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Season 8

8.01 The Reincarnation Of Nellie: Part I  (160)

8.02 The Reincarnation Of Nellie: Part II  (161)

8.03 Growin' Pains  (162)

8.04 Dark Sage  (163)

8.05 A Wiser Heart  (164)

8.06 Gambini, The Great  (165)

8.07 The Legend Of Black Jake  (166)

8.08 Chicago  (167)

8.09 For The Love Of Nancy  (168)

8.10 Wave Of The Future  (169)

8.11 A Christmas They Never Forgot  (170)

8.12 No Beast So Fierce  (171)

8.13 Stone Soup  (172)

8.14 The Legacy  (173)

8.15 Uncle Jed  (174)

8.16 Second Chance  (175)

8.17 Days Of Sunshine, Days Of Shadow: Part I  (176 - 1½ hours)

8.18 Days Of Sunshine, Days Of Shadow: Part II  (177)

8.19 A Promise To Keep  (178)

8.20 A Faraway Cry  (179)

8.21 He Was Only Twelve: Part I  (180)

8.22 He Was Only Twelve: Part II  (181)

Season 8 DVD cover

Starring: Michael Landon (1-4,6-8,10-221), Karen Grassle (1-4,6-8,10-221), Melissa Gilbert (1-9,11-13,142,15-19,223,1), Lindsay Sidney Greenbush4 (1-4,55,6,9-19,21,221). Executive Producer: Michael Landon. Produced by Kent McCray (1-9,11-22), [no Producer credit] (10). Developed for Television by Blanche Hanalis. Based Upon the "Little House" Series of Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Katherine MacGregor6 (Mrs. Oleson 1-4,6,7,9,10,13,142,15-17,207), Richard Bull (Mr. Oleson 1,2,4,6-10,13,142,15,16,19,22), Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder 1-5,7,8,10-13,142,15-19,22), Jonathan Gilbert8 (Willie Oleson 1,2,39,4,55,6,7,9,10,12,13,142,15,16), Allison Balson (Nancy 1,2,39,4,55,6,7,9,10,12,13,142,15,16,1710,1810), Jason Bateman (James 1-4,55,6,9-19,21,22), Missy Francis11 (Cassandra 1-4,55,6,9-19,21,22), Wendi & Brenda Turnbaugh (Grace 1,3,4,612,10-12,14-16,1713,18,19,21,2214), Linwood Boomer (Adam 1,11), Kevin Hagen (Dr. Baker 1,2,4,7,9,13,142,15-20,22), Dabbs Greer (Reverend Alden 4,615,7,1415,15,16,19,22), Ketty Lester (Hester-Sue 1,2,4,10,11,16,19), Matthew Laborteaux (Albert 1-4,55,6,9-19,21,22).

Don Balluck (Executive Story Consultant), Marvin Coil (Associate Producer), Chris Abbott (Story Editor), David Rose (Music 1-21,2216), Ted Voigtländer A.S.C. (Director of Photography 1,2,4,7,9,10,13,15,17,18,20,22), Brianne Murphy A.S.C. (Director of Photography 3,5,6,14,16,19,21), Haskell Boggs A.S.C. (Director of Photography 8), Harry L. Wolf A.S.C. (Director of Photography 11,12), Walter M. Jefferies (Art Director), George Renne (Art Director 8), Jerry Taylor A.C.E. (Editor 1,5,6,9,11,13,15,17,19,21), John Loeffler (Editor 2-4,7,10,12,14,16,18,20,22), Bob Fish (Editor 8), Susan Sukman17 (Casting), Sam Gross (Set Decoration 8), Don Webb (Set Decoration), Miles S. Middough (Production Manager), Ron Martinez (Assistant Director 1,2,4,7,10,12,14,15,17,18,20,22), Reid Rummage (Assistant Director 3,5,6,9,11,13,16,19,21), Ray De Camp (Assistant Director 8), Brad Yacobian (Second Assistant Director 1-7,9-22), Buck Edwards (Second Assistant Director 8), Allan Snyder S.M.A. (Makeup 1-7,9-22), Hank Edds S.M.A. (Makeup 8), Damion (Hair Stylist 1-7,9-22), Darby Hoppin (Hair Stylist 8), Michael Faeth (Men's Costumer 1-7,9-22), Mike Termini (Men's Costumer 8), Linda Taylor (Women's Costumer), Glen Feldman (Property Master 1-7,9-22), Dean Wilson (Property Master 8), Edward P. Ancona (Color Consultant), Ron Housiaux (Key Grip 1-7,9-22), Clarence Tindell (Key Grip 8), Bob Farmer (Gaffer 1-7,9-22), Lon Massey III (Gaffer 8), Kenneth Hunter (Camera Operator 1-7,9-22), Richard L. Cosko S.O.C. (Camera Operator 8), Duane Toler (Script Supervisor 1-7,9-22), Erika Wernher (Script Supervisor 8), Luke Tillman (Special Effects), Vince Gutierrez (Sound Effects Editor), Fred Prior (Music Editor), Kay Suffern (Negative Cutter), Anthony F. Brissinger (Sound Recording 1-7,9-22), Frank Meadows (Sound Recording 8), M. Curtis Price C.A.S. (Sound Recording), Gary Wohlleben / PMS (Production Controller), Photographed with Panavision Equipment®, An NBC Production In Association with Ed Friendly.

Interiors shot at MGM Studios, Culver City (now Sony Pictures Studios).

Copyright © MCMLXXXI [1981] by National Broadcasting Company, Inc. (1-13)
Copyright © MCMLXXXII [1982] by National Broadcasting Company, Inc. (14-22)

1 Credited across all episodes, but only appears in those indicated.
2 If this artist indeed appears at all in episode 14, it can only be in extreme long-shot during the brief funeral scene.
3 Voice-over only on episode 22.
4 Carrie is played jointly by twin actresses Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush.
5 Only appears very briefly in episode 5, coming out of school.
6 aka Scottie MacGregor.
7 Uncredited on episode 20.
8 Jonathan Gilbert is the brother of Melissa Gilbert (who plays Laura).
9 Only seen fleetingly, entering the school.
10 Only appears very briefly in episodes 17 and 18, rushing out of school.
11 aka Melissa Francis
12 Only appears with back to camera in episode 6.
13 Only appears in long-shot in episode 17.
14 Credited on episode 2 but does not appear.
15 Voice-over only on episodes 6 and 14, also possibly in long-shot during the funeral scenes.
16 David Rose won an Emmy for his music for episode 22.
17 aka Susan McCray.

Overall Nielsen rating for season: 19.1 (24th).

The Reincarnation Of Nellie (Part I)

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.01 (160)1
Written by Michael Landon
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast October 5, 1981, NBC / Production #8402

Guest Stars: Allison Balson (Nancy)2, Ivan Bonar (Mr. Case). Co-Starring: Elizabeth Hoffman (Miss Mason), Melora Hardin (Belinda Stevens), Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary). Featuring: Dan McBride (Customer #2), Richard Armstrong (Customer #1), Gillian Grant (Cindy), Leroy Sweet (Burly Customer). Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster)3.

1 This episode onwards features a new variation of the title sequence (see the end of this page). This omits Melissa Sue Anderson as Mary, who had stopped being considered a regular member of the cast upon the expiry of her seven-year contract.
2 This is the first episode for Allison Balson as Nancy Oleson.
3 Uncredited on episode's titles.

Adam can find no legal work in Walnut Grove, so Mary and he move away to New York where Adam joins his late father's law firm. At the Olesons', Nellie and Percival have also moved away and Harriet is feeling depressed. She is inspired to adopt a daughter from the orphanage to replace Nellie. One girl, Nancy, resembles a younger Nellie, so Harriet plumps for her, despite being warned the girl is a problem case. And just like her predecessor, Nancy quickly starts causing trouble at school.

Alison Arngrim (Nellie) had decided to leave the show, so a slot-in replacement was found in the form of Nancy.
The episode includes a nice soliloquy from Katherine MacGregor as Harriet.

I have to say Katherine MacGregor is one hell of an actress. She did a fantastic job doing the usual Harriet shtick, including over-the-top outrage, snootiness, and comic relief. But, she showed incredible range telling Nancy she knew the other kids hated Nellie and understood why. She made you have empathy for Harriet Oleson! She was just a really terrific actress, something I never realized or appreciated when I watched as a child. (Brad80)

Mary says goodbye to her folks before moving away
Nancy, straight from the orphanage
The Reincarnation Of Nellie (Part II)

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.02 (161)
Written by Michael Landon
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast October 12, 19811, NBC / Production #8403

Guest Stars: Allison Balson (Nancy), Ivan Bonar (Mr. Case). Co-Starring: Susan Bjurman (Mrs. Stevens), Melora Hardin (Belinda Stevens), Lawrence Bame (Mr. Stevens). Featuring: Gillian Grant (Cindy), Shanee Edwards (Mavis).

1 Sources (e.g. IMDb) which list an airdate of September 12, 1981, for this episode would seem to be incorrect.

Nancy tricks Willie into locking a classroom rival in the ice house all night in order to ruin the girl's voice so she is unable to take part in the school pageant. However, Nancy manages to lie her way out of this (and other) mischief, assisted by her doting new mother, Harriet, who constantly sides with her. Eventually, Charles discovers Nancy's history of troublemaking in all the various institutions she has been through. Learning this, Laura determines to teach Nancy a lesson and sets her up to be the victim of the "dunk tank" attraction at the pageant.

And don't forget that [Nancy's] big crime was locking Belinda (or was she Michelle at that point?) in the ice house, where she could have frozen to death. As opposed to all the criminals who were routinely locked in the ice house with no ill effects at all.
Although now I think about it, whenever they showed criminals locked up, they are always sitting upstairs, right by the door. Belinda/Michelle was sitting (if I recall) downstairs right among the ice blocks.
Perhaps they should have let Darwin's law take its natural progression. (charlieboo)

At about 15-minutes in, Willie is talking to his father about the Nancy business. You can see the shadow of Katherine MacGregor in the background as she waits for her cue to come in.

I was thinking back to the ep that first introduced Nancy, and the townspeople's method of paying her back for her evil ways is... putting her in a carnival dunk tank?? Damn, think of all the money/resources our juvenile justice system could save simply by plunging the little brats into water. (dougfir)

While Nellie was a pain in the ass, Nancy was psychotic. I don't think a dunk tank was truly going to cure her. I'm surprised ML didn't treat us to a scene of her torturing a poor farm animal. I know they wanted to play her for laughs, but that girl was disturbing. (DoxieMama)

Nancy: the reincarnation of Nellie
Wille, Nancy and Albert in the schoolroom
Growin’ Pains

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.03 (162)
Written by Larry Bischof
Directed by Maury Dexter
Broadcast October 19, 1981, NBC / Production #8401

Co-Starring: Aaron Fletcher (Mr. Tibbs). Featuring: Tricia Cast (Jenny), Dan McBride (Bixler), Justin Randi (Danny), Larry Moran (Tom), Carl Pitti (Wagon Driver).

While playing with Albert's razor, James accidentally breaks it. He then steals a new razor from the mercantile to replace it. When his actions are discovered, afraid of the repercussions, the boy runs away from home. Albert goes after him and, attempting to use some reverse psychology, tells him that he too is fed up with the volatile conditions in the cramped Ingalls cabin. During a thunderstorm, the two take refuge in a mansion belonging to a solitary old man who gives them a bed for the night. The loneliness and isolation of the old man makes the boys reconsider their own situation, and they return home the next morning.

After an okay set-up, the formulaic second half (which seems to be a mixture of Men Will Be Boys and Haunted House) outstays its welcome a bit.

When Albert and James run away, they look for shelter when it starts raining. You can see a covered bridge in the background. Why don't they go under the bridge instead of getting soaked out in the woods? (Steve C)

It rains heavily all night, yet the ground at the Ingalls' cabin appears to be bone dry the next morning. Were the kids really that far away for the weather to be all that different?

My personal problems with Growin' Pains are many. First, it has some of the same issues that many of the 8th season episodes have – relatively poor writing and characterization. Albert and James are annoying as hell through the whole thing. They need a good slap, imo. I really miss Laura in the Little House when I see that one. Then, there are the NNTOTOO [No, Not That One, The Other One = repeated plot threads] moments.
First off, 1.) the whole premise – new adopted kid is resented by older kid and runs away. We've seen that before (in Fagin, season 5). Then the speech Albert gives James about running away is full of rehashed dialogue from other seasons.
2.) For instance, he says that if James leaves he'll be left all alone with "womenfolk", which is the same line Pa fed to Albert to get him to move to Walnut Grove with the family.
3.) He goes on to try the reverse psychology thing (ie: "I'm running away, too," "Wait...YOU can't run away!!" "Why not? You are!") which is the same trick Grampa Ingalls uses on little Pa in one of the flashbacks when Pa's pa dies (Journey In The Spring – Season 3).
4.) There's yet another spiel about how life in the Big City sucks and everyone hates everyone and it's eeeevil.
5.) It rains and the kids eventually find shelter in a conveniently semi-abandoned mansion on the edge of town (which we've seen before in too many other episodes to count).
6.) ...Where they meet an eccentric old tertiary ruffian who teaches them some valuable life lesson (again, too many other episodes to count), THEN they go home, and – strangely – Ma and Pa hadn't even been that concerned that they were gone. Even though in every other episode where a kid runs away, they freak out and Pa (alone or with Mr. Edwards or Garvey) goes to hunt the runaway(s) down. And then, to top it all off – they decide at the end that they LIKE being squashed together like sardines in that tiny little shack and they don't want an addition built on after all! Which is all kinds of unbelievable, not to mention weird.
So that's six recycled themes in one show, and that's only from memory. If I sat down and watched it again, there'd probably be more. That's the problem with the later seasons. They were running out of cast and ideas. (coffeemom)

James plays at shaving
Albert and James caught in a storm
Dark Sage

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.04 (163)
Written by Vince R. Gutierrez
Directed by Maury Dexter
Broadcast October 26, 1981, NBC / Production #8405

Guest Stars: Don Marshall (Caleb Ledoux), Marlene Warfield (Mattie Ledoux), John Shearin (Nathan Sherman), Anne E. Curry (Jenny Sherman), Kevin Hagen (Dr. Baker). Featuring: Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster).

Caleb Ledoux, a black doctor, arrives in Walnut Grove. He is viewed with suspicion by Dr. Baker and most of the locals. Dr. Baker finds himself unable to recommend Ledoux to the local residents and will only send him out on trivial calls. That is until Baker is unavailable during a complicated childbirth, and Ledoux rises to the occasion by performing an emergency C-section. Nevertheless, Ledoux still feels he will never be accepted by the white community and prepares to leave town. However, at the next church service, Baker publicly declares his support for Ledoux and asks the community to do the same; Ledoux decides to stay.

Worthy, if a little predictable.

Then Doc Baker begs him to stay in front of everyone at church, stressing how much Walnut Grove desperately needs him. Doc Ledoux agrees, and of course – say it with me, everyone – he is never seen or heard from again.
And of course the Ingalls are the only family that welcome the Ledoux family and have them over for dinner. Because they're so enlightened. (jird)

Dr. Caleb Ledoux, played by Don Marshall
Drs. Ledoux and Baker do not see eye to eye
A Wiser Heart

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.05 (164)
Written by Chris Abbott
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast November 2, 1981, NBC / Production #8404

Guest Stars: Patrick Collins (Mortimer Carstairs), Joe Lambie (William Woestehoff). Special Guest Star: Lucy Lee Flippin (Eliza Jane Wilder). Co-Starring: Darlene Conley (Mrs. Pierce), Kathryn Fuller (Miss Ott), George O. Petrie (Ralph Waldo Emerson), Leslie Landon1 (Pam). Featuring: Casey Erickson (Delivery Boy), Warner McKay (Ticket Vendor), Frank Kennedy (Conductor), Brett Miller (Waiter), Kaley Ward (Emily). R. Michael Fierro (Student)2, John Richard Petersen (Student)2.

1 Leslie Landon is the daughter of Michael Landon.
2 Uncredited on episode's titles; these entries have been taken from the Internet Movie Database and have not been verified.

Laura travels to Arizona to attend a summer course on Great American Writers alongside her sister-in-law, Eliza Jane. On the train, she meets Mort Carstairs, an unemployed teacher who is going on the same course. Eliza Jane falls for the tutor, the philandering Prof. William Woestehoff. But he is more interested in Laura and threatens to fail her coursework unless she agrees to date him. Eliza Jane can't understand why Laura is trying to put her off of Woestehoff, and stops talking to her until the truth is later made clear. At the end of the course, Woestehoff fails Laura, as he threatened, but Mort teaches him a lesson... with his fists. Eliza Jane offers Mort a position at her school, the two having become fond of each other.

When Laura pushes Mrs Pierce into the water, Mrs Pierce's wet hair changes style from one shot to the next.

At the end when it's time to go home, Laura asks for a train ticket to Walnut Grove. Uhhhh, the train didn't go to Walnut Grove. (YoungAtHeart)

Philandering professor, William Woestehoff
Mort Carstairs with Eliza Jane
Gambini, The Great

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.06 (165)
Written by Jeri Taylor
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast November 9, 1981, NBC / Production #8406

Guest Stars: Jack Kruschen (Gambini), Stephen Manley (Marco), Gloria Manos (Anna Rosa). Co-Starring: Martha Nix (Amy), Robert Torti (Stefano). Featuring: William Keene (Ringmaster), William Forester (Dr. Abbott), Carl Pitti (1st Townsman), Sean McGaughy1 (2nd Townsman).

1 Spelled as "McGaughey" on credits.

The Great Gambini Family Circus comes to Walnut Grove and begins to rehearse for their big show. This inspires the local kids to emulate some of the acts: Albert performs a daring underwater escape, while Willie attempts to recreate "the human cannonball" using a home-made cannon and the family cat. The aging patriarch of the Gambini family has given up performing his most daring stunt – escaping from a burning coffin – after an earlier attempt in which he nearly lost his life. To prove he's still got what it takes, he reinstates the feat for the Walnut Grove performance. Tragically, the stunt goes wrong and The Great Gambini burns to death.

My opinions differ but, in general, this episode tends to get a bad rap from fans as being too bleak... too downbeat, and many find the ending a bit much.
However, the scene with Willie and Pepper the cat is genuinely funny.

Also, I noticed that it was lunchtime when Albert did the rope trick in the water and the very next scene is the little house at night and Albert is still all wet? It's been like 6 hours or more. What kind of super-wet water do they have in Walnut Grove?! (Roller Girl)

Gambini, The Great
The results of Willie Oleson setting off his home-made cannon
The Legend Of Black Jake

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.07 (166)
Written by Chris Abbott
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast November 16, 1981, NBC / Production #8407

Guest Stars: Todd Susman (Max), Royce D. Applegate (Georgie). Co-Starring: Sam Edwards (Anderson). Featuring: Gavin Mooney (Policeman), Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster), Carl Pitti (Townsman).

Nels is kidnapped by two bumbling bandits, but wife Harriet refuses to pay the $100 ransom. Nels is so incensed, he joins the bandits in their scheme to get at Harriet's money. He poses, in head-to-toe disguise, as their mysterious leader, Black Jake, and orders Harriet kidnapped. But Harriet can't hand over the ransom as the money is in the bank... As the trio's scheme spirals and grows more complicated, further townsfolk are abducted: bank manager Bill Anderson, Dr. Baker and Rev. Alden. A rescue is attempted by Charles and Almanzo, but they too are caught. Still without the ransom money, the bandits give up the scheme as a lost cause and release all their victims. Nels reappears at home without anybody being aware of his role as Black Jake.

I don't know why every hack TV author thinks they can write comedy. It's actually a hard genre to do successfully, not an easy one. Most "comedy" entries into otherwise straight drama series are complete disasters, as here.

So I am watching an episode tonight where Nels is kidnapped, Harriet won't put up the ransom, so he decides to get back at her. By, you know, pretending he's DEAD. And then, of course, when he's not, it's a big chuckle. Because this was HUMOR!
ML had a sick sense of what was funny. Nels is DEAD! His wife and kids think so! His friends think so! He's not! Hilarity ensues! (DoxieMama)

Max and Georgie: two bumbling crooks
Nels' "ghost" appears to Harriet

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.08 (167)
Written by John Hawkins and B. W. Sandefur
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast November 23, 1981, NBC / Production #8411

Guest Stars: M. Emmet Walsh (Callihan1), Gene Ross (Drummond), Chez Lister (B. J. Jackson). Special Guest Star: Victor French (Mr. Edwards). Co-Starring: Lillian Adams (Mrs. Baxter), John C. Becher (Mr. Golden), John Lawrence (Schultz), Frances E. Williams (Mrs. Jackson), Ernie Hudson (Thomas). Featuring: June C. Ellis (Mrs. Harris), Terry Burns (Hill), Herb Mitchell (Workman), Chad Cowgill (Boy), Lorinne Vozoff (Nurse), Will MacMillan (Bartender), Tom Klunis (Webster), Lorrie Blore (Nurse Nelson), Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster), Jack Lilley (Wagon Driver), Michele Jaimene (Girl), Tony Mendia (Paper Boy).

1 This is a misspelling on the credits as the written name is visible in the episode and is spelled "Callahan".

Charles travels to Chicago to console Isaiah Edwards after the death of his adopted son, John Jr., apparently killed in a routine street accident. The pair find John's watch in a pawn shop and realize things are not as straightforward as they seem. With help from John's newspaper boss, Callahan, the watch eventually leads Charles and Isaiah back to a Mr. Drummond, head of Drummond Construction. It becomes clear that John had uncovered a racket between Drummond and a local alderman, and was killed by Drummond to silence him. When confronted with the evidence, Drummond bolts and, ironically, is killed when he falls down a hole in the road dug by his own company.

Atypical but absorbing entry for the show. A very nicely realized – and expensive-looking – depiction of a rainy Chicago.

I did love how the Mean Man seemed to fall all of about 3 feet, but managed to break his neck. Also, how in the span of the 20 seconds it took Pa and Edwards to run over, he was already perfectly placed with the worker lovingly cradling his head. Another great time gap was when the editor asked his secretary to find old articles and she tells him how time-consuming it will be, and yet a few minutes later, here comes good ol' BJ running in with 20 articles carefully marked (were those post-it notes?)
And lovely to see that Edwards' reading skills had improved so quickly from being illiterate to being able to quickly scan newspaper articles. (charlieboo)

Helping to find the truth: newspaper editor, Mr. Callahan
Street kid B. J. is confronted with John Jr.'s watch
For The Love Of Nancy

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.09 (168)
Written by Chris Abbott
Directed by Maury Dexter
Broadcast November 30, 1981, NBC / Production #8408

Guest Star: J. Brennan Smith (Elmer Miles). Co-Starring: Elizabeth Rogers (Mrs. Miles), Charles Shull (Mr. Miles). Featuring: Michael P. Alan (Joey), Carl Steven (Jess Miles), Carl Pitti (Stage Driver).1

1 Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster) is credited but does not appear.

An obese boy, Elmer Miles, joins the school and becomes the butt of jokes. He takes a shine to Nancy and she exploits this to get him to carry out her every whim. Willie and Albert play a joke on Nancy to teach her a lesson, but it backfires at Elmer's expense. This is the last straw and the boy "resigns" from school, feeling he has no friends. Willie, Albert, Nancy and the rest of the class all visit Elmer at home to prove otherwise and encourage him back.

A close relative of earlier school-bullying stories (chiefly Town Party, Country Party; The Election; and The Music Box). "Don't be nasty to fat people" had also been done before (The Man Inside; Annabelle). I guess the time seemed right to do it all again. Had this been the only episode on these topics (on which basis I have rated it), this would have been acceptable...

He [Elmer] started the whole "jogging for health" craze! So ahead of his time! Almost like he could see into the 70s... (plk)

Maybe it's just me and I've missed something, but there seem to be several scenes set at the Olesons' home in this episode which are preceded, for some reason, by establishing shots of Nellie's Restaurant (a different building).

Fat boy Elmer Miles joins the school
Elmer takes a like to Nancy
Wave Of The Future

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.10 (169)
Written by Jeri Taylor
Directed by Maury Dexter
Broadcast December 7, 1981, NBC / Production #8409

Guest Star: Laurie Main (Major Guffey). Co-Starring: Roger Bowen (Advertising Man), Margaret Wheeler (Lady), John A. Roberts (Bearded Man). Featuring: Elmore Vincent (Ernest), Anita Keith (Mrs. Matlock), Phil Chambers (Mr. Matlock), Mona Bruns (Customer), Dan McBride (Taylor), Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster), David Carlile (Photographer), Carl Pitti (Driver), Clyde Harper (Customer).

Everybody is rushed off their feet at Nellie's Restaurant, so Harriet buys a franchise to become a branch of Mrs. Sullivan's Kitchen, with the aim of streamlining the business. Unfortunately, adhering to the conditions in the contract results in the restaurant actually becoming more hectic. At home, Charles and Nels are fed up of cooking for their families due to the long hours their wives are working, so they temporarily start their own eatery which undercuts Harriet's and steals her business. This leads to the franchise being revoked.

This unlikely tale is a very routine, and unengrossing, entry into the LHOP canon. Eatery franchises didn't even start until the 1930s, so I don't know what we are doing with this one in the late 1800s!
The idea of the menfolk being left to do the cooking was covered in Oleson Vs Oleson from just the season before.

Note the scene where Caroline returns home after the grand opening of Mrs. Oleson's new restaurant. She tells Charles that they made almost $25. How could she know? She and Hester-Sue left while Mr. and Mrs. Oleson were still counting the money. (Lori J)

I was looking at the image of Colonel Sanders that was displayed on the wall, and I was struck by how much the man who portrays Col. Sanders in "Mrs. Sullivan's Kitchen Sucks" looks like the actual guy! Even though reality and continuity were not this show's strong suits, they did a great job of finding someone who looked like the colonel. (Shakespearette)

The new branch of Mrs. Sullivan's Kitchen
Caroline, Hester-Sue and Harriet in their new uniforms
A Christmas They Never Forgot

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.11 (170)1
Written by Don Balluck
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast December 21, 1981, NBC / Production #8410

Guest Stars: Newell Alexander (Mr. Holbrook), Tom Lester (Mr. Wilder). Co-Starring: Eddy C. Dyer (Poppa Terhune), Helbi Ziroe (Momma Terhune), Alene Wilson (Young Hester-Sue), Don Dubbins (Master Hayes), Holly Villaire (Charlotte Holbrook), Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary)1. Featuring: Maggie Gwinn (Mrs. Wilder), Jerry Supiran (Young Almanzo), Kathy Pazoff (Young Eliza Jane), Rebecca Wolfe (Young Alice), Dago Dimster (Young Royal), Sheri Strahl (Young Caroline), Vernon Barnwell (Boy #1), Rodney Booker (Boy #2), Kathleen MacNaughton (Emily), Oliver Aubrey (Santa Claus). Elisha Rapson (Student)2.3

1 This is the last episode for Melissa Sue Anderson as Mary Ingalls/Kendall, and Linwood Boomer as Adam Kendall.
2 Uncredited on episode's titles; this entry has been taken from the Internet Movie Database and has not been verified.
3 Victor French (Mr. Edwards) is credited but only appears in footage from the Little House On The Prairie pilot movie, a lengthy section from which forms the "Laura's story" part of this episode.

Almanzo and Laura, Adam and Mary, and Hester-Sue all join the Ingalls at their cabin for a Christmas meal and some music. They find themselves snowed in, and Caroline, Almanzo, Laura and Hester-Sue all relate stories of their childhood Christmases to pass the night. By morning, the cabin is buried by snow right up to the second floor!

There's a throwback in feel to the earlier days of the show in this nice Christmassy episode. Having said that, Mary – in her last appearance ever – is weirdly sidelined. Had the actress upset somebody? (The Mary character goes off to bed seven minutes in, and Melissa Sue Anderson is credited last amongst the co-stars, with no special guest status, and on the end of the episode only.)

I didn't much like A Christmas They Never Forgot. I can't put my finger on why, but it depresses me. … Also the way everyone was interacting (Mary/Adam, Laura/Manly, Pa and Ma with everyone, Hester-Sue, etc.) just seemed kinda forced for me. It was interesting hearing some other stories, though. Stories from other perspectives, I mean. (coffeemom)

There is an odd shot of Charles laughing (at around 2 minutes 35 seconds), just after Mary and Caroline have gone into the house, which seems to have been achieved with Michael Landon standing against a painted canvas backdrop of the barn. (Steve)

When Ma is telling her favorite or memorable Christmas when she was a child, you see her in a nice, big house with a nice dress, so this gives me the impression that her family had money. But in I Remember, I Remember, she is living with her family on a farm, out in the country. (Gabbie T)

Mary is sitting there for her whole 10 minutes of screen time looking like she desperately needs to take the Activia challenge. (mmecorday)

I always wonder how much money MSA got for showing up for that Christmas memory episode. She had like two lines, and just sat in Adam's lap. She even went to bed before she could chime in on Laura's memory of the Mr. Edwards' Christmas.
And the family was so happy about being snowed in together... with that amount of snow they were going to be stuck there for days, if not weeks. I'd like to see the status of the little house after a few days of 12 people being stuck together like that. Talk about cabin fever, not even Hester-Sue's hymns could help. "The Little Shining on the Prairie"! (Goshen Girl)

About 15-minutes in, Laura says, "I'm not the least bit tired." Hester-Sue responds with, "I'm like Laurie – I'm not tired a bit."

Re: Santa's red suit in Hester-Sue's flashback. The color red was not particularly associated with Santa at this time any more than any other color.

In "The Christmas They Never Forgot But We Wish They Had", how did everyone take care of, uh, "business" when the fake snow was up to the barn roof? Did they just crawl out the loft window and squat? (prairiegirl)

Hester-Sue sings a song
The Ingalls' home is buried in snow
No Beast So Fierce

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.12 (171)
Written by Carole and Michael Raschella
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast January 4, 1982, NBC / Production #8412

Guest Stars: Peter Billingsley (Gideon), Dennis Howard (Braden Hale). Co-Starring: Jennifer Rhodes (Mrs. Hale), Robert Boon (Sven), Bob Hoy (Morgan). Featuring: Jerry Wills (Sticks), John J. Fox (Bartender), Wayne Hall (Jed), Lori Sparling (Hildy).

A new boy, Gideon, starts at school, but his stutter is mocked by his fellow pupils. Although James befriends Gideon, he also makes fun of the boy in an unguarded moment, and Gideon, feeling betrayed, runs away from home. Later, Charles and James travel to Minneapolis to deliver some furniture. They are followed all along the way by a stray dog, which defends the pair against an attack by thieves and, later, by a bear. Back in Walnut Grove, Caroline has found Gideon and persuades him to return home. James gives the dog to Gideon as a peace offering.

Bullying, stuttering, runaways, stray dogs, bear attacks... a fairly uninspired mixture of topics done before.
Plus Gideon is far too young to have the fortitude to live rough by himself.

No Beast So Fierce (aka Stuttering Gideon) is such a weird episode. It's like in the writers' meeting, they realized they had already written a show about a child with a speech impediment being mercilessly mocked by his classmates and decided to put in a subplot about Pa and James finding a dog. And what a weird looking dog. It looked like someone had spray-painted a Shepherd blue.
Oh, and fine. When Pa's only son takes an eternal dirt nap, just a plain, wooden headstone suffices. But when his friend Heart Attack Jack bites the dust, he makes an elaborate cross for him. (mmecorday)

Gideon and James in school
James with the guardian dog
Stone Soup

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.13 (172)
Written by Peter Dixon
Directed by Maury Dexter
Broadcast January 18, 1982, NBC / Production #8413

Co-Starring: John Miranda (Farmer #1). Featuring: Donald Elson (Farmer #2), Brandon Goldstein (Jimmy), Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster), Dick Lilley (Townsperson).

It is the middle of a heat wave in Walnut grove, and Almanzo and Laura have just planted a new orchard. Then, Almanzo and Charles are called away on a job, leaving the pregnant Laura to tend the saplings on her own. The hard work eventually takes its toll on Laura and she collapses with heat exhaustion. In school, Caroline (acting as substitute teacher) tells a story, "Stone Soup", which inspires the kids to rally to Laura's aid.

The kids' attitude is a bit too good to be true. I know wishful thinking would have them behave this way, but in real life they don't.

I HATE Laura in this episode. Why is she such a bitch to those who are worried about her and only trying to help? She's particularly been nothing but a prisspot bitch to Albert ... since she became a teacher. Someone really needs to slap some sense into her, a la Laura slapping Sylvia a couple weeks ago. Also, what are the chances the kids would get the idea to do what they did after hearing Ma's story? Not bloody likely. And the way she tells the story and just walks out all smug like, "Lesson delivered, beetches!" Do Not Like. (coffeemom)

She carried buckets of water to the trees, giving each one about the equivalent of 3 cups of water before moving onto the next one. Now, I'm no farmer, but is that scant amount of water really going to sustain a new tree? I think not. Also, Laura was teaching, Manly was freighting and farming, so did they really NEED to take on an orchard as well? Maybe Manly was farmed as well as Pa, so they were always broke, but wouldn't you think that 3 careers would be enough to financially take care of 2 adults? (cwmavis)

Why couldn't Ma have Albert stay with Laura and he can help or even do it for her? (Belle T)

Just before Laura faints, she spills her buckets (we can hear the water sloshing about, so they're not empty). But subsequent shots show no water soaking into the ground.

Laura hard at work watering the trees
Laura recovering from heatstroke
The Legacy

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.14 (173)
Written by Vince R. Gutierrez
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast January 25, 1982, NBC / Production #8414

Guest Stars: Claude Earl Jones (Jack Prescott), Robert Boon (Sven Johanssen). Co-Starring: J. S. (Joe) Young (Uriah Cooper), Pamela Murphy (Linda Martin), Ken Smolka (Bob Martin), June Whitley Taylor (Dolphia Prescott), Paul Larson (Addison Fisk), Pitt Herbert (Taylor). Featuring: Kurt Smildsin (Josh Bennett), William Patrick O'Hagan (Marvin), Wade Wallace (Matthew Prescott), Pat Destro (Sara Prescott), M. K. Lewis1 (Hastings), George Barclay (Auctioneer), Maggie Brown (Birdie Bennett).

1 aka Maurice Kowalewski.

Charles is selling some of his home-made tables through a store in Minneapolis on a casual basis. Sales are good, so Charles moves to the city to work full-time on production with a view to moving his whole family there if the pilot venture proves successful. However, a bigger outfit copies his design and undercuts him. Sales evaporate and Charles is forced to return home to Walnut Grove. A hundred years later at an auction, a couple buy an old table with a "C.I." monogram and wonder about the man who made it all those years ago.

Simple but effective little tale about (what would now be called) breach of copyright/trademark.
The early scenes with Jack Prescott (played by Claude Earl Jones) are really nicely acted and directed.

Man oh man do I hate that episode, and it has one of my most super-hated LH scenes EVER – that intro in the "present day". Which was like, early 80's USA? Not only did it totally date the show, above and beyond the ways that it's already dated (70s hair on the Prairie, etc., etc.), but it was cheesy and really poorly done. And it just threw us for a loop. Footage of a modern-day couple driving a truck and going to an antiques auction? I'm sorry... call me a LH purist, call me inflexible, but that crap doesn't belong in ANY LH episode. EVER. (coffeemom)

This is just Pa. He is constantly punching people to get his way, that's where his kids learned it from. Cuff him good. I think the most outrageous burst of Pa-violence was when Pa went to the factory in The Legacy and saw that they were copying his table. Instead of going to a lawyer and handling it like an adult, he proceeds to pick up an axe... an AXE... and go over and start chopping up a table. Then when someone tries to stop him, he beats them to a pulp. Ok, I can kind of accept him beating up the big bad guy who stole his idea, but does he have to prey on some innocent factory working just trying to make a living who probably has no idea the idea was stolen? (becky14624)

Charles' monogram on one of his tables
Undercutter, Mr. Addison Fisk
Uncle Jed

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.15 (174)
Written by Don Balluck
Directed by Maury Dexter
Broadcast February 1, 1982, NBC / Production #8415

Special Guest Star: E. J. André (Uncle Jed). Co-Starring: Wiley Harker (Judge Barrow), Claude Woolman (Philip Loring). Featuring: Carl Pitti (Stage Driver).

James and Cassandra's prosperous great-uncle Jed comes to visit and invites the two kids to come back and live with him in Minneapolis and enjoy all the trappings that go with wealth. After much deliberation, James and Cassandra decide to stay with the Ingalls. Jed then launches a court case for their custody, which he wins. Meanwhile, Dr. Baker diagnoses Jed's persistent cough as consumption and tells him he will die unless he moves to warmer climes. Given the circumstances, the old man gives up his claim on the children.

Today's modern issue transported back in time is... a custody battle.
It's all a bit hard to swallow that the judge doesn't appear to consider Jed's age a factor in his suitability to adopt James and Cassandra. After all, how much longer would he realistically be expected to live, especially in that day and age?

What bugged me about this episode is that even when he [Uncle Jed] decided the kids could stay, why didn't he offer the funds to at least build another room onto the house? He could have even let them have the house he purchased and was now going to sell. (robinette01)

Great-Uncle Jed
Jed in court fights for Cassandra and James
Second Chance

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.16 (175)
Written by Don Balluck
Directed by Maury Dexter
Broadcast February 8, 1982, NBC / Production #8416

Guest Stars: J. A. Preston (Sam Terhune), Ketty Lester (Hester-Sue). Co-Starring: Marguerite DeLain (Naomi Terhune), William Edward Phipps (Hicks), Jack Perkins (Bartender). Featuring: Norman Rice (Croupier), Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster), Dan McBride (Customer), Lexie Neal (Saloon Girl), Richard Lilley (Townsman).

Hester-Sue's ex-husband, Sam Terhune, comes to town claiming he has long kicked his drinking and gambling habits. Hester-Sue realizes it was her residual love for Sam that prevented her from marrying Joe Kagan. She and Sam grow close all over again and make arrangements to remarry. On the wedding day, a woman arrives in Walnut Grove and introduces herself as Sam's current wife, complete with two children! It turns out that Sam left her just two months before, having spent everything they had on drink and gambling, and is still married. Hester-Sue and Sam part company but remain on amicable terms.

I always loved how, in that liberal hotbed that was 1885 Sleepy Eye, Hester-Sue's ex could just waltz into a saloon, have a drink at the bar and play roulette with all the white folk. (charlieboo)

Sam Terhune and Hester-Sue
Sam and Hester-Sue share a tender moment
Days Of Sunshine, Days Of Shadow (Part I)

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.17 (176) – 1½ hours
Written by Don Balluck
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast February 15, 1982, NBC / Production #8417

Guest Star: Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder). Special Guest Star: Lucy Lee Flippin (Eliza Jane Wilder). Co-Starring: Eddie Quillan (Old Timer), Sam Edwards (Mr. Anderson). Featuring: Bill McLennan (Mr. Walsh), Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster). unknown (Rose Wilder)1.

1 Uncredited on episode's titles.

While weak from a bout of diphtheria, Almanzo makes a futile effort to save his crops from a hailstorm, and suffers a stroke. He and Laura now cannot afford to pay their mortgage, so Charles takes on a job out of town to help out. Meanwhile, Almanzo's sister, Eliza Jane, comes over to stay and act as nurse. She plans for Almanzo and Laura to move back to Minneapolis with her, and starts looking for a desk job there for Almanzo. This brings her info conflict with Laura who wants to stay in Walnut Grove. With others planning and doing everything for him, a sulky Almanzo loses the will to get better. In the middle of all this, Laura gives birth to her baby – a little girl named Rose.

Almanzo, seriously ill in bed, hears a hailstorm beating down and insists on rushing outside. Why? What is he going to do – try to catch the hailstones?

Here's one that always confused me: ... Pa takes a loan out to save Laura's house and puts his own house up as collateral. Then Laura's house is blown away and they somehow have money to rebuild, but the original mortgage and the new bank loan is never mentioned again. (charlieboo)

I was watching Days Of Sunshine, Days Of Shadow today, and in between wanting to smack the crap out of everyone involved, I was thinking about Eliza Jane. It's kind of weird how Landon made her so likeable in earlier episodes, and then so smackable in this one. Her personality in these episodes was a lot closer to how overbearing she was in the books, but it always seemed kind of crappy in the series to turn her from this nice, well-meaning character into a bossy hag. (PotataHed)

The stories and series were set in the Victorian period when people were still terribly prudish about sexual matters, but in the series Laura and Pa did have a sex talk! Remember? ... Almanzo has had a stroke, is surly and nasty and basically just not in the mood. Laura is whining to Pa that Manly hasn't touched her in months, and it just totally creeped me out. I mean most fathers don't want to know that their daughters are getting any in the first place, and here Laura is pretty much asking her father for advice on how to get her groove on again! She couldn't have talked to her mother? It just seemed really, REALLY odd to me. (samgracesmom)

Almanzo can't be bothered to try to walk again
Laura seeks divine guidance
Days Of Sunshine, Days Of Shadow (Part II)

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.18 (177)
Written by Chris Abbott
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast February 22, 1982, NBC / Production #8418

Guest Star: Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder). Special Guest Star: Lucy Lee Flippin (Eliza Jane Wilder)1. Co-Starring: Dee Croxton (Mrs. Jackson). Featuring: Nathan Adler (Mr. Jackson), Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster). unknown (Rose Wilder)2.

1 This is the last episode for Lucy Lee Flippin as Eliza Jane Wilder.
2 Uncredited on episode's titles.

A tornado wrecks Almanzo and Laura's house, so they move in with the Ingalls. This setback finally motivates Almanzo to make some effort to fight his stroke and get out of his wheelchair. With Charles' help, he begins to learn how to walk again and starts secretly building a new house. Laura is delighted with the results when they are presented to her. Eliza Jane, having found Almanzo a desk job in Minneapolis, is initially angry when Almanzo says he won't be moving back with her, but she later realizes she wanted him back for mainly selfish reasons.

When they lose their house to the tornado, my heart felt for her but she was nuts to leave her baby and go after that cat. It'd have found a way to survive! And even after she gets knocked unconscious, it sauntered off anyway. It was hilarious when she made the, "And the cat! Don't forget I saved a cat!" remark because we never see that cat again. (Eri)

As she is giving her dinner-table speech near the end of the episode, Eliza Jane says, "I realized last night how much I missed being away from all of you." Did she mean to say that? It sounds OK when you first hear it, but think what it means.

A tornado heads towards Laura and Almanzo's farm
The aftermath of the tornado
A Promise To Keep

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.19 (178)
Written by Vince R. Gutierrez
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast March 1, 1982, NBC / Production #8419

Guest Stars: Corinne Michaels1 (Grace Edwards), Kyle Richards (Alicia Edwards)2, David R. Kaufman (Carl Edwards). Special Guest Star: Victor French (Isaiah Edwards). Co-Starring: Charles W. Young (Cowboy), Jack Perkins (Barkeep). Featuring: Duane Tucker (Workman), Ruth Foster (Mrs. Foster), Richard Lilley (Man #1), Hal Burton (Driver). Jennifer Steffin (Rose Wilder)3, Michelle Steffin (Rose Wilder)3.

1 aka Corinne Camacho.
2 This is the last episode for Kyle Richards as Alicia Edwards.
3 Uncredited on episode's titles; these entries have been taken from the Internet Movie Database and have not been verified.

Grace Edwards is fed up with her husband Isaiah's drinking and kicks him out. He goes to live in Walnut Grove and Charles gives him a job at the mill. However, on a trip to Sleepy Eye, Isaiah's drunkenness causes an accident which almost leads to Albert being crippled. Charles angrily tells Isaiah to keep clear of his family, and Isaiah heads out of town. However, Laura takes pity on the man, takes him to her home and there helps him kick the bottle. Charles and Isaiah eventually make up, though Grace writes indicating she intends to divorce Isaiah.

More Rehabilitation On The Prairie, this time courtesy of Laura who has obviously inherited her father's skills in such matters. The episode functions as a tool for reintroducing Edwards to the show permanently but without the rest of his family.

Michael Landon and Victor French have finally made up and Mr. Edwards can be back on the show only now he's married to Ellen's crazy mother and Carl has brown hair. Whaaa? (becky14624)

When Laura got home after finding out the meeting had been postponed, Mr. Edwards told her he was going to the mercantile to get some headache powders. Shouldn't Laura have known that the mercantile closed at 2 on Saturdays? (midwestmusician)

Isaiah was banging on the door of the mercantile; I guess he was going to buy some of that patent medicine (the kind that's 85% alcohol), because surely the mercantile wouldn't sell liquor. Well, Harriet would if she could make a big enough profit and not get caught or have to deal with smelly drunks; but no way Nels would.
So the mercantile closes at 2 on Saturday? Dang! I guess if everyone's a farmer and no one has a job with specific office hours, they can do their shopping any day of the week, so Saturday wouldn't have to be a big shopping day. Still, I can't see Harriet passing up that potential profit; it's not like she's paying someone a salary to work in the store when there aren't any customers. (Neko)

Speaking of the Reverend – where exactly does he live, that he manages to see whenever a person enters the church so he can butt in, er, I mean, assist? (charlieboo)

Grace Edwards mark II
Mr. Edwards wrestles with the demon drink
A Faraway Cry

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.20 (179)
Teleplay by Don Balluck, story by Pamela Balluck and Don Balluck
Directed by Maury Dexter
Broadcast March 8, 1982, NBC / Production #8420

Guest Stars: Brion James (Amos), Ruth Silveira (Louisa Beckwith), Calvin Bartlett (Horace Beckwith), James Griffith (Preacher Bob), Dennis Lipscomb (Sherman Andruss), Betty McGuire (Nora Cramer). Co-Starring: Judith Weston (Helen Andruss), Linda Hoy (Katherine), Tom Pletts (Arnie Cramer), Eric Milota (Jeffrey). Featuring: Jack Stryker (1st Man), Tom Rosqui (2nd Man), Will MacMillan (3rd Man), Alex Sharp (Andy), Barbara Beaman (Woman), Lila Waters (Another Woman).

Caroline receives a letter from a childhood friend, Louisa, asking for medical assistance to fight an outbreak of fever in a gold-prospecting camp. She and Dr. Baker travel to the camp, where the doctor tends the fever-struck. Meanwhile, the pregnant and delirious Louisa is nursed by Caroline in lieu of Louisa's uncaring husband. Caroline also cares for another woman, Helen, who is expecting a child at the same time. A few weeks later, Louisa produces a healthy baby, though sadly dies in childbirth. When Helen's baby is stillborn, Caroline and Dr. Baker secretly give Louisa's baby to Helen pretending that it is her own. With the fever now cured, the grateful residents give Dr. Baker as much gold as they can spare.

This is, surprisingly, only the third Caroline-centered story to date. This atypical episode tends to get a bad rap from fans. Some seem to have trouble following the plot; others dislike the atmospheric "perpetually night" shooting. It works fine for me.

Ah yes! The episode where they didn't pay their electric bill on the set. The first time I saw it I had no idea what was happening half the time because you literally can't see anything! Plus it's all tertiary people so it's next to impossible to keep track of who's who and who's married to who. So it's extra confusing when CarolINE starts handing babies away and we're supposed to figure it all out.
I haven't seen that one for a long time. Wasn't it set up that Doc had to go to this camp and CarolINE went along to see her friend? Was it pretty common back then for a married woman to take off with a single man for a girls' weekend? (charlieboo)

Caroline brandishes a torch at night
Caroline with Louisa's baby
He Was Only Twelve (Part I)

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.21 (180)
Written by Paul W. Cooper
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast May 3, 1982, NBC / Production #8421

Guest Stars: Chris Hendrie (Coy), John Dennis Johnston (Lawrence), Tom Roy Lowe (Leon), Bill Vint (Escal), R. D. Call (Dwayne). Special Guest Star: Victor French (Isaiah Edwards). Co-Starring: Hal Smith (Trumble), Doug McGrath (Harkness), Lionel Decker (Doctor), Robert Telford (Gun Proprietor), Sam Theard (Spo-De-Odee) (Swamper). Featuring: Eldon Quick (Teller), Nancy Berggren (Aggie), A. Paul Smith (Bartender), John Kelly (Sheriff), Georg Olden (Danny).

While opening a bank account in Sleepy Eye, James is caught up in the middle of a bank robbery and is shot and critically wounded. Charles, Albert and Isaiah Edwards set out to find the five men responsible. A box of matches, found on one of the robbers who has died from gunshot wounds, leads to two more of the men, who are found drinking in a saloon in Hobbs. These in turn lead them to the final two villains, who are hiding in the forsaken town of Sulphur.

A lift from a Landon-penned episode of Bonanza from 1972 (He Was Only Seven). As with most of these borrowed stories, it's a bit too far removed from the familiar recipe to be "proper" LHOP. The dust-swept town of Sulphur is nicely realized, though.

It also struck me as a bit shoddy detective work when Mr. Edwards found the matchbook from Hobbs and immediately concluded the bad guys must be there. Couldn't you have easily picked up a matchbook from anywhere as you were passing through? That doesn't by any means indicate you visit that saloon all the time. (becky14624)

Is the misspelling "Nickle" on the saloon doors deliberate?

The head of the murderous bank-robbin' gang is a homeowner. And he's married with a kid. Is he a psychopathic criminal or a traveling salesman? I'm pretty sure old-west bank robbers didn't have nice houses to come home to in-between heists. They didn't seem like the take-out-a-mortgage types. (Tim McD)

Albert, Charles and Isaiah on the hunt for the robbers
One of the outlaws holds Charles at gunpoint
He Was Only Twelve (Part II)

Newspaper listingEpisode# 8.22 (181)1,2,3,4,5
Written by Michael Landon6
Directed by Michael Landon
Broadcast May 10, 1982, NBC / Production #8422

Guest Stars: Don Beddoe (Old Man), Martin Rudy (Dr. Stanfill). Special Guest Star: Victor French (Isaiah Edwards).

1 This is the last regular episode for Karen Grassle as Caroline Ingalls, but she would return for The Last Farewell telemovie in "Season 10".
2 This is the last episode for the Greenbush twins as Carrie Ingalls.
3 This is the last regular episode for Matthew Laborteaux as Albert, but he would return for Home Again in Season 9, and the Look Back to Yesterday telemovie in "Season 10".
4 This is the last episode for Jason Bateman as James Cooper, and Missy Francis as Cassandra Cooper.
5 David Rose won an Emmy for his music for this episode.
6 Sources (e.g. IMDb) which list Paul W. Cooper as the writer of this episode would seem to be incorrect.

James hovers between life and death following his gunshot wound. Charles becomes obsessed with seeking a divine intervention to the boy's condition, and he takes the comatose James away into the remote country and builds a shelter and a stone "altar". After many days of prayer, an ethereal old man appears and portends the appearance of a blue light which comes down from heaven and bathes James in energy; the boy is cured.

Thunderbolts from Heaven, angels, miracles, fake beards...
To say that Landon over-egged the pudding here might be the biggest understatement ever made. It's watchable, sure, but more in a, "What is Mike going to lay on next?" way than anything else.

Least favorite Pa moment? I've said it before and I'll say it again: "The Phallic Altar of Divine Healing". I hate the way he acts in that episode, I hate the way he talks down to Doc Baker, Ma, Mr Edwards and everyone else. I hate the beard, I hate the story and I hate the cheap, crappy special effects. (coffeemom)

Early in the episode, when Doc Baker's up in the loft examining James, I was thinking about how creepy it must be for the other kids having to sleep up there with Coma Boy. Guess they didn't have much of a choice, but still. (Neko)

Rev Alden says he's never seen a miracle in 30 years as a minister. However, in The Faith Healer in season 6, he said, "And there are authentic faith healers – I've seen their miracles."

As far as James being in a coma for two weeks with no food or water and not dying, I don't know about anybody else, but I just took it as a sign that he's evil and not of this earth. It's a whole lot easier than trying to make the "science" of Landonland hold up. (HelgaVanOlef)

Right before Cassandra runs crying from the breakfast table and begs Ma to let her go stay with Laura, Pa climbs down from the loft and says that he managed to shove a lot of broth down James's throat using a tube Doc Baker had given them. So that must be their way of keeping him alive while in his "coma". Whatever, dude. Still doesn't explain why, after you build the altar, you look like Isaiah while James still has his neatly trimmed bowl cut. (Neko)

When the psychiatrist doubts Charles is hearing the words of God, Charles answers, "It's a shame you weren't around 2000 years ago, Doctor – you could have saved Moses that long climb up Mount Sinai." 2000(ish) years ago was Jesus; Moses was 1500 years before that.

We're led to believe Pa takes James way out into the wilderness. But when Ma comes to get them we can see they're only about 30 yards off of the main road! (Tim McD)

Dr. Baker examines the comatose James
Charles and James wait for a miracle
The Man From Above
Cured in a blue flash of light

The opening title sequence for Season 8 (sans Melissa Sue Anderson), as used on The Reincarnation Of Nellie.
(NB: Video file 1800kbps – you may not want to play this on a mobile/cell tariff!)

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8.01 The Reincarnation Of Nellie: Part I  (160)

8.02 The Reincarnation Of Nellie: Part II  (161)

8.03 Growin' Pains  (162)

8.04 Dark Sage  (163)

8.05 A Wiser Heart  (164)

8.06 Gambini, The Great  (165)

8.07 The Legend Of Black Jake  (166)

8.08 Chicago  (167)

8.09 For The Love Of Nancy  (168)

8.10 Wave Of The Future  (169)

8.11 A Christmas They Never Forgot  (170)

8.12 No Beast So Fierce  (171)

8.13 Stone Soup  (172)

8.14 The Legacy  (173)

8.15 Uncle Jed  (174)

8.16 Second Chance  (175)

8.17 Days Of Sunshine, Days Of Shadow: Part I  (176 - 1½ hours)

8.18 Days Of Sunshine, Days Of Shadow: Part II  (177)

8.19 A Promise To Keep  (178)

8.20 A Faraway Cry  (179)

8.21 He Was Only Twelve: Part I  (180)

8.22 He Was Only Twelve: Part II  (181)

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