Little House on the Prairie: Season 7
No one would argue with the statement that the technological is in the last 30 years on the most significant species is witnessed. But for those who were born within this. Having grown up with personal computers and cable television, they really have no comparison upon which to gauge incredible social changes that accompanied this era of microprocessors in a most every home a part of a vast global community. One of the largest changes in home entertainment was the best number of channels available to cable television and subsequently online services. Back then even if you lived in a major television market such as New York City you would have at most nine or ten television stations. There is no such thing as niche programming network could present a program designed to appeal to a very specific group of people. Television networks worked under a paradigm of creating programs that would appeal to the largest group of people as well as remaining within the strictly defined guidelines the Federal Communications Commission and the networks standards and practices division. Television was family-friendly with stories that could provide entertainment for the broadest possible target demographic. Many of the jaded members of the current TV audience may consider the shows from back then as hopelessly corny what they fail to recognize that a number of these classic television shows represented some truly noteworthy stories; well written with performances by actors competitive with those typically found in movies. One of the best known examples of this is a gentle family show that was beloved by fans and lasted almost a decade; ‘Little House on the Prairie’. Based on the semi-autobiographical series of novels by Laura Ingalls Wilder, it depicted life in the American mid-west during the push out to the north-west during the late nineteenth century. Produced by the NBC network and utilizing the creative talents of Michael Landon on both sides of the camera. The country was already familiar with Mr. Landon for his role as Little Joe Cartwright on the long running hit TV show, ‘Bonanza; Landon would continue to synonymous with quality family friendly programing.
By the seventh season presented here most of the children in the Ingles family have grown up and preparing to begin a new generation. Over the previous six years fans have literally watched the young actors grow up from high smart, energetic children into adults well prepared to become the next leaders of their tight knit community of Walnut Grove. The main character has always been the second child of Charles (Michael Landon) and Caroline (Karen Grassle), Laura (Melissa Gilbert). At this point in the drama she is a young woman on the precipice of adult responsibilities. Laura was fulfilling her childhood dreams; working as a teacher and engaged to marry a decent, hardworking man, Almanzo Wilder (Dean Butler). He possessed the admirable qualities that made her father a pillar of the community. In preparation for married life, Almanzo purchases a parcel of land intending to farm it to support his wife. Unfortunately he has insufficient funds to buy the land outright but is able to arrange a mortgage with the owner, Matt Gray (Chris Shaffer). One nonnegotiable term of the mortgage is that upon default the title of the land reverts back to Mr. Gray. Almanzo finds the demands of building the house and property maintaining the land he shares with his sister, Eliza Jane (Lucy Lee Flippin). He resorts to hiring an acquaintance of his, Harve Miller (James Cromwell), to help out. Since Almanzo’s schedule is so hectic he is unable to escort his sister home from Walnut Grove School where she works as a teacher. At school she is assisted by a future sister-in-law, Laura. Eliza Jane becomes infatuated with Harve; misreading his polite attention is romantic. Meanwhile, Mr. Gray damns up the water to Almanzo’s property. When a drought is the area Almanzo loses his crop and his property reverts back to Mr. Gray. This is an example of something that was frequently used as a plot point throughout the series, social and legal issues that was crucial to life back then. Access to water is tantamount to survival. An important element of the series was how it depicted the resourcefulness of its protagonists.
Almanzo was a typical husband of the era and adamantly opposed to his wife working outside the home. Laura was proud that she had been accepted for a much sought after teaching position in another town of her fiancé made it clear that she was not to take the position and was angry with her for even applying. After losing the farm Almanzo reluctantly agrees to let her work but as long as she’s working the wedding is postponed. When Eliza Jane discovers that Harve has a girlfriend she is devastated. Eliza Jane arrives at a decision; in order to start life anew she has to move away. This does pave the way for Almanzo and Laura to reconcile and getting married at the blind school in Sleepy Eye with her sister Mary (Melissa Sue Anderson) works and resides. Later on in the season the marriage cheated on the precipice of ruin when Laura finds a piece of paper that she misconstrues as evidence Almanzo is having an affair. The town’s arrogant gossip and self-proclaimed first lady of Walnut Grove, Harriet Oleson (Scottie MacGregor), takes a certain delight in such hurtful news. For most of the series for daughter Nellie (Alison Arngrim), was the most disagreeable and spoiled brat in town. She had a drastic personality change for the better after getting married to Percival Dalton (Steve Tracy) which caused quite a controversy in town because he was Jewish. By this point her mother has somewhat except the situation although in one episode she is openly disrespectful towards the specifics of a Jewish diet.
As previously mentioned socially important issues of the day frequently incorporated into the storylines. One major example of this presented during this season concerned equal rights for women, specifically the right of married women to own property in their own name. Besides Nellie’s father, Nels Oleson (Richard Bull), both trawls and Almanzo declined signing petition. Although Laura’s father and husband personally support the idea as demonstrated in their own marriages, they believe it should be a matter of personal choice that something mandated by the legislature. Caroline is so appalled by this stubbornness that she moves out of her home and insights the other whites to draw the same. Soon the men of Walnut Grove have to contend with life without their lives. Charles first to change his mind and supports the petition leading the rate for marital bliss to be returned both his life and that of his neighbors. The importance of higher education is not typically a main concern for people back then but four and the members of extensive family always seeking to improve their lives. An example of this is our brother-in-law Adam Kendall (Linwood Boomer) was a teacher at the blind school and married to Mary. When he travels to Minneapolis to take his entrance exams for law school he is mugged and misses the exam. Mary had been against Adam leaving his position at the school board she and her father visits a husband in the hospital she has a change of heart. She even goes so far as to approach the professor of the school and convince them to allow a husband to take the exam.
This box set contains material towards the end of the series and you should really do yourself a favor by seeking out some of the earlier sets. The show had one ineffable quality that said above other family dramas and made it an integral part in the expression of quality material for television shows. The character older, the situations a bit more complex but to show never lost its heart. This season seven set is part of a completely remastered addition of the entire series by Lions Gate. For those diehard fans out there the complete series including the three major television movies is available as a complete set, all remastered with fresh audio and video. Some people may cure a person for owning this set or demonstrating any interest of the series. It is that they have never seen it or take an opportunity to truly appreciate the care, effort and talent that ran into it.