Little House on the Prairie

Season 4 Episode 2

Times Of Change

31
Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Sep 19, 1977 on NBC
9.7
out of 10
User Rating
281 votes
4

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Episode Summary

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Times Of Change
AIRED:
When Charles gets the opportunity to visit Chicago on business, he hopes to turn it into a romantic getaway for him and Caroline, but he ends up escorting Mary, who longs to visit her fiance John. As father and daughter navigate a city that is very different from their simplistic Walnut Grove, unexpected revelations are on the way for both of them.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Something a little different as Charles goes to Chicago on business and takes Mary with him so that she can see John Sanderson, her fiance, who is studying and working there.moreless

    8.5
    Charles is pleased to learn that he is to go to Chicago on a business trip as a representative of the Walnut Grove farmers and wishes to take Caroline along for a holiday but Caroline would prefer that he take Mary instead so that she can see John, her fiance, again, as it has been some time since they have been together.



    Everything about the trips reeks of oppulence, from the train to the motel and even the ladies of the night who kindly offer their "services" to Charles.



    For Mary, the romantic reunion turns very sour when she sees that John, working as a journalist, is cheating on her with other women. (I don't think Mr Edwardswould be too pleased to know that about his adopted son!) With the engagement off, and Mary's heart temporarily broken, both she and her father and pleased to return home.



    An episode of contrasts and contradictions which played well on the screen and was also very well acted by all players involved.moreless
  • When Charles is elected to represent the Grange at a Chicago convention, Mary goes along to visit her betrothed, John Jr., unaware that he has moved on...

    9.0
    I love this episode because it deals beautifully with something that every young girl in history has experienced: the loss of a first love. When Charles travels to Chicago, Mary is allowed to go along to visit John Jr., who had in a previous episode asked Mary to marry him someday. Things go well until Charles discovers John kissing his new, city girlfriend at a cotillion where he supposedly brought Mary as his date. John confesses to Charles that he no longer loves Mary; flash forward to a sobbing Mary lying in her crumpled gown in the middle of her hotel-room bed, Charles gently consoling her. It's so painful to watch. You'll not be able to help reflecting back to the first time you thought your own heart would break. This episode is important, too, because it helps bridge Mary into early adulthood. A lovely, well written episode.moreless
  • Charles finally admits that he's nothing but a dumb, clod-hopping farmer.

    8.5
    Before any die-hard LHOP-ers indignantly give this review a thumbs-down, please see through my summary that it is satire. ;) Of course, Charles does proclaim himself to be a "dumb farmer" in this episode, through impassioned tears and a quivering lower lip. Besides the fact that this one has it all - sexuality, scandal, and betrayal - it is also one of those episodes my sister and I, while we were still living at home, just had too much fun adding different lines for the characters. For example, when the saloon girl arrives at Charles' hotel room to offer her services, we ad lib Pa telling Mary, "Why don't you run down to the livery and fetch some water...and take at least ten minutes to do so." Later, when John "Pretty Boy" Jr. is discovered to be a two-timing punk, what Pa should have said to Mary when he found her sobbing on her bed is, "Darlin', hush, he's a journalist now. Of course he lost all his integrity!"moreless
  • This episode is a little different from other "LHOTP" episodes. Most of these scenes take place in 1880's Chicago. It is clearly juxtaposed against the pastoral, simplistic lifestyle of Walnut Grove. The scenes of Chicago are lavish, Victorian and fun.moreless

    10
    So, you've heard the story: Mary meets up with her long-lost beau, John Jr., only to find that he now only swings with a big city debutant. The B-plot is rather interesting: Pa gets selected to represent Walnut Grove at the Grange convention in Chicago. (What a co-wink-ee-dink! That's how Mary got the free trip to Chicago!) But Pa gets terribly disillusioned with the Grange after getting culture shocked by bribes, newspaper lies, under-the-table dealings, hard booze and "fancy women." Personally, I thought this all worked out for the best for our dear Mary. John Jr. was such a little twerp. Pa confronts John Jr, "Do you love my daughter?" "I care for her deeply," the mealy-mouthed John replies. "I said, 'do you love her?'" "No, sir. I was going to write her a letter when she got home." Pa retorts, "When you first told her you loved her, did you write her a note?" John whines, "But, it's different with me. I'm a writer, dweeb, dweeb, dweeb." (Oh, Pa. At least muss his clothing a bit!) So, Mary gets her heart shattered to pieces but hey - she gets to meet too-cute Mike Lookinland on the train ride back home! And Mary eventually goes on to bigger and better things. Was that Adam Kendall a hunk, or what?moreless
Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Michael Landon

Michael Landon

Charles Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Karen Grassle

Karen Grassle

Caroline Quiner Holbrook Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Lindsay Greenbush

Lindsay Greenbush

Carrie Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Sidney Greenbush

Sidney Greenbush

Carrie Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

John Milford

John Milford

O'Connell

Guest Star

Herbert Nelson

Herbert Nelson

Hancock

Guest Star

Lisa Reeves

Lisa Reeves

Claire Lawrence

Guest Star

Radames Pera

Radames Pera

John

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Goof: When Charles and Mary are in their hotel room, the bellhop shows Mary her room and says "and the bathroom is right through there." When back then they didn't use the term "bathroom", they would call it a "water closet."

    • Editing Goof: When Charles goes to the newspaper editor's office the second time, Michael Landon has already opened the door and is in the room before the actor playing the editor loudly says, "Come in!"

    • Early in the episode, Caroline tells 14-year-old Mary that she was just about her age when she went to a dance with Charles, and the two of them "barely knew each other then." However, in episodes like Season 1's The Love of Johnny Johnson and Season 4's I Remember, I Remember, it's clear that Caroline and Charles were much younger when they met--more like 9 or 10--and they had fallen in love by that time, so Caroline's story here doesn't quite match up with what has been said before about their romance.

    • The huge, lavish hotel room that Charles and Mary stay in looks like the exact same one that Laura and her niece Jenny get in Season 9's Once Upon a Time. Furthermore, the famous "fountain" is used as a prop in many of the Chicago scenes. Michael Landon loved to use this fountain over and over again throughout the series, whether the characters were visiting Minneapolis, Chicago, or some other large city.

    • At the beginning of the episode, Charles told his family that the trip was already paid for. When he arrived at the hotel, though, he was surprised to find a room had already been reserved for him. If he knew his costs were covered, why would he be surprised that a room was ready for him? Furthermore, he comes to realize at the end that these expensive accomodations and perks have been paid by a railroad tycoon, presumably to curry favor with him over the vote. If this is the case, what happened to the accomodations the Grange would have made for him?

    • The dress that Caroline takes out of the chest for Mary to wear to the cotillion looks different than the dress that Mary wears. Caroline's had flowers down the bodice of the dress, and the sleeves have 2 layers of puffiness to them. When Mary wears it, the sleeves aren't as puffy, and there is a bow instead of flowers.
      Reply: It's entirely possible that Caroline had to alter the dress to fit Mary, and while doing so, also "updated" the style of the dress by adding or removing certain materials/features.

  • QUOTES (6)

    • John: Here, you want to try some chewing gum? They just came out with it a few years ago.
      Mary: What do you do with it?
      John: Well, it's just like it sounds. You just chew it. But don't swallow it.
      Mary: Why? Is it poisonous?!?!

    • Mary: (reading a letter from John): "Recently, I attended a performance of Felix Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words. The melodies at the piano reminded me so much of you, my sweet Mary, and the peaceful surroundings of Walnut Grove. Mendelssohn's title no longer seemed appropriate, as the music had words flowing through my mind."
      Laura: He always writes such sloppy things! Falling in love is such a waste of time. I'm going to stay right here with Pa forever and ever!

    • Mary: I don't think I'll ever be happy again.
      Charles: Oh, yes, you will. You don't believe that now, but you wait and see. One of these days, this will all be over and forgotten. You'll meet a new beau, and you'll fall in love again.
      Mary: (starts crying) No, I won't. Love is too painful.
      Charles: Oh, come on. Shhh. (hugs her)
      Mary: Nothing makes sense anymore.
      Charles: Why don't we go home, huh? I just don't think you and I belong here.

    • Mary: (about John) I could learn to be what he wants. I could change, too.
      Charles: Oh, now, hold on. Change isn't always for the better. There's only one thing in this world that you can do better than anyone else.
      Mary: What's that?
      Charles: Just be yourself.
      Mary: It hurts too much to be yourself.
      Charles: Well, if you never felt a little bit of the pain of sorrow, then how would you ever know how good it feels to be happy?

    • Charles: (to Mary, who is pretending to be asleep after John broke up with her) I'm so sorry, darling. I wish there was something I could do.
      Mary: His letters.....I believed them.
      Charles: I know you did. But you know, sometimes things happen when there's a lot of distance between people. Maybe he just wrote you the things he thought you wanted to hear.
      Mary: But I feel the same, Pa. I love John.
      Charles: But he's not the same anymore, darling. He's changed, he's different. He's a city boy now, and he has different needs.

    • Charles: I've had a bad evening, young man, and right now I'm about as angry as I've ever been.
      John: I know, sir.
      Charles: All right. You know. What kind of game are you playing?
      John: It's not a game, sir. I didn't know you and Mary were coming.
      Charles: Oh, and I'm supposed to understand that? You're supposed to be engaged to my daughter. Do you love her?
      John: I care for her deeply.
      Charles: I asked you if you were in love with my daughter.
      John: (long silence) No, sir.
      Charles: How long have you known?
      John: I'm not sure. When you're far apart, it's easy to avoid knowing the truth. But seeing her again....I knew. And I did plan to tell her, but in a letter when she got back to Walnut Grove.
      Charles: When she got back to Walnut Grove. And I'm supposed to understand that, too?
      John: I'm a writer. The words come easier on paper.
      Charles: When you first told my daughter you loved her, did you write her a letter about it?
      John: This is different. I can't face her.
      Charles: John, Mary has a right to hear this from you. And she has the right to let you know how she feels. You owe her that much.

  • NOTES (5)

    • It's hard to believe that Mary hadn't heard of chewing gum. Chewing gum has been around since ancient times, and was first available commercially in 1848.

    • Viewers will notice that Ramades Pera (John Jr.) clearly experienced a growth spurt between his last appearance, in Season 3's I'll Ride the Wind and this episode. He's much taller, has a deep voice, and his hair is lighter. He looks so much older that it might seem that several years have passed since he last appeared, when in reality, only nine month's time elapsed between these two episodes.

    • Featured characters: Charles and Mary Ingalls

    • In keeping with the era in which the show was made, this episode had a subplot that more in line with the 1970s than the 1870s. Government regulation of businesses is a relatively new concept that gained popularity in the 1970's with issues such as consumer safety, worker protection, and environmental awareness.

    • Mike Lookinland, who is most famous for playing youngest son Bobby Brady on The Brady Bunch, appears briefly in this episode as the boy on the train who is immediately interested in Mary. Interestingly, Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary) appeared in the 5th and final season of The Brady Bunch as a little girl that kisses Bobby and gives him the mumps.
      Reply: Lookinland isn't the only "Brady" connection here. Look quickly for the woman walking her dog outside the hotel in Chicago. That's veteran British character actress Barbara Morrison, a scene-stealer whenever she appeared. She played the drama coach of Greg Brady's girlfriend, Randi, in Season 2's Call Me Irresponsible on The Brady Bunch. Ms. Morrison died of heart failure in California in 1992, at the age of 85.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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