Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder
Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)
Dr. Hiram Baker
Mr. Lars Hanson (1974 - 1978)
Charles Ingalls (1974 - 1982)
"Doctor's Lady" was Kevin Hagen's (Dr. Hiram Baker) favorite episode.
In real life, Anne Archer (Kate Thurwall) was 27 years old when this episode aired. What makes this interesting is the fact that Doc Baker mentions in the episode that 20 years down the road, Kate will still be a young woman. If her real-life age aligns with her character's age (which we never find out, because Kate's age is never revealed), then she would be 47 years old in 20 years--hardly a "young woman"--and in fact, that's probably about how old Doc Baker was in this episode, and he certainly didn't consider himself young. The character of Kate must have been written as being a late teenager (although her age is never disclosed), but that would be a bit of a stretch, given that Archer was pushing 30 at the time in real life.
Notice the house that Mr. and Mrs. Olafsen (the couple that have a daughter at the end of the episode) live in. You can totally tell that it's the same as the inside of the Ingalls house. The same fireplace is there, and while they try to clutter it up with props and make it look a different color, it's the exact same sets.
Mr. Hanson makes a comment to Doc Baker that they are almost the same age--five years apart, to be precise--but in real life, Karl Swenson (Mr. Hanson) was twenty years older than Kevin Hagen (Doc Baker), which is quite drastic. Swenson was 66 when this episode aired, while Hagen was 46.
Caroline challenges her husband's "if it's right for them, then it's right" theory by asking him how he'd feel if a man older than him wanted to marry one of his daughters. Although that never happened to Charles, he did have trouble accepting Laura's love interest Almanzo Wilder five years later, because he was a significant number of years older. What's more, the real-life Grace Ingalls--who was born in Season 4 and was the youngest Ingalls child--married a 42-year-old man when she herself was 24!
This episode closely channels Season 9's Love, where Mr. Edwards falls for a young girl who is half his age--only to realize that marriage would eventually be a burden to her. The two episodes end very similarly, as well, with the men looking on as their "brides" drive away in a stagecoach.
Actress Anne Archer, who played Kate in this episode, is the daughter of Marjorie Lord from Make Room for Granddaddy.
Anne is perhaps best known for her role in the film Fatal Attraction.
Harriet: Oh, Kate, you could have your pick of any other man!
Kate: I don't want any other man. Hiram Baker is the kindest, gentlest man I know, and if he loves me, then I'm proud of it.
Doc Baker: It's springttime for you, Kate. It's late fall for me. I'm old enough to be your father! We've told ourselves over and over, "It doesn't matter, it doesn't matter." But it matters.
Caroline: Charles, what do you think about the two of them. Do you think it's right? I mean, he being so much older than she is?
Charles: Well, if it's right for the Doc, and it's right for Kate, then it's right. It's as simple as that.
Caroline: I suppose. I just couldn't help thinking. I mean...well, suppose a man who was older than you was going to marry one of your girls.
Charles: That's ridiculous.
Charles: Well, it just is. They're little girls.
Caroline: But they won't always be little girls. How would you feel?
Charles: I can't answer that.
Caroline: But you just said that what's right for them is right for them. It's as simple as that.
Charles: Well, that's them! You're telling me that wouldn't bother you?
Caroline: Charles, I'm not telling you anything. I'm just saying--
Charles: I'm not about to call someone who's older than I am Son! It's as simple as that!
Caroline: You're right. Good night.
Charles: Good night.
Caroline: (long pause) Charles...everything is so simple when you explain it.
Mr. Hanson: After I say this, you can tell me to shut up, but you've been my friend too long, and I can't keep quiet about it. Do you know what you are doing to yourself? She is a child, and you are almost as old as me!
Doc Baker: Nobody alive is as old as you.
Mr. Hanson: No, no, I'm serious.
Doc Baker: (long pause) I know, my friend. I've said that to myself, and more, including that if we were to marry and have children, they'd be more like my grandchildren. Twenty years from now, she'll still be a young woman, and I.....but you know something? I don't care. I really don't care. For the first time in my life, I really feel......alive.
Kate: You came to the store yesterday, and the day before.
Doc Baker: Yes. Yes, I did. There was something I wanted to buy.
Kate: You asked after me both times.
Doc Baker: Well, of course. I mean, I'm interested in you, I mean, how you're getting along.
Kate: But you didn't ask to see me. Didn't you want to see me?
Doc Baker: Well, of course I wanted to see you. I mean, I--
Kate: But only as a patient?
Doc Baker: On the contrary.
Kate: Then please ask me to go for a drive tomorrow, Doctor Baker.
Mary: (in bed) Are you asleep? Laura, answer me. Are you asleep?
Laura: (wakes up) Why do you have to do that?
Mary: Do what?
Laura: Tell me to answer you when I'm sleeping, because if I'm asleep, I'd have to wake up to tell you, and then I wouldn't be asleep anymore!
Laura: I like Katie. I'm glad you two are getting married.
Doc Baker: You know something? I'm glad you're glad.
Laura: I expect you'll have children.
Doc Baker: I certainly hope so.
Laura: How many?
Doc Baker: (laughs) I can't even guess!
Laura: Three makes a nice family.
Doc Baker: Yeah.
Laura: Pa says he's looking forward to grandchildren.
Doc Baker: Whoa, now, you're getting too far ahead of me!
Laura: And great-grandchildren. Pa expects a whole bushel of them!
Kate: Thank you for a lovely afternoon.
Doc Baker: I don't know what to say. I enjoyed it, but that sounds lame.
Kate: That's enough. (smiles) Good bye.
Mary: Did you see how Doctor Baker and Miss Thorwall were looking at each other at supper?
Laura: All doctors look at sick people. That's how they figure out what's wrong with them.
Mary: Doctor Baker was looking right into Miss Thorwall's eyes.
Laura: Then she must have hurt one of them.
Mary: No, silly! I think Doctor Baker likes her.
Laura: Of course he does. He likes everybody.
Mary: I think Doctor Baker loves her!
Laura: Now you're being silly. Go to sleep!
Kate: I still think we could have had a good marriage.
Doc Baker: For me. Not for you.
Kate: (about her ring) I'd like to keep this.
Doc Baker: It was made for you. It would never fit anyone else.
Filming Locations: Filmed at Big Sky Ranch, Simi Valley and Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California.
Kate's full name is Kate Thurwall. In Season 2's The Campout, Harriet mentions that she has one brother. Kate must be his daughter, so the viewer can assume that Thurwall is Harriet's maiden name.
Featured character: Doctor Baker
Kevin Hagen is credited as guest star, as he has a leading role in this episode. The actor has credited this as his favorite episode in previous interviews, for obvious reasons.
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