Saturday, August 22, 2009

Laura and Almanzo's Romance - The Books Versus The Series

This topic has been on my mind for quite a while, so I figured I would open this up for some discussion to get more thoughts on it.

The developing romance and subsequent marriage between Laura and Almanzo was portrayed very differently on the Little House on the Prairie (LHOP) television series than from what Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote in her books.

While Almanzo was the gentle pursuer in the books, it was a young Laura who was pining away for Almanzo on Little House. Now, we realize that Michael Landon had to think of his viewers when he developed Laura and Almanzo's romance for TV. The show's audience had been watching Melissa Gilbert grow up for five seasons; so it would be difficult for them to see a much older man going after Laura in the show. It would almost seem creepy. Take into account the real-life age difference between Melissa Gilbert and Dean Butler, who portrayed Almanzo in the show, and once again, Landon had to be very careful with how he presented their budding romance.

In the books, we are also treated to more coverage of their courtship than we are in the show. Most of Season 6 we watch Laura trying to get Almanzo to notice her. That changes starting with the episode Wilder and Wilder. In one episode (Sweet Sixteen) Almanzo finally notices how much Laura has matured; in the next one he proposes (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not); and in the next episode they are married (Laura Ingalls Wilder).

Fans of the books, however, are introduced to Almanzo Wilder in The Long Winter, when he and Cap Garland travel many miles to buy seed wheat to save the town of De Smet from starvation. We see the beginning of Almanzo and Laura's romance in Little Town on the Prairie, and their courtship continues and they get married in These Happy Golden Years. Laura's impressions of Almanzo are very different in the beginning in the books, versus her being so taken with him in the show. If I remember correctly, Laura actually had her eye on Cap Garland.

While I am one of those fans who sees the show and the books as totally different entites, and appreciates how they both celebrate Laura's legacy, I always wished the show dedicated more time to Laura and Almanzo's courtship. Laura's pining away for Almanzo and how she occasionally embarassed herself because of it didn't always sit well with me, but I believe I understand what Landon was trying to accomplish.

How about you? Which version of Laura and Almanzo's romance do you prefer? What changes would you have made to the television version if you had the power? Or are both versions perfect the way they are?


Carol said...

I think you covered it Cheryl. I really loved 'These Happy Golden Years'. I saw the show first and then I read the book, so for me, reading the book was kind of like seeing some deleted scenes from Laura & Manzo's relationship from the series lol. I voted for liking them both.

Fun Mama - Deanna said...

I also voted for liking them both, but I'm with you in not liking how much Laura embarrassed herself in the show trying to get his attention. I do wish more attention had been shown to their courtship in the show, but like you said the age difference is disconcerting. It's funny, too, because in rereading the books, I felt like much was left out that I remembered experiencing when I read it as a child. The books almost seem dry to me now, which I didn't expect since I love them so much.