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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Little House on the Prairie - Christmas
Little House on the Prairie - Christmas
Tango // Unrated // October 7, 2003 // Region 0
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted January 2, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The movie

Little House on the Prairie: Christmas is a compilation of two Christmas episodes from the long-running television show. "Christmas at Plum Creek" comes from the first season, and "A Christmas They Never Forgot" from the eighth season. Given the substantial time gap between the two episodes, this set is probably intended mostly for viewers who already know and love the show, and who won't be shocked by seeing Laura and Mary as little girls in one episode and grown women with husbands in the next.

Of the two episodes, "Christmas at Plum Creek" is probably the better, as it has a real storyline. In their first winter at Plum Creek, all the members of the family want to give memorable presents to each other, but since they're very short of money, this generosity leads to some sacrifices. It's a cute episode, but I couldn't help being constantly aware of how anachronistic the story was: it's very clearly the result of a 1970s "holiday" mentality plunked down in the pioneer setting. Christmas would have been more a religious holiday then than it is now; certainly it was common to exchange gifts, but people like the Ingalls would have focused on small, hand-made gifts rather than things they could buy from the store.

And speaking of stores... the Oleson's general store is practically a parody of itself; it's a 1970s vision of "Ye Olde Country Store." A real country store of the time would have had barrels full of grain, flour, and crackers, bolts of cloth, cooking utensils, farm tools, and so on. Unfortunately, the Little House-for-television version is basically a knick-knack shop with lots of toys, china figurines, ready-made clothing, and other items that are utterly unrealistic. Then again, it all goes along with the episode's storyline, which is a fair representation of a consumeristic Christmas, just in a pioneer setting. The fact that the cast of characters is extremely amiable and enthusiastic makes "Christmas at Plum Creek" watchable, but it's still pretty silly stuff.

"A Christmas They Never Forgot" is weaker, because it doesn't have much of a story. The Ingalls' entire extended family is trapped inside their house on Christmas Eve by a blizzard, so they pass the time recounting tales of Christmases past. Kind of cute? Sure. Sappy? Definitely. It's a slow-paced episode, but it will probably be fun to watch for viewers who are familiar with the whole Little House saga, as we get to see the whole family together for Christmas. If you don't have as much sentimental attachment to the characters, there's not much to the episode.

The DVD

The two 50-minute episodes are on one DVD, packaged in a plastic keepcase.

Video

The first episode on this double feature is from the first season of Little House on the Prairie, and the second is from the eighth season; surprisingly, the image quality is poor for both. Especially in the first episode, colors are muted and grayish, and certainly don't look as good as the remastered episodes on the full Season 3 set, for instance. The second episode has reasonably natural-looking colors, but the contrast is too heavy: the dark areas in the image are too dark and detail is lost. Print flaws also appear throughout the episodes.

The two episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

Audio

The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is adequate for both episodes. The sound is fairly flat, and the dialogue isn't as distinct as it could be, but it gets the job done.

Extras

There are no special features on this DVD.

Final thoughts

If you have fond memories of the Little House on the Prairie television series, but you aren't a big enough fan to shell out for the season sets, this Christmas compilation is a reasonable way to get a taste of the series. With its juxtaposition of episodes from the first and eighth seasons, though, it's not a good choice for those who aren't familiar with the series. I'll suggest it as a rental.

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