Judge Patrick Naugle is DVD Verdict's Nellie Oleson.
Our reviews of The Girls Of Little House On The Prairie: Prairie Friends (published January 22nd, 2009), Little House on the Prairie: Season One (Blu-ray) (published April 20th, 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.
Little House on the Prairie focuses on the 19th century life and times of the Ingalls family (based on the books, which where were based on the life of author Laura Ingalls). The family is lead by upstanding Charles (Michael Landon, I was a Teenage Werewolf) and Caroline Ingalls (Karen Grassle, Wyatt Earp) and follows their adventures on a small plantation bringing up their daughters: Mary (Melissa Sue Anderson, Happy Birthday to Me), Laura (Melissa Gilbert, Batman: The Animated Series), and Carrie (twins Lindsey and Sydney Greenbush). The Ingalls while away their days farming, creating lasting friendships, and sometimes overcoming obstacles that challenge and deepen their faith. Together the family weathers the rough times, celebrates the good, and learns that the most important thing can't be bought or grown: family.
I'm a man of varied tastes. I've see hundreds—nay, thousands—of different movies and television shows, often from a multitude of different genres. Classics, horror, comedy, drama, westerns, space epics, documentaries…the list is endless. Even with that braggadocio, there are gaps in my pop culture knowledge that I'm always a little surprised by. One of those gaps would be television's Little House on the Prairie. Oh, I'm sure that somewhere in my past I sat through an episode or two, but if that was the case I don't recall them at all. So imagine my surprise when Season Two showed up for review. (Editor's Note: Don't let Patrick fool you. He requested this assignment.) Finally, my knowledge of all things Michael Landon would be fulfilled! Well, that may be pushing it, but still I'd find out why this little show was so popular (even if I'd be coming in blind without the knowledge of the first season).
Little House on the Prairie is based on a book series created by author Laura Ingalls Wilder and based on Wilder's childhood in the Midwest during the 19th century. The books have become a hugely popular staple for children everywhere, offering up a peek into a world that no longer exists. The time period features a world without cars, without electricity, without indoor plumbing. It was a simpler time; a moment in human history when the ladies wore bonnets, the men sported suspenders, and only the slightest of diseases could kill you within, oh, say three days. Essentially, Little House on the Prairie is The Walking Dead sans zombies.
I enjoyed spending time with Ingalls family. There's something quaint and charming about Little House on the Prairie, which features stories that are as simple and easy as the time period in which it takes place. From paying back a grumpy store owner for an extension on a grocery bill to crushes on teenage boys, this is a show of easy pleasures. Although the show isn't overly complex, it does feature moments where the characters have to face some tough choices, including terminal illness and an episode devoted to stopping a train before it hits a runaway caboose filled with people. There's a true quaintness to Little House on the Prairie which harkens back to a simpler, quieter, less chaotic time. Except for the dysentery. Everybody hates the dysentery.
Of course, even more important than the stories are the characters that inhabit the show, none as familiar as the late Michael Landon as patriarch Charles Ingalls, a man of faith, family, and morals. Landon was no stranger to television audiences, having grown up on the classic western Bonanza, and viewers embraced Landon immediately in the role he's most associated with to this day. Karen Grassle is appropriately loving and devoted as Landon's pioneer wife, while the children—played by Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson, and Lindsey/Sydney Greenbush—are all cute enough without being cloying. Also a part of the cast is character actor Victor French as Isaiah (French would later show up in Landon's 1980s series Highway to Heaven).
Each of the 22 episodes of Little House on the Prairie: Season Two ("Deluxe and Remastered and restored to broadcast length") is presented in 1.33:1 full frame in 1080p high definition. Lionsgate has offered up very attractive transfers for these episodes. The colors are bright and bold with solid black levels. Recorded on film, the picture sports a fine filmic quality without being grainy or full of defects. Fans of this series will be happy with the way these episodes look. The soundtracks are presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono in English. These audio mixes are all in great shape, even if they aren't very sonically exciting. The bulk of each episode is front heavy with clearly distinguishable dialogue, music, and effects. Also included are Dolby Digital 2.0 mixes in French and Spanish, as well as English SDH subtitles.
The only bonus feature is a fifteen minute retrospective titled "In the Beginning" featuring interviews with the kids of Ed Friendly and Michael Landon. Also included is a digital copy for your digital device.
The word that kept coming back to me as I watched Little House on the Prairie: Season Two was "innocuous." The show doesn't have a mean bone in its body; it's got a heart of gold that wants only to spread love and family values through its stories. In a time when all of television seems to be seeped in cynicism, violence, sex and crudity, you have to admire a series that unapologetically goes straight for the heart. Landon and his crew have crafted a show that is truly timeless in its simplicity. Little House on the Prairie can be enjoyed by the whole family, and how many shows can you say that about?
Well worth fans' time and money.
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