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The Column

You Say Potato
3/21/04

Now that presidential election season is upon us, we are in the throes of the NCAA tournament, and it's just about a year since we declared not-war on Iraq, I thought it was high time someone discussed why the set of Little House on the Prairie had so many potatoes.

If it has been a while since you've seen Little House on the Prairie, you are obviously not one of the three people who have purchased the DVD boxed set. That's right – for just four easy payments of more money than it's worth, you can purchase the very same episodes you grew up ignoring as a child.

Most people who read my column are too young to have had the chance to ignore Little House on The Prairie, but I'm reasonably certain they would have, given the proper chance. The show was cancelled in 1982, making anyone under 22 unable to have seen a new episode. I'm only 24, and I remember the show fairly well. I must have seen it in syndication because I have mean parents.

I kid, I kid. I'm sure it was a great show that was heartwarming and taught you lessons about life and little houses and prairies. They resurrected it for one final episode in 1984. Which I'm sure was also heartwarming and taught us lessons and. Oh, sorry. I fell asleep before I could finish that sentence.

I was reminded of the show recently because a friend of mine actually purchased the boxed set. She's a big fan, which is crazy because she's not nuts or 85. But she was watching it and I walked in during a heartwarming episode about little houses and prairies.

The episode also dealt with the possibility of Mrs. Ingalls having an affair, even though what really happened is that some dude who was finishing her kitchen kind of liked her. Oooh, scandalous. The oldest daughter got all upset and the worker guy ran off, but the real story is that there were potatoes everywhere.

There was one scene in particular when the family was in, I don't know, a barn, and the conversation got tense between Mrs. Ingalls and the hotter daughter. And as the hotter daughter stormed off, I noticed that there were several huge baskets of potatoes. There were probably 500 potatoes in the scene. That's a lot of potatoes for a show not involving some guy in the army being punished by having to peel potatoes.

If this were actual footage of the prairie, which I am guessing it is not because the prairie had better lighting, the potatoes would be a bit odd, but I would say, "okay, they just happen to be in front of potatoes." My problem is that these potatoes had to have been imported. I am wondering what went on while the set was being decorated.

"Folks, we're going to need to make this look authentic. You know what that means. Potatoes."

"Sure thing boss. I've got a bag of them right here."

"Just a bag? You're fired! We need more than a bag! We need a truck full of potatoes!"

"Don't you mean a wagon?"

"Zzzzzzz."

I shouldn't keep joking about how boring the show is, because it did produce one very exciting childhood memory. There was an episode where the kids thought the barn was haunted, possibly by the ghost of Mr. Potato Head. My mother actually asked me if I was frightened.

I was already sarcastic as a four-year-old, so I pretended to be scared and ran to the bathroom and locked myself in, laughing. It stopped being funny when the lock jammed and I was stuck in the bathroom for over an hour. By the time I got out, I was crying hysterically (come on, I was four!) and my family thought I really had been frightened by Nellie Oleson's bucket of parts.

I should mention that the role of Laura Ingalls Wilder was played by Melissa Gilbert, who has since become the hotter sister. She was also cast in almost every made for TV movie produced since 1987, since Meredith Baxter Birney wasn't always unavailable.

Cartoon fans might also know Gilbert as the voice of Barbara "Batgirl" "Yoko" Gordon in the animated Batman series. For those of you who are not Batman fans, you may not know that the introduction of Batgirl to the series is analogous to the introduction of Cousin Oliver to the Brady Bunch. A show on which the former hotter Ingalls sister once guest starred. Ow, my head. Perhaps I should have some aspirin.

Maybe there's some behind these potatoes.

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