Today, we look at when (or if) you folks believe that Little House on the Prairie “jumped the shark.”
This is “Just Can’t Jump It,” a feature where we examine shows and whether they “jumped the shark.” Jumped the shark (coined by Jon Hein) means that the show had a specific point in time where, in retrospect, you realize that show was going downhill from there (even if, in some rare occasions, the show later course-corrected). Not every show DOES jump the shark. Some shows just remain good all the way through. And some shows are terrible all the way through. What we’re looking for are moments where a show that you otherwise enjoyed hit a point where it took a noticeable nose dive after that time and if so, what moment was that?
Little House on the Prairie was an acclaimed TV adaptation of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories of her experiences growing up in the Midwest in the late 19th century. The show was adapted by Michael Landon, who also starred in the series as Charles Ingalls, Laura’s father. Melissa Gilbert burst into stardom playing Laura.
So first…DID IT JUMP THE SHARK? I think so, yes.
WHEN DID IT JUMP THE SHARK This is tricky, because, perhaps more so than most other similar programs, Little House had a NUMBER of really bad episodes. It also had episodes that really jarred you out of the story, like the infamous “mime who raped Sylvia” in Season 7, but I think the show really fell off the track when it transformed into an “adult” Laura show, specifically with the over-the-top two-parter, “Days of Sunshine, Days of Shadow” (which is three parts in syndication) in Season 8, which Gilbert herself feels is the time that the show jumped the shark. She noted, “In terms of ratings, it was that season’s savior. Viewers were riveted as Laura and Almanzo faced a tidal wave of disasters, maladies, and mishaps, a juggernaut of doom and gloom not seen since Noah said, ‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat.’ I contended that episode was when the show jumped the shark.”
That’s good enough for me (but I can be convinced that “Sylvia” might be the right answer, too)!
Let me know what you think in the comments or on social media!
Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for suggestions for shows for us to do in future installments!