Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Michael Landon Jr. - He ain't no Pa.

See this guy? Do you know who he is? Well he's Michael Landon Jr., and all I can say about him is that he ain't no Pa Ingalls. Why oh why do I detest him so? Well although he followed in his father's footsteps and started work behind a camera, he sure took this idea of "creative license" to a whole new level. A LOW level, I might add. Now while ML Sr. did veer off the original books by Laura Ingalls Wilder in order to keep the TV show going for all those years, his son ML Jr. had to go and RUIN the my absolute favorite Christian pioneer book series by "trying" to make them into TV movies.

The series in question is the "Love Comes Softly" series by Janette Oke... the amazing story of Marty, a pioneer woman who at the age of 17, finds out her new husband of 3 months is killed while they are on a wagon train west and is left abandoned and alone near a small town on the prairie. That same day a man from the town approaches her and asks her to marry him, a marriage of convenience, in order for her to take care of his little 2-year-old girl Missie who doesn't have a mother. If at the end of the harvest she wants to return east, he will pay for her passage home, but she must take his little girl with her. Oh did I mention she's 3 months pregnant? Anyway, the book series follows Marty's entire life and how her situation turns out. I HIGHLY recommend reading them.

So this Michael Landon Jr. character comes along and decides to make this a TV movie. BRILLIANT I think at first. Now everyone can see this wonderful story evolve on film. So my step teen (a huge fan of the series) and I wait with great anticipation at the first airing of this show. The story starts out right on target. Things are progressing smoothly... then, something odd happens. Although the people have the same names and roles as in the book, they start veering from the story line. poignant and touching stories are changed and "slicked" over in the most annoying Hollywood fashion, to the point where by the end of the story, everything is MUCH different than the book. The way the book tells the story is very realistic, and it would of been no problem to relay it to film, but somehow ML Jr. decided to opt for the trite and predictable changes that make the whole movie not even worth watching! Matter of fact the second TV movie in this same series is so far off the story due to all the unnecessary changes that the only thing that remains is the name of the characters.

I realize that no movie can really be just like the book, some things need to be taken out because of time, or whatever, but to completely change what was already a good story, baffles me. So I guess this is another reason for people to get back to reading. Oh and here's a tip for all you would-be producers out there. If you're going to make a TV movie about an amazing book, you might want to try reading it all the way through before you start filming.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Growing up with the Prairie

So take a good look at Pa Ingalls. Dreamy, ain't he? Good ol' Michael Landon. He's got those long flowing locks, a twinkle in his eye, and boy can he saw large planks of wood into smaller ones at the mill (ever notice that's all he did there?) like nobody's business. 

We weren't really allowed to watch much TV growing up, but nary a day passed that we all didn't sit down and catch the loving family antics of Laura, Ma, Pa, and the whole Ingalls gang. Where we truly believed that Ms. Beadle was the nicest teacher around, that Nellie and Willie were pure evil, and that Mrs. Olsen sure was a major bitty. We just couldn't seem to get enough of that quality family programming with the feel good thought provoking endings. I don't think a single episode of LHOTP went by without Pa shedding a tear or playing his fiddle, or Laura wearing that red gingham dress.

This of course led to my current uncanny ability to actually know which exact episode is airing at any moment, based on watching only the first 15 seconds of the show. I'll be like, "Oh this is the one where Nellie pretends to be crippled", or "Oh this is the one where the wild dogs attack the kids while Ma and Pa are away". My sister and I use to pass the time on long car trips trying to quiz each other on random LHOTP trivia. Like how did Ma show she was irritated in bed? (Eat popcorn angrily), or why did the girls have such nice blue dresses for church (Ma was suppose to make a dress for herself but selflessly ended up making the dresses for the girls instead), or why did Laura sell her horse Bunny? (To buy a new stove for Ma for Christmas). So go ahead, throw your hardest LHOTP trivia at me, just see if you can stump me. If you too are a Little House fanatic, trying stumping your friends, it's FUN. 

Oh, and a few holidays back, my football playing, stud of younger brother who would probably never admit to watching LHOTP as a kid shocked us all when we gathered around to play one of the quizzes on the newly released DVD's (yes of course I own them). To our amazement he got every single answer right. He sheepishly shrugged but we all knew that he too had grown up on the prairie, even if it was involuntary.
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