Blu-ray
Recommended
3 stars
Overall Grade
3 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
4.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3.5 Stars
Supplements
1 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Recommended

Little House On The Prairie: Season One

Street Date:
March 25th, 2014
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
May 6th, 2014
Movie Release Year:
1974
Studio:
Lionsgate
Length:
1268 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Unrated
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

I wasn't alive yet when 'Little House on The Prairie' first aired on television, but I did watch the re-runs with my parents quite often and always loved the show, as I was always a western movie fan. The story of a family trying to settle down and build a house, and getting into some exciting if not tragic adventures always fascinated me. And no, it didn't have the big action set pieces like so many shows have to day, nor did it really have a whole lot of real suspenseful moments. Instead, we got a weekly dose of family loyalty, fun, and intense conflicts with animals and people, and the sense that no matter what obstacle was thrown towards the Ingalls, they always stuck by each other's side.

This show first aired a made-for-tv-movie as its pilot episode, then went on to provide us with nine seasons that consisted of over 200 episodes with five different specials. This show is based on the book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and back then, one could consider them the young adult hit series of the time. And much like the 'Harry Potter' book series, these Little House books were loved by many kids and young adults. Enter actor/director/writer/producer Michael Landon, who just came off the hit show Bonanza and was looking for another project.

Landon got a hold of this project called 'Little House on the Prairie' and immediately wanted to be involved. And from the start, he brought his unique and warm vision to the series as he starred as the father Charles Ingalls, as well as wrote, directed, and served as executive producer of the series. Not exactly a light-weigh, huh? And now we have every single uncut episode from the first season in high definition for the first time. And it looks amazing. In the pilot episode, Charles Ingalls and his wife Caroline (Karen Grassle), and their three daughters Mary (Melissa Sue Anderson), Laura (Melissa Gilbert), and Carrie (the Greenbush twins) head out west in their horse drawn wagon to build a house and life in Kansas. But after that pilot episode, the Ingalls family moves up to Walnut Grove in Minnesota where the bulk of the series takes place.

The family learns the meaning of true loyalty, love, and loss as they face many hardships building a life on the open range. They travel in and survive harsh blizzards, learn to live with the wildlife, and of course construct a house for five people to live in. Then of course there are some other conflicts that consist of Charles (Landon) going off to hunt for food and his family always worried that he might not ever come back, which is a very redundant theme in the series. But never at one point would you expect the title character to not show his face or be killed off, especially back in the 70s. Meanwhile, the Ingall's neighbor Isaiah Edwards (Victor French) helps out with building and other family affairs, often adding some humor to the show. Laura's arch nemesis is Nellie Oleson (Alison Arngrim), who is as snooty and bratty as they come. Laura always wants to "teach her a harsh lesson" (which she ultimately gets to do).

The writing for the show was very good, and although it might seem to sappy and too emotional at times, the script and acting sell the performances and dialogue very well, and rarely make us think this series if full of cheese. 'Little House on the Prairie' won many awards over the years, and it's still held in high regard and considered one of the best television shows of all time. This great series still holds up after all these years and proves that you don't need fancy special effects or intense action sequences to create an amazing show.  

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Little House on the Prairie: Season One comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.33:1 aspect ratio. It says on the box that this first season has been completely restored and remastered, and I am here to say that it looks great. This is by far the best series has ever looked from when it first aired to any of the home video releases it has had over the years. Detail is greatly improved. The series still has that old filmic look with a nice layer of grain. But now we can distinguish some very fine textures, individual hairs on the actor's faces, and even some makeup blemishes.

The beautiful landscapes look amazing in this new restored image as well. The colors are brighter and seem to pop off screen throughout. You can tell the contrast was worked quite a bit to make the colors pop more in certain scenes, especially in the lower lit scenes. The skin tones look natural and the black levels are deep throughout as well. There is still some video noise from time to time, but it is very minor, and there are a couple of flaws with the opening sequence, but other than those two small things, the image is amazing. This video presentation is quite solid.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 2.0 mono mix that sounds great. I only wish they put in a 5.1 audio track to take full advantage of the nature sounds and sound effects throughout the show. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand, free of any pops, cracks, or hissing.

The sound effects and ambient nature noises all sound realistic and full, but we are never fully immersed in this time period, because this is a very front heavy mix. The score sounds great and provides a very nice pace and tone for the series, as it never drowns out any of the dialogue. The dynamic range is wide here, giving the this solid audio presentation surprisingly good depth, despite the 2.0 mix.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

The Little House Phenomenon Part 1: A Place in Television History (HD, 15 mins.) - The first installment of a documentary extra, which I imagine will be continued on each season of the show as it comes out. There are interviews with cast and crew as well as some of the family of Michael Landon. They discuss making the show and its impact on America. 


 
Original Screen Test (HD, 2 mins.) - A scene between Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert from the pilot episode that got cut.  

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclsuives.

Final Thoughts

'Little House on the Prairie' may not be for everyone, as it lacks explosions, epic gun fights, aliens, zombies, and other worlds. Instead, it delivers a great script each week with solid acting and good morals and ethics that teaches us to stick with family through thick and thin, no matter what obstacle comes your way. This newly restored and remastered Blu-ray is magnificent and is the best the show has ever looked. The audio also sounds great. There are not too many extras on this, but don't let the stop you from picking this series up and reliving the glory days. Recommended.

Technical Specs

  • Deluxe Remastered Edition
  • 5-Disc Set
  • Ultraviolet Digital Copies

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.33:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
  • French Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles/Captions

  • English and Spanish

Supplements

  • Original Screen Tests from Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert
  • "The Little House Phenomenon: Part One - A Place in Television History"

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