new boyfriends all day and go up in the hot air balloon while Laura is stuck babysitting Carrie. Which she sucks at, btw, in this ep. (coffeemom)

Also watched part of Meet Me At The Fair, with Carrie (Mushmouth?) in the runaway balloon. Did anyone notice all of the people on the ground waving at her as the balloon is flying away?? Um, did anyone notice that there was a young child alone in a runaway balloon?!? Wouldn't that be cause for alarm??? But no, the people were waving away like absolute idiots. It just didn't make sense. (Something on the show didn't make sense – imagine that.) (yooneeque)

In the scene where they are chasing the hot air balloon that Carrie is asleep in, you can actually see, if you look at the bottom left hand corner of the television screen, tracks being made by the vehicle carrying the camera shooting the scene... (Christi)

Cass with Mary (and hat)
Carrie is carried off by the balloon
Here Come The Brides

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.12 (79)
Teleplay by John T. Dugan, story by Robert F. Metzler and John T. Dugan
Directed by William F. Claxton
Broadcast December 5, 1977, NBC / Production #4010

Guest Stars: Joshua Bryant (Adam Simms), Bob Marsic (Luke Simms), Ivor Francis (Varnum), Charlotte Stewart (Miss Beadle), Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson). Featuring: Jonathan Gilbert1 (Willie Oleson), Montana Smoyer (Philomena).

1 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).

Pig farmer Adam Simms and his son Luke move to Walnut Grove. Adam – a widower – instantly takes a liking to the local schoolteacher, Eva Beadle. Meanwhile, Luke and Nellie also fall in love. However, the relationship fails to find favor with Nellie's mother, Harriet, so the young pair elope. Tracking the couple down, Nellie's parents immediately get the marriage annulled. In the end, Adam and Eva themselves get hitched.

Highly rated by some fans, but merely middling in my book.
Pa Adam Simms and Miss Beadle
Son Luke Simms and Nellie Oleson
Freedom Flight

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.13 (80)
Written by Ron Chiniquy and Richalene Kelsay
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast December 12, 1977, NBC / Production #4013

Guest Stars: Richard O'Brien (Hugh MacGregor), Nick Ramus (Little Crow), Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey). Co-Starring: Guillermo San Juan (Spotted Wolf). Featuring: Vivian Brown (Mrs. MacGregor), Brett Ericson (Rob MacGregor), Geronimo Kuth-Le (Long Elk), Dawn Biglay (Yellow Feather), Sonny Roubideaux1 (Dull Lance), Roy Gunzburg (Caleb), Dick Alexander (Sergeant). T. Dan Hopkins (Medicine Man)2, Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster)3.

1 aka Luci Christian.
2 Uncredited on episode's titles; this entry has been taken from the Internet Movie Database and has not been verified.
3 Uncredited on episode's titles.

An Indian tribe comes to Walnut Grove asking for medical aid for their sick chief. Dr. Baker and Charles try to help but they are opposed by a group of citizens who have bad memories of past encounters with Indians. Charles hides the chief and his family at his farm while the chief recovers. When their secret is discovered, Charles and the doctor help the Indians rejoin their tribe and make good their escape without a skirmish.

Whenever LHOP switched modes from "domestic" to "Western", it usually became less interesting, as here. Having said that, there is some nice filming (done near Patagonia, Arizona) and the fact that Mary dislikes Indians is an unexpected facet to her character.
I don't understand why, near the end, the army is automatically siding against the Indians (what crime has the group committed?) Maybe that's my ignorance of history, but the script should really explain...

One of the other reasons I like Freedom Flight is that it is one of the few times the show looks like it was actually in Minnesota – the entire sequence towards the end was shot on a flat piece of ground with nary a Minnesota mountain range in site. (prairiegal)

At about the half-hour mark, there is a close-up of Charles and Doc Baker "going along" in the wagon (this is just after MacGregor's posse has left town). You can see the hand (and watch) of a member of the crew helping to rock the wagon to convey the illusion it is moving – look at the bottom-right of the screen.

Charles with Little Crow
The Indians prepare to hold off the angry townsmen
The Rivals

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.14 (81)
Teleplay by John T. Dugan, story by Hindi Brooks and John T. Dugan
Directed by William F. Claxton
Broadcast January 9, 1978, NBC / Production #4014

Guest Star: Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey). Co-Starring: Leon Belasco (Monsieur François), Chris Petersen (Jimmy Hill), Sam Gilman (Si Perkins). Featuring: Seeley Ann Thumann (Samantha Higgins), Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Jonathan Gilbert1 (Willie Oleson), Patrick Laborteaux (Andy Garvey), Don Starr (Zucker).

1 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).

Laura has her eye on a boy in school, Jimmy, but he seems to prefer another girl. Laura begins prettifying herself to attract Jimmy, but her plan falls flat. Her mother tells her to instead try just being herself. Eventually, Jimmy does notice her as an unembellished girl, and she has her first kiss. Meanwhile, Charles and Jonathan win a big new contract but, in the end, they reject it as it would involve spending too much time away from home.

This acceptable episode is best remembered by fans for the "apples" scene and the "them's snails!" scene (you'll have to watch it to find out what these references are about, if you don't already know).

In this episode, the guy Laura likes is named Jimmy Hill, but in the episode The Return Of Nellie, Laura mentions the apple incident to Almanzo and she says the boy's name was Jeremy Dodds!!! (HYPER)

When Laura does the division sum on the board, she says, "Two times four is four," as part of her working! (Steve)

Laura titivates herself in the tub
Laura's fantasy: herself and Jimmy
Whisper Country

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.15 (82)
Written by John Hawkins
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast January 16, 1978, NBC / Production #4015

Guest Stars: John McLiam (Caleb Fisher), Sandy McPeak (Jacob Bond), Mark Neely (Joshua Bond). Special Guest Star: Anita Dangler (Miss Peel). Co-Starring: Dee Croxton (Ellen Fisher), Linda McMillan (Katie Fisher). Featuring: Nancy Pearlberg (Mrs. Bond), Michelle Downey (Sarah Miller), Jennifer Brill (Hazel). Steve Izay (unknown)1, Garrick Russell (Student #1)1.

1 Uncredited on episode's titles; these entries have been taken from the Internet Movie Database and have not been verified.

Mary gets her first teaching job: a short-term position in the decidedly strange and ultra-conservative community of Willow Prairie, where all the inhabitants are suspicious and surly. The person promoting most of the weird doctrine is community leader, Miss Peel, who seems to want the town to remain in the Dark Ages and regards education as sinful. At a local service, Mary exposes Miss Peel and the reason behind her anti-progression stance – she can't read.

"Jezebel! Flaunting your flesh in temptation's raiment. You will burn! Oh, you will burn!"
A fan favorite – a sort of cross between The Wicker Man and Village Of The Damned. However, I can't reconcile the odd idea that the society is half fervent Christian but yet also half pagan.

Everybody talks about "Miss Beadle", but she became "Mrs Simms" several episodes previously (and is credited as such on The Rivals – the episode before this one).

The girl who plays Katie Fisher (Linda McMillan), one of the kids in Willow Prairie, previously had been often (and prominently) seen playing an extra in the schoolroom scenes back in Walnut Grove! (Steve)

I always thought Whisper Country was ML's answer to "Deliverance". It just needed a little "Dueling Banjos" playing in the background. God knows there were plenty of slack-jawed yokels featured. Thank God the Pa/Garvey hog-tied scene was left on the cutting room floor. (MsLawDawg)

When she [Mary] dramatically arrives home late at night, who drove her? Did she hitch-hike? (Fraoch)

Village of the damned? No, just Willow Prairie.
Mary takes on Miss Peel
I Remember, I Remember

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.16 (83)
Written by Arthur Heinemann
Directed by William F. Claxton
Broadcast January 23, 1978, NBC / Production #4016

Guest Stars: Nicolas Coster (Lansford Ingalls), Virginia Kiser (Charlotte Holbrook), Matthew Laborteaux1 (Young Charles), Katy Kurtzman (Young Caroline). Special Guest Star: Sorrell Booke (Mr. Watson). Co-Starring: Sarah Miller (Laura Ingalls), Adam Gunn (Harold Watson), David Considine (Peter Ingalls), Gregg Forrest (Henry Holbrook), Robin Muir (Polly Ingalls), Kristi Jill Wood (Eliza Ann Holbrook).

1 Matthew Laborteaux would go on to play regular Albert in Season 5 onwards.

It is the day of the Ingalls' wedding anniversary but Charles' wagon has broken down in the pouring rain and he is delayed on the road. Back at home, Caroline tries to keep worry at bay by entertaining the girls with the stories of how she and their father first met back in Wisconsin during their childhood; of Charles' later troubles in school; and of their first dance together.

This episode forms a sort of loose "flashback trilogy" with the earlier Journey In The Spring and the yet-to-come A Christmas They Never Forgot, with Young Charles again portrayed by Matthew Laborteaux (though with changes of actors for his parents). There's just a dash too much sugar here for me.

Has anyone ever noticed how in this episode Ma's family is relatively poor, and later, in the Christmas episode where they all tell stories [A Christmas They Never Forgot], Ma's family is very well off?? Ma is about the same age, so how did she suddenly become very rich or why did she suddenly become very poor?? The stories just don't mesh. (Lindsey S)

When we see, through the schoolroom window, Mr Watson caning Charles, he is clearly just caning the desk.

Laura remarks to Caroline that she's glad she's never had a teacher as mean as Mr Watson. But she is forgetting Mr Applewood (in Troublemaker from the second season).

Right at the end of the episode, we see rain beating against a window from inside the house. But when Caroline goes outside, there is no rain.

I really, really enjoy watching Ma reminiscing with Laura, while she is wondering what happened to Pa to keep him so late. And then that scene with them dancing in the yard – yowza!! (Shakespearette)

Young Charles in trouble with his teacher yet again
Young Caroline
Be My Friend

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.17 (84) – 1½ hours
Written by Michael Landon
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast January 30, 1978, NBC / Production #4017

Guest Stars: Lenora May (Anna Mears), Michael Mullins (Bobbie Harris). Special Guest Star: Donald Moffat (Nathaniel Mears). And: Woodrow Parfrey (Reverend Pritchard). Featuring: Jonathan Gilbert1 (Willie Oleson), John Craig (Clark Harris), Dan McBride (Stranger).

1 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).

Laura finds a bottle in the creek with a note inside that reads, "If you find this, be my friend." After finding several other messages, she persuades her father to help her look for the writer. Instead, they find an abandoned baby whom Laura then looks after back at home. Pa Charles eventually tracks down the mother, an unmarried girl called Anna, who had found herself pregnant by her boyfriend but had managed (miraculously) to conceal both the pregnancy and the subsequent birth from her miserable father. The baby's parents are reunited and set off to marry; the father goes back to live alone in the woods.

The bottle business takes far too long (would the story be any less if Laura had just found one bottle instead of three?) and this story would have been better as a regular-length episode (arguably then, even still a slowish one). The idea of the girl managing to carry a baby and give birth without her father finding out is also highly doubtful. There are also a number of questions of the, "Why doesnt she give directions to where she is in her notes?" variety. The best bits are actually some brief throwaway segments with the Olesons!

The gal was able to hide her pregnancy the whole time? And give birth without her dad knowing? Not to be too graphic here... but all I could think of was... "What about when her milk came in? What did she do THEN?" And she just hoped that someone would find a baby? And Laura was waaay too upset about giving back a baby that she taken care of for what – a few days?
Did the boyfriend know that the girl was pregnant the whole time? Or did he find out at the end?
This show really had it in for uber-religious dads, didn't they? (affirmed)

What got me most (aside from the convenient plastic tarp/tent out in the woods in which Anna could birth the baby... and the fact that she birthed it in maybe 10 minutes... and Laura's creepy attachment to said baby) were two things:
1) The fact that at the end, the girl's dad totally didn't reform. Did that EVER happen in LH? I didn't think anyone was immune to the charms of the holy self-righteousness of Charles Ingalls.
2) When the girl's blubbering at the table with Caroline about the Sin of her Premarital Relations, Caroline says something about people in glass houses not throwing stones. Was this her way of saying that she and Charles did the deed pre-marriage?? That can't be, can it?
Loved Mrs. Oleson having a fit when she saw Willie cooing over Laura's baby, having just caught him looking at corset ads. Harriet always brings the funny. (Fraoch)

Lawd, this episode just did not need to be 90 minutes long. I think the scene of the first bottle floating down the river took 10 minutes alone, as did any scene involving Anna or whatever her name was. From eating stew to climbing the ladder to cutting her hair to speaking a freaking single sentence, man, she sure took her time. And she reminded me so much of the Marla Hooch character from "League of Their Own", it was disturbing.
How did she manage to have that baby and then return to the cabin with no blood on her clothes? (fuzzbear)

Heh, I noticed that too. It was forty minutes into the episode before Pa and Laura even FOUND the baby. And those long, long shots of Pa searching the woods or the bottle or pointless chit-chat between the girl and her father – sheesh. I think this was a case of a script that came up short by about 15 minutes, and it showed. Also so many unanswered questions. I know girls can just pop out babies in a bathroom stall, but seriously, the mother left the baby out in her clubhouse in that fierce windstorm all this time? A newborn can't retain heat well at all and would have frozen to death. (becky14624)

Laura looking after baby Hitler
The baby's parents: Anna and Bobbie
The Inheritance

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.18 (85)
Written by Arthur Heinemann
Directed by William F. Claxton
Broadcast February 6, 1978, NBC / Production #4018

Guest Stars: Allan Rich (Otto Ripley), Michael Prince (Roger Whitehead), Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey). Co-Starring: Michael Flanagan (Harvey Woods), Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Jonathan Gilbert1 (Willie Oleson), Patrick Laborteaux (Andy Garvey), Hersha Parady (Alice Garvey).

1 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).

The Ingalls learn they have inherited the considerable legacy of Charles' late Uncle Ned. While still waiting for the money to come through, the Ingalls go on a spending spree and run up a large bill at the Oleson mercantile. Harriet Oleson then insists Charles signs a lien on his farm pending the money's arrival. When the estate is settled, the Ingalls find that all is left is a box of worthless Confederate money. Harriet puts all the Ingalls' possessions up for auction. But the townsfolk thwart Harriet by bidding for all the items themselves at ridiculously low prices and returning them to Charles, leaving him to pay back the debt as and when.

A good episode. This might have got four cartwheels if it wasn't for the contrived auction ending (Wouldn't there have been reserves on the items? Wouldn't the auctioneers have just tried again at another time/place?)

About seven minutes in – that isn't an incorrect apostrophe (painted out) on the carriage, is it? (Steve)

This is an episode that infuriates me.
Charles runs up a huge bill at the mercantile spending money he doesn't even have yet. So much for "cash on the barrel". He knew the money was coming, so he could have put off charging things at the mercantile until he had the money in hand. It's not like it was going to be a year before they got it. Plus, the Ingalls weren't exactly in dire straits at this point. They would have been ok just waiting. The things they were charging were not things they needed right away. But of course waiting would have made too much sense.
So they charge up a huge bill and the Olesons have the creditors on their back. Mrs. Oleson RIGHTFULLY points this out to Charles and he gets upset! Doesn't Charles know that the items in the store aren't given to the Olesons for free? The Olesons have a little money but they ain't wealthy. The stuff has to be paid for! Charles signs the form forfeiting his farm if he can't pay for the items. He obviously can't so the entire town gets together to bail him out of his jam.
Charles keeps his farm and the Olesons are stuck paying Charles' bill. Gotta love the good people of Walnut Grove. (kathyjo27)

Kathyjo, I agree with you completely about The Inheritance. I know the Charles is always the Hero and Mrs. Oleson is the villain, but she did have every right to demand payment. I didn't like the way that episode ended either. If everyone was allowed to get away with that, the Mercantile would have gone out of business. (DoxieMama)

It's interesting (or rather a cop-out) that Harriet, not Nels, is portrayed as the "villain" here despite the Ingalls' debt presumably impacting on the Oleson family as whole. (Steve)

Charles and Caroline are overjoyed with the news
Harriet Oleson is quick to welcome the Ingalls' spending at the mercantile
The Stranger

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.19 (86)
Written by Arthur Heinemann
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast February 20, 19781, NBC / Production #4019

Guest Stars: Nehemiah Persoff (Mr. Lundstrom), Michael Sharrett (Peter Lundstrom). Co-Starring: Cicely Walper (Mrs. Caldwell). Featuring: Jonathan Gilbert2 (Willie Oleson), Stephen Coit (Mr. Tate), Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Hersha Parady (Alice Garvey).

1 Sources (e.g. Epguides, Wikipedia) which list airdates of February 1, 1978, or February 13, 1978, for this episode would seem to be incorrect.
2 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).

Posh young Peter Lundstrom is expelled from his school for cheating and stealing. His busy father sends him to spend summer with his cousin, Nels Oleson, and be taught some values. The Olesons can't cope, so Peter is sent to live with the stricter Ingalls family, where Charles puts him to work on the farm, but also makes sure the boy joins in the fun side of family life, too. The boy is successfully reformed and his father collects him, having been advised by Charles to take a bit more notice of his son in future.

Mischievous Peter Lundstrom
Peter with Nels Oleson
A Most Precious Gift

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.20 (87)
Written by Carole and Michael Raschella
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast February 27, 1978, NBC / Production #4020

Guest Stars: Lili Valenty (Madame Maria), Joshua Bryant (Adam Simms), Charlotte Stewart (Mrs. Simms), Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey). Featuring: Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Jonathan Gilbert1 (Willie Oleson), Patrick Laborteaux (Andy Garvey), Hersha Parady (Alice Garvey). unknown (Grace Ingalls)2.

1 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).
2 Uncredited on episode's titles.

Charles has always wanted a son, and has another chance to get one when Caroline announces she's pregnant. But Caroline fears how Charles will react if the baby is a girl, especially after a fortune-teller assures her the baby will be a boy. Eventually, the worrying's all for naught, as Charles loves his new baby – a little girl called Grace – just the same. Meanwhile, Carrie gets a lesson in being a "mother" herself – she raises a nest of chicks.

Why does the Ingalls cabin have large areas of fallen-off/unfinished interior plasterwork (e.g. when Charles is putting Carrie to bed)? Why doesn't Charles fix these? (Steve)

Anyone else struck by how, when Ma thinks she's going through the change in this epi, she just sighs and is resigned to it. But then a few years later in I Do, Again she get absolutely HYSTERICAL about it and lies to Pa about it for weeks (which is totally out of character, btw). (coffeemom)

I know, totally. I almost always love Caroline, but I HATE the way she got so weird about giving Pa a boy. It doesn't really fit with the rest of her character as it is on the show, does it?
I can see how, ok ... maybe they were trying to go for some dimension, some depth, by giving this totally sensible character ONE weak spot – the Achilles heel that will never fail to send her into hysterics. If that's the case (that it was supposed to be disturbing... rather than just crappy and/or lazy characterization), I still don't think they succeeded. It's still out of character. (coffeemom)

Contrivance Fairy: Madame Maria has her entire wagon painted with fancy letters and hands, and Laura chooses to ask her if she painted the stars?? Just so she could talk about pentagrams and mention dead Freddie. **Cough, cough, bullshit, cough, cough** (charlieboo)

I was thinking tonight it's pretty impressive for a child as... special... as Carrie to hang onto three eggs for nine months without breaking them. But really, in all that time shouldn't someone have told her the truth? Exactly how long were they going to let her live this fantasy? Carrie had about 12 lines in this episode, half of which you could actually understand, but still 12 too many. (becky14624)

Ma became pregnant when Miss Beadle was already showing, yet they had their babies within days of each other. Also, Ma became pregnant in what seemed to be the spring which would mean a winter birth, yet she obviously gave birth in warm weather. In other breaking news, LH doesn't adhere to realistic seasonal weather phenomenon. (Tim McD)

That Caroline was a very remarkable woman, what with being able to give birth to a three-month old baby while barely breaking a sweat. And doesn't it seem a little odd that a God-fearing prairie woman like Ma would be all into the "hocus-pocus" of the fortuneteller? (jird)

Add yet another skill to the long résumé of Charles Ingalls: midwife. (Steve)

Caroline with newborn Grace
Carrie rears some chicks (with a little help from Mr. Garvey)
I’ll Be Waving As You Drive Away (Part I)

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.21 (88)
Written by Carole and Michael Raschella
Directed by William F. Claxton
Broadcast March 6, 1978, NBC / Production #4021

Guest Stars: Ford Rainey (Dr. Burke), Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey). Co-Starring: Rob Kenneally (Seth). Featuring: Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Jonathan Gilbert1 (Willie Oleson).

1 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).

Mary starts to experience blurred vision prompting a visit to the eye doctor. When Charles is told that Mary is gradually going blind, the concerned father can't at first bring himself to tell his beloved daughter. Sometime later, Mary awakes one morning and finds she has suddenly and terrifyingly gone completely blind. The girl rails against her disability, although eventually accepts a place at a school for the blind in Iowa.

This is it – the famous Mary-goes-blind episode, one of the best-remembered TV segments of the 1970s. Harrowing stuff indeed, though I remember, when I first watched it, I did wonder if Landon was going to pull a miracle out of the bag before the end (see the later To See The Light or He Was Only Twelve, for example). But, no, it was a one-way journey into the sightless world for Mary, and the very beginning of her gradual exit from the show.

I love how the Ingalls are so poor they can't afford anything, except when they can. When Pa said Mary should get an eye exam once a year (in the 1880's, seriously? Did they go to the dentist yearly too?) I expected to see her reciting an eye chart at Doc Baker's. But no, they go to an optometrist in some nearby city. I wonder how they paid his fees? (Goshen Girl)

Why is the arrival of the railroad such a disaster? If it were a ways outside Walnut Grove, they could be reasonably worried about being cut off in favor of another town, but in any case it seems it would be better for farmers shipping their crops, since they don't have to go so far to Sleepy Eye. There's no mention of worries about competition from other farmers, other merchants etc., just the railroad. (lizzie mag)

The one thing that really annoys me (other than Prisspot's [Mary's] Mline Overacting) was that Pa finds out about Mary's approaching blindness, and tells Ma. Then Garvey knows, Seth the Tertiary boyfriend knows, then Rev Alden tells Pa that Dr Baker told him. Why was Mary the absolute last to know about what was going to happen to her? It took Mary nearly burning the house down before Pa decides he better clue Mary in. I know, it led to, "Mline? I'm gonna be Mline?", a great moment in LH history, but sheesh. I'm surprised Pa didn't get on the telegraph and let Sleepy Eye and Mankato know. (prairiegal)

I think MSA did a great job in the scene where she wakes up and discovers she's blind and begins crying and screaming. It was very heartbreaking. (Shakespearette)

The few times I do like her [Mary] are when she thaws out a bit and shows her insecurities. Like there was the episode where she confessed that she thought Pa loved Laura the best. And there's that scene in I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away where her boyfriend comes over and she tries to put on this happy act... and says something like, this is all just a silly temporary nuisance with her eyes and pretty soon her vision will return and everything will be back to normal. But he knows she's going blind and is really uncomfortable. That's maybe my favorite Mary scene ever, I think. Your heart really breaks for her there. (coffeemom)

Depths of despair: Mary
Mary sets off for the blind school
I’ll Be Waving As You Drive Away (Part II)

Newspaper listingEpisode# 4.22 (89)1
Written by Carole and Michael Raschella
Directed by William F. Claxton
Broadcast March 13, 1978, NBC / Production #4022

Guest Stars: David Opatoshu (Taylor Nash), Linwood Boomer (Adam Kendall)2, Merlin Olsen (Jonathan Garvey). Featuring: Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson), Jonathan Gilbert3 (Willie Oleson), Patrick Laborteaux (Andy Garvey), Hersha Parady (Alice Garvey), Peter Haas (Paul), Jennifer Factor (Jenny). Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster)4, unknown (Grace Ingalls)4.

1 This is the last episode for Charlotte Stewart as Miss Beadle/Mrs. Simms.
2 This is the first episode for Linwood Boomer as Adam Kendall.
3 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).
4 Uncredited on episode's titles.

Feeling lost and abandoned, Mary battles anger and self-pity at a school for the blind, far away from the little house by Plum Creek. But soon, Mary finds a source of hope in her new teacher, Adam Kendall, and the pair begin to fall in love. Meanwhile, back in Walnut Grove, the worsening economy forces most of the residents to leave town. The Ingalls collect Mary and make preparations to move to Winoka, where Mary and Adam have found new positions and Charles hopes to get work.

Some good "blind acting" from Melissa Sue Anderson here. The air of finality of the episode seems to suggest there was some sort of doubt as to whether the show would return for another season?

Can anyone tell me why there is a MIRROR in Mary's room at the BLIND school? My 10-year-old son pointed this out to me! (miz liz)

I'm sure there were sighted people that visited Mary's room and might have appreciated a mirror to look into. (PJWatcher)

Speaking of Mary getting around, how long was she supposed to be at the blind school in Iowa? 'Cause she was getting her mack on with Adam in about fifteen minutes. (jird)

In the beginning of the first episode we see Ma with baby Grace and she's obviously an infant, probably a month old. Okay, fine. Mary has problems with her eyes, goes to the doctor twice and after three weeks of her eyes getting progressively worse Pa finally tells her she's going blind (thanks, PA!) She goes blind and sits in a chair feeling sorry for herself and screaming at everyone for probably a couple weeks, until Pa and Ma have enough and ship her to the blind school. Where she learns how to take care of herself, read braille, cook and everything else well enough that she's able to become a teacher of blind kids herself, plus fall in love with Adam. This should have taken a year or two. RL [real-life] Mary went to college in Iowa for 7 years.
But show Mary goes home (where she is an inspiration to everyone she sees, or rather, who sees her) and there is baby Grace in a cradle, STILL looking only a month or two old! Damn that is a slow developing baby!! Either that or Mary is a blind genius who learned everything she needed at the school in only a week or two. (Goshen Girl)

Does anyone know if there was some question as to whether the series was going to come back after Season Four, during its original run? It occurred to me while watching it that it seemed an awful lot like a series finale, not just a season closer. Mary had gone blind and was moving away. The Ingalls were planning to leave Walnut Grove, and it wasn't established in this episode that the Garveys and Olesons were going with them. Miss Beadle got what amounted to a goodbye speech (I realize that actually was her last episode). Hanson shut down the mill, and there was even reference to Mr. Sprague closing the bank – all these characters got "closure". The final scene at the church with Rev. Alden breaking down as he talked about all the townspeople who had left or were leaving, and especially Mary's final words (to the effect of "May God go with all of you") and the freeze frame on her face, especially seemed like a fitting ending to the whole series. I don't know what the ratings were like for the show's original run, and I'm just curious... (Blue Stingray)

Mary, angry at her blindness
Mary begins to cope, with Adam's help
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4.01 Castoffs  (68)

4.02 Times Of Change  (69)

4.03 My Ellen  (70)

4.04 The Handyman  (71)

4.05 The Wolves  (72)

4.06 The Creeper Of Walnut Grove  (73)

4.07 To Run And Hide  (74)

4.08 The Aftermath  (75)

4.09 The High Cost Of Being Right  (76)

4.10 The Fighter  (77 - 1½ hours)

4.11 Meet Me At The Fair  (78)

4.12 Here Come The Brides  (79)

4.13 Freedom Flight  (80)

4.14 The Rivals  (81)

4.15 Whisper Country  (82)

4.16 I Remember, I Remember  (83)

4.17 Be My Friend  (84 - 1½ hours)

4.18 The Inheritance  (85)

4.19 The Stranger  (86)

4.20 A Most Precious Gift  (87)

4.21 I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away: Part I  (88)

4.22 I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away: Part II  (89)

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