Little House on the Prairie

Season 1 Episode 24

Founder's Day

5
Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Unknown on NBC
9.1
out of 10
User Rating
92 votes
4

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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With a Founder's Day event approaching for Walnut Grove, everyone prepares for a celebration complete with games and heated competition. Everyone in the Ingalls family ends up participating, most notably Charles, who finds an unlikely nemesis in the log-splitting competition.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • What was a great episode ends with a couple of mistakes by Charles.

    8.0
    It's Founder's Day in Walnut Grove and there are games to celebrate. The games are fun and enjoyable to watch. The only Ingalls victory is Caroline and Laura in the three-legged race. Before the logging starts, the episode looks like an entertaining classic filled with fun. A new, one episode character named Jim Tyler wins the first heat and Charles wins the second heat, so they will faceoff in the third heat for the championship. Charles sounds like he wants to win and he will do what he can to try and make that happen, but then some random woman that is Jim's wife comes along and talks to Charles about how Jim is not anywhere near as good at logging as he used to be and how badly Jim wants to win the contest. Mistake #1: Charles lets Jim's wife convince him that he has an advantage because she says that Jim is a lot more tired than him. Mistake #2: Charles decides that it's more important for the result of the contest to be close than for him to try to win and do his best (which includes choosing the ax out of the 2 choices that is obviously better). For the championship heat, Charles switches from a borrowed ax to his old one, with the borrowed ax being in much better condition. First of all, Jim's wife is assuming is that Jim is not only more tired than Charles, but a lot, lot more tired than him. How can she tell that Charles is not just as tired as Jim? Did she wave a magic wand in front of Charles' face and see that his energy level is a lot higher than Jim's? I DON'T THINK SO. Even if Jim APPEARS to be a lot more tired, you cannot tell for sure because Charles might be equally tired and not be showing it as much as Jim. If Jim became tired a lot easier than Charles, then explain to me how Jim won the first heat of the logging competition. Second of all, even if everything about Jim being a lot more tired is true, that does not mean that it's right to decrease your chances of winning in order to make each person's chance of winning more balanced. If they wanted everyone in every Founder's Day event to have an equal chance of taking every place in every event, then why don't they just call of the events and randomly draw names from a hat to determine what place everyone gets in everything? The reason is because they want the participants that do the best in each event to be the winner, even if the chances of someone winning an event is a lot greater than someone else's chances. Instead of feeling pity for your opponent in the championship heat because they are said to be more tired, Charles should have exploited Jim's said to be weakness of being more tired. Four episodes after this one, Charles supports adding Mr. Mumford to the town's baseball team. He does this because he is trying to help the town win their game against Sleepy Eye. He does not stop to think "well, would this make the game more even?" Charles never expresses this because he is trying to win the game and in the first inning when Sleepy Eye really could not hit the ball against him, I don't see Charles going and saying, well, you have to lob the ball right over the center of the plate from now on to make the contest more even. I wonder why Charles changes his position on that in the baseball episode. Maybe he learned a lesson here. Third of all, the example that Charles gave Laura when explaining the use of the old ax makes no sense. He said that if Charles tried his best with the borrowed ax, it would be like Laura beating him in a race with a big head start. Actually, the exact opposite is true. If Charles and Jim both play by the same rules, meaning if Charles uses the borrowed ax, no one has a head start because they are both playing by the same rules. If Charles and Jim play by different rules, meaning if Charles uses his old ax, then Jim is getting a head start because Charles is intentionally helping him. The point of all of this is to say that trying to do your best in every way and trying to win is more important than every contest of every type being 100% balanced as far as chances of success. I'm afraid that Charles made mistake decisions in the championship heat of logging.moreless
  • It's Founder's Day in Walnut Grove, and the townspeople gather to celebrate--and compete against each other in various competitions.

    8.5
    Founder's Day is fast approaching in Walnut Grove, and everyone in the Ingalls family--except Charles--is anxiously awaiting their chance to win a blue ribbon in a competition: Caroline, in pie baking; Mary, in the jump rope contest; Laura, in the hoop rolling competition; and both sisters as a team in the 3-legged race. In the meanwhile, an older couple moves to town, and the man, a former logger who can't accept that time has taken its toll on him, gets a job at Hansen's mill, where he's constantly puting Charles down by calling him "son" and cracking wise about farmers. Just to show him up, Charles enters the log-splitting contest. The big day arrives. An old woman wins the pie contest, Nellie bumps Laura to win the hoop rolling contest, and Willie wins the jump rope contest when Mary falls. Looks like it's up to Charles to win a ribbon for the family. But before the chopping contest, the elderly wife of the former logger pulls Charles aside, telling him how much her husband needs to feel like the "bull of the woods" just once more. Charles purposely loses to the man, who's none the wiser. The Ingalls don't go home ribbonless, though; Ma steps in and races with Laura in the 3-legged race, blowing past Nellie and Mrs. Oleson in the final stretch.



    This is a fine episode which takes place almost entirely in the town square, where we get a chance to see and hear some of the townsfolk and country neighbors usually relegated to the background. This is a great episode to watch if you want to see the layout of the town from angles rarely shown. "Founder's Day" was the Season 1 finale.moreless
  • Founders Day means fun, laughter and stiff competition for everyone.

    8.5
    It's Founder's Day in Walnut Grove and the Ingalls family are very excited about competing in several events. Charles wants to win the wood chopping and borrows a brand new axe to help him do it. Mary and Laura want to do well in several of the children's competitions, and even Caroline joins in the fun when Mary hurts her ankle and can't take part in the three-legged race with Laura.



    Guest star Forrest Tucker (from F-Troop) did a great job in this episode as a man, formerly a great woodsman, who is getting older and desperate to win the chopping events to prove that he still 'has it' and to maintain his pride. It was also great to see the whole town (except Miss Beadle) in this one as, being a season finale, it's nice to catch a glimpse of everyone, even nasty old Mrs. Olseon!



    Terrific episode to end the season on and one that can be re-watched many times without boredom or a sense of repitition. Great work!moreless
  • The Founder's Day celebration arrives with surprises in store for just about everyone.

    8.7
    This is a charming episode. The town-wide celebration of Founder's Day provides the writers with an opportunity to explore lots of different characters and character relationships. The Ingalls/Oleson rivalry is three-fold here with Laura losing to Nellie, Mary losing to Willie and Harriet and Caroline competeing against one another in a pie contest (neither wins). The 'elitism' of the Oleson's is reinforced by the fact that they eat at a table in their yard, set with china and silver no less, while the Ingalls family picnics on the grass. Mr. Hanson has some fine moments in this episode. He has always been a favorite 'townie' of mine. I love the look of pride on his face each time he announces that the prize for the wood chopping contest was donated by Hanson's Lumber!

    Charles is interesting here. There are several facets of his personality on display in this episode. Traits we've seen from him before, to be sure, but never all at once. There is proud Charles. He is fiercely determined that he is going to put Mr. Tyler away in the contest. He has allowed the man to get to him and he is going to feel so much better after he whoops him.

    And then there is 'family Charles'-so proud of his girls, having a good old fun time at the celebration, laughing that belly laugh of his when they fall in the mud-such a fun guy. And finally there is empathetic Charles. After a beautifully delivered speech by Mrs. Tyler he decides to do the 'right' thing and lets Mr. Tyler have his day. This is a great scene. The monologue was well written and, as I said, delivered with eloquence. Charles says nothing in this scene, which is very powerful. We are left to decide for ourselves what he will do. It's not until the close-up shot of the old axe do we realize what the outcome will be.

    His explanation to Laura at the end was simple and lovely, a touching moment that didn't have to try too hard.

    This was a great episode with which to end the first season; it definately leaves one wanting more.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)

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Karl Swenson

Karl Swenson

Mr. Lars Hanson (1974 - 1978)

Wayne Heffley

Wayne Heffley

Mr. Kennedy

Guest Star

Ann Doran

Ann Doran

Helen Tyler

Guest Star

Georgia Schmidt

Georgia Schmidt

Mrs. Grady

Guest Star

Alison Arngrim

Alison Arngrim

Nellie Oleson

Recurring Role

Bonnie Bartlett

Bonnie Bartlett

Grace Snider

Recurring Role

Jonathan Gilbert

Jonathan Gilbert

Willie Oleson

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (9)

    • When Melissa Gilber (Laura) runs up to the Olesons to tell them that her Pa is going to win the tug-of-war contest, notice that when she turns around and runs off again, she briefly bumps right into the gate, avoiding a potentially major wipe-out by dodging just in time. You will see also that Richard Bull (Nels Oleson) looks a little startled when he sees Gilbert do this, and then he smiles and laughs before continuing with his lines.

    • Notice that when Jim wins the log contest and is awarded his watch and blue ribbon, the sky is completely gray, and it's obvious that a thunderstorm is about to erupt any minute. However, in the very next scene, when Laura and Charles are talking, the sky is an immaculate blue, and the sun is beaming down.

    • After getting thrown in the mud during the tug-of-war contest, Charles and Nels allegedly go to "clean up," and in the next scene, they are completely dry and spotless, with clean clothes. It's pretty unlikely that they were able to get all the mud and gunk out of their hair that quickly, even if they took full baths. Those kinds of things can take a really long time to get rid of, sometimes days.

    • Notice how strange Mary, Willie, and the other children look as they are jump-roping. It almost looks like half slow motion, half regular motion.

    • Actually, Charles' team did NOT win the tug-o-war competition. Nels was pulled into the mud, but the competition was not called. Everyone stopped to laugh, but that didn't mean the competition was over. The mistake the Charles' team made was that instead of focusing, they stopped to laugh.

    • In the log chopping contest, Reverend Alden announced beforehand that the winners from the first and second heat would automatically face off in the third heat for the championship. Mr. Tyler won the first heat, then chopped in the second and lost to Charles. Since he won the first heat, he did not need to chop in the second, and it was foolish of him to waste valuable energy that could have helped him in the championship heat.

    • Many viewers can argue that Nels and Harriet Oleson's behavior during the three legged race was very ironic, given the fact that they seemed to "switch attitudes" with each other. When Harriet and Nellie lost the race, Nels was yelling at them, "You had a perfect chance to win! What happened?" and Harriet was like a little puppy, saying "Oh, for Heaven's sake! It's all right, we tried!" Usually, it is Harriet who acts aggressive, while Nels steps down.

    • The very first scene in this episode--which finds the Ingalls' dog Jack drinking from the creek and running back up to the house--was also used for the opening scene in Season 1's Country Girls. Even the background music is the exact same.

    • Caroline is very worried about Mrs. Oleson's entry in the pie baking contest, and both women are among the top three entrants. This contrasts to later references, for example "Second Spring" (Season 6), where Mrs. Oleson is a poor cook, and Nels handles these chores.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Charles: (to Laura after she loses contest) Winning's not the important thing. It's the competing, the having fun, right?

    • Laura: You had a borrowed ax until the end, and then you used your old one.
      Charles: (smiles) You know, you're right.
      Laura: Why, Pa?
      Charles: Well, I'll tell you, Half-Pint, Mr. Tyler is a good man with a saw, but he's a lot older than I am. When you get older, you get tired more easily, just like you winning a race with a big head start. It doesn't mean anything when you have a head start.
      Laura: It sure doesn't.
      Charles: That's why I switched the axes, so it would be even between me and Mr. Tyler. Can you understand?
      Laura: I suppose. Mr. Tyler sure is happy about winning.
      Charles: No happier than I am about losing. (hugs her)

    • Jim: I would have gotten a lot more work done if I'd had someone other than a farmer on the other end of the saw.
      Charles: (to Mr. Hanson) Your friend talks a lot better than he cuts.
      Jim: Well, now, it's not your fault you're a farmer.
      Charles: Well, I'm proud to be a farmer. As for running a cross cut, I'm as good as you ever were, and probably better.
      Jim: That's pretty strong talk coming from a farmer boy.
      Charles: Yeah, that's right.

    • Charles: You're strong as an ox, right?
      Jim: Well, I reckon.
      Charles: You like to work hard?
      Jim: Hard's the only way I know to work.
      Charles: Good. You've got all day to prove it.

    • Mary: (about losing the jump roping contest) If it had been anybody but Willie Oleson! I didn't even know he could jump rope.
      Laura: Well, he's jumping all the time, but I've never seen him use a rope.

  • NOTES (4)

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

    • Look at actress Karen Grassle (Caroline)'s hair in the scene where she's rubbing linament oil on Charles' back. Her hair appears to be very dark brown, unlike her typically light brown shade. Granted, this is a first season episode, and Grassle wasn't graying yet, but seeing her with what appears to be long, dark hair is rather surprising.

    • Nellie wins the hoop-rolling contest, but the judge should have disqualified her early on. Before the contestants even round the first curve, Nellie can clearly be seen picking up her hoop and running with it in her hand for a distance of at least ten feet. Furthermore, if she truly did bump Laura's hoop as Laura claimed, the judges should have also noticed that.

    • One of the earliest episodes where the character of Harriet Olesen is used as comic relief, instead of a dark, rude, snobbish woman.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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