How are Nellie and Percival going to raise one of their children to be Jewish and the other to be Christian when they will be living together as brother and sister? It seems like the children would get confused if they are both being taught to believe in things that contradict what their sibling is supposed to believe in.
In the scene where the Olesons, Nellie,Percival and his parents are getting ready to sit down to dinner at the restaurant, Benjamin says,"Not pork chops, I hope." and Percival says,"No,Papa. Baked ham." Now I thought that it was against Jewish custom NOT to have pork of ANY kind,and that includes ham. Now Michael Landon, being Jewish himself, should have known that and had it in the script for them to have something else, like chicken.
Percival calls Harriet "Mrs. O" for the first and only time in the series. He did come up with some funny nicknames for her, which included "Mrs. O" and "Mother Oleson."
When Alison Arngrim (Nellie) did a commentary for this episode on the Season 7 DVD set, she offered some interesting trivia. According to Jewish tradition, a new father does not have contact with the wife for anywhere between 1 and 2 months (depending on whether the baby is a boy or girl), and in this episode we see Percival and Nellie snuggling and kissing shortly after the birth, so Percival obviously wasn't following that custom.
Alison Arngrim has said that with hers and Steve Tracy (Percival)'s bed scene later in the episode, she received more phone calls and fan mail than she had with anything else related to the show. Even Michael Landon (who directed this episode) stopped in the middle of filming to ask Arngrim and Tracy what was up with their hysterical laughing. When you watch the scene, you can't help wondering what they were really laughing about to that extent. On the Season 7 DVD commentary for this episode, Arngrim revealed that it was because at the time, a rumor was flying around the set that she and Tracy were having a heated love affair, and they were the only ones who knew that this was absolutely false. On top of that, Arngrim was the only one who knew (at that time) that Tracy was gay Reflecting on this during filming was enough to make them double over with laughter for the entire duration of the scene.
Nellie and Percival's son is named Benjamin after the grandfather, although the Cohens are Europeon Jews, who normally name after the dead and find it extremely unlucky to name after the living. Jews in the later half of the 1800s were of German origin and did not speak Yiddish, although the Cohens do. The babies were not Jewish either way; the Jewish religion goes by the mother. Considering the Cohens took the intermarriage so well, it is strange they expect the babies to be Jewish.
German Jews were more modern and free-thinking than the Cohens were portrayed.
Percival: Do you remember how you felt when Mama was carrying me?
Benjamin: How else? My face ached from smiling all the time! Edna's, too.
Percival: Nellie cries a lot.
Benjamin: (pauses) Her condition is delicate. You treat her right, son.
Percival: Because of this baby, her parents and my parents are fighting. How can she be happy? I know that Mrs. Oleson can be......well, she can be difficult, but for Nellie's sake, can't you at least try to get along?
Benjamin: You don't know what you're asking!
Harriet: Close the door!
Benjamin: If you don't mind, could we leave it ajar?
Harriet: Oh, well, we could open a window if you're hot.
Percival: Well, it's a tradition, Mrs. Oleson, in case a hungry stranger should come by and wish to join us.
Willie: But we didn't fix any extra!
Harriet: Can you imagine my daughter giving birth to a Jew? Can you imagine what that child would be like? Nervy, and greedy, and pushy, and always after food, and cheap, cheap, cheap!
Nels: Harriet, you know, you've just opened my eyes.
Harriet: Oh, well, it's about time you started listening to me!
Nels: Mmm? Oh yes, I am. And if what you say about the way they act is true, then you must be Jewish! I'm going to sleep in the guest room. Good night. (leaves)
Harriet: That's right! Take the Jews' side!
Nels: (about his grandson) I think he looks kind of like me.
Harriet: Yes, they both do. Neither one of them have hardly any hair!
Benjamin: Let me put this to you plainly so you will understand. This child will be Jewish!
Harriet: Mm-mm. Mm-mm. Half-Jewish.
Benjamin: There's no such thing as half-Jewish!
Harriet: A-ha! Then she will be a whole Christian!
Nellie: Sometimes, I wish I was an orphan.
Caroline: What a terrible thing to say.
Nellie: All right. Stranded on a deserted island--just me and Percival.
Caroline: It would get kind of lonely after a while.
Nellie: Well, it would get me away from my mother, and Percival away from his father!
Nellie: (about Benjamin wanting the baby to be Jewish) Is that why he came? To make sure?
Percival: Partly. It's very important to Papa that the baby be Jewish, to preserve the heritage.
Nellie: My mother's used to getting her own way. There's going to be trouble.
Percival: Now, listen to me, all of you! I will not allow my wife to be upset like this, nor will I stand back and watch my father have another heart attack!
Percival: PERCIVAL! Is this what religion is all about? Anger? Fighting? Hatred? Well, if it is, Nellie and I don't want any part of it. None of it.
The names of the real life boy-girl twins, who played Nellie and Percival's babies were not listed in the credits, obviously, but according to Alison Arngrim (Nellie), their names are Philip and Lacey. In the DVD audio commentary for this episode, Arngrim explained that Philip and Lacey were several months old at the time of filming (they couldn't get anyone younger due to child labor laws), but because they were premature, they looked like newborns.
This is Katherine MacGregor (Harriet Oleson)'s favorite episode from season 7.
Featured characters: The Olesons, and Percival and his family
The original air date for this episode was Katherine MacGregor (Harriet Oleson)'s 56th birthday. The actress was born on January 12, 1925.
Because they are central to the storyline, Katherine MacGregor, Richard Bull, Allison Arngrim, and Steve Tracy are credited as guest stars.
Percival tries to convince his father that prejudice is quickly becoming a thing of the past by mentioning that they're nearing the 20th Century. People looked toward the turn of the century as a time of optimism about the future. Ironic that the new century would demonstrate that prejudice hadn't died as, less than 60 years later, millions would die in World War II.