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Case Number 27221: Small Claims Court

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Little House on the Prairie: Season One (Blu-ray)

Lionsgate // 1974 // 1260 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // April 20th, 2014

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum goes all Half Pint on you!

Editor's Note

Our reviews of The Girls Of Little House On The Prairie: Prairie Friends (published January 22nd, 2009), Little House on the Prairie: Season Two (Blu-ray) (published July 11th, 2014), Little House On The Prairie: The Complete Third Season (published February 19th, 2004), Little House On The Prairie: The Complete Fourth Season (published March 23rd, 2004), Little House On The Prairie: The Complete Fifth Season (published August 20th, 2004), Little House On The Prairie: The Complete Sixth Season (published November 17th, 2004), Little House On The Prairie: The Complete Seventh Season (published March 30th, 2005), and Little House on the Prairie: The Complete Nine Season Set (published November 13th, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

Laura: "Why don't you give like the rest of the children?"
Nellie:" My mother says we're not like the rest of the children!"
Laura: "I suppose she's right."

The Case

Little House on the Prairie debuted in 1974, running for an astonishing nine years. It was an adaptation of the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and a passion project of its star Michael Landon (Highway to Heaven). He starred in, directed, produced, and helped write most all of this first year. He infused the series with his trademark moral values and Christian influences, which worked well here, hand-in-hand with stories about a pioneer family settling down in a frontier town in Minnesota. Everybody's favorite character was Melissa Gilbert as Laura, and she was a natural child star who was able to play cute and dramatic equally well.

Little House on the Prairie: Season One (Blu-ray) includes all of the regular episodes as well as the pilot movie which features the Ingalls' time in Kansas. Season One was a huge ratings hit, and includes some of the best writing for the series. Amazingly the stories all hold up today, and I was shocked to find the episodes fun and enthralling all these decades later. The main cast in addition to Landon and Gilbert included Karen Grassle, Melissa Sue Anderson, Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush, and, of course, Alison Arngrim as the iconic Nellie Oleson. The first year includes twenty-four episodes and the pilot movie.

The entire Little House on the Prairie run has been released on DVD a few times, and you can actually stream a lot of the episodes online easily enough on YouTube or other video hosting services. It also can be seen in syndication on the Hallmark Channel and other cable and public broadcast stations. The question here is, why even release these again? Thankfully the answer is these shows now look incredible in high-definition, and these are all restored to their original broadcast length. Colors are much improved and clarity is remarkable. Hard to believe this set commemorates the forty-year anniversary because despite the 1974 full-screen aspect ratio not much would give its age away. Things look crisp and well-rendered. The sound is a re-mastered high-definition two-channel stereo. The main reason to get this set is the technical presentation. Gone are the clumsy edits for syndication, and the speed problems found on some of the DVD episodes are corrected here. Finally, fans can be satisfied that the show looks better than it ever did, probably even on its initial run back when most viewers saw it off rabbit ear antennas wrapped in tinfoil. All the material is spread out over five Blu-ray discs housed in a space saving plastic case that is about standard size for a single Blu-ray.

Extras are all new for the show's fortieth anniversary, the main one being the first part of the documentary which deals with the series place in television history. Each subsequent release of the seasons on Blu-ray will continue this look at Little House on the Prairie. Also included is one of the original screen tests featuring Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert meeting and acting for the first time. Missing from this set are the commentaries, featurettes, and interviews that were on the original DVD releases, because Lionsgate does not own the rights to that bonus material.

Little House on the Prairie still holds up forty years after originally airing because it so moving and has such a truthful sense of its own narrative. The show debuted right after Nixon resigned from the White House, and America had lost its faith in the American dream. Yet here it was all laid out perfectly in a show the whole family could enjoy together, and that spirit seems as infectious today as it was in the '70s. Little House on the Prairie: Season One (Blu-ray) corrects a lot of the technical issues that plagued the DVD releases and restores everything to original broadcast length. The new extras are nowhere near as robust as the previous DVD sets, but the improved transfers should make up for that with the fans. Here is Season One intact with all issues fixed at last.

The Verdict

Not guilty of anything but maybe working a little too hard on a Sunday.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 95

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.50:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 1260 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Blu-ray
• Drama
• Family
• Romance
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes
• Digital Copy
• UltraViolet Download


• IMDb

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