Little House on the Prairie

Season 6 Episode 1

Back to School (1)

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Sep 17, 1979 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

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

    This episode, the first of Little House's 6th season, gets the show back on the right track after a few season 5 missteps. More importantly, it introduces us to the man who would become Laura Ingalls' real-life husband--Almonzo Wilder. As season 4 did for Mary Ingalls, season 6 marks the beginning of Laura's official journey into adulthood.

    The first day of school arrives, and along with it, a new teacher (remember that Mrs. Sims left Walnut Grove at the end of season 4, like everyone else in town, never to return). How convenient, since the new teacher, Miss Wilder, has a bachelor brother, a strapping young hottie named Almonzo. Laura is immediately smitten (who among us wasn't?). Mrs. Oleson, though, has her "eyes on the prize", too, hoping to hook up her oh-so-available daughter Nellie with the new guy in town. Nellie, by the way, has just graduated from school, and her graduation gift (thinly disguised as a husband magnet) from her parents is a restaurant and hotel, neither of which she asked for or knows how to manage. Chaos ensues as Nellie and her mother try to cook and serve daily for a rightfully upset crowd. Laura, in the meantime, sidles up to Almonzo whenever possible; however, he regards her as nothing more than a "nice little girl".

    Meanwhile, Charles is injured in an accident at the mill. While recuperating, Caroline decides to pick up the financial slack by accepting the job as head cook at Nellie's restaurant. Mrs. Oleson arranges for an intimate dinner between Nellie and Almonzo after hours, but despite Mrs. Oleson's begging Caroline refuses to cook on a Sunday. Laura volunteers to do it "free of charge", and Caroline relents. Laura, of course, has an alterior motive; she wants the dinner date to be anything but a success. She prepares an appalling chicken dish which succeeds in gagging Nellie and Almonzo and ending the date before it really even begins. End part 1.

    This episode is brilliantly written, works on many levels, and manages to cover a lot of bases: it introduces a new teacher, and Laura's husband-to-be, and it paves the road to the future for not only Laura but, importantly, Nellie Oleson. A funny, thoughtful, pivotal winner of an episode. Don't miss it when it airs!
  • A superb season opener as we see many changes take place in Walnut Grove.

    The girls are growing up! Laura and Nellie are heading towards adulthood at a high rate of speed and there are many changes in store.

    Nellie takes the graduation exam, which she passes, meaning that she is no longer a student. The town welcomes a new teacher, Eliza Jane Wilder, who is an older woman with a younger brother named Almanzo who is destined to be Laura's future husband. (In spite of Nellie's best efforts to have him attracted to her!)

    Meanwhile, Harriet gives Nellie a rather ostentatious graduation present - her very own restaurant, named "Nellie's", which offers food and accomodation and which, apparently, Nellie and Harriet intend to run between them. Such a pity for the patrons that neither of them can cook to save themselves!

    When Charles is injured and unable to work temporarily, Caroline, much to his annoyance, takes a job as cook in the new restaurant which is probably a good thing as the townsfolk seem very disinclined to eat the earlier offerings.

    A wonderful episode and a great way to introduce the Wilder family to the series. You must watch this one!
  • 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.

    This is a wonderful episode. Melissa Gilbert hilariously plays Laura in my favorite episode. Nellie is pretty good too, throwing great tempertantrums that would make a sailor blush. Almanzo \"Manny\" Wilder and Michael Landon sparkle. Never have I laughed, cried, and shouted so much over a television show or movie. I will never ever ever forget this episode, and I will never ever ever ever grow tired of it. A true classic. This is what \"Little House on the Prairie\" was made for. Positively one of the greatest, most wonderful, most memorable telvision show episodes. I love it so much!
  • The wheels start turning as a bridge is built for Laura's impending adulthood in this very special, not-to-be-missed episode.

    This two-part episode is one of those charming, irresistable little gems that you find yourself watching over and over again, not just because of its beautiful storytelling and excellent acting, but because of its powerful character development. Throughout Season 5, it was obvious that Laura was no longer a little girl, but the plot material given to her did not reflect anything too mature or indicative of her growth spurt. With this Season 6 opener, however, we get a glimpse of a character who is now ready to show the world that she is a woman, thanks to a very special young man that she meets on the first day of school.

    Some new characters are introduced here, including Eliza Jane Wilder, who takes over as Walnut Grove's newest teacher (a hilarious moment takes place when young Albert comes to school dressed in his Sunday best, convinced that the new teacher will be physically attractive). I can't say that Eliza Jane was ever my favorite character, but she was certainly a unique one, and actress Lucy Lee Flippin did a nice job of making the role her own (even though the real-life Eliza Jane Wilder had very little in common with the show's interpretation).

    Then, of course, there is the unforgettable Almanzo Wilder, Eliza Jane's handsome and charismatic younger brother, and from the moment 15-year-old Laura lays eyes on him, she is smitten, to the point where she immediately carves their initials on Walnut Grove's "Sweetheart Tree." If you didn't know the real story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, you might be tempted to believe that this is another case of hapless puppy love for young Laura, but of course, we all know the story, and we all know that these two eventually become husband and wife. So begins Laura's somewhat long and exhausting journey of finding her footing as an adult, which ends up being about much more than just her actual age. Poor Laura certainly wants everyone to see her as a mature young lady, and she thinks that wearing her hair down and giving up playing baseball at recess will do the trick, but it's going to be much harder than that, especially since Nellie Oleson has her eye on Almanzo, too. Speaking of which, the Oleson family experiences some drastic changes in this episode, as well. Nellie has now officially graduated from school, and to help her daughter find a man pronto, Harriet stuns everyone in town--including her clueless husband--by opening "Nellie's Restaurant" right next to the mercantile! The trouble is, Nellie isn't particularly eager to catch a guy, and she most definitely isn't willing to flaunt her "availability" by cooking and establishing herself as a successful businesswoman, which is exactly what her mother wants.

    I could go on forever about this episode, but in short, it is a great deal of fun to watch from beginning to end, and when you reach Part 2, you will witness one of Laura and Nellie's most dramatic and hilarious fist fights yet! Interestingly enough, both girls are on the brink of womanhood now, but you may not be so convinced after you watch that scene. Overall, the 2-part episode shows us that while Laura is still young and has a lot to learn, she is well on her way to becoming the adult, wife, and schoolteacher that she strives to be. Enjoy watching, and be assured that it is definitely one of the series' finest!