Little House on the Prairie

Season 8 Episode 15

Uncle Jed

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Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Feb 01, 1982 on NBC
7.5
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Uncle Jed
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James and Cassandra's uncle, who wanted nothing to do with the children following their parents' deaths, arrives unexpectedly in Walnut Grove and takes an interest in them. But it turns out he's interested in custody of them as well.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • James and Cassandra are thrilled when Uncle Jed, newly wealthy, comes to visit them in Walnut Grove; his intentions soon become clear.

    7.5
    The Cooper children have spent nearly a year settling into life with the Ingalls family. One day, their old Uncle Jed comes to town to visit. This is the uncle who was previously in such dire financial straits that he couldn't take in James and Cassandra when their parents died. But having struck it rich mining for gold, things are different now for uncle Jed, and after visiting for a couple of weeks and rekindling his relationship with his niece and nephew, he tells Charles that he would like the children to come live with him. Charles and Caroline are naturally upset, but leave it to James and Cassandra to make the final choice. The children choose to stay with the Ingalls, who in less than a month are due to become their legal parents. Enraged and rejected, Jed tells Charles, "you leave me no choice, I'm taking you to court". A circuit judge grants custody to Uncle Jed, since the adoption wasn't yet legal. On the very day the children are to leave with Jed, he suffers a major coughing fit in front of the mercantile. Doc Baker examines him, and tells Jed that he has "consumption"--1880's talk for tuberculosis--adding that "he won't survive another six months in Minnesota", and advises him to move to the southwest.



    Jed visits the Ingalls, tells the kids that he has sudden business "far from here", and that he's decided to let the children stay in Walnut Grove. He doesn't mention to anyone that he's terminally ill with this highly contagious disease, and for some reason he does give Cassandra a cheek-to-cheek hug goodbye. Mercifully, the writers took the high road and did not follow this episode with one titled "Consumption".



    This is one of the last truly well-written episodes in the Little House series. It covers a lot of topics, too: love, money, illness, forgiveness, to name a few. Worth viewing.moreless
Dean Butler

Dean Butler

Almanzo James Wilder (co-star prior to season 7)

Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Dabbs Greer

Dabbs Greer

Reverend Alden

Jason Bateman

Jason Bateman

James Cooper/Ingalls (1981 - 1982)

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Wiley Harker

Wiley Harker

Judge Barrow

Guest Star

Claude Woolman

Claude Woolman

Philip Loring

Guest Star

E.J. André

E.J. André

Uncle Jed

Recurring Role

Carl Pitti

Carl Pitti

Stage Driver

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Audiences may be surprised at the eloquence of young Cassandra's essay; for an 8-year-old, her writing is well beyond her years, much more than some much older students are able to produce.

    • Laura mentions that the school board voted unanimously for Cassandra's essay to be the winner. One can only assume that Harriet Oleson is still on the school board, as she has been for the whole series, and it's highly unlikely that she would choose anyone other than her own kid for something like this. That would really be something to see if she voted for someone else, much less someone from the Ingalls family, her biggest competition in many ways.

    • Early in the episode, Jed talks about how he was panning for gold, and that's how he struck it rich. Ironically, the same actor appeared as a character named Zachariah in Season 3's Gold Country, where he was literally living on a bed of gold and hated the way money changed people.

    • After Jed picks up James and Cassandra from school to talk to them about the possibility of coming to live with him, there's a long scene where they are supposedly talking as they are riding in a buggy. You can totally tell, however, that there's just a big red background draped behind them, and they're making themselves teeter back and forth, and they are really not in a buggy at all as they do this scene.

    • In this episode, Cassandra becomes the only Ingalls child (other than Mary) to win a prestigious award at school in Walnut Grove.

    • In this episode, Cassandra talks rather extensively, through both her essay and conversations with James and Uncle Jed, about how she went into shock right after her parents' deaths at the end of Season 7. "It was like I was walking in my sleep!" she says in one scene. This is the only time that Cassandra is so open about this, and the audience really gets a "feel" for her perspective on what was going on in her head during all that.

    • Goof/Nitpick: At the beginning, when Jed Cooper is seeking out Charles, he asks to see him. Charles says "Yes sir" and comes over, then he proceeds to call this finely dressed gentleman, his senior, Old Timer. Of all people on the show, Charles is probably the one who is least likely to use such a disrespectful and condescending term toward someone he doesn't even recognize! Charles MIGHT use a comment like this if he knows the person extremely well, but certainly never if it was a stranger. This was very out of character for him, and it's just as shocking as it would be to hear Caroline say something like that.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Uncle Jed: Not all the money in the world is able to ease the pain of being alone. The places I could go and the things I could do--what could it mean if I can't share it with the ones that I love?

    • James: (when Cassandra agrees to read her school poem for Uncle Jed) I'll go get it.
      Cassandra: No, that's all right. I think I remember it. "Once, I was lost, and scared, and cold. You have no family, I was told, except a brother to keep me warm in any winter and any storm. He was as lost and scared as I, but brave enough not to cry. We'll make it through, is what he said, even though Ma and Pa are dead. But in my heart, I could not see how life without them could ever be. They lay in cold silence beneath the sod. To save us would be a miracle from God. The miracle came like a glorious dawn, just when it seemed all hope was gone. We give thanks to God in his heaven above for our new family's unbounded love.

    • Charles: Jed, I can't believe you're saying this to me! First, you talk about giving the children a choice--
      Jed: If everything had turned out the way I planned, things would be kinder all around.
      Charles: Kinder? Don't you tell me about kinder! Things don't turn out the way you want, and then you want to take my children!
      Jed: I'm sorry, I truly am. But Charles, take my advice. Don't go up against me, because you won't win.
      Charles: We'll see about that. You bring your judge, and you bring your lawyer. We'll see about that!

    • Harriet: (during the court proceedings for James and Cassandra) Oh, how I wish I could be a little fly on that wall!
      Nels: So do I. Flies have a tendency to get swatted.

    • Carrie: Cassandra?
      Cassandra: Yes?
      Carrie: (about choosing between Uncle Jed and the Ingalls family) What do you think you'll do?
      Cassandra: I don't know. Ma and Pa said we should think about it, and that's what I'm doing.
      Carrie: If you went away, do you think you would have servants?
      Cassandra: Rich people usually do.
      Carrie: I wonder what that would be like.
      Cassandra: Would you like that?
      Carrie: I can't even imagine it.
      Cassandra: Neither can I.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Actor E.J. Andre (Uncle Jed) also portrayed Matthew Sims, the potential buyer of the Ingalls farm, in Season 2's finale, Going Home. He also played Zachariah in Season 3's 2-part finale, Gold Country. This episode would be his last appearance on Little House on the Prairie.

    • Featured characters: James and Cassandra

    • Uncle Jed can be seen earlier in episode 7-21 04-May-1981 The Lost Ones (1)

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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