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Little House on the Prairie: Season One Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 62 Matt Hough

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Posted March 27 2014 - 04:07 PM

Little House on the Prairie: Season One Blu-ray Review

Hear the term “auteur” and one generally thinks of a filmmaker like Alfred Hitchcock or Jean-Luc Godard who imprints his unmistakably personal stamp on all his films so that they couldn’t be confused with anyone else’s. But the television series Little House on the Prairie has its own auteur at its core: producer-director-writer-star Michael Landon whose personal labor of love this series unquestionably was for almost a decade. Filled with heartfelt messages of family love and loyalty overcoming the man-made and natural strife that is a part of daily living, Little House on the Prairie unashamedly wears its heart on its sleeve evoking an unusually high quota of tears and smiles as it tells its simple stories of life on the prairie more than a century ago.


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Studio: Lionsgate

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD, French 2.0 DD

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 21 Hr. 8 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, UltraViolet

keep case with leaves

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 03/25/2014

MSRP: $38.99




The Production Rating: 4/5

From the ninety-seven minute pilot episode through its subsequent twenty-four episodes, Little House on the Prairie tells the story of the Ingalls family: father Charles (Michael Landon), mother Caroline (Karen Grassle), and daughters Laura (Melissa Gilbert), Mary (Melissa Sue Anderson), and Carrie (twins Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush). Leaving Wisconsin for the wide open spaces of Kansas, hard-working Charles stakes out a claim and builds a cramped cabin for his family that falls victim to local Indians, prairie fires, swollen rivers, and wolves all leading to their being evicted from the land by the government and settling in the small settlement of Walnut Grove, Minnesota where the series proper takes place. There we meet the kindly village doctor (Kevin Hagen), the local parson (Dabbs Greer), the pretty schoolmarm (Charlotte Stewart), friendly mill owner (Karl Swenson), affable best friend for Charles Mr. Edwards (Victor French who also directs a few episodes), and the agreeable owner of the general store (Richard Bull) with his haughty, insufferable wife (Katherine MacGregor) and their two less-than-amenable children (Alison Arngrim, Jonathan Gilbert).

The stories offer simple day-to-day looks at the harsh but often satisfying life on the prairie of the 1870s punctuated by clean living and deeply-held religious faith. From plots involving a bell for the church, the first puppy love crush in young Laura’s life, Mrs. Ingall’s stint as a substitute teacher, an elderly neighbor wishing to see her kin before her death, and matchmaking the area’s few single adults, the stories offer undemanding conflicts that are always solved before the end of the episode. A few stories have more serious overtones. The season’s Christmas episode borrows heavily from O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi,” and a two-part episode (written and directed by series star/producer Michael Landon) dealing with the birth and death of a new Ingalls child with subsequent sibling rivalry and guilt leading to a pilgrimage looking for God’s help in coping with the loss is probably the show’s most overtly devout episode (featuring guest star Ernest Borgnine as, perhaps, God in earthly garb). Stories about a typhus epidemic, surviving in a particularly life-threatening blizzard, and an abused child of an alcoholic father offer more serious drama to the otherwise sunnier tales of the territory’s small problems.

The ensemble works well together with Michael Landon and the very young Melissa Gilbert (who sometimes narrates episodes) serving as the focal points of the series. While there may be an overuse of the cutesy kids (long held close-ups of the youngest daughter as she eats or smiles at the camera and says a few words are obvious bids for preciousness and quickly wear out their welcome), the intentions to provide wholesome family entertainment are noble and basically succeed. CBS’ The Waltons had already become a top ten hit and had begun to amass numerous awards by the time Little House on the Prairie arrived on NBC’s schedule, but while its debut didn’t win it any industry plaudits, the television audience responded well enough to land it in 13th place among the network shows during its first season on the air.

Here are the twenty-five episodes for season one contained on five Blu-ray discs:

1 – Pilot
2 – A Harvest of Friends
3 – Country Girls
4 – The Hundred Mile Walk
5 – Mr. Edwards’ Homecoming
6 – The Love of Johnny Johnson
7 – If I Should Wake Before I Die
8 – Town Party – Country Party
9 – Ma’s Holiday
10 – School Mom
11 – The Raccoon
12 – The Voice of Tinker Jones
13 – The Award
14 – The Lord Is My Shepherd (Part 1)
15 – The Lord Is My Shepherd (Part 2)
16 – Christmas at Plum Creek
17 – Family Quarrel
18 – Doctor’s Lady
19 – Plague
20 – Circus Man
21 – Child of Pain
22 – Money Crop
23 – Survival
24 – To See the World
25 – Founder’s Day



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The program’s original 4:3 aspect ratio is faithfully maintained in these new 1080p transfers using the AVC codec. Sharpness throughout is stunningly crisp and features lots of details in clothes, faces, and hair without any age-related artifacts to mar the viewing experience. Color timing, however, varies from some episodes featuring a little bit of accelerated blue (producing pinkish skin tones) to others appearing a bit more natural. Only episode #2 seems just a trifle washed out looking, but that’s likely only in comparison to the strikingly colorful images in the other episodes and the pilot movie. Black levels are very impressive. Each regular episode has been divided into 6 chapters.



Audio Rating: 3.5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix offers a sturdy equivalent to the sound quality from its era with perhaps a bit more impressive fidelity present in this new lossless encoding allowing the dialogue and David Rose’s lush background scoring to come through loudly and clearly. However, there is some low level hiss to be heard in several episodes and problematic flutter present in quite a few of them along with occasional noise that sometimes intrudes into one’s enjoyment of the episode. There is some slight crackle and an occasional pop as well.



Special Features Rating: 2/5

The Little House Phenomenon: Part One – a Place in Television History (14:04, HD): NBC executive at the time Tim Brooks, actors Melissa Gilbert and Dean Butler, director Maury Dexter, and Michael Landon’s children Michael Jr. and Leslie discuss the series’ place in television history and its lasting appeal.

Original Screen Test: (1:48, HD): the screen test for Melissa Gilbert acting a scene with Michael Landon from the pilot script is presented.

Ultraviolet: code sheet enclosed in the case.



Overall Rating: 4/5

Little House on the Prairie has never looked as stunning as it does on these Blu-ray transfers even if there are occasional problematic noises from the lossless sound encode. The bonus feature package is skimpy, but fans of the show will undoubtedly not be complaining to get the series episodes uncut and looking so pristine. Recommended!


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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#2 of 62 JohnMor

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Posted March 27 2014 - 04:24 PM

Thanks Matt!I never really watched this series growing up, and I was waiting to hear the quality of these new transfers before taking it out for a test spin.  I'll have to pick this up now.



#3 of 62 Matt Hough

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Posted March 27 2014 - 06:08 PM

I have to say it's an amazing price for a five Blu-ray disc set; fans should really be excited about the reasonable pricing.



#4 of 62 Mike Frezon

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Posted March 27 2014 - 07:01 PM

I made sure I had this in my hands on release day.

 

Amazon didn't disappoint me on that front...and this set is certainly not disappointing me either.

 

I watched many of these episodes when they first aired.  I was 15 years old.  I have no recollection of how they looked then...or what kind of TV we had in our house at that time. 

 

But I have very vivid recollections of what the DVDs of this series looked like.  And these are lightyears above and beyond what those DVDs offered. 

 

If those DVDs were best described as dark and muddy, these Blu-ray discs are best described as clear and crisp.  What a treat to see these programs--packed with moral storylines--looking so beautiful. 

 

Season 2 is already pre-ordered. 


There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#5 of 62 Brian McP

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Posted March 27 2014 - 08:18 PM

Will certainly be getting this set -- being a mad Ernest Borgnine fan, it is a must buy as "The Lord is My Shepherd" has one his greatest performances as Jonathan the mountain hermit who has contacts in very high places.

 

I know both he and Michael Landon were great friends and Michael certainly gave Ernest a true gift with this role as he wrote and directed this two part episode.



#6 of 62 Radioman970

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Posted March 28 2014 - 03:22 AM

Finally the school/church doesn't look like someone trying to adjust the blinds. 

 

I hope these are the TV releases of the year. 


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#7 of 62 Cameron Yee

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Posted March 28 2014 - 10:26 AM

This was one of the shows my family watched on a regular basis. Because it always seemed to be on, I never realized the series began in 1974. My memories of watching it as a family start around 1979, so it would have been over halfway through its run by then.

 

Great price for the season!


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#8 of 62 Dean Kloss

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Posted March 28 2014 - 04:45 PM

I bought this set, it has amazing picture quality, but was looking over the Amazon reviews and several stated that select episodes have been cut.  Do we have any that can vouch for this?



#9 of 62 Mike Frezon

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Posted March 28 2014 - 04:56 PM

I bought this set, it has amazing picture quality, but was looking over the Amazon reviews and several stated that select episodes have been cut.  Do we have any that can vouch for this?

 

No.

 

Dean:  Check out the last couple pages of this thread. 


There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#10 of 62 Wayne_j

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Posted March 28 2014 - 04:57 PM

The theory people on the Little House thread in the TV on DVD and Blu forum are going with is that most of the reports are from recordings from foreign markets who might have gotten a different cut of the episode.


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#11 of 62 moviepas

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Posted March 28 2014 - 11:35 PM

I too ordered the Blu Ray set when I fell over it on Amazon and it is on the way and now Season 2 is pre-ordered. I have the DVD set(US) and I know that episodes were cut by the former World Vision, poor copies used all over the shop andf some missing that had to come from PAL masters in UK to complete the set. Next I have coming The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy Season 1 and I think the Andy Griffith Show. I suppose next they will front with The Brady Bunch from CBS/Paramount on Blu Ray. 

 

I saw Little House when it was new on many a late Sunday afternoon in my country. 



#12 of 62 Mike Frezon

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Posted March 30 2014 - 08:38 AM

I've now watched the first two episodes of Season 1 (Harvest of Friends and Country Girls), after watching the pilot on release day, and continue to be beside myself as to how good these episodes look. 

 

It is truly a wonderment to think that this program can look this good after all these years and after the way we have been use to seeing them on those earlier DVD releases. 

 

I constantly find myself marveling at the texture of the fabrics, the patterns, the insects buzzing around the tall grasses, the details, the details, the details. 

 

Full disclosure:  I did notice two instances of a video anomaly during Harvest of Friends.  During the final grain stacking sequence and over the closing credits there was a bunch of white splotches all over the image.  But they were quick to come and go.  And considering how beautiful the other 99.9 percent of the episode was, it was quite forgivable. 

 

Is it too early to nominate this for the TV on HD release of the year?  It is miraculous. 

 

And needless to say it is such a joy to revisit the marvelous performances from the entire cast (save maybe for Lindsey Sydney Greenbush as Carrie).  And, of course, Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert are inspired.  This show was truly something special and it makes me ache that there is not more programming like it available on television today. 

 

When I excitedly began the Pilot on Tuesday night at our house, my wife hit me with, "But don't we have this already (on DVD)?" 

 

I explained that this is supposed to be a much-improved release in terms of picture quality.  She later admitted to me that they DID look beautiful.  And, as I have said on a number of different occasions, she NEVER notices anything about PQ or SQ of anything I play at home--except maybe for some wildlife footage from a BBC documentary or something of the sort. 


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There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#13 of 62 Cinescott

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Posted March 30 2014 - 11:44 AM

I used to watch this show in syndication when I would come home from school many, many moons ago, so the nostalgia factor is off the charts for me.

 

Picture quality to my eyes is perfect, so if they can keep the train on the rails for the next eight seasons, I'll be on e happy camper. 


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#14 of 62 Radioman970

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Posted March 30 2014 - 03:08 PM

The episode about the runaway caboose in Season 2 will be interesting with all this clarity.  I don't know how many have spotted something in there that doesn't belong...  but just keep looking in the distance and you'll see it.    (spoiler below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(spoiler)  lots of horsepowers in that 1870 Chevy Pickup in the distance as the caboose is flying down the tracks (/spoiler)


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#15 of 62 Dave Scarpa

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Posted April 03 2014 - 11:46 AM

Have to pick this up eventually , this show was like the Walton's, the early seasons that really showcased the hardships of Living on the Prairie, they lost that as the series progressed.


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#16 of 62 Konstantinos

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Posted April 27 2014 - 10:47 AM

I want to buy this but there were a couple of people that reported there is an error with the English subtitles:

The subtitles in the episode Family Quarell (disc 4) are actually from the episode: Christmas at Plum Creek.

 

I contacted Lionsgate but i received this reply:

Dear Valued Customer,

Thank you for your email! There are no known issues or reports of an issue with the subtitles. Should you encounter any problems, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

I don't know what to do now..

I want this set, but I need the subtitles too...



#17 of 62 Mike Frezon

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Posted April 27 2014 - 11:29 AM

Huh.  How about that?

 

Konstantinos:  I just spun up my copy of Family Quarrel and put on the subtitles.  And whomever those people were--were right.

 

The subtitles for Family Quarrel are from Christmas at Plum Creek (the episode directly preceding it).

 

This doesn't have an impact on me for I don't use the subtitles.  But, yes, I can confirm that the subtitles for that one episode are, indeed, incorrect.  Sorry about that.  People should let Lionsgate know. 


There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon


#18 of 62 Konstantinos

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Posted April 28 2014 - 12:53 PM

Huh.  How about that?

 

Konstantinos:  I just spun up my copy of Family Quarrel and put on the subtitles.  And whomever those people were--were right.

 

The subtitles for Family Quarrel are from Christmas at Plum Creek (the episode directly preceding it).

 

This doesn't have an impact on me for I don't use the subtitles.  But, yes, I can confirm that the subtitles for that one episode are, indeed, incorrect.  Sorry about that.  People should let Lionsgate know. 

Thank you very much Mike for the confirmation.

 

I told them that some people have confirmed this, but apparently they don't believe me..

It's a pity that they don't just check their discs to see if the problem is there..



#19 of 62 Radioman970

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Posted April 28 2014 - 03:33 PM

95% success anyway...   A shame, I'll need those subs one day.  I hope they issue replacements.  I'll take one! 


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#20 of 62 Konstantinos

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Posted April 29 2014 - 10:21 AM

I sent them a message again, telling them that the error is CONFIRMED by many people, and they sent me the exact same reply:

 

 

Thank you for your email. There are no known problems or reports of an issue with the subtitles. Should you encounter any problems with your copy, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

 

 

I  was wondering. What does that mean? That if I purchase a copy and send them a message again telling them I do have a problem with my copy, they will replace it with a new error-free one? I don't think so...

 

If it's not too much to ask, could anyone that does have the Bluray, send them a message that there is an error in his Bluray, and ask if there would be a replacement, to see what will their response be?

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