Little House on the Prairie

Back to School (1)

Season 6, Ep 1, Aired 9/17/79
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  • Episode Description
  • As the new school year begins, Nellie receives a surprising graduation present from her mother. Caroline gets a job when Charles is injured and unable to work. A new teacher arrives in Walnut Grove with a handsome younger brother who catches Laura's eye.

  • Cast & Crew
  • Dean Butler

    Almanzo James Wilder (co-star prior to season 7)

  • Melissa Gilbert

    Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

  • Patrick Labyorteaux

    Andrew 'Andy' Garvey (1977 - 1981) (as Patrick Laborteaux)

  • Lucy Lee Flippin

    Eliza Jane Wilder (1979 -1980)

  • Kevin Hagen

    Dr. Hiram Baker

  • Fan Reviews (4)
  • This sixth-season opener finds Laura Ingalls moving forward into adulthood and introduces her--and us--to her future husband.

    By ceosmom, Dec 19, 2006

  • A superb season opener as we see many changes take place in Walnut Grove.

    By Lady_Lancaster, May 08, 2011

  • Laura and Nellie both vie for the attention of Ms. Wilder\'s brother Almonzo. Harriet convinces Almonzo to come to the restarurant so Nellie can cook. Nellie hires Laura to cook cinnamon chicken. Laura switches the cinnamon with black pepper.

    By SarahBeth2593, Jun 14, 2006

  • The wheels start turning as a bridge is built for Laura's impending adulthood in this very special, not-to-be-missed episode.

    By ecgirl08, Jun 07, 2008

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (10)

    • Harriet: (when Nellie is throwing a tantrum) Oh, Nels, do something! Nels: I will. I'll go to bed. (leaves quickly)

    • Laura: (overvoice) If I had a remembrance book, I would mark this down as a very special day. Though I didn't know it at the time, I had just met the man I would someday marry--Almanzo Wilder!

    • Laura: (to Nels about Nellie's graduation surprise) We promise not to tell, cross our hearts! Nels: All right. Everyone's going to know today, anyway. You see, Harriet thought that-- Harriet: (from across the street) NELS! Nels: I swear, she could hear a flea belch from a mile away!

    • Caroline: (about working at Nellie's Restaurant) I don't see how it's any different from the job in Winoka. Charles: It's a big difference! Caroline: How? Charles: It just is! Caroline: That's not an answer, Charles. Charles: (pauses) All right. When we were in Winoka, you waited on strangers. These are our friends, our neighbors, people that we have as guests in our own home. I don't want you serving them and then standing around, waiting for tips. Caroline: I see. So it's not my working hard that you're concerned about. It's your pride. Charles: It's our pride. You're telling me it wouldn't bother you? Caroline: That's exactly what I'm telling you.

    • Charles: (after finding out Caroline got a job working for Harriet Oleson at the restaurant) I just don't see how you can call that good news. Well, I won't have it. I won't have you working for that woman! Caroline: Charles, I won't really be working for Mrs. Oleson. I'll really be working for Nellie. Charles: Yeah, well, aside from a few pounds, what's the difference?

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    Notes (8)

    • In previous interviews, Dean Butler (Almanzo) has compared Lucy Lee Flippin (Eliza Jane)'s acting style to that of "a little bird, so delicate and graceful." Butler has also said that Michael Landon was very fond of Flippin.

    • Dean Butler (Almanzo) has fondly recalled in previous interviews that he graduated from college in May 1979, on a Friday, and he went right to work for Little House three days later, on that Monday! During the audition process, Michael Landon asked him when he was finishing up school, and Dean told him, and Michael proceeded to say, "Okay, I'll see you that Monday!"

    • This is the first season premiere episode that does not feature Melissa Sue Anderson as Mary. It's also the first premiere episode where we do not see the entire Ingalls family together.

    • In this and future episodes, it is indicated that Laura was the one heavily pursuing Almanzo, but in the books, it was reversed--Almanzo was the one pursuing her more.

    • This is the first of many episodes where we are told that Laura and Almanzo have a significant age gap between them, yet the exact number of years are never revealed on the show, obviously to avoid any uproar from audiences if they knew exactly how far apart the two actually were in age. In real life, Melissa Gilbert and Dean Butler are 8 years apart, so when this episode was filmed, Gilbert was 15, and Butler was 23--and they had the important responsibility of passing off as a soon-to-be married couple.

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    Trivia (20)

    • This two-part episode is one of Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder)'s all-time favorites.

    • In this episode, Eliza Jane Wilder tells Laura that there is no age restriction for teachers, but in the episode Sweet Sixteen, Eliza Jane and the Superintendent talk about 16 being the required age to teach.

    • When Nellie's restaurant is unveiled, Mrs. Oleson becomes cocooned in the giant canvas and falls down. However, the viewer can see actress Katherine MacGregor clearly pulling the sheet around herself intentionally, then spinning around and falling. Apparently, this is the best the director could come up with as a device to get the actress to fall down as the script must have called for. It's very noticeable and clumsily executed.

    • The scene where Almanzo drives past Laura in his buckboard and offers to give her a ride was the very first scene that actor Dean Butler shot.

    • Notice how much more make-up Melissa Gilbert (Laura) appears to be wearing in this episode and throughout Season 6. Her blush and eye shadow are very bright and noticeable, not at all subtle, and since she was still portraying a young schoolgirl at this point, it shouldn't have been that way. Obviously, though, this was done to help ensure that Laura's transformation from child to adult was a little less sudden by the time they reached the season finale.

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