Goof: In the second to last scene, Doc Baker tells Almanzo to take Royal to St. Paul for some tests once he is feeling stronger. In the next scene, though, a few minutes later, Almanzo tells Royal that he will take him to Minneapolis for tests.
Laura hands her teaching position over to Miss Plum after being there for two years. This means that Laura was the second longest-reigning teacher that Walnut Grove ever had in the series, aside from Miss Beadle, who was there for four years.
Etta Plum is the fifth long-term teacher to come to Walnut Grove, succeeding Eva Beadle, Alice Garvey, Eliza Jane Wilder, and Laura. Furthermore, Willie Oleson is the only child on the show to be in school long enough to be taught by every single one of these teachers.
Notice that Charles' hair has suddenly gotten very gray, and it is actually Michael Landon's real hair, even though he was still pretty young at this point. It started going gray when he was in his 20's, and he dyed it from then on.
This is the first appearance of the Carter family. It's interesting to note that married couple John and Sarah did not have a single argument throughout their two-year appearance on the series. They never so much as raised their voices to each other. The same cannot be said for any other couples on the show.
After getting off the stagecoach, you can see that Royal Wilder's hair is very gray, and thanks to some stage makeup and good acting, his character appears extremely run-down by his illness. However, when the Wilders are eating dinner together later that night, Royal's hair is clearly a little darker, more like his natural shade of brown. Obviously, they did not do up his hair to look as bad as it did during the previous scene.
As Laura's overvoice comes on at the very beginning of the episode, her character is walking across the field toward the Ingalls' house. Watch for the brief moment where Melissa Gilbert (Laura) slips and nearly falls on the way.
Listen closely while Almanzo is changing baby Rose. He says, "Now I want you to get some sleep, young lady," and she makes an adorable babbling noise that almost sounds like she is actually saying, "All right!"
The storyline with Royal represents what is perhaps the biggest goof--or, rather, the most careless disregard of continuity--in the series. Almanzo makes a big deal out of the fact that he hasn't seen his brother Royal in 10 years, and then Laura says how nice it is to finally meet him. But they both saw Royal in Season 7's The Nephews, he came to visit with his family--which, for the record, included two young sons and a wife, but not Jenny. The wife did announce at the end of that Season 7 episode that she was pregnant with whom we assume is Jenny, but even then, that would make the girl only 2 years old, not 10. And apparently, Royal's sons Myron and Rupert have fallen completely off the face of the Earth, never seen or mentioned again.
In previous interviews, Dean Butler (Almanzo) has talked about how the hat he wore in Seasons 6, 7, and 8 was changed at the beginning of Season 9. Butler has said that he disagreed with this decision, because something like a hat becomes an important symbol of a specific character. To Butler, the new hat looked more like the one that Charles Ingalls used to wear, and he felt that Almanzo should not have been like a "replacement" for Charles once the Ingalls family left the show.
Little House casting director Susan McCray has hailed actress Shannen Doherty (Jenny Wilder) as one of the very best child stars she has ever worked with, coming second only to Melissa Gilbert.
Near the beginning of the episode, Charles enjoys one last evening of fun with his Walnut Grove friends. He is dancing and laughing wildly with both Nels Oleson and Reverend Alden, and he almost seems as if he is drunk. This is indicative of what has been reported about Michael Landon's behavior in real life.
In this episode, when he is nearing death, Royal asks Almanzo and Laura to care for Jenny since they're the only family she will have left. But what about older sister Eliza Jane (who, as a lonely woman living by herself, probably would have delighted in raising her little niece), and younger brother Perley Day? Also, even though she was never mentioned, Royal and Almanzo also had a younger sister named Alice. However, in this scene, Royal heavily implies that Almanzo and Laura are Jenny's only living family.
The start of this episode is the first day of school which would be September. In the next few days, it shows the kids swimming after school. But then Laura's narration says, "the weeks passed," yet the kids are still swimming after school, John is talking about giving Jeb swimming lessons, and there is no hint of a Minnesota autumn.
Mrs. Oleson: Is there something I could do for the paper?
Sarah: Not unless you were a puppy.
Charles: (about Sarah Carter) I never thought I'd see the day a woman would run a newspaper.
Almanzo: What's for supper?
Laura: Is that all you ever think about?
Almanzo: No, but it's a little early to be thinking about what's for breakfast tomorrow morning.
Almanzo: (frustrated after having to take care of baby Rose) Hi.
Laura: Hi. Sorry I'm late. I went to go--
Almanzo: To go talk with Hester Sue.
Laura: How'd you know that?
Almanzo: Woman's intuition. I get that from being a mother.
Laura: Are you angry?
Almanzo: Of course not, if you give me a kiss.
Harriet: Ah, good morning, Laura and Jenny.
Laura: Good morning, Mrs. Oleson.
Jenny: How did that woman know my name?
Laura: That's Mrs. Oleson. She knows everything that goes on in Walnut Grove--and what she doesn't know, she makes up!
Laura: What's going on?
Mr. Edwards: Oh, it's Mrs. Carter's printing press. Hard to believe, ain't it? Walnut Grove's gonna have its own newspaper--run by a woman, no less.
Laura: Well, what's that supposed to mean?
Mr. Edwards: Oh, nothing, nothing at all.
Laura: Times are changing.
Mr. Edwards: They sure are. Sad, ain't it?
Almanzo: (seeing his niece step off the stagecoach) Jenny?
Jenny: Uncle Manzo?
Almanzo: (lifts her up) Land sakes! Last time I saw you, you were knee-high to a grasshopper! Just look at you!
Laura: (overvoice) It was the spring of 1887. It had been a hard winter for everyone, especially for Pa. He had to sell the farm and move to where he could find the work. He settled the family in Burr Oak, Iowa. Pa came back to get the last of the family's things. He pretended that moving on would be a great thing for the family, but I knew how much he loved his little house on Plum Creek, and I could see how he was hurting inside.
Royal: After my wife died, things just sort of fell apart for me for a while. I just sat around feeling sorry for myself, and stopped working. If it weren't for Jenny here, I don't know what would have become of me. She just stepped right in, taking care of me. She's quite a lady.
Jenny: (bashfully) Oh, Pa!
Almanzo: Don't be shy about taking a compliment from your Pa. He doesn't hand them out lightly. I grew up with him--I know!
Almanzo: What are you saying?
Royal: The truth. I'm really sorry, I know I should have told you before.......but I wanted Jenny to have a chance to get to know you, and you her. You're the only family she'll have.
Almanzo: Now, I want you to stop talking like that, because you are still a very young man.
Royal: I'm a young man with a very old heart. Nothing can be done, believe me. Jenny musn't know. She knows I haven't been well, but.......I only have a short time left with her. I don't want to spend it with a daughter who cries every time she looks at me. I want our time together to be good. You understand that? (Almanzo nods, tears filling his eyes) Almanzo? I don't want a little brother who cries every time he looks at me, either.
Laura: (overvoice) Pa stayed long into the night, dancing and laughing. I could see the tears behind his eyes, for he knew it would be a long time before he saw his friends again.
Charles: I'm sorry.
Mr. Edwards: Don't be.
Charles: It's just that I made so many friends here. The best friends I ever had in my life. It's hard leaving them.
Mr. Edwards: You say that like we're never gonna see each other again. We will. We're kind of like a bad penny, always turning up.
Charles: Watch over my family, will you?
Mr. Edwards: You know I will. I'm proud you asked me.
Charles: What's wrong?
Charles: Come on, I'm your Pa, remember? I know when something's bothering you. Something about the Carters?
Laura: I know this sounds silly.......but I grew up in that house, and seeing them all moved in.......it just sort of bothered me.
Charles: Well, that is silly, but I understand it.
Laura: You do?
Charles: Well, sure. I watched you grow up in that house, remember?
Nancy: How do you like my new outfit? It's from Paris!
Jeb: Eh, it's all right.
Nancy: All right?!? It cost five dollars!
Harriet: Isn't there something that I could do for the paper?
Sarah Carter: Only if you were a puppy.....
Nels: What on Earth did Jenny do to upset your sister so?
Nels: Well she must've done something.
Willie: (shrugs) She's pretty.
Nels: That's it?
Willie: That's enough for Nancy.
Laura: I remember when we first moved in. I was so excited to sleep in the loft, with my very own window.
Charles: Yeah, I remember. You were such a baby then.
Laura: With big buck teeth.
Laura: You don't have to hide the tears from me, Pa.
Willie: Mrs. Wilder, we didn't know what to get you on your last day with us, so we decided to give you this. It has all our names on it, so you won't forget us. (pauses) I know I've been a lot of trouble to you, and at first, I didn't like the idea of you teaching me, and telling me what to do. But I know you did it because you care about me. And I just wanted you to know that we all care about you.
Stan Ivar (John Carter) has a son named Jason. Coincidentally, Ivar later played a character named Jason in Season 1 of Ally McBeal when he had a guest spot on one episode.
In real life, actor Nicholas Pryor, who played Royal, was 21 years older than Dean Butler, who played Almanzo.
Actor Nicholas Pryor (Royal Wilder) went on to have a recurring role in Beverly Hills, 90210 as Milton Arnold, and of course, Shannen Doherty (Jenny) had a starring role in the same series.
Lindsay Kennedy (Jeb Carter) has credited this 2-part episode as his favorite. It's one of the few episodes in which his character has a subplot.
Michael Landon (Charles) appeared in almost every episode of the series up until now, with the exception of a few episodes: Season 1's The Award,: Season 4's Here Come the Brides, Season 7's Come, Let Us Reason Together, and Season 8's For the Love of Nancy.
This episode marks Michael Landon's exit from the show as a regular cast member. He does not appear in the thirteen episodes after this, and he doesn't reprise his role until the 2-part episode Home Again, which is the only other time that we see him in Season 9.
Interestingly, in real life, Melissa Gilbert (Laura) and Shannen Doherty (Jenny) are only 7 years apart in age. Melissa was 18 when this episode aired, and Shannen was 11, but they did a good job at coming off as a convincing aunt and niece. This is about the same age difference as Melissa and Dean Butler (Almanzo), who are separated by 8 years.
Stan Ivar (John Carter) and Shannen Doherty (Jenny Wilder) later went on to appear in an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 together. Doherty was a regular cast member at the time, and Ivar played a former flame of Doherty's on-screen mother in Season 1's The 17-Year Itch. In this episode, Ivar was a middle-aged, former "top dog on campus" who almost broke up Doherty's parents by eagerly pursuing the mother. Surely this was a very un-John Carter-like character!
David Friedman, who plays Jason Carter, went on after Little House to appear in three episodes of The Waltons, and one episode from Michael Landon's final hit series Highway to Heaven, about three years after this Little House episode. Among some other things, Friedman appeared as Farrah Fawcett's young son in the hit TV film The Burning Bed, and when he was 12 years old, he separated himself from Hollywood. He went to college in San Diego, California and became a marketing consultant.
Although he didn't have a huge acting career after Little House, Stan Ivar (John Carter) became known for playing the handsome charmer in shows like Who's the Boss? Beverly Hills 90210, and Step by Step. He had special guest spots on all these shows, but John Carter was probably his most wholesome role. More than once, he portrayed a middle-aged man who went after married women.
Lindsay Kennedy (Jeb Carter) was 13 years old when this episode aired, and David Friedman (Jason Carter) was 9, although both of their characters look like they could be much younger than that.
This is the very first time that Caroline Ingalls does not appear in the season premiere episode. It is also the first and only season that she does not appear in at all.
The very first scene of this episode mirrors the first scene of Harvest of Friends, the first episode of Season 1. In both episodes, Laura is at a distance, looking at her father with concern and confusion.
In this episode, all the Ingalls family members (except for Laura) surrender their roles as regular cast members. We see Michael Landon (Charles) three more times after this, Karen Grassle (Caroline) comes back for one episode, and Matthew Laborteaux for two, but Carrie, Grace, James, and Cassandra are out of the picture for good, not even returning for the finale episode.
In this episode, Leslie Landon (daughter of Michael Landon) appears in her fourth and final role in the series. She played a Walnut Grove student in Season 3, a pregnant woman in Season 6, and a co-worker of Laura's in Season 8, and now she has returned to portray the newest teacher in Walnut Grove. This is also the first recurring role she has had on the show; all her other characters appeared in one episode only.
Lindsay Kennedy makes his debut in the series as John and Sarah Carter's oldest son Jeb. Interestingly, Lindsay, Kyle Richards (Alicia Sanderson-Edwards) and Jason Bateman (James Cooper-Ingalls) are all the exact same age. The three of them were born in November 1969--a week and a half apart from each other.
Pamela Roylance, who makes her debut in this episode as housewife Sarah Carter, has attested to being a huge "Little House" fan for years before landing the role. She was once a high school teacher in Oregon, and she has said that she used to rush home from work in the afternoons to catch the reruns while she made dinner for her family. She often thought to herself that she would love to be part of a show like that, and of course, as we now know, she finally achieved that dream!
After playing the role of sweet, adorable Jenny Wilder, actress Shannen Doherty went on to have a pretty successful career in television. Unfortunately, she was known for being a Hollywood "bad girl." She was fired from two of series creator Aaron Spelling's television shows: Beverly Hills, 90210 and Charmed for reasons that centered on her spoiled, out-of-control behavior and spats with co-stars. Doherty was said to have calmed down a lot once she reached her 30's, but in response to her rebellious ways, she said only, "I have regrets, but no apologies."
Look out for Mrs. Oleson's dabbling in the newspaper business again--only this time, her meddlesome and gossiping ways are put to a stop before they even begin, thanks to Sarah Carter's firm hand.
As with a new season, there are new crew, though many would go straight from this show onto Highway to Heaven.
Michael Landon guest stars in this episode as he is shown as the last Ingalls leaving Walnut Grove.
As part of this new season, Laura and Almanzo are seen in pictures, with Mr and Mrs. Oleson along with Mr. Edwards, before the rest of the Townsfolk for that particular episode which includes The Carters and Jenny Wilder amongst others.
In this episode Willie is sent to the corner by Laura for the last time, but by his own choice, "for old times' sake".
At the start of this season the series title changed from "Little House on the Prairie" to "Little House: A New Beginning".