In Season Four of “Little House on the Prairie,” we experience a great many exciting adventures with the Ingalls. The original episodes of Season Four aired from September 12, 1977 to March 13, 1978. We watch as a trip to Chicago makes Charles and his daughter, Mary, appreciate their home, Laura and Mary witness the drowning of a friend, Nellie falls in love and makes wedding plans, the Ingalls are devastated by the news that Mary is going blind, and so much more.

Season 4, Episode 1 – Castoffs

Description:

Laura is shocked and devastated to find her beloved dog Jack dead in the barn. After an emotional burial, Charles brings home a stray named Bandit to curb his daughter’s pain, but Laura refuses to bond with the new dog. Meanwhile, the Walnut Grove townspeople have mixed reactions to the idea of welcoming an eccentric new townsperson into their Church community.

Fun Fact!

When Laura (Melissa Gilbert) is running through the tall grass to make amends with Bandit the dog, watch for the brief moment where she completely wipes out and falls on her bottom, sits there for a split second, and pulls herself back up. This goof was never edited out, and the scene continued.

Did you know?

This is the first appearance of Hersha Parady as Alice Garvey. She did have a cameo role as Caroline’s sister Eliza Ann in Season 3‘s “Journey in the Spring, Part 1.” Hersha later married and had a son named Jonathan, named after Alice’s husband on “Little House on the Prairie”.

More Trivia!

Why would Nels be drinking water in exorbitant amounts from the barrel behind the mill? (This is the first of two times in the series that Nels is intoxicated.

Season 4, Episode 2 – Times of Change

Description:

When Charles gets the opportunity to visit Chicago on business, he hopes to turn it into a romantic getaway for Caroline and himself, but he ends up escorting Mary who longs to visit her fiancé John. As father and daughter navigate a city that is very different from their simple Walnut Grove, unexpected revelations are on the way for both of them.

Fun Fact!

When Charles and Mary are in their hotel, the bellhop shows Mary her room and says “and the bathroom is right through there.” Back then they didn’t use the term “bathroom”, they would have called it a “water closet.”

Did you know?

When Charles (Michael Landon) goes to the newspaper editor’s office the second time, he has already opened the door and is in the room before the actor playing the editor loudly says, “Come in!”

More Trivia!

The lavish hotel room that Charles and Mary stay in looks like the exact same one that Laura and her niece, Jenny, use in Season 9’s “Once Upon a Time.” This famous “fountain” is used as a prop in many of the Chicago scenes. Michael Landon loved to use this fountain over and over again throughout the series, whether the characters were visiting Chicago, Minneapolis, or some other large city.

Season 4, Episode 3 – My Ellen

Description:

A young girl loses her life during a trip to the local swimming hole. The girl’s mother blames Laura for the accident and alienates everyone around her. With Eloise now disconnected from the entire Walnut Grove community, Laura attempts to cheer her up with a home visit and some flowers, but the woman’s emotionally unstable condition puts Laura in some real danger.

Fun Fact!

If you look closely at Laura’s teeth when she and Eloise are down in the cellar with the birthday cake, you can see that she is wearing braces.

Did you know?

Ellen’s mother Eloise makes vicious accusations against Laura at the funeral, but no one immediately suspects her of malice when Laura goes missing.

More Trivia!

Carrie is officially attending school in Walnut Grove with her sisters. This is the first and only season where the three original Ingalls daughters — Mary, Laura, and Carrie go to school together.

Season 4, Episode 4 – The Handyman

Description:

Charles begins building a kitchen onto the back of the house, but a sudden business trip leaves him unable to complete the job. A charismatic handyman named Chris is hired to help finish while Charles is away. Chris bonds with Caroline and the girls. This causes several rumors to sweep around town, and nobody is more affected than Mary, who fears that Chris may be breaking their family apart.

Fun Fact!

Did you notice all of the background noise in the scene where Charles stops by home for a quick visit? While talking to Caroline in the yard, you can barely hear the dialogue over the buzzing of cicadas and other insects, and the constant sound of birds. This scene was probably filmed on a very hot day, as it sounds the way any meadow sounds at high noon in mid-summer.

Did you know?

In the climactic scene where Ma and Mary are arguing in the barn, as Ma is storming out, Mary cries out to her, “Ma!” and hugs her. Look closely, and you’ll notice that Ma turns to rush back to her before Mary calls out. Did Karen Grassle turn to rush back too soon, or did Melissa Sue Anderson said her line a split second too late?

More Trivia!

Mary has a fit when she comes home from school and sees handyman Chris wearing one of her father’s shirts. It is, in fact, the shirt she made for him three years ago

Season 4, Episode 5 – The Wolves

Description:

Laura and Andy come across an injured female wolf and her pups. When they bring them back to the Garveys’ barn, Jonathan reluctantly agrees to let them stay until Doc Baker nurses the mother back to health. As the town gradually finds out what’s going on, they are concerned that more wolves will show up, threatening their families and livestock.

Fun Fact!

If you listen closely to the crying of the baby wolves, it is the exact same sound of the crying that the puppy named Lady does in the Disney animated classic Lady and the Tramp at the beginning of the movie when she is spending her first night with her new owners. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll recognize the sound right away. They also used this “crying” track in Season 2‘s “Remember Me,” with the pups that Mary and Laura bring home.

Did you know?

Although Mary and Carrie fall face first into the dirt while running to the barn, they are completely clean when they enter it.

More Trivia!

When Laura suggests making a run from the barn after the attacking dogs have quieted down, Mary states that they can’t because it’s too dark to see where the dogs are. But, when they release Bandit so that he can go run for help, there appears to be plenty of light outside. Also, when the wild dogs then start digging under the barn walls, you can see the sun brightly shining on them. Maybe the wild dog scene was filmed earlier or the next day?

Season 4, Episode 6 – The Creeper of Walnut Grove

Description:

Laura and Andy are determined to find out who has been robbing the mercantile and stealing food from people. The “Garvey and Ingalls Detective Agency” is officially in business, but it ultimately causes more harm than good.

Fun Fact!

Normally a very sweet and mild-tempered man, Nels shocks audiences by actually yelling at Laura and Andy – something he never does in any other episode with any children other than those in his own family! It’s very surprising to watch Nels furiously shoo Laura and Andy out of the store, then yell at them again later, when they attack Mrs. Oleson in the middle of the night.

Did you know?

When Charles opens the hen house we see the bucket spill on him, which is water not paint. But when he comes in the house, he has paint on him.

More Trivia!

When Laura and Andy go to the Farrell’s to tell Timothy that he has won the college scholarship, they find out that he’s not home that he’s working. So they talk to Bailey instead. When Laura and Andy get ready to leave, they hear some clucking. They go to the shed, and Laura realizes that it’s Mathilda, her mother’s best laying hen. If you look closely and if you know the difference between hens and roosters, you can see that is not a hen, but a rooster.

Season 4, Episode 7 – To Run and Hide

Description:

After two miscarriages, Beth Novack is thrilled to be experiencing a healthy pregnancy, but when her husband takes a tumble from the roof, she becomes a widow within 24 hours. Devastated that he could not save his patient, Doc Baker decides to leave his practice and pursue a farming career, to the dismay of the townspeople.

Favorite Quote:

Dr. Hiram Baker: “Can’t you understand? I’m not a doctor anymore!”
Charles Ingalls: “Well, if you aren’t a doctor, what are you? You’re not a farmer, we know that.”

Did you know?

Kevin Hagen, “aka” Dr. Hiram Baker, was born in Chicago and his parents were actually professional ballroom dancers. Before acting, he went to law school first, then obtained a degree in International Relations and was employed by the U.S. State Department in West Germany.

More Trivia!

Michael Landon directed 89 episodes of “Little House on the Prairie” and his character, Charles Ingalls, was #4 on TV Guide’s 2004 list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.” And this is one of the many reasons why we love Pa Ingalls.

Season 4, Episode 8 – The Aftermath

Description:

Jesse and Frank James hide out in Walnut Grove. The people of Walnut Grove find out who they really are when bounty hunters come looking for them.

Fun Fact!

There is a little goof that Melissa Anderson makes in this episode when she’s referring to the men that she’s working for. The men are Mr. Hobbs and Mr. Dankworth, but she calls them Mr. Dankworth and Mr. Dobbs!

Did you know?

Charles says that the Civil War has only been over for 11 years when he expresses his concern to Mary over Miss Beadle’s intention to teach about it. That would make this episode take place in 1876 (since the war ended in 1865). Laura Ingalls was born in 1867, two years after the end of the war. If this episode takes place in 1876, she should only be nine years old, but in this episode, she is about 11 years old.

Season 4, Episode 9 – The High Cost of Being Right

Description:

Jonathan Garvey is convinced that he has a great crop coming up, but as he is celebrating with his family at the dinner table, a fateful fire burns their entire barn down. With all their plans destroyed, Alice has a plan to help them get back on their feet, but Jonathan’s pride threatens their marriage.

Fun Fact!

After Alice throws the blanket over her husband (Mr. Garvey), and stands over him as he looks miserably back at the burning barn, you’ll notice that the woman standing there does not look like Alice! It’s quite possible that she was a stunt woman or stand-in.

Did you know?

This episode was originally written for an April 13, 1977 air date (right at the end of Season 3), and it was the Edwards family that was supposed to go through the painful experience in the story, but because Victor French (Mr. Edwards) left the show for a while, the episode material was set aside for a while, and it was used on the Garvey family in the following season.

More Trivia!

Did you notice that Mary and Carrie Ingalls do not appear in this episode?

Season 4, Episode 10 – The Fighter

Description:

Fourteen years after being abandoned by his wife and son, a famous boxer named Joe Kagen passes through Walnut Grove. When a fighting match goes horribly wrong, Doc Baker and the townspeople learn that the ailing man, who sacrificed his family for his career, will only survive if he agrees never to enter the boxing ring again.

Fun Fact!

Notice how different Nellie’s wig looks in this episode. Her curls come up much shorter than they normally do, and it’s mostly noticeable in the scene where she and Laura get into a yelling match over which of their fathers is stronger. Obviously, Nellie’s wig was “done up” differently than usual!

Did you know?

Joe Kagan who looks extremely different from the healthy, vibrant, and happy man that we see in Season 5, where he helped out at the blind school and tried to woo Hester Sue Terhoun. In this episode, Joe looks like an old man, as a result of being run-down by his career as a fighter, and his eyes are completely glazed over, almost making it seem as if he is blind. When you compare him then and now, it doesn’t even look like the same man.

More Trivia!

Ketty Lester, who later went on to portray Hester Sue Terhoun in Seasons Five through Nine, plays Joe Kagan’s wife in the first scene of this episode. Dark shadows make her face difficult to see, but anyone who watches the show regularly will instantly recognize her voice.

Season 4, Episode 11 – Meet Me at the Fair

Description:

The Ingalls and Oleson families spend a fun-filled and exciting day at a county fair. Sparks fly between Mary and a smooth-talking balloonist, Caroline and Harriet face off in a pie-baking contest, and Charles and Nels enter a gritty competition of their own. Laura wastes all her spending money in a surprising way, and Carrie faces serious danger when Laura fails to supervise her.

Fun Fact!

Did anyone notice that the hot air balloon is only tied down by two ropes. So, when Patrick cuts the first rope, the basket should immediately float upward, but stay anchored down by the one remaining rope. Defying gravity, the balloon remains perfectly in place until he cuts the second rope.

Did you know?

The fire wagon that chases the loose balloon says “Redwood City FD” on the side. There is no such city in Minnesota. There is a Redwood Falls, and it is mentioned in several episodes, but it’s sixty miles away from Mankato, the location of the fair.

More Trivia!

In the second episode of this season, “Times of Change,” Mary has just broken up with her fiance when she meets a boy named Patrick who is going to his aunt’s house and will be attending school in Walnut Grove. They strike up a conversation and seem to be hitting it off. This episode 11 features Mary’s romantic interest, a young man named Patrick who is played by a different actor and may or may not be intended as the same person. (We have not seen the actor who played Patrick since “Times of Change,” and we will not see him again.)

Season 4, Episode 12 – Here Come the Brides

Description:

Adam Simms and his son Luke move into town. Adam and Miss Beadle quickly fall in love, while Luke and Nellie develop a whirlwind romance of their own. Luke is a decent young man and very loyal to Nellie, but when Harriet does not approve of this farm boy, the young couple makes secret plans to elope.

Fun Fact!

When Nellie and Luke arrive at the home of the Justice of the Peace, it’s dark, and they’ve clearly roused him from a deep sleep. However, in the very next scene, as we see the the parents rushing by wagon to Sleepy Eye to stop the wedding, it’s not even dark out yet.

Did you know?

In the scene where Mrs. Oleson falls off the horse, Katherine McGregor got injured and was taken to the hospital. Ruth Foster (who was her double on the series) took her place for the rest of the day.

More Trivia!

In this episode, we are shown that being in love is one thing that softens Nellie’s character and makes her a nicer, more likable person. The exact same thing happens when she meets her future husband two years later, in Season 6’s “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not.”

Season 4, Episode 13 – Freedom Flight

Description:

A Native American man arrives in Walnut Grove with his tribe, seeking medical attention for his ailing father. Doc Baker provides his best treatment for the Chief, but when certain community members refuse to let them stay in town temporarily, Charles proposes a secret plan with Doc Baker to keep the tribe safe – but it could have deadly consequences for everyone.

Fun Fact!

As Doc Baker and Charles are racing the Indians out of town, the scene cuts to a close-up shot of them on the wagon. As Doc Baker climbs in the back, a crew member’s hand complete with wrist watch is very noticeable in the bottom right corner.

Did you know?

Given the language spoken, as well as the region, the Indians are Sioux.

Favorite Quote:

Charles Ingalls: “They may be ignorant savages, MacGregor, but they did manage to give you the slip, didn’t they?”

Season 4, Episode 14 – The Rivals

Description:

Charles and Jonathan leave on a business trip that will greatly increase their incomes, but they both have a change of heart when they regret the extensive time spent away from their families. Meanwhile, Laura develops a crush on a classmate and finds herself asking help from Nellie. Laura’s desperate efforts lead to humiliation, but she learns an important lesson about being herself.

Fun Fact!

In this episode, Laura (Melissa Gilbert) gets to act in a few dream sequences where she wears a beautiful, puffy white dress and has her hair curled impeccably. She had very similar dream sequences in Season 2‘s, “At the End of the Rainbow,” where she fantasized about her family being rich. This is the last time that this was ever done.

Did you know?

Laura is offended when Nellie says that she should use toilet water, but actually, in the 1800’s, “toilet” was a commonly used term for a dressing room, not a place to go to the bathroom.

Season 4, Episode 15 – Whisper Country

Description:

Reverend Alden offers 15-year-old Mary her first temporary teaching position in a backwoods community. Unfortunately, it ends up being one of the most difficult jobs a young girl could ever encounter. Now she must decide if her career – not to mention her family values – are worth putting up the fight of her life.

Fun Fact!

You might have noticed, in the opening scene at the Ingalls’ home, Reverend Alden, Charles and Caroline all refer to Mrs. Simms as Miss Beadle. They all seem to have forgotten that she was married three episodes earlier, in “Here Come the Brides“, and took her husband’s last name.

Did you know?

In this episode, Mary has just about the most difficult first teaching job that a young girl can possibly have. Her experience is much more indicative of the one that the real Laura Ingalls had when she got her first job. Although in Season 6’s “Sweet Sixteen,” Michael Landon chose to portray Laura’s initial teaching position as a sunny and happy one.

More Trivia!

In this episode, Laura and Carrie appear briefly in the opening scene, but they do not have any speaking lines and are not seen again after that.

Season 4, Episode 16 – I Remember, I Remember

Description:

On the cold, rainy evening of his wedding anniversary, Charles is stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken wagon wheel. Caroline and the girls wait at home with a special celebration dinner all prepared. Caroline passes the time by reminiscing with her daughters about her youthful beginnings with Charles.

Fun Fact!

In this episode, we find that it was a town dance that brought Charles and Caroline together romantically when they were younger. However, in Season 1‘s “The Love of Johnny Johnson,” it was a one-on-one picnic that represented their first date.

Did you know?

In one of the flashbacks, we learn that Charles has a sister named Polly. However, we never get to see her as an adult in the series; we only meet Charles’ older brother Peter in Season 3’s “Journey in the Spring, Part 1.”

More Trivia!

When Caroline tells her daughters about a cruel teacher that she once had as a child, Laura says that she is glad to have never had a teacher like that. She did, though, for a brief time in Season 2‘s “Troublemaker,” when the coldhearted Mr. Applewood came to replace Miss Beadle.

Season 4, Episode 17 – Be My Friend

Description:

After finding a number of bottles containing messages and a photograph from a mysterious girl, Laura finds an abandoned baby. Laura takes the child in and cares for it as if it were her own, not knowing it belongs to a timid young woman with an abusive father.

Fun Fact!

This is not the first episode where Laura comes home late and concerns Ma and Pa, but it is the first time where Charles really comes down hard on her about it. She came home late in Season 2‘s “The Talking Machine” and Season 3‘s “Bunny,” and she ran away in Season 1‘s “The Lord is My Shepherd,” but she didn’t get yelled at then.

Did you know?

The name Grace is surprisingly used a lot in this series. Not only is it the name of Isaiah Edwards’ wife and Charles and Caroline’s fifth child, but it is also the name that Laura chooses for the baby in this episode.

More Trivia!

Melissa Gilbert actually had a cast on her arm throughout the entire episode due to an ice skating accident that occurred just before the episode was filmed. Most people probably never noticed that Laura is wearing thick shawls, wrapping blankets around her whole body, or having the camera show only her head and shoulders throughout the episode. In previous interviews, she has joked that the one time her character had the opportunity to hold a baby for pretty much the whole episode, she couldn’t even really hold her – the baby just kind of rested on her cast.

Season 4, Episode 18 – The Inheritance

Description:

Charles inherits the entire estate of a wealthy uncle. Within 24 hours the family suddenly becomes Harriet Oleson’s best pals. They are pressured to make various contributions throughout the community and even receive newspaper article offers to chronicle this tremendous change in their lives. Things get worse when this newfound fortune threatens the family’s relationship with their real friends.

Fun Fact!

In this episode, we see Caroline fitting little Carrie for a red calico dress that used to belong to Laura. Longtime fans will instantly recognize this dress since Laura wore it in the “Pilot Movie,” Season 1’s “Country Girls,” and several other episodes from the very early years. However, we never see Carrie actually wear this dress after Caroline tailors it for her.

Favorite Quote:

Lars Hanson: “Charles, where are you going?”
Charles Ingalls: “I’m going home. I don’t have to work anymore. Haven’t you heard, I’m rich!”

More Trivia!

Charles’ birthday is coming up, but there is no mention of Mary’s birthday coming up. In one of the novels, Laura writes that her mother asked her father what was the best birthday present he ever got, to which Charles replies “Mary.” Mary was born on Charles’ 29th birthday. Learn more about Pa’s true history.

Season 4, Episode 19 – The Stranger

Description:

When young Peter Lundstrom is expelled from his private school for petty theft, his wealthy father sends the boy to stay with Uncle Nels Oleson in Walnut Grove for a long-overdue lesson in values.

Fun Fact!

This is the first episode out of those in which both Alison Arngrim and Jonathan Gilbert are present as Nellie and Wille Oleson, where Gilbert receives his on-screen credit before/above Arngrim.

Favorite Quote:

Charles Ingalls: “This is where you’ll bunk. The straw’s fresh. You can keep your clothes in the box there in the corner. You’ll see the outhouse out that window. Nels said he packed you some work clothes in this case. Best get changed. We’ll be ready to go.”
Peter Lundstrom: “I prefer to wear what I have on.”
Charles Ingalls: “Well, I don’t prefer it. And you work for me. As long as you do, you’ll do what I say.”
Peter Lundstrom: “And if I don’t?”
Charles Ingalls: “Well then, I’ll have to bare your bottom and give you a whippin’.”

More Trivia!

The “Little House on the Prairie” theme song was composed by musician, David Rose, who was born in London and raised in Chicago.

Season 4, Episode 20 – A Most Precious Gift

Description:

A misinterpreted remark from husband Charles plants a seed of worry in newly pregnant Caroline Ingalls that he will be disappointed if the baby isn’t a boy.

Fun Fact!

This is the first time we see Caroline and other cast members visit the grave site of Charles Frederick Ingalls Jr, who died during Season 1 and would have been about three years old at this point, had he lived.

Did you know?

When Caroline goes to visit Charles Jr’s grave site, she expresses how she feels Charles will think of her if she doesn’t give him a son. Caroline’s feelings are explored more deeply in Season 7’s “I Do, Again.”

More Trivia!

The real Grace Pearl Ingalls was born in Burr Oak, Iowa, which is where the Ingalls moved at the beginning of Season 9, when Grace was four years old on the show. In real life, Grace Ingalls went on to become a teacher, just like her grandmother, mother, and sister Laura.

Season 4, Episode 21 – I’ll Be Waving as You Drive Away (Part 1)

Description:

Long hours studying by candlelight for the state teacher’s exam results in tired, blurry eyes for Mary Ingalls, prompting a routine visit to the eye doctor; but when Charles is told that Mary’s worsening sight is just the beginning of a much more serious problem, the concerned father can’t bring himself to tell his beloved daughter that she will, most certainly, soon be completely blind.

Fun Fact!

Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls Kendall) and Linwood Boomer (Adam Kendall) spent some time at the Foundation for the Junior Blind to prepare for their new roles on the show. There was also a technician on the set of “Little House on the Prairie” who trained them to walk, behave and position their eyes.

Did you know?

In the scene where Mary is sitting in a chair and Caroline sits down to talk to her, it is shown that Caroline is wearing a bra. This episode is set in the late 1870’s before brassieres were invented.

More Trivia!

In interviews, Melissa Sue Anderson admitted that she was terrified when she read the script for the two-part episode, because of the obvious challenges that were ahead for her character. Additionally, her first reaction was that the character of Mary Ingalls was going to be written off the show and that really upset her. However, Michael Landon assured her, “This is going to be a great thing, Missy” and now Melissa acknowledges that he was absolutely right.

Season 4, Episode 21 – I’ll Be Waving as You Drive Away (Part 2)

Description:

Feeling lost and abandoned, Mary battles anger and self-pity at a school for the blind. But soon, she finds a source of hope in her new teacher, Adam Kendall, and as they work together they find they have much in common. Meanwhile, back in Walnut Grove, many are forced to consider the real possibility of having to start a new life elsewhere as the town’s economy erodes and work becomes scarce.

Favorite Quote:

Adam: (to Mary after she walks toward him) “All right! All right! There, you see? It’s not so hard.”
Mary: “No. No, I don’t see! That’s the whole point. Who cares about all this? Who cares about walking across a room when there’s nothing to see when you get there?”
Adam: “I care, because it’s my job to teach you. If I don’t teach you, I don’t get paid. So, you can sulk if you want to for about five minutes. Then we’re going to wash up and see if we can eat without throwing it.”

Did you know?

The 4th season finale officially marks Melissa Sue Anderson’s final full season as a regular cast member. She would later go on to appear periodically in Seasons 5, 6 and 7, and only a few episodes in Season 8.

More Trivia!

After her blindness at age 14, the real-life Mary Ingalls attended the Iowa School for the Blind in Vinton, Iowa. Mary’s actual stay was much longer than the few months’ time depicted on the show. Her parents took her there on November 23, 1881 and she did not graduate until June 11, 1889 at age 24, meaning she was a student for 8 years. However, Mary was absent during the 1887-1888 school year as her parents could not afford the tuition and needed more time to come up with the money.

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Little House on the Prairie – Complete Series DVD (¡ê58.73 Free Shipping)
Little House on the Prairie – Complete Series DVD (¡ê58.73 Free Shipping)

Little House on the Prairie – Complete Series DVD

  • & FREE Delivery within the UK and Ireland.
  • Item Condition: Brand New Sealed.
  • Shipping: Send from London, ETA 5-7 working days.
  • Guarantee: 60 days money back, seller pays return shipping fee.
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