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Little House on the Prairie: building the best possible collection

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Brent Reid, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. B-ROLL

    B-ROLL Cinematographer

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  2. Likecats

    Likecats Stunt Coordinator

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    When I get to the final movies, I will hold off on "Bless All the Dear Children" until Christmas.
     
  3. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    We are starting the three final films tonight.

    The one I want to watch last is the one
    where they blow up the town
    . Which one is that? :D
     
  4. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Farewell, which is why the airdates made little sense. <_< :)
     
  5. t2smith

    t2smith Stunt Coordinator

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    The Last Farewell.
     
  6. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Thanks, fellas.

    Makes sense to me. Appreciate your patience...and answers.
     
  7. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    We finished Look Back to Yesterday today.

    The good news: the image quality equals the best any of the episodes released on Blu-ray have looked. The details and the colors are absolutely remarkable. A definite upgrade over the wishy-washy nature of the episodes of the last couple of seasons. Fantastic.

    The bad news: What a perfect example of how the end run of the show just didn't match up to those first few seasons. The character of Laura Ingalls Wilder continues to be a nasty shrew in need of comeuppance by her pa. But the "teachable moment" in the episode becomes just another lost opportunity.

    As Albert is dying, time and time again the issue of mortality is raised. In one poignant moment, Nancy asks Albert directly in a classroom setting, "What's it like to know that you're dying?"

    Albert responds with a mish-mosh of sentiments centered around "building good memories."

    I don't mean to impose my own beliefs or values on others but it seemed like such a departure from those early seasons when the young Ingalls children would be learning lessons about right/wrong and doing right by others. When faced with one's own mortality, it seems the likelier introspection might center around "have I lived a "good" life?" and "what can I do to help others?" This was especially lost as, in a parallel storyline, Charles was trying to help the townspeople suffering in a down economy.

    And then that nonsense about Albert leading the schoolkids on the hike up the hill and having them form a ring around Laura and Albert in an impromptu moment and one-by-one taking hands and then raising their hands into the air and having Laura and Albert do the same (all while Charles, Isaiah and Almonzo watch the proceedings with binoculars) is meaningless and laughable. What a forced (un)emotional moment which totally seemed disrespectful to the impending death of a major beloved character in a long-running series. :thumbsdown::thumbsdown:

    One of the few upsides of the last few seasons had been the closing credits. The return to the glory days when young Lauia Ingalls was seen running blissfully, full-tilt down the hill with her companion Jack with the upbeat closing theme underneath.

    Even THAT was taken away with this episode...as we were treated to some horrendous emotion-wrought music playing under a slide-show of freeze-frames from the episode of Albert's plight and character's tears. All unnecessary and emblematic of the wrong beats the production team and writers thumped out in those latter years.
     
  8. t2smith

    t2smith Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't expect your review of Bless All The Dear Children to be much better, and Pa isn't in that movie to give Laura her comeuppance. I've never understood why they wrote Laura to have such a mean streak as an adult and having her and Almanzo arguing all the time didn't do much to help the show. I guess that's all they could come up with since they were very conscious of the real life age difference between Melissa Gilbert and Dean Butler and didn't want to show too much affection between them.
     
  9. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    After the characters of Charles and Caroline Ingalls were written out of the show, they needed to have a morale center...and I'm afraid it needed to be Laura and Almanzo...yet it never came to pass. The show's producers did the smart thing bringing in a new character like Shannon Doherty's Jenny Wilder but then totally dropped the ball and never did anything with the character. The Carters were also wasted additions. Very little was done to utilize those characters at all.

    Why they had Laura be so mean-spirited all the time after she got married is a real mystery. She should have taken over her father's position as the leader of the Ingalls family and one of the cornerstones of the Walnut Grove community.

    One of the other observations about Look Back to Yesterday is that an obvious key character given the subject matter would have been Reverend Alden...yet his only role was as umpire during the baseball game which opened the episode (between Carter's and Edward's teams?). 1.) The game had no purpose in the storyline. 2.) Why not have Alden counsel Albert and Laura as they made their way through the situation? And, 3.) It's hard to believe Caroline and the rest of the family wouldn't have traveled to Walnut Grove to be with Albert.
     
  10. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Correctamundo.

    Just a waste of two hours. Searching for a missing child for two hours? Snoresville. Been done before and much better.

    As for the prologue--which only served to explain that it was an extremely mild winter for Walnut Grove--horrible. The only reason for it was so that they could shoot a Christmas episode without any snow in the exterior sequences. Pretty laughable considering that the grass was a lush green and all the leaves were still on the trees.

    And then there was the closing act in which the orphan boy ran away into the woods at night and was found (with swelling strings) laying in a manger...on Christmas Eve...under the lone (bright) star in the sky. :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

    How could the writing have gotten sooooooooooo bad? How could they not close out this remarkable series by honoring its legacy characters and using some of the obvious storylines that these characters could have?

    And WTF was the thinking behind the character of Sherwood Montague? Out of place and worthless. As near as I can figure, he contributed nothing to the closing episodes.

    I hate to be such a Debbie Downer on a series I like so much. But, oh well.... It is what it is.

    We just started watching The Last Farewell. And the writing is as clunky as on the other final movies. The plot is just plodding along--at glacier speed. Sigh.
     
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  11. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Yeah. Finished The Last Farewell last night. [Some mild spoilers ahead if you want to avoid them.]

    I haven't seen these movies since broadcast.

    I had only purchased the first few seasons on DVD many years ago. (I thought we were supposed to get smarter as we get older?!? :laugh: ) So these later seasons (on Blu) were either the first or second time I've seen them.

    Wow. They are bad. The writing on The Last Farewell was just as bad as the others. Subplots that are incongruous to everything else going on in the episode. The visit from Aunt Tess that pushes Charles into a fistfight outside a restaurant. The young Carter kids "business" of raising rabbits. The inclusion of "political" statements about the treatment of Native Americans as well as guns.

    You could have a drinking game based on how many times Laura says how "really angry" she is about the land grab which leads to the explosions...prompted by the rather convenient happenstance of "Hey! I've got a wagon full of dynamite!" :rolleyes:

    What did we gain by having Charles and Caroline "babysit" the "Little House" and the Carter kids while dad was off stealing someone else's dynamite? Another plot device that was created...but went nowhere.

    At one point Zaldamo gets into a fistfight with the landgrabbers outside his home. Sherwood Montague actually comes to his assistance. I was thinking he might be well-trained in the martial arts or something (since the whole point of his character development is that he is simply well-educated and "good at everything." But, no, he was quickly thrown to the grown and attacked. The director (Victor French) made it seem like he was seriously, perhaps fatally, killed. Fade to commercial. Back from commercial we see Doc Baker pronouncing "a couple of broken ribs. He'll be fine."

    Really bad. Can't recommend 'em...at all.

    I feel like I accomplished something by watching the entire series on Blu from stem to stern. But much of the second half of the run was a real labor...and constant disappointment. All the charm and values that I found in those early episodes (which paralleled much of the same values in my own childhood favorite program Leave It to Beaver) just disappeared in much of those later years.

    When I think of the lost opportunities of the lessons Laura could have passed on to Jenny Wilder. It seems obvious that the showrunners knew they had something special in the youngest Carter boy. Yet while his character grew to outshine most of the other younger players in the cast at the end, he was never really given much to do (raising rabbits--which didn't go anywhere, wanting to kiss a girl--kinda creepy due to their age and up against Albert's impending death, etc. just wasted time).

    In fact, the writing was so stodgy and clunky in setting up scenes and plot points that it was laughable. What a shame.

    So, I have the complete series now happily sitting on my shelf (another thanks to Lionsgate for completing the set on Blu). I guess I needed to see these final episodes/seasons to know for myself how bad they are. So, I really shouldn't complain. It is just too bad that the content doesn't hold up with the quality of the video/audio on these discs.

    Maybe I'll pull down Harvest of Friends to wash out the taste The Last Farewell has left in my mouth. :blink:
     
  12. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    And a quick question. about the very last scene in The Last Farewell.

    After the mayors from the other nearby towns announce to the landgrabbers that they can expect much of the same (blowing up their buildings) when they are forced off their land, Reverend Alden turns to the last residents of Walnut Grove and yells to them something about "at least Walnut Grove didn't die in vain!"

    But right then something weird happens to the audio. A rousing cheer goes up from the crowd...but it is hardly heard on the disc. Then the townspeople start signing Onward Christian Soldiers and marching out of town. And the singing is nearly completely muted, yet the foley effects are loud and pronounced, the footsteps on the wooden bridge, rustling of clothing fabric, etc. I'd go as far to say that it seems like an obvious authoring issue.

    Has anyone else noticed this?

    Maybe my receiver died at that very moment. It was so late at night I didn't go back and check after it happened.

    I also noticed that during a late night conversation out in the old Ingalls barn (between Charles and the youngest Carter boy) that their voices were competing with the noises the rabbits were making in their cages.
     
  13. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Oh. And does anyone know what happened to Harriet MacGregor for the final couple of movies?

    it also seemed odd that Harriet was shunted off to a Minneapolis hospital for some unexplained malady--which kept Nels wondering "what could it be?" Yet another plot line never resolved.
     
  14. Ron1973

    Ron1973 Beverly Hillbilles nut extraordinaire

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    I finally made the plunge and invested in a blu-ray player; I still don't own any blu's yet, but I suspect this series will be on my list. In actuality, my computer pretty much croaked that I was using for Netflix, so I bought a blu-ray player to stream! Since I have it, however...:dance:
     
  15. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Welcome to a brave new world, Ron! :D

    You won't be sorry with the Little House discs on Blu. Great value, well done. (Well, the early seasons, that is. But if you like the latter seasons, too...go for 'em!) ;)
     
  16. Ron1973

    Ron1973 Beverly Hillbilles nut extraordinaire

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    I don't remember a whole lot of the latter seasons, so I guess it'll be interesting. I always liked the latter seasons of Bonanza that everyone doesn't seem as fond of, so maybe I'll like them. I've been intending to do blu for several years, and I finally have my excuse!
     
  17. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    The Little House Blu seasons have been quite affordable. Can't beat 'em.

    Although between them and Bonanza...you might overload on Michael Landon! :D
     
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  18. Oliver Ravencrest

    Oliver Ravencrest Screenwriter

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    I have always wondered about this, so I searched the net. From what I've read, she retired from acting when the 9th season ended and was on a pilgrimage to India when the final 3 TV movies were filmed. Wikipedia states she dedicated herself to her Hindu religion and teaching acting to kids afterwards.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_MacGregor

    http://www.biography.com/people/katherine-macgregor

    It's mentioned on her IMDB page about her being on a pilmigage;

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0532339/?ref_=nv_sr_6
     
  19. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Not sure about the penultimate movie, but IMDB says this about the last one:

    Katherine (Scottie) MacGregor could not appear in the final feature length episode "The Last Farewell" because she was on a pilgrimage in India.
     
  20. Brent Reid

    Brent Reid Supporting Actor

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    Following on from my previous question, after what numerous posters have said here and elsewhere I'm wondering whether to continue buying the BDs even beyond season 4. I may well continue to season 6 but it seems like there's some pretty universally accepted shark jumping after that. Even the intermittent 'better' later episodes all seem to come with caveats.

    Those first four seasons appear to be the bedrock on which LHotP's stellar reputation is built. Certainly, had the series actually begun somewhere around seasons 5–6, I seriously doubt it would be as much loved, discussed – or even released on BD – as it is today.
     
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