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Laura Ingalls Wilder
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"I thought seriously of cultivating a reputation for being peculiar; for like charity such a reputation seemed to cover multitudes of sins..."
Laura Ingalls Wilder, March 1919

Little House on the Prairie, the television series, ran for over 200 episodes and is—and was—much beloved by fans. The greatest virtues of the show resided in the cast, particularly Michael Landon who played Charles "Pa" Ingalls, and Melissa Gilbert who played Laura from a young child into adulthood with spunk and sparkle. The greatest failings came from the diversions from reality that the simple necessity of having to produce over 200 episodes of continuous storylines.

The biggest diversions from reality came as regards the character of Mary, Laura's blind sister. In the tv series she married and had a child. In real life, Mary Ingalls never married and had no children. After she returned from the school for the blind in Iowa, she remained in her parents' home save for the last few years of her life, after Ma's death, when she lived with her sister Carrie. Because Mary Ingalls didn't really live the adventures shown in the tv series in no way means her real life wasn't rich and fulfilling to her. She had friends both in De Smet and elsewhere, and involvement in her community and church.

Another major diversion had to do with introducing the adopted son, Albert. The Ingalls never had an adopted son.

The part of the television show that always irked me the most was the setting--the dry, brown hills of southern California, where the show was shot, in no way resemble the green, rolling plains of southern Minnesota, where the story took place. In one Christmas episode they start by saying how warm the winter was, with leaves on the trees and flowers blooming... no matter how warm and snowless a Minnesota winter is, the leaves are gone and no flowers bloom. And Pa always seemed to be plowing, never mind the time of year. In the show, the family remained in Walnut Grove, Minnesota ("On the Banks of Plum Creek"), while in reality they moved on to De smet, South Dakota (then Dakota Territory).

The strongest episodes are also those closest to Laura's real stories: The pilot movie which is the family's trip to and from the "Little House on the Prairie" in Kansas; "The Lord is My Shepherd" about the birth and death of Laura's infant brother (a real incident not included in Laura's books); "Laura Ingalls Wilder," in which Laura and Almanzo marry; "Days of Sunshine, Days of Shadow, " about the difficult early years of their marriage.

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