Little House on the Prairie

Season 6 Episode 5

Annabelle

0
Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Oct 15, 1979 on NBC
5.6
out of 10
User Rating
74 votes
3

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Episode Summary

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Annabelle
AIRED:
A circus act passes through Walnut Grove, and Nels Oleson is horrified when he spots his estranged sister Annabelle as "the fat lady". Embarrassed by her physical appearance, Nels denies any relation to her. Meanwhile, Laura is unhappy when Almanzo begins dating a rude young woman named Christy.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • The circus comes to town, and Nels Oleson is horrified to discover that his estranged sister is the Fat Lady.

    6.8
    Nels Oleson is embarassed when the circus comes to Walnut Grove and the Fat Lady, Annabelle, is none other than his estranged sister. He stands by silently as the townsfolk (chiefly, his own wife), constantly make jokes about her. Annabelle is unaware that her brother even lives here, and while he does manage to avoid her for a time, she eventually spots him in Nellie's restaurant--where he totally snubs her. Eventually the two meet in private, and Annabelle tells Nels that she enjoys her life as much as is possible and has found a "family" in the circusfolk she travels with. Nels finally sees the light and, while serving as ringmaster at the circus, announces that he's particularly proud of one of the performers tonight--his sister, Annabelle.



    A side plot involves Laura once again attempting to get Almonzo's attention. She manages to ruin his date with snippy Chrissy by dousing Chrissy with water while dressed as a clown at the circus; this causes Chrissy's skirt to separate from her dress; ironically, Laura had just made the dress for her. Hmm...



    The one thing that I find to be less than believable in this episode is Nels Oleson's utter rejection of another human being. He's perhaps the kindest, fairest, and most understanding resident of Walnut Grove--including Charles Ingalls. For him to be portrayed as prejudiced against his own sibling was, I thought, totally uncharacteristic and something he just wouldn't have done. His wife, yes. Nels, no way. Annabelle does alude to the fact that Nels used to avoid being seen with her as a child. Perhaps the viewer is supposed to believe that it's his guilty conscience that keeps him from embracing her. I don't know. Worth viewing.moreless
  • Not our Nels

    4.0
    I just couldn't picture Nels being this mean...he might be embarrassed but his sister wasn't that obese and his wife certainly wasn't slim. He was always a kind man, it just didn't fit.



    Harriet not being slim herself, joked a bit too much about Annabelle. That did make Nel crack and visit her but I just didn't like the script.

    Also I get tired of seeing Laura do immature things to get Almonzo...switch the cinnamon to pepper, drench his date, she had done so many other things in the past and hardly ever got punished, caused her parents angst running away, her jealousy making Albert run away...sometimes I realize why I like other characters better. including Nels : ) I'm glad he got to have a larger part in this show, even if it wasn't a great one.

    moreless
  • Nels Oleson has an unhappy surprise in store when the circus comes to Walnut Grove.

    4.5
    All the people of Walnut Grove are very excited that the circus is coming to town, especially the children, who don't get to see treats such as a circus all that often. As the performers arrive, Nels Oleson looks as though he is about to faint when he realises that the stereotypical "fat lady" is none other than his sister, Annabelle, from whom he has been estranged for years.



    To put it mildly, Nels is horrified and determines that nobody will find out his secret.



    From here on is where I became very disappointed with the episode. Nels Oleson is simply not the kind of man to not treasure his sister, regardless of her size, and anyway, being married to a harridan such as Harriet, one would think that he could use all the other family he could get! On top of that, the script was of a very low standard and was highly predictable which was a shame as the whole premise of the episode was bad enough given that it was so far removed from the Nels we know.moreless
Dean Butler

Dean Butler

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

Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Patrick Labyorteaux

Patrick Labyorteaux

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

Lucy Lee Flippin

Lucy Lee Flippin

Eliza Jane Wilder (1979 -1980)

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Nate Stein

Nate Stein

Rope Walker

Guest Star

John Hayes

John Hayes

Stilt Clown

Guest Star

Paula Crist

Paula Crist

Tumbler

Guest Star

Michelle Downey

Michelle Downey

Susan

Recurring Role

Ketty Lester

Ketty Lester

Hester-Sue

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Nels was a little out of character here because he's always been a kind man and for him to shun his sister is not like him, especially since he's married to a difficult woman like Harriet.

    • Goof: Charles is sitting with Mary, Adam, and some of the blind children at the circus, kind of giving them the play-by-play. The first time that one clown is about to douse another with a bucket of water, we hear Charles shout, "Look out--he's right in front of you!" It's clearly Landon's voice, but his lips aren't moving.

    • Right after Nels publicly announces Annabelle as his sister and gives her a huge hug, there is a shot of Harriet looking shocked and embarrassed, then Nellie and Willie standing up and cheering loudly. They clearly appear very happy about what they are seeing, but because Nellie is so much like her mother when it comes to things like this, you'd think she would be embarrassed by her father's actions, also.

    • Right after Laura (in the clown suit) douses Christy with water and Christy storms out, there is a closeup shot of a tightrope walker in an orange outfit. Then there is a shot of Nellie and Willie clapping, and Nellie yells out, "Yay!" in a tone that is actually very fake and funny. Additionally, this exact same shot was used more than once throughout the circus, particularly right after Nels hugs Annabelle at the very end. When they insert it at that point, Nellie's lips are moving to say "Yay!" but the sound is edited out. Reply: The editing in the circus scene (especially the sound editing) is about the worst in the series' history. Lip movements don't match dialogue; the lips move but no sound comes out; recognizable voices are heard clearly, though the character's mouth is closed. Plus, the reactions of the audience members (laughing, clapping, etc.) often don't make sense or correspond with what's happening in the ring. The whole scene is something of a hack job, and it's really noticeable.

    • During the first half of the circus scene, actress Brenda/Wendi Turnbaugh (Grace Ingalls), is absolutely sobbing, as actress Karen Grassle (Caroline) tries in vain to comfort her. The scene plays out to look as though Grace is supposed to be afraid of something at the circus. If you look at her, though, she's clearly not looking at anything going on in the ring, but in an offstage direction. I seems safe to assume that the goings-on during filming this noisy, visually overstimulating scene scared the little girl, and that she was crying for her mother or guardian, who would have been off to the side during filming. Grassle seems to be improvising (understandably) the script by saying things like "Oh, look at the clowns," and pointing to the ring continuously, in an effort to make Turnbaugh more compliant. Even more interestingly, this is not the last time that we see one of the Turnbaugh twins crying hysterically on camera. There were episodes in Seasons 7 and 8, in which Grace's evident distress was caught on film.

    • Goof: Mrs. Oleson is hanging a fabric sign advertising the Oleson Mercantile in the big top tent of the visiting circus.
      Both the tent and the sign are fabric, why then is Mrs. Oleson using a hammer to hang it?

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Annabelle: You know, I have a place in this life. I was put here on this planet for a purpose. Maybe not an exalted purpose, but a purpose. You know, I make people laugh, and I make them feel good. You know, that's not a bad thing to do, Nels.
      Nels: Can you forgive me?
      Annabelle: There's nothing to forgive.
      Nels: I helped drive you out of the house. I insulted you, so you had to leave.
      Annabelle: I wanted to leave, only I didn't have the courage until that moment. You know, Nels, in a way, you did me a big favor. I'm really happy. I have a big family, and they love me. I love them.
      London: (calling) Annabelle!
      Annabelle: Coming. (looks at Nels and chuckles) So skinny. Still so skinny. Go on home to your own family. (leaves)

    • Annabelle: Looking for me, Nels? (long silence, Nels goes up to her)
      Nels: Annabelle.
      Annabelle: Don't worry, Nels. I won't tell any of your townspeople about us.
      Nels: I don't care if you tell them or don't.
      Annabelle: My dear, sweet flesh and blood. You care so much. So much. Remember how you used to get up at 5:00 in the morning, and get washed and dressed, even fix your own porridge, so you could walk to school alone? They used to say that you were at the schoolhouse even before they lit the furnace in the morning! You preferred sitting out there in the cold, rather than being seen walking to school with your own sister! Don't you think I knew it, Nels? I knew it then, and I accepted it, just as I accept your behavior now. Nothing changes.
      Nels:I went to school early because I.......(long pause) that's strange. I was going to make something up.

    • Laura: (to clown) I'm just as sad as you, or at least as sad as you look. We're alike, you and me, so sad and can't tell anybody why. I mean, Albert sort of knows, but not really. I can't tell him how I feel, because he might up and tell Pa. I could tell you, though. I need to tell somebody. (pauses) You see, I love someone. His name is Almanzo. I call him Manly. I'm a little too young for him now, but if we'd just wait a while.....that's why I'm sad. I'm afraid he's gonna fall in love and marry someone else before I have a chance to be old enough.

    • Annabelle: Why the long faces?
      Owen: Wer'e sad because you're sad.
      London: Come on, Annanelle, we're family, remember? Tell us, what's the matter?
      Annabelle: Well, you know that Mr. Oleson, our host?
      London: Mm-hmm.
      Annabelle: He's my brother. He didn't know I was with the circus, and I didn't know he was an important businessman here in Walnut Grove, or anywhere for that matter. I just saw him at lunch. You saw what happened. He looked right at me. If he'd only smiled, shown me a little love, I would have given him one of my extra-special, candid bear hugs! But he didn't. He just looked away. And I knew then that he was still ashamed of me. Ashamed of me and my bulk. You know, he was like that even when we were kids.
      Owen: What's wrong with your bulk? What's wrong with my size?
      London: Nothing. There's nothing wrong with any of us, but sometimes, people on the outside get crazy notions.
      Owen: Annabelle, it hurts me to see you in pain. When her brother looked away from her, he looked away from all of us!
      Everyone: Yeah!
      Owen: Why don't we pack up and go?
      London: No, no, Owen, we can't. I signed a letter of agreement on behalf of all of us.
      Owen: (to Annabelle) Ah, who cares about them, anyway? We're your brothers, not Mr. Oleson!

    • Albert: Hey, Laura, do you want my circus ticket?
      Laura: Why? You worked hard for it.
      Albert: Well, I thought maybe you'd like to ask Almanzo.
      Laura: Almanzo? Why would I want to ask Almanzo?
      Albert: Well, I just thought that maybe you'd like to.
      Laura: Boys. They think they know everything.
      Albert: Girls. They don't know nothing.
      Laura: Anything!
      Albert: That's the truth! Good night!
      Charles: Good night, son. (Albert goes upstairs)
      Caroline: Laura, your brother was just trying to be nice.
      Laura: I know. I'll go apologize. (goes upstairs) Albert?
      Albert: What?
      Laura: I'm sorry I was rude.
      Albert: Well, next time, just say no thank you, I don't want the extra ticket.
      Laura: But I do.
      Albert: What?
      Laura: I want the ticket.
      Albert: But you just said--
      Laura: That's because you asked me in front of Pa, and it made me feel funny.
      Albert: Oh.
      Laura: Can I still have it?
      Albert: Sure.
      Laura: Thanks, Albert!
      Albert: Good night, Laura.
      Laura: Good night. (goes back downstairs) I apologized.
      Caroline: Good girl.
      Albert: (calling down loud enough for Charles to hear) Laura, you better ask Almanzo to the circus first thing tomorrow morning. He might make other plans. Good night!

    • Laura: (coming back into the tent after finding out Almanzo's taking Christy to the circus) Here's your ticket, Albert.
      Albert: What happened?
      Laura: Almanzo has a date with Christy.
      Albert: Oh, he's taking out Miss Snooty Pants, huh? (Laura doesn't laugh) Laura, Almanzo's too old for you. It's as simple as that.
      Laura: Well, in all famous marriages, the man is much older than the woman.
      Albert: Not Ma and Pa.
      Laura: They're not famous.
      Albert: Take my advice. Forget about Almanzo.

    • Laura: (talking to herself, working up the nerve to ask Almanzo to the circus) "Well, Manly, you see, I've got these two tickets to the circus, and I don't want them to go to waste, so I thought, why not ask Manly?" That sounds dumb. "I don't want 'em to go to waste!" I'll just be honest. No, I can't be honest. I wish I could be honest. "Oh, Manly, I love you so much. Please go to the circus with me." I'll just be friendly, that's all. (slaps herself) Would you stop talking to yourself and do it already?

    • Annabelle: (to Nels) I was put on this Earth for a purpose. Maybe not an exalted purpose, but a purpose. I make people laugh. That's not such a bad thing, you know.

    • Dressed in a clown's outfit and just after she's thrown a bucket of water over Christie, Laura goes over to Caroline
      Laura: Hi, Ma!
      Caroline: Laura Ingalls, you little devil!

  • NOTES (2)

    • In this episode, Mary and Adam attend the big circus at the end. Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary) has discussed in interviews how realistically, this was not the kind of event that a real blind person would be involved in, and for the show, it was basically just an effort to give Mary some quick screen time and show the audience that she hadn't fallen off the face of the Earth. This is one of the reasons that Anderson left the show shortly after this, because there really wasn't much more to do with her after her character went blind, got married, and moved on.

    • Billy Barty, who is part of the circus act in this episode, also appeared as the title role in Season 9's Little Lou.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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