Little house on the Prairie from Wikipedia

Little House on the Prairie is an American one-hour dramatic television program that aired on the NBC network from September 11, 1974, to March 21, 1983, bumping the long-running Adam-12 series to Tuesday nights. During the 1982-83 television season, with the departure of Michael Landon, the series was broadcast with the new title Little House: A New Beginning. A three-hour compilation special called The Little House Years was aired in 1979. (The series itself was preceded by a two-hour pilot movie that first aired on March 30, 1974).

The show was a loose adaptation of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s best-selling series of Little House on the Prairie books. Readers of the books will notice huge discrepancies between the book series and the shows.

The series was produced in-house by NBC. As of 2007, current corporate sibling Universal Media Studios owns the underlying rights; however, it is distributed in syndication in the United States by CBS Television Distribution, the syndication arm of CBS Paramount Television (holders of the library of Worldvision Enterprises, the original syndicated distributors).



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[edit] Cast

[edit] Main

[edit] Recurring

[edit] Detail

Carrie, Mary, and Laura Ingalls frolic down a hill, as shown in the opening credits of the series.

Although it differed from the original books, and many new characters and situations were added, this television series was one of the few long-running successful dramatic family shows (and it is still in syndication). Although predominantly a drama, the program did have some comedic moments, thanks to supporting cast members such as Mr. Edwards (played by Victor French) and the Oleson family: Nels Oleson (Richard Bull), Harriet Oleson (Katherine MacGregor), Willie Oleson (Jonathan Gilbert), and Nellie Oleson (Alison Arngrim).

The show’s central characters are Charles Ingalls (Michael Landon), farmer and patriarch, with his wife, Caroline (Karen Grassle), and four daughters, Mary (Melissa Sue Anderson), Laura (Melissa Gilbert), Carrie (Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush and Grace (Wendi and Brenda Turnbaugh). The Ingalls family also adopts 10-year-old Albert Quinn (Matthew Laborteaux), whom the family meets when they move (briefly) to Winoka, Dakota Territory in a series of 1978 episodes. Later the Ingalls family adopts more children, James (Jason Bateman) and Cassandra Cooper (Missy Francis), a brother and sister who are orphaned after their parents are killed in a wagon accident.
Other essential characters included the friendly Nels Oleson, proprietor of the town’s general store, Oleson’s Mercantile; his malicious, gossipping wife, Harriet; and their two spoiled children, Nellie and Willie; and later, their adopted child, Nancy (Allison Balson). Also appearing in the series are Merlin Olsen (as Jonathan Garvey), Dabbs Greer (as Reverend Robert Alden), Karl Swenson (as Lars Hanson, the town’s founder and proprietor of the town’s mill), and Kevin Hagen (as Dr. Hiram Baker, the town’s doctor). Malcolm in the Middle creator Linwood Boomer appears as Mary Ingalls’s teacher-turned-husband, Adam Kendall, whom she meets at the school for the blind in the 1978-1979 season. In 1979, Dean Butler joined the cast as Almanzo Wilder, and he and Laura are married in the 1980-1981 season premiere.

Michael Landon directed the largest number of episodes (87); producer William F. Claxton handled the majority of the remaining shows (68). Co-star Victor French helmed 19 episodes.

The series theme song was titled The Little House and was written and conducted by David Rose.

As with most TV series set in a distant time or place, the series includes occasional historical inaccuracies and errors. For example, in the early episode “Country Girls”, near the end of the episode in the school yard, an airplane can be heard flying overhead which of course did not exist at that time. Little House on the Prairie was largely filmed on Big Sky Ranch at Simi Valley, California. Camera vistas sometimes pick up the rugged terrain, far too mountainous for Minnesota, and the Californian chaparral vegetation. In one particular episode Laura runs away and climbs up a mountain. However, there are no mountains on the prairie. Nevertheless, in most scenes the oak savanna is considered to be representative of the real Walnut Grove. Dr. Baker’s telephone seems far ahead of its time, since the telephone was newly invented and existed only in large cities in the 1880s. Also during the series run, several married women are seen regularly teaching. During the 1800s, married women were not allowed to teach. Several episodes also mentioned peanut butter sandwiches, which were not introduced until the early 1900s. Another episode shows an elderly presumably Colonel Harland Sanders attempting to sell his franchise to Mrs. Oleson. Sanders was born in 1890 and would have been an infant or child at the time the series takes place. There was also an episode where Mr. Oleson claimed to have played college football, but he was far too old to have played in even the earliest college football games (which took place in 1869). In addition, the episode titled “A Wiser Heart,” was set in 1884, when Laura Ingalls Wilder was 17 years old. In the episode, she attends a lecture by Ralph Waldo Emerson; however, Emerson died in 1882.

The most successful western-dramatic series ended in 1983, due to low ratings (after Landon’s decision of leaving the cast), but this show set the tone for one other series that is similar to Little House: Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman. In addition, the show is immensely-popular in reruns in syndication, Hallmark Channel and on TV Land, and because of its historical context, is deemed acceptable for use by the FCC to meet federal E/I programming guidelines. Two stations which use the program to meet E/I include Orange County, California‘s KDOC, and Green Bay, Wisconsin‘s WLUK.

In Canada, reruns of the series began airing weeknights at 5:00 pm on CTS, a Christian-based network, as of September 1, 2008.

[edit] A roster of guest stars

During its nine season run, many actors made guest appearances, including both well-known actors and/or unfamiliar actors who went on to become well-known stars. Among those appearing in Little House episodes were: Willie Aames, Christopher Cashion, Anne Archer, Lew Ayres, Hermione Baddeley, Parley Baer, Olivia Barash, Don ‘Red’ Barry, Billy Barty, Richard Basehart, Tony Becker, Ralph Bellamy, Ken Berry, Peter Billingsley, Dirk Blocker, Ray Bolger, Ernest Borgnine, Todd Bridges, Walter Brooke, Red Buttons, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Leon Charles, Don Collier, Nicolas Coster, James Cromwell, Royal Dano, Shannen Doherty, Ike Eisenmann, Lou Fant, Gil Gerard, Ted Gehring, Jack Ging, Louis Gossett Jr., Nancy Lee Grahn, Moses Gunn, Mariette Hartley, Arthur Hill, John Hillerman, Robert Hoffman, Beth Howland, John Ireland, Burl Ives, Richard Jaeckel, Lance Kerwin, Tom Lester, Geoffrey Lewis, Mike Lookinland, Betty Lynn, Laurie Main, Chuck McCann, Jimmy McNichol, Richard Mulligan, Alvy Moore, Patricia Neal, Sean Penn, Radames Pera, John Bennett Perry, Carl Pitti, Eddie Quillan, Bill Quinn, Kim Richards, Tracie Savage, William Schallert, Eric Shea, James B. Sikking, Olan Soule, Madeleine Stowe, Dub Taylor, Kelly Thordsen, Forrest Tucker, Mitch Vogel, Anthony Zerbe, among many others.

[edit] Spin-offs and sequels

[edit] Little House: A New Beginning

A spin-off series of sorts, Little House: A New Beginning, built around Laura and Almanzo, lasted only one season and aired from September 1982 until March 1983 (and is included in the Little House syndication package). A new family, the Carters (Stan Ivar as John, Pamela Roylance as Sarah, Lindsay Kennedy as older son Jeb and David Friedman as younger son Jason), move into the Ingalls’ old home. Meanwhile, Almanzo and Laura, take in their niece, Jenny Wilder (played by Shannen Doherty), when Almanzo’s brother dies and raise her alongside their daughter, Rose. The Wilders appear prominently in some episodes, while in others, they appear only in early scenes used to introduce the story or its characters (see, for example, “The Last Summer“).

[edit] Movie Sequels

Three made-for-television movie sequels followed: Little House: Look Back to Yesterday (1983), Little House: Bless All the Dear Children (1983), and Little House: The Last Farewell (1984). Two other Little House movies were made in conjunction with the Landon series: the 1974 pilot for the program and Little House Years (1979), a Thanksgiving special/clip show that aired in the middle of Season 6.

[edit] Parodies

CBC Television‘s Canadian sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie takes its title, logo and pioneering spirit, if not much else, from this series.

[edit] Broadcast History and Ratings

Little House on the Prairie was one of several hit shows on NBC primetime throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. For the first two seasons, the show was aired on Wednesday nights at 8pm ET/7pm CT, to moderate ratings. In 1976, the series became a Monday night staple on NBC; after the move, it remained in the Top 30 for the rest of its run.

Season Ratings Rank
1974-1975 #13
1976-1977 #16
1977-1978 #7
1978-1979 #14
1979-1980 #16
1980-1981 #10
1981-1982 #25
1982-1983 #28

[edit] Awards

  • 1976 TP de Oro, Mejor Actriz Extranjera (Best Foreign Actress), Karen Grassle
  • 1976 TP de Oro, Mejor Serie Extranjera (Best Foreign Series)
  • 1978 Emmy Award, Outstanding Cinematography in Entertainment Programming for a Series, Ted Voightlander, episode “The Fighter”
  • 1979 Emmy Award, Outstanding Cinematography for a Series, Ted Voightlander, episode “The Craftsman”
  • 1979 Emmy Award, Outstanding Music Composition for a Series, David Rose, episode “The Craftsman”
  • 1980 TP de Oro, Mejor Actriz Extranjera (Best Foreign Actress), Melissa Sue Anderson
  • 1981 Western Writers of America Spur Award, Best TV Script, Michael Landon, episode “May We Make Them Proud”
  • 1982 Emmy Award, Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore), David Rose, episode “He Was Only Twelve,” part 2
  • 1983 Young Artist Award, Best Young Actress in a Drama Series, Melissa Gilbert
  • 1984 Young Artist Award, Best Young Actress in a Drama Series, Melissa Gilbert

[edit] DVD Releases

The entire series has been released on DVD. The US DVD sets include exclusive interviews by Québécois Little House historian Patrick Loubatière and actors Alison Arngrim, Dabbs Greer, and Dean Butler.

A majority of the episodes in the North American DVD versions have scenes cut from the episodes—these are derived from the syndicated television versions by Worldvision Enterprises, the series former distributor; in fact, their various logos still appear at the end of most episodes (but before the current NBC Universal Television Distribution logo). Other episodes, especially in the DVD versions of some episodes in Seasons 1 and 8 of the original series, and season 9 of “…A New Beginning”, are time-compressed; these are NTSC-converted video prints from UK PAL masters. Only a handful of episodes in the DVD sets are in their original, uncut versions (for example, many Season 1 episodes on DVD contain scenes not in current syndication prints). Unfortunately, many episodes on the DVD versions contain tracking lines and audio problems.

The DVD sets sold in the US and Canada were released under license from NBC Universal by Imavision Distribution, a company based in Quebec. Imavision has also released a French-language version of the DVD set, sold separately. Both versions are in NTSC color, and coded for all regions. Later copies were distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment, following their acquisition of Imavision.

The DVD sets sold in the United Kingdom were released by Universal Playback (a Universal Studios Home Entertainment label); this version is in PAL color, and coded for Region 2.

Some time earlier, some single Little House episodes were released on both DVD and VHS by GoodTimes Entertainment.

Before retail DVDs were available, the Little House episodes were available through a Columbia House club subscription. These VHS tapes contained two episodes per tape and were only available at a club price. The episodes on these VHS tapes, unlike the current DVDs, were not edited and remain the only commercially available uncut episodes.

Season Episodes Originally aired DVD release date
Region 1 Region 2
1 23 1974-1975 July 8, 2003 July 25, 2005
2 22 1975- 1976 July 8, 2003 March 27, 2006
3 21 1976-1977 November 4, 2003 March 10, 2008
4 22 1977- 1978 February 17, 2004 May 26, 2008
5 24 1978-1979 June 29, 2004 August 4, 2008
6 24 1979-1980 October 26, 2004 TBA
7 24 1980-1981 February 15, 2005 TBA
8 22 1981-1982 June 14, 2005 TBA
9 19 1982-1983 November 1, 2005 TBA
10 3 1983-1984 November 28, 2006 TBA
The Complete Television Series 203 1974-1984 November 11, 2008[1][2][3][4]

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