Little House on the Prairie

Season 2 Episode 20

Centennial

2
Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Mar 17, 1976 on NBC
6.6
out of 10
User Rating
56 votes
2

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Episode Summary

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Everyone in Walnut Grove is excited about the upcoming 100th birthday of the United States of America, and to commemorate the occasion, the town is planning a community picnic, complete with games, fireworks, and a brand-new flagpole.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • There are some good lessons to be learned in this episode as America celebrates its Centennial.

    6.5
    The 4th of July, 1876, is fast approaching and the citizens of Walnut Grove are planning a community celebration. Mary is making the flag, with help from Caroline, and a Russian immigrant, who lost everything in his native country, promises to make a fine flag pole to raise it on.



    Charles is out of sorts for a variety of reasons and that takes away quite a bit from the central theme of the episode. We remember how lucky we are to have all that we have when the Russian immigrant and his family lose everything based on a legal technicality to do with his land but the fact that he can still smile and is willing to try again is a lesson for everyone, especially Charles and those far more prosperous.moreless
  • Some interesting elements, some others that work less well.

    6.2
    The town wrestles with their ambiguous feelings toward government at the same time that the United States is celebrating its 100 "birthday".



    For me, this episode has strong and weak points. The good points are that the character of Russian immigrant Yuli is heartbreaking in his faith in the United States, even in the face of the loss of his home to back taxes. His cheerfulness is quite affecting and is another example of the strong values (whether you agree with them or not) that characterize the series. Its also fun to see Miss Beadle read the accounts of events happening in Philadelphia to mark the Centennial to her students.



    What's weaker for me are the rather glossed-over politics of the action. While the prospect of more roads appears exciting, it seems that some of the characters might realize that taxes to pay for them must come from somewhere, and that the economics might have long and short term effects. Hanson's prophecy that "some day a man will be taxed on what he earns" is a good touch. Its nice to see Mr. Thordsen have another fairly big role in this episode, showing continuity with "The Richest Man in Walnut Grove", but he's certainly much crabbier here.



    Maybe one of the better things here is that Yuli must leave Walnut Grove and there is a good reason for it, satisying fans who wonder why so many characters on "Little House on the Prairie" seem to vanish without any obvious reason. This episode also pins a date on the series, but at the same time introduces some puzzling historical questions such as how the episode "The Talking Machine" could have occurred earlier, given that Edison did not preview the phonograph until quite some time later than the summer of 1876.moreless
Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Dabbs Greer

Dabbs Greer

Reverend Alden

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Karl Swenson

Karl Swenson

Mr. Lars Hanson (1974 - 1978)

Charlotte Stewart

Charlotte Stewart

Miss Eva Beadle/Mrs. Simms (1974 - 1978)

Theodore Bikel

Theodore Bikel

Yuli Pyatakov

Guest Star

Kelly Thordsen

Kelly Thordsen

Baker Makay

Guest Star

Ike Eisenmann

Ike Eisenmann

Viktor Pyatakov

Guest Star

Victor French

Victor French

Mr. Isaiah Edwards (guest star prior to season 2)

Recurring Role

Radames Pera

Radames Pera

John Sanderson Edwards

Recurring Role

Bonnie Bartlett

Bonnie Bartlett

Grace Edwards

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (5)

    • Mary was concerned about how many stars to put on the flag, even considering that Colorado was about to become a state, but she put on the wrong number of stripes.

    • Noted role actor William Schallert plays a character named Snell in this episode. He appears again as Reverend Dean Harmon (and a former love interest of Harriet Oleson) in the Season 6 story "The Preacher Takes a Wife.""

    • The actress portraying Fanya Pyatakov is Lisa Pera, mother of actor Ramades Pera (John Jr.). She plays another immigrant, Maria Schiller, in Season 5's Harriet's Happenings. Actor Ike Isenmann played her son in both episodes.

    • Brian Part and Ike Eisenmann both played in the movie "Return from Witch Mountain" together, just as they did in this episode.

    • In this episode, the news of new road construction in the papers is said to originate from the office of a Governor Applewood. The name is fictitious, the Governor of Minnesota in 1876 was John Pillsbury.

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Charles: Well, you should've heard him. Not a complaint! He hasn't lost faith in this country, I'll tell you, because this country is the same one we've all been yelling about is the best darn country in the whole world! Caroline: You don't have to convince me. Charles: We ought to thank out lucky stars we live here. I'll tell you something else: the 100th birthday of this country is a darn important day, and we're going to celebrate it no matter what anybody else does! Caroline: Would you mind telling the girls? They're just about convinced Minnesota is gonna secede from the Union. Charles: Have I been that bad? Caroline: Not just you. Everybody. Charles: I'll go straighten that out right now. Caroline: You'll have to go out to Taylor's Lake. They're finishing the flag there, and...they thought you might not approve. Charles: I have been that bad...

    • Hanson: You mark my words, some day they will tax a man on what he earns.
      Thordsen: An income tax?
      Hanson: Yeah...
      Thordsen: Never happen in a thousand years.

  • NOTES (2)


    • Filming Locations: Filmed at Big Sky Ranch, Simi Valley, Basin Creek, Tuolumne, and Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California.

    • This episode was technically filmed a season too late. The death of Charles Ingalls, Jr., explored in Season 1's "the Lord is My Shepherd", took place in August 1876. This episode, which aired a year and a half later, would have to had taken place in July 1876 to be historically accurate. Such chronology glitches were not uncommon in this series.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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