4 September 2005 | rcj5365
One of the best of the family-oriented shows of the 1970's
The great Michael Landon spent his entire life as a part of the television generation. He has a career that span five consecutive decades from the late 1950's all the way until the early part of the 1990's. From 1959 when "Bonanza" came on the air,all the way through the mid-1980's with "Highway To Heaven",and the short-lived series "Us",there wasn't a single year that he did not have a series on the air. That is a record that will stand the test of time. Landon specialized in creating high quality family programming that made him one of the hardest working individuals in television. What made him so unique and successful in all the shows he produced and starred in,that the general public didn't realize that Michael Landon was very technical in what he did since he wrote,produced,and directed many of the episodes for "Bonanza","Little House On The Prairie",and "Highway To Heaven",not to mention his short lived series "Us". Its was here during his most successful show,"Little House On The Prairie",that he was not only the executive producer,but in charge of his own production company and the necessary means in which he had his own studio as well, Michael Landon Productions through the powers that be with TV executives over at NBC. "Little House On The Prairie",show audiences that Landon was way beyond his image as "Little" Joe Cartwright,for which he played for the 14 seasons that "Bonanza" ran on the air,and gave them new light into the character of Charles Ingalls,a strict but loving father who made a way out of no way to provide for his family during the times and struggles that went on the town of Walnut Grove. In about every episode it shows us how a strong loving family who stayed together and basically solved their problems with the love and understanding of one another through the hardships and trials that came their way,but made it through with hope and faith.
"Little House On The Prairie",had enough staying power for the nine and a half years that it ran on NBC-TV(1974-1983)and from there became one of the best family oriented shows of the 1970's,and it stayed that way throughout the remainder of the early-1980's. The series produced 203 episodes,and also developed a spin-off as well,"Father Murphy",which ran for three seasons. Not to mention three successful made for TV movies based on this series as well,from the premiere episode in 1974,to the fiery climax of the series in mid-1983. However,about the episodes,as one comment mentioned them as sweet and sappy as it was remembered,but in other terms it was a series that tackled some very disturbing issues that were relevant in its day while at the same time staying within the frame of the moralistic/family oriented genre. Some of it tackled even darker subjects,and this was a first in the family oriented dramas of the 1970's. But at the same time,it has some very touching moments. Also it had some classic episodes to boot too....Who remembers the episode were Laura Ingalls and Nelly Oleson duked it out against each other? But for most part,and as far as the characters were concerned,we got to see Melissa Gilbert's character of Laura transform during the series run from the development of a little girl to a beautiful woman,and it was during this series that she got married too. The chemistry between Michael Landon as Pa and Melissa Gilbert as Half Pint was perfect in every aspect and it shows in the Golden Globes this show rack up,not to mention the Emmy nominations it received as well. As for the mom,Karen Grassle,there was no cooler mom that she was. The mom every daughter wanted to have. Compassionate,caring and down to earth. Oh yeah,let's not forget Laura's oldest sister,Mary(Melissa Sue Anderson),and the baby girl Carrie(played by twins Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush)who also grows up before our eyes during the show's entire run. And the family's faithful and reliable dog,"Bandit",who comes to the rescue just in case the children get into any danger. And as far as the townsfolk are concerned,out of all the characters in Walnut Grove, there was NOBODY so devious and deliciously evil as Nelly Oleson and actress Allison Arngrim,played it to the tee as well as her mom Harriet Oleson,played by Katherine McGregor...In other words..Nelly was the girl everyone loves to hate!!!
This was a show that was way better and way focus than the other family shows that came out during the 1970's,and "Little House On The Prairie" was that show! Not even its competition,"The Waltons"(which was on a rival network)does not even come close!!! Out of all the shows this one tackled subjects that were too intense for a family show and it shows in some of the episodes. Landon basically went by the books that were the basis for the series that were written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and from there it worked. If you want a wholesome show that the family can love then leave it to Michael Landon and Company to bring you the best. There are some lessons and messages in some of the episodes. This is why it became NBC's most successful show,until it was cancelled in 1983.