Don’t Cry Out Loud, Mr. Hanson
In Which Doc Baker is Propositioned by a Hot Young Woman and the Vestiges of His Heterosexuality are Destroyed Forever
(a recap by Will Kaiser)
Title: Doctor’s Lady
Airdate: January 22, 1975
Written by Arthur Heinemann
Story by Arthur Heinemann and Ann Beckett
Directed by Lewis Allen
SUMMARY IN A NUTSHELL: A hot woman falls in love with Doc Baker for no reason, but he fucks things up royally. Meanwhile, Mr. Hanson is jealous.
RECAP: The opening credits announce two guest stars this week. First, Anne Archer, a distinguished actress with a very long resume. She’s probably best known for Fatal Attraction, in which she plays a nice mom whose husband cheats on her with a psychopath.
Here she is in the infamous “rabbit” scene:
Famous as it is, I’ve never seen Fatal Attraction, but I’ve seen enough of Adrian Lyne’s other movies to know it’s probably pretentious and tasteless. And humorless, the worst of all sins.
On the other hand, she’s also in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, one of my favorite movies of the 1990s (based on Raymond Carver’s short stories – also excellent). You should look it up if you’ve never seen it. Archer plays a clown, but don’t worry, not a scary one.
Our other “guest star” is Kevin Hagen, who plays Doc Baker. I guess being mentioned in the title elevated him out of “The Town” for this one.
“Doctor’s Lady” was directed by Lewis Allen, a Bonanza veteran, and written by Arthur Heinemann, who also wrote “Christmas at Plum Creek” and a number of other Little House episodes. Heinemann and Ann Beckett get an additional credit for developing the story.
It’s noteworthy a woman was involved in writing this one, at least somewhat, but as we’ll see, it didn’t help much.
(By the way, our own beautiful Dagny is finally back now from Canada – which is so wonderful.)
We open on a stagecoach coming up the road on what seems to be a fairly authentic-looking fall day. It’s not driven by Mustache Man . . . where the hell has he been lately, anyways? Oh well, I know he’s in the series finale, so he’ll be back sooner or later.
Anyways, on this occasion the stage is driven by a burly graybeard who looks a bit like Professor Peter Schickele.
Meanwhile, in Doc Baker’s office/home (?), Mr. Hanson watches the stagecoach through the window and checks his watch. The two go into their signature “No, YOUR Watch is Wrong!” vaudeville routine.
Of course, they are also playing pinochle.
Meanwhile, we see Charles, wearing Pinky, is totin’ a sack of sawdust or the like at the mill.
OLIVE: Wait, the mill’s open? That means Mr. Hanson is playing cards during the workday. Not sure I buy that.
WILL: Maybe more than just playing cards. Notice his tie was undone. . . .
Suddenly Charles hears a woman scream, and he and Carl the flunky drop everything and run to help.
Even before they arrive, they hear Mrs. Oleson squawking. But it isn’t she who’s injured. No, instead they find her fussing over a young woman who’s fallen out of the stagecoach.
Mrs. Oleson starts screaming at Not-Peter Schickele for his incompetence.
DAGNY: Katherine MacGregor is the best at gaspy exclamations.
WILL: Yes. Lesley Ann Warren, also good.
Nels is also there, and so is Mrs. Foster (of course). The latter no doubt was hoping the stage would deliver a new man to be snared in her web.
For her own part, the young woman says not to worry, it’s just a sprained ankle. But Charles, who we all know puts the Hero in Hero Township, wastes no time scooping her up into his arms. He carries her to Doc’s place followed by the full horde.
DAGNY: Oh my God, Charles.
OLIVE: I know, please.
We see the young woman is lovely and dressed in a rich crimson dress, a bit reminiscent of what the Skeksis Chamberlain wears in The Dark Crystal.
Charles sets her down and says she’s in good hands with Doc, despite his being “just a veterinarian.” Throughout this episode there are several jokes about this, though so far in the series nobody has ever teased Doc about having veterinary qualifications, or even mentioned it. We’ve only seen him working on humans so far.
Doc ignores the woman’s ankle, but diagnoses her with a dislocated thumb. He surmises she is Mrs. Oleson’s niece from Chicago, whom they’ve apparently all been expecting. She introduces herself as Kate Thorvald. (Thorvald is about as Scandinavian a name as it gets, so it’s odd they used it for a non-Minnesotan character.)
(Then again, it’s the name of the guy Jimmy Stewart suspects of murder in the very New Yorky Rear Window, so who knows.)
Doc compliments Kate on how good-looking she is – a big no-no these days in a professional setting. (And a fairly tacky thing to do in any century, if you ask me.)
Then he smashes a jar of cotton balls to distract her while he pops her thumb back into joint.
ROMAN: Why would he break that? You’d think he could startle her without wrecking his stuff.
DAGNY: Yeah, he has to throw the cotton away too, ’cause now it’s full of glass splinters. And he’ll have to clean it up.
WILL: But the Olesons are happy. He’ll have to buy a new jar now. By the way, who’s minding the Mercantile? Did they really close the place down, just so they could both pick her up from the stagecoach?
ROMAN: Yeah, especially when she was dropped off five feet from the store.
Anyways, Kate screams, then laughs . . . AND THEN INSTANTLY FALLS IN LOVE.
(I guess it’s wrong to reveal my bias this early in, but I hate this episode.)
Doc talks like an old-timey grampaw for a bit, then says he wants to see Kate’s bad ankle. He shoos the others out to give her privacy . . .
. . . including Mr. Hanson, who looks stunned.
Once alone with Doc, Kate extends her ankle, her rosy face morphing into a mask of lust.
Eventually he delivers her back out the door, and she takes off with Harriet and Nels.
Mr. Hanson stays behind – but remember, he may actually be living there, or at least “staying over,” at this point in the series. We’ve never seen his house.
He has easily detected a rival, and huffs about Doc flirting with young girls. (You’ll recall he’s guilty of the same thing himself, with Miss Beadle.)
Doc responds by saying he formerly had a lot of luck with the ladies. Mr. Hanson calls Doc a liar in so many words, but he does it jokingly, and they go back into the house to play pinochle. (More on that below.)
Now, you may wonder if our thread of shipping Doc and Mr. Hanson can be sustained throughout an episode centered on one of them having a heterosexual relationship.
Well . . . read on.
Now, we have seen these two guys enjoying each other openly in this community, more or less, and I think it’s fair to assume the relationship is seen for what it is by the cleverest people in town (Laura, all four Olesons, Miss Beadle, Mrs. Foster, Amy Hearn); as just the warmest of friendships by the most innocent ones (Caroline, Charles, Mary, Reverend Alden, Grace Snider, Christy); and maybe wondered about (but not excessively) by everybody else.
(Note: Dagny disagreed, thinking only Mrs. Oleson would be sophisticated enough to realize.)
But what we have to remember here is what a taboo being gay was back then. The Oscar Wilde trial in England hadn’t happened yet, but it was just around the corner. In 1895, Wilde was famously tried and convicted of “gross indecency” – in other words, of having gay sex. The conviction would send him to prison (and an early grave), and it also would also have a chilling effect on gay relationships in Britain and America for decades.
So, even being “amongst friends” as Mr. Hanson and Doc are with the Walnut Grovesters, there would have been immense pressure in the late Nineteenth Century to at least make some pretense of conforming to community norms. In those days, it would not have been unusual for one man in a relationship with another to take a wife, for the appearance of propriety; even to have children – especially if he wanted them. (Wilde himself was married with kids.) And of course, there’s the possibility one or both of them like men and women.
Anyways, I think much of what we’re about to see here can be viewed as the story of a man considering and choosing between two different worlds. Let’s see what happens.
Back to the story. At the Mercantile, Kate Thorvald is probing Nels for the deets on Doc. She’s now wearing a (rather low-cut) scarlet dress.
WILL: I will say, for a Little House character, she is smokin’. She’s even showing cleavage!
DAGNY: Yeah, she looks amazing. They obviously made that dress just for her. Fits her body like a glove.
Nels does clarify things about Doc’s medical/veterinary, um, pedigree here.
Kate looks like she’s about to burst into song thinking about Doc, and says she’s going to go riding. Nels tells her she should, since “you’re here to enjoy yourself!”
ROMAN: “You’re here to enjoy yourself”?
OLIVE: In Walnut Grove?
WILL: And doesn’t she have a sprained ankle?
We cut to Kate riding a horse down that hill everybody’s always coming down.
She’s changed again, and is wearing some kind of fancy velveteen riding coat with a top hat, just like Joanie Stubbs from Deadwood.
Or Stevie Nicks if you prefer.
(Whose horse is this? Kate didn’t bring one, and it isn’t Bunny. Do the Olesons own more than one? I doubt it, or why would Nellie have begged them to buy Bunny? I suppose Kate could have rented one from Rubberface Dorfler, like Charles did that one time.)
Kate looks down the hill and sees Doc Baker’s physician’s phaeton is parked at the Ingalls house, with Doc himself in the yard.
Then we zip down to the Little House ourselves, and find Doc is practicing his legendary veterinary arts. He’s removing some “foxtails” from Jack’s ear – apparently a dangerous thing for a dog. Despite growing up in the country, I don’t think I ever heard of ’em before.
And no, he doesn’t knock over a jar to distract Jack while he does it.
Strangely, it must have actually been a cold morning for once in Simi Valley, because you can see Jack’s breath in the air!
Caroline comes out of the house and invites Doc to stay for supper, though whether it’s out of friendliness or is simply payment for his services is unclear.
DAGNY: Now, supper would take some time to prepare. Don’t you think he’d already have started it for himself at home?
WILL: No, I don’t think so. You think he left some stew bubbling on the fire? He’s on call. For all he knows, he could be attending Jack into the night, or all night.
ROMAN: That would be quite the case of foxtails.
Despite being way up the hill, Kate has heard every word. Having worked out a plan internally, she smiles, then turns and whips the horse twice. Quite hard, in fact.
OLIVE: Oh my God, Nellie Oleson much?
Back at the Little House, Doc sits down to supper. (“Look, the table is wobbly,” said Dags. “I don’t believe that would ever happen in Charles’s house.”)
Carrie, who I think for the first time doesn’t have any lines in this episode, is sitting very still with a blank expression on her face. It’s possible the twins were out of town and they briefly replaced them with a dummy.
There’s a knock at the door: Why, it’s Kate Thorvald! She lies that she’s been thrown by her horse, then scooches up to Doc and starts flirting with him. What would they do if a man stalked someone like this? If it was Busby, they’d get torches and pitchforks and run him out of town, that’s what.
Kate says what she really needs is “sympathy and a wash,” so the Ingallses start boiling water. Is she actually going to have a bath at a stranger’s house? In the yard?
They also invite her for supper, and she laughs at her own mishaps.
DAGNY: Her way of becoming more attractive is pretending to be incompetent so a man can take care of her. This show!
This beautiful, helpless woman who’s about to disrobe gives Doc a meaningful smile.
WILL: Does she just want to hook a doctor, any doctor, or what?
OLIVE: I’ve seen this one three times and I still don’t get it.
That night, Mary is keeping Laura from sleeping. (“This is a role reversal, isn’t it?” said Olive.)
Mary wants to talk about Doc and Kate’s love connection.
OLIVE: Why do they even have this scene? I guess it’s Laura and Mary’s show too, they have to have them do something.
WILL: Yeah, like last week they were hugging Nellie and Willie even though that was completely insane, just to give them something to do.
DAGNY: I bet there was one writer who wrote all the “go to sleep” scenes. Because they’re always the stupidest fucking conversations.
Meanwhile, Doc is giving Kate a ride home. Bunny is pulling his phaeton, by the way. Does Walnut Grove have a mad scientist making umpteen clones of this horse?
Kate basically asks him out on a date. Then Mrs. Oleson comes out, squawking about how distressing Kate’s disappearance was. Kate says not to worry, she was “in very good hands” with Doc.
The women go inside, and Old Dr. Goodhands does a (pathetic) little dance of joy.
WILL: Do you think he ever dreamed in a million years a hot young woman would come to town and throw herself at him for no reason whatsoever?
ROMAN: No. He was happy with Mr. Hanson. It’s kind of sad.
After the commercial, we see Doc and Kate driving around on their date while David Rose gives us a Viennese waltz in the score.
They stop for a picnic. Kate pretends to trip over a tree root so Doc has to catch her.
ROMAN: Mr. Hanson should come out from behind the tree like the Zodiac Killer.
“I like you, Hiram Baker,” says Kate. I think this is the first time we get his Christian name.
“I like you, Kate Thorwald,” says Doc. Her name’s actually Thorvald, but whatever.
They sit down and dig in to the picnic basket.
Afterwards, he brings her home again.
“Thank you for a lovely afternoon,” Kate says. Doc replies, “I don’t know what to say. I enjoyed it. But that sounds lame.”
ROMAN: The best dialogue in Little House history.
DAGNY: Yeah, moments like this are why Walnut Groovy exists.
When Kate comes into the house, Mrs. Oleson gives her the third degree about dating Doc. Long story short, he’s old, a nobody, and a poor match for such a high-class woman.
Kate says she’s no classier than Harriet, she just happens to have a rich father. I don’t know what this means in light of previous hints we’ve gotten that Mrs. Oleson came from money, but I guess we can deduce Thorvald isn’t Harriet’s maiden name.
Kate reveals to us they’re planning a party for Saturday night. Harriet says “almost everyone” in town is invited. (“The casting is good,” said Dags. “You can believe the two of them are related.”)
The next day, Mr. Hanson and Charles are discussing the situation in Hanson’s office. Mr. Hanson mopes about how Doc isn’t paying any attention to him anymore. For the naive Charles’s sake, he acts like it’s the age difference he objects to.
And now he’s going to break up with Doc. The two are playing pinochle again, but Doc keeps making mistakes in the game.
HANSON: What is the matter with you tonight? You misdeal, you miscalculate, you misplay.
DAGNY [as HANSON]: “You like Miss Thorvald. . . .”
“I’m spoiling your pleasure,” says Doc, and they end the game by consensus. Then Mr. Hanson turns to him and essentially pleads with him to reconsider what he’s doing.
ROMAN: He’s just jealous because Doc’s leaving him for another Scandinavian.
WILL: Yeah, there should be a scene where he confronts her, and the whole argument is in Swedish.
Doc says he knows if he and Kate have kids, they’ll be more like grandkids to him. If Mr. Hanson has doubts about Doc’s ability to get it up for a woman, he keeps them to himself.
But Doc can’t help it, Kate makes him feel “alive” for the first time in his life. A very hurtful thing to say in this context.
Mr. Hanson rises with dignity, though. “You don’t have the mind or the time for pinochle anymore,” he says simply. It never occurred to me before that “pinochle” was their euphemism for their relationship.
He touches Doc on the shoulder and says goodnight.
ROMAN: Look, his tie is done up now.
WILL: It’s a symbol of their love being strangled to death.
The next day, Kate shows up unexpectedly at the livery as Doc is hitching up Bunny. She says she wants to join him on his “rounds.” It’s not totally clear, but it seems that term (and concept) wasn’t in use until the 1890s, when Sir William Osler began using it at Johns Hopkins University.
They stop at a house where there’s a sick kid and a redheaded pregnant woman named Helga. Doc gives the former a peppermint stick and tells the latter “Don’t eat so much. It may be fashionable, but it isn’t healthy.”
Then they stop by the Little House to give the girls some gumdrops. There’s really no point to their visit, except to give Laura a chance to blurt out rudely, “Ya gonna get married?”
They leave, but almost immediately Kate grabs the reins and stops Bunny. She suggests Doc propose to her. Doc says he’s too old for her, but that he does love her.
DAGNY: God, he doesn’t know how to play romantic at all. They have no chemistry.
OLIVE: She’s a good actress, though. You can tell because she’s not vomiting.
Doc leans forward to kiss her, but his hat collides with her bonnet.
Then a rider we’ve never seen before suddenly appears and says a hurt child “at Jim Keller’s place” needs his help. Doc goes “hyah!” and Bunny takes off fast.
KATE [shouting]: You still haven’t asked me!
DOC [shouting]: Kate Thorwald [sic], will you marry me?
KATE [shouting]: You bet I will!
DAGNY: Dolly Parton wrote this scene.
After the commercial, we see Doc sheepishly entering the Mercantile, to another goofy David Rose masterpiece that sounds a bit like the Island of Misfit Toys Christmas song.
Doc goes up to the counter and starts peering into a jewelry case. Charles comes in from the storeroom and sneaks up behind him. He likes to do that to people, apparently.
Charles says he’s looking for a good “poleax handle.” (Is that a euphemism? Perhaps I’m reading too much into that one. . . .)
Doc claims he’s shopping for cufflinks, and Charles starts teasing him about engagement rings.
WILL: Is there a person in this whole town that Charles just leaves alone?
DAGNY: No. He’s a worse busybody than Harriet Oleson.
Then we cut to Doc entering a room that appears to be his bedroom. I assume he just has rooms in the back of his office?
To more annoying music, he gets a gold chain out from a box and wraps it around his little finger.
Suddenly, it’s the night of the Olesons’ party. They’ve put tables out on the porch, and hung paper lanterns, and it really looks quite nice . . . though I thought it was supposed to be fall, which isn’t really the garden-party season in Minnesota. (Plus we saw the dog’s breath.)
Despite “almost everyone” being invited to the party, there really aren’t that many of the regular townspeople there either.
Anyways, Doc and Kate sneak into the bushes to make out.
He gives her the little gold chain snippet, which he’s linked into a finger-sized ring. She’s delighted with it.
WILL: It’s horrible.
DAGNY: It is horrible. It’s an awful ring. A woman of her class would not be delighted with it. This would totally break the spell.
“I looked at your uncle’s rings,” says Doc Baker.
DAGNY [as DOC]: “But they were lame.”
Kate says she loves that he made the thing for her, and they go back inside.
Next, as is often the case, Willie Oleson gets the biggest laugh of the episode. We see him literally shoving a plate of sandwiches into Mr. Hanson’s face whilst screaming “Do you want a sandwich, Mr. Hanson? They’re awfully good!”
As I mentioned, it’s striking how few familiar faces are there.
Doc clears his throat and calls for attention. He wants to make an announcement.
(“Look at Charles’s pants!” said Dagny.)
Doc starts talking about being “the luckiest man in the world” and they cut to Mr. Hanson with a sad frozen smile on his face.
OLIVE: Don’t cry out loud, Mr. Hanson!
Blah blah, they’re engaged. What I like is that at the end, everybody claps except Mrs. Oleson, who looks at Nels with a horrified expression on her face.
Afterwards, in bed, Charles is laughing at Doc’s awkward speech. With that and the teasing about the ring, he’s kind of a bully in this episode.
Caroline turns serious and asks if there’s anything weird about Doc and Kate’s age difference. Charles doesn’t see why it’s weird. Of course, when she becomes more specific and tells him to imagine his daughters doing the same thing, suddenly he freaks out. He says he’s not permitting it and that’s that. (This is definitely a Stupid Charles episode.)
Then Caroline smirks and says, “Charles, everything is so simple when you explain it.” Ha! Maybe that’s the biggest laugh of the episode.
They both start giggling, then roll over and say goodnight.
DAGNY: No sex tonight? I guess not. No popcorn.
WILL: Yeah, they seem pretty frisky. I’m surprised. They should have left us wondering what happened next.
Next, we see Doc and Kate at the mill, showing Mr. Hanson the blueprint for the dream house they want to build together.
But I suppose Doc can always rationalize the pain he’s inflicting by saying, “Hey, you dumped me, bub.”
Charles comes in and Hanson puts on a brave face. Apparently, Charles has invited Doc and Kate to come over on Saturday. (Mr. Hanson can’t even hope for loyalty from his employees.)
Doc and Kate take off. Hanson watches them go for a while, then says, “I wish it lasts forever.”
Charles leaves him to his thoughts.
We cut to Charles and Doc, fishing together in the creek. Doc is still worrying about not being young enough for Kate.
Then we’re back in the Little House yard, where Laura, Mary and Kate are playing what I’d guess is Three O’Cat.
WILL: They’re ticking off the checklist in this one, aren’t they? Fishing, baseball, a picnic . . .
DAGNY: Yeah, an accident, a baby. A party! No fire, though.
Charles and Doc come walking back with some fish, and then Charles stupidly says, “That’s your bride-to-be, running around like a kid.”
The smile runs away from Doc’s face.
Later, I guess, Doc and Laura are sitting together in the front yard. They talk about how many kids Doc might have, and Laura says Charles fantasizes about having huge numbers of great-grandkids.
First, I don’t think anybody in the history of the world ever fantasized about that, and second, this is what finally and decisively makes up Doc’s mind? That he won’t live to see his great-grandchildren?
ROMAN: How old is Doc Baker supposed to be?
WILL: We have this conversation every episode.
And we do, though I haven’t always included it in the recap. For the record, Kevin Hagen was 46 years old at this point in the series. Our family thinks he looks much older, however. I would listen to arguments that Doc the character might be closer to 55 (or even older). But one can’t say for sure.
Anne Archer, on the other hand, was 27. Actually, I believe in those days that would have been considered a fairly advanced age for a . . . maiden.
And indeed, others elsewhere have persuasively argued that no stigma existed around age-gap relationships in communities like this in the Nineteenth Century. This means for a person like Mr. Hanson to object to it as he does here would be pretty improbable. (That’s where shipping Doc and Mr. Hanson actually makes the storyline more believable.)
Anyways, Doc arrives back in his room. He takes off his coat and hat, and sits down on the bed with a dismal look on his face.
Then he gets up to wash his face, and spends a moment looking at his lined visage in the mirror.
DAGNY: This is like that scene in The Fly.
The next day, Doc is in his office. Kate comes in and complains about how morose and taciturn he’s been lately.
DOC: Well, I guess I was thinkin’.
KATE: Something that you couldn’t share with me?
DAGNY [as DOC]: “I’ll share it with you. You’re dumped.”
They start to talk yet again about him being old, but they’re interrupted by Charles, who says Helga’s about to deliver. He adds that Caroline’s available to assist (!), but Kate says that’s not necessary.
DAGNY: What about Grace? Midwives oversaw most births in those days.
WILL: Yeah, this contradicts what was implied in the Freddie episode.
Out at Helga’s house, we meet Helga’s husband Ole, a Nicolas Cage lookalike.
The end credits tell us his surname is Olafsen. (In this part of the country, Ole is a name associated with Scandinavian stereotypes, though certainly traditional Scandinavian names are common in Minnesota to this day. I remember laughing when I moved here at all the Annikas, Svens, Björns, Larses, Hanses, Thors, Anderses, Ingrids, Ares, Marits and Sørens everywhere, and I’m just from one state over. I even met a Håkan once.)
Anyways, Ole says Helga’s labor isn’t going well. Doc asks a couple questions the answers to which would really tell him nothing about her specific condition. (“When did it start?” “Are the pains frequent?”)
Then he asks Kate to boil some water. She’s still wearing her gorgeous form-fitting dress, which really isn’t suitable for midwife duties.
When Doc goes into the bedroom, Helga tells him Ole brought their son over the Ingalls house.
DAGNY: At least she says Ole properly.
WILL: You really have become a Minnesotan.
Doc sends Ole out to the barn to get “some extra lamps.”
DAGNY: He’s planning to knock one off the table, to startle her into delivering.
Later, we see Helga in the agonies of labor.
DAGNY: You can tell this woman has really had a baby. Unlike Whatserface.
WILL: It should be a monster, like It’s Alive.
ROMAN: Yeah, a two-parter. It kills Kate and the second part is Doc and Charles hunting it down for revenge.
But when the baby comes, it is not a monster, and everyone survives to tell the tale. Doc declares she was born at “4:25 in the a.m., Doc Baker time.”
DAGNY: What is the baby wrapped in, a flour sack? That’s not right.
Helga says she going to name the baby Karin, which Doc recognizes as Helga’s mother’s name. Doc then remembers that he delivered both Helga and Ole.
DOC: It’s funny, I’d forgotten I delivered you. You too, Ole, didn’t I?
WILL [as DOC]: “Before that Grace Snider came to town and ruined everything.”
Doc becomes lost in his thoughts again, which Kate notices sadly. Seriously, she’s gotta be getting sick of his shit by now.
In the getaway buggy, Doc starts enumerating reasons for them to break up.
You see me as I am, Kate – a man who brought two generations of that family into the world. I could have delivered you. . . . My friends are your father’s age, my memories, my habits, they go back twice as far as yours.
DAGNY: None of these are good reasons.
ROMAN: No, it’s gotta be the Hanson factor, he just can’t talk about that.
WILL: The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name!
DAGNY: Was Doc Baker gay in real life?
WILL: I don’t know. I think Dabbs Greer never married.
Actually, in real life, Kevin Hagen was married four times! (Always to women.)
“It’s springtime for you,” Doc goes on. “It’s late fall for Hiram Baker.” (Hardly the way a 46-year-old man would describe himself, as this 46-year-old man can attest.)
Kate cries, because all her schemes to win the love of Dr. Goodhands have failed.
WILL: This must have been a common problem in the seventies.
ROMAN: The 1870s, or the 1970s?
WILL: The 1970s. I mean, ugly old men having to fight off the advances of beautiful young women.
ROMAN: Totally. It happens all the time on Love Boat.
We have also been watching a lot of Love Boat lately on Pluto TV. (It’s not recapworthy . . . but it is fun. Talk about a somewhat repulsive artifact of another time! It makes Little House look completely modern in comparison.)
Just this week, we happened to catch the one where Alison Arngrim plays a spoiled TV star.
Anyways, Kate then preposterously asks if she can keep Doc’s “ring.”
DAGNY [as DOC]: “Sure. It’d never fit Hanson’s fingers. They’re too stubby and Norske.”
WILL: At the end, Kate should toss it into the creek.
ROMAN: Yeah, or give it to somebody for a fishing lure.
Kate gives him one final peck and runs inside. His eyes fill with tears.
OLIVE: She could do way better.
Then we get a quick little scene where the Olesons see Kate off. Mrs. Foster is also hovering in the background.
DAGNY: Do you think it would be fun to drive a stagecoach like that? You know, way up high?
WILL: Maybe. I bet it was hard on the arms, though.
Voiceover Laura appears out of nowhere to tell us Doc took a month off from work and then was fine.
DAGNY: A whole month? I wonder how many people died during that time.
WILL: Well, fortunately he makes it back in time for the plague next week.
The big question is, with Kate out of the picture, will Doc and Mr. Hanson get back together again? Tune in next week to find out! Bum-Bum-Ba-Dum!
WILL: That was a good sesh.
DAGNY: Yeah, you were worried at first.
WILL: Well, you had a very hard couple weeks, plus you had just woken up.
DAGNY: Yeah, with you whispering “Let’s watch ‘Doctor’s Lady’” in my ear. Some couples have popcorn, we have this.
STYLE WATCH: Kate’s dress and riding getup. Charles’s party ensemble.
Dags pointed out Harriet’s wearing a sheer top under her jacket. (“She’s got cleavage too!” she said.)
Charles appears to go commando again.
THE VERDICT: I’d say this one was pretty wretched . . . but that sounds lame.
Actually, Archer is just fine, Swenson is loveable as always, and Hagen is – okay. But acting alone isn’t able to make this absurd scenario work. I’d give it a believability rating of 1 out of 10. (To be fair, this show rarely scores higher than a 5, though.)
Even the title is a little gross, somehow. Oh well. See you next time.
UP NEXT: Plague
One thought on “Doctor’s Lady”
I watched this episode all along wondering what would finally prevent them from getting married. When the woman had the difficult delivery I thought that maybe she would die in childbirth and Kate would dump Doc Baker after he lost his godlike aura. But the delivery is a triumph.
It never occurred to me that Doc Baker was gay but it does make sense. If he lived in Walnut Grove for two generations without getting married (with him being the doctor and a prominent citizen) something must have been up. That strikes me as a good opportunity for a comic episode where Mrs. Olson plays the homophobic heavy and tries to “prove” he was gay by fixing him up and watch it fail.
In the end though I think the point was that Doc Baker was a good man unwilling to take advantage of a younger woman temporarily blinded by his godlike doctoring skills. He realized she would have eventually turned into Madame Bovary.
Anne Archer was in Chuck Norris’s first movie Good Guys Wear Black where she played more or less the same character.
Norris: I slipped
Archer (fingering his arm): I don’t think you’ve ever slipped on anything in your life.
In the end she’s killed by terrorists (who blow up her plane mistakenly thinking he was on it). Norris kills all the terrorists (one in a very memorable way by leaping up and kicking in the windshield of his car) but it wasn’t to avenger her character. You just kind of forget about her.
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