The Sequel Nobody Wanted; or
If She Says Puppa Paw One More Time, I’m Out
(a recap by Will Kaiser)
Title: To See the World
Airdate: March 5, 1975
Written by Gerry Day
Directed by Michael Landon
SUMMARY IN A NUTSHELL: Mr. Edwards takes idiot Johnny Johnson to Mankato, where he fails to teach him anything about life.
RECAP: We have a special guest commentator this week, so please welcome our dear friend Raja! She and I went to a sort of curious music school where we co-hosted a radio program once upon a time. But that’s another story.
Anyways, her Little House fan credentials are twenty feet deep. Also, she and her entire family kind of resemble Alison Arngrim, if that helps you to picture her.
As the opening credits played, I told the others this episode is a sequel.
OLIVE: Oh yeah? Does Baby Freddie come back to life?
ROMAN: Yeah, Night of the Living Fred!
No, this one is not a horror story, even if, like many a horror film, it falls into the category of Sequels Nobody Wanted.
Instead, we revisit the saga of Johnny Johnson, Laura’s big-goon classmate and former love object, who disappeared eighteen episodes ago (though he was mentioned once).
Writer Gerry Day returns to further the story arc of the character she created. I’ll try to keep an open mind.
We open by revisiting David Rose’s theme tune for Johnny, “Do You Love Me?”, which, upon second hearing, is sort of a loungey cross between “Almost Like Being in Love” from Brigadoon and “Close to You” by The Carpenters.
We see our old pal Johnny Johnson walking a cow across a pasture. He’s filthy, even by this show’s standards, and he grits his teeth in anger.
Johnny arrives home, where Pa Johnson is waiting for him. Johnny says he recovered the cow from a bog. His face and body are completely covered with mud, as if the cow pulled him under and did a synchronized-swimming routine with him.
On the other hand, his hair has no mud in it whatsoever, to the point where it looks like an orangutan-red wig.
Mr. Johnson, a hard-faced man who talks like Dayton Callie, gestures to a broken fence and drily suggests this was perhaps a factor in the animal’s escape. He notes Johnny had been instructed to repair said fence.
Johnny admits that’s so, but he went fishing with Mr. Edwards instead. Mr. Johnson tells him he needs to shape up or ship out. (Some might just call this “parenting,” but Raja, who has some expertise in such things, says it’s a manipulative technique called “psychological control.”)
Cut to Johnny, Laura and Mary walking together to school. I guess there’s no hard feelings from their unhappy love triangle.
“He looks like he escaped from Newsies,” said Raja.
She also asked, “Is he the one Laura puts the apples in her shirt for?” But no, that’s a different boy.
Notably, Johnny is wearing shoes, something he didn’t do in “The Love Of.”
Laura is chattering madly, curious about a sack Johnny’s a-totin’. Is it something to trade at the Mercantile? No. Is it something to donate to the church’s “China mission”? No.
(As we noted before, this church is a locally administered Congregationalist parish that couldn’t even scrape together bell money without it turning into World War One, so I find the idea of them funding a mission to China laughable.)
Mary tells Laura to shut up, which is a relief, but then she suggests they quiz each other to prepare for school, which is much worse. I’m surprised Johnny doesn’t jump back in the bog, frankly, if conversation with these two is his only alternative.
We noticed you can see the characters’ breath, so they must have filmed this one in (California) winter.
RAJA: His inseam is . . .
WILL: Well, it doesn’t leave much to the imagination.
DAGNY: Yeah, he has to make a decision every time he takes a step.
Johnny says he’s dropping out of school to travel for a few years. Laura thinks this sounds cool, but Mary is a stick about the idea and insults it to his face. (I had much the same reaction when I had friends who did this after college, I’m afraid.)
After Mary stomps off, Johnny says she wouldn’t understand because she’s a girl, and expects Laura to agree. He really is a stupid ass, isn’t he?
Then he says he’s going to start a world tour by heading to Mankato.
RAJA [as LAURA, cheerfully]: “Oh, my brother died there!”
Johnny says after Mankato he’s going to zip to St. Paul, London, and China. (Two Chinese references in under five minutes, quite unusual for this show.)
I hate to break it to Johnny, but while St. Paul is on the other side of Mankato, on the other side of St. Paul is just Wisconsin, and on the other side of Wisconsin is fuck all.
Johnny saunters over to the mill as a Nondescript Helen rushes by.
OLIVE: His pants are tight in the back, too.
DAGNY: I knew you’d like this one.
He finds Mr. Edwards loading a wagon for a Mankato trip. Edwards states definitively the journey will take three days each way. I previously estimated it could be done in two days each way, but only going balls to the wall the whole trip.
Mr. Edwards clearly is not in balls-to-the-wall mode, saying he’s actually going to take a couple days’ vacation whilst in Mankato, engaging in classic American recreations like drinking, gambling, and buying guns. (Perhaps he could also do a little marlin-fishing while he’s there.)
Interestingly, he also tells us how much he gets paid. He says he’s saved three months’ wages, $15 ($300 in today’s money), with which he intends to purchase a “Winchester 73” (known to some as “the gun that won the West” – a contested title) as a present to himself.
That puts Mr. Edwards’s take-home pay at just $1,200 annually in today’s money. Of course, he is a part-timer at the mill; he probably does freelance handyman work, deliveries, babysitting, moonshine sales, and perhaps pest control and rattlesnake-soup catering as well.
WILL: Plus, cost of living in Walnut Grove can’t be much.
DAGNY: No, he doesn’t need money for anything. He just shoots squirrels to eat, gets drunk, takes a bath once a year, and sings “Old Dan Tucker.”
WILL: . . . That sounds like a verse from “Old Dan Tucker.”
Charles, who’s also “milling about,” ah ha ha, warns Edwards to stay out of the saloon because of “what happened last time” . . . but he says it with a twinkle in his eye. Charles’s views on extreme behavior are totally dependent on how much he likes the person, aren’t they? Although I suppose Mr. Edwards never beat up any children. . . .
EDWARDS: Ain’t you supposed to be in school or sumpin’?
OLIVE [as JOHNNY]: No sir. I’m twenty-seven.
Actually, Johnny says he’s quit school to experience all life has to offer. After all, he says, “experience is the best teacher.”
Mr. Edwards asks what “churn-head” (heh) gave him that idea. Mary might know the original quote is attributed to noted blockhead Julius Caesar.
Johnny tells Mr. Ed actually, it was he himself who told him that. Quick on his feet, Edwards replies, “Well, I must have been trying to make a point that don’t apply in this instance.”
Johnny says, “Well now, there was this boy in Illinois who only had one years of schoolin’ and five different teachers before he started out on his own.”
OLIVE: “One years of schooling”? Maybe he should stay in school.
Mr. Edwards says the guy sounds like a “fiddle-footed ignoramus.” Johnny reveals the mystery ignoramus was Abraham Lincoln. Very The Rest of the Story. (Remember that show? Paul Harvey was a piece of work, but the thought of his voice makes the rural Midwesterner in me nostalgic, the same way the smells of cow manure and snowmobile exhaust do.)
Johnny asks to ride along to Mankato, saying his pa said he doesn’t care if he leaves home. “Your pa told you that?” says Charles The Father of Us All, suddenly concerned.
“Aw, I ‘spect he’s just usin’ psychological control,” says Mr. Ed. Actually, no, he doesn’t, but he does say he’s not going to help Johnny.
“Well, if I can’t ride, I’m gonna have to walk then,” says Johnny with a simpering smile.
WILL: Do you think it’s toxic masculinity that I want to kick Johnny in the teeth every time I see him?
OLIVE: No. I hate him. He’s so annoying.
Johnny fucks off, and Mr. Edwards huffs “President Lincoln!”, though it’s unclear if his contempt is for the late President or just for Johnny’s dumb Rest of the Story gag. (Edwards is a Southerner, after all.)
Anyways, a bit later, ol’ Tight-Pants Johnny is walkin’ the dirt highway to Mankato. (Raja erupted into “Man’s Road,” arguably the most sorrowful song from The Last Unicorn.)
A waltz version of “ODT” heralds the Edwardswagon coming round the bend. It’s barely going faster than Johnny is.
DAGNY: Is this a road-rage attack, Nineteenth-Century-style?
We debated whether a thing in the distance was a telephone pole, a radio tower, or just a tree.
Then comes another odd moment where Mr. Edwards yells at Johnny about the dangers of the road. He says these include “freezing to death,” but Johnny points out it’s July.
ROMAN: July? They were just going to school!
OLIVE: Plus you could see their breath!
Elsewhere online, one fan suggested some Nineteenth-Century schools were in session over the summer. That may be, but in Minnesota, it actually was rare for schools to be open longer than three months per year, and even that wasn’t made the law until 1885.
Johnny talks Mr. Edwards into giving him a ride after all.
DAGNY: His lips look gross.
WILL: You have a thing about everyone’s lips.
RAJA: And yet they all have good teeth. How’d they manage that? Invisalign wasn’t even invented yet.
WILL: Laura doesn’t.
Back at the Little House, everyone is gossiping about Johnny Johnson. Well, everyone except Carrie, who’s absent from this episode.
Charles says the nice thing about only having daughters is they never run off.
RAJA [as LAURA]: “But I ran off, remember, Pa? I climbed a mountain and a weird old man made me a cross?”
Anyways, Johnny’s dad, whose first name we learn is Hector, arrives in search of his son. Pa goes out to greet him.
DAGNY: He shouldn’t go out smoking a pipe. That’s too casual.
Charles tells Mr. Johnson Johnny’s taken off for Mankato.
CHARLES: Johnny said he had your permission to travel, and he went on down the road afoot.
MR. JOHNSON [scoffing]: My permission!
RAJA [as MR. JOHNSON]: “Dammit, that was psychological control!”
Mr. Johnson is worried about his son, but Charles explains at some length why Johnny is fine and will come home soon.
WILL: Why does he always butt in like this? He has no idea what he’s talking about. Johnny could be in a shallow grave this minute for all he knows.
OLIVE: Because he’s Charles Ingalls. Is it just me, or do these families not have as many kids as they really did in the old days?
WILL: I think you’re right.
One day, Mr. Edwards and Johnny arrive in Mankato. Their wagon glides somewhat mysteriously down the street: Dagny pointed out it actually doesn’t seem to be attached to any horses.
A late-middle-aged layabout yells from the crowd and invites Mr. Edwards to a poker game. Johnny begs to play as well. Mr. Ed says maybe, but first tells Johnny to take the wagon to the livery, where they’ll also be sleeping for the night. He jumps out and says see ya later.
Johnny immediately becomes distracted by a young woman in a hot-pink feather boa who walks by. David Rose gives us a variation on “The Stripper,” a famous tune he himself wrote!
WILL: Okay, so this is the first prostitute we’ve seen on Little House.
ROMAN: Yes. She’s just a seven-plus prostitute, though.
The woman stares at him and smiles seductively.
RAJA: Did his Adam’s apple just get a hard-on?
The orchestra immediately goes into David’s version of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet overture.
WILL: Wait, this was Laura’s love theme for Johnny!
ROMAN: Unforgivable, David Rose.
In an unnecessary sight gag, Johnny disembarks the wagon right into a horse trough, so distracted by lust is he. Haw haw, commercial.
When we come back, we see the interior of “the Silver Slipper,” apparently Mr. Edwards’s favorite saloon. They’ve done some remodeling, but it does appear to be the same joint Mr. Edwards trashed before moving to Walnut Grove.
There is a player piano in the room. Although they did exist at the time, they were rather primitive, and it’s unlikely they would have a modern-type example like this one. The rag it’s playing is also anachronistic, as that style of music didn’t become popular till the mid-1890s.
Mr. Edwards comes in and is greeted by a bunch of cronies at a card table. The goofy-looking guy from the street comes rushing up; Edwards addresses him as “Dandy.”
They approach the bar, and Mr. Edwards wishes the bartender, “Eldred,” a good morning and orders a whiskey.
Eldred is not happy to see Mr. Ed, saying the last time he was here he almost incited a riot. “If his friend hadn’t pulled him away, he probably would have wrecked this place,” he says, describing what happened in “Mr. Edward’s [sic] Homecoming” pretty precisely. So clearly it is meant to be the same saloon, though the production team has forgotten Charles and Mr. Edwards also traveled to Mankato together in “The Award.” (I guess it’s quite possible on that occasion Charles kept him away from the place.)
Dandy waves off Eldred’s remarks.
DANDY: You lookin’ for some action?
DAGNY [as EDWARDS]: “Hey, keep your hands to yourself, bub.”
But of course he’s talking about poker. Mr. Edwards joins the card players and says he wants to bring Johnny into the game too.
The saloon girl appears on the stairs.
DAGNY: I bet we can see her nipples when she gets down.
RAJA: She looks like Elizabeth Taylor.
WILL: She does, a bit.
RAJA: Oh, I think she’s one of the most beautiful women who ever lived.
WILL: Really? Quite the compliment for a bit player on Little House.
Mr. Ed enlists the saloon girl and his cronies into a plot to keep Johnny on the straight and narrow. The three card players are played by actors who did about a million bit parts each on TV and in the movies.
Michael Ross, who plays a big mustached guy called “Squint,” was the hangman in In Cold Blood.
Bob Hoy, who plays a littler mustached guy called “Ben Slick,” was one of the puppeteers inside a creature called the Horta in “The Devil in the Dark,” a Star Trek story that scared the SHIT out of me when I was little.
And James Griffith, who plays Dandy, was once on The Littlest Hobo! This was a Canadian series about a mystery-solving dog, or something; quite unknown to me but a childhood favorite of Dagny’s.
DAGNY: Did you notice they’re all wearing green suspenders?
WILL: So does Charles. It must have been a very popular suspender color in the 1870s.
Edwards says he wants the card sharps to deliberately lose to Johnny, then reveal their true abilities and leave him without a penny. The saloon girl’s role is to lend artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.
SALOON GIRL: They take his money, so what do I get out of it?
WILL [as EDWARDS]: “Why, Johnny’s Johnson, of course!”
Mr. Edwards says she’ll get some money as well. Then we cut to him singing “Old Dan Tucker” in the stables. He interrupts himself briefly to yell “H’lo, horse!” – which we all loved.
DAGNY: Are these the actual lyrics to the folk song?
WILL: Yes, and the chorus is the right tune, but the melody of the verse is different.
RAJA: They probably changed it so they wouldn’t have to pay royalties to the estate of the real Old Dan Tucker.
This is a more usual version:
Finding Johnny there, Mr. Edwards invites him to join in a game of poker that night.
WILL [as JOHNNY]: “I hardly KNOW her!”
We cut back to the Silver Slipper, where Johnny is cleaning up at poker and flirting with the saloon girl.
DAGNY: This is like his Rumspringa.
The saloon girl’s name is apparently “Miss Mimi.”
RAJA: Nope, no nipples.
WILL: No, but that’s a fair amount of cleavage for Little House.
Hilariously, we see she has brought Johnny a pint of milk.
They play for a while, but just when Johnny’s won all their money, he quits the game because he feels guilty and doesn’t want to take any more of it.
When he’s gone, the card sharps furiously close in Mr. Edwards.
WILL: He should trick them into singing a barbershop quartet, like The Music Man.
As they drag him away, we see the man sitting at the piano is crying.
Cut to the livery, where Mr. Ed is pressing a steak to his eye.
WILL: Wouldn’t ice be cheaper than steak?
RAJA: Maybe not in the summer.
WILL: You think ice was more expensive than steak in the summertime?
DAGNY: Why do they always put steaks on black eyes on TV?
WILL: I don’t know, but Fred Flintstone always did it too.
RAJA: Yes. But those were dinosaur steaks.
Johnny blithers insipidly about how well everything’s working out, with his newfound magical card-playing abilities just the icing on the cake. Mr. Edwards reveals the game was rigged, but Johnny doesn’t believe him.
WILL: Who do you hate more, kids, Johnny Johnson or the GEICO Gecko?
We were talking over the dialogue a bit, if you can imagine that, so then we heard Mr. Edwards say “one chunk of it looks pretty much like another chunk” without hearing what came before it.
WILL: Is he talking about the saloon girl?
DAGNY: Yeah. “Chunk” is Little House slang for “pussy.”
What he was actually saying was one place is much like another, so there’s no need to travel extensively. He gets nowhere with Johnny, though, and they go to sleep.
After a commercial, we get the Johnny Johnson theme music again as Johnny emerges from the livery in the morning.
WILL: Actually, this kind of sounds like Pippin.
DAGNY: Actually, it kind of sounds like the Are You Being Served? theme.
Apparently ready to continue his travels, Johnny heads to the stagecoach ticket office and raps on the window. An angry, fussy-looking man appears, squawks that they’re closed, and slams the window shut again.
RAJA: It’s The Wizard of Oz. “WHO RANG THAT BELL!”
Miss Mimi materializes out of nowhere and begins flirting outrageously.
WILL: She kind of looks like Alison Brie.
DAGNY: Yeah. TV’s Horse Girl.
Miss Mimi invites Johnny to go for a walk. She offers him her arm, and he grabs her by the bicep.
Miss Mimi asks about Johnny’s past and he mentions Laura, saying she’s just a friend and is “only eight.” (Laura’s true age depends on how many years have passed since the pilot, which is the subject of some debate. Melissa Gilbert was ten at this time, though.)
Miss Mimi takes Johnny to the window of a clothing store, presumably the same establishment haunted by the mad mother in “Ma’s Holiday.”
Miss Mimi says she covets a truly grotesque hat decorated with green ostrich plumes and a large dead bluebird. (Dagny pointed out similarities to a Mapp and Lucia storyline where Mrs. Wyse sits on and kills her pet budgerigar, “Blue Birdie,” then has it turned into a brooch, which she wears to its seance.)
Meanwhile, Mr. Edwards has risen. Fearing Johnny has flown the coop, he also bangs on the ticket guy’s window, and he also gets yelled at. The ticket guy is Olan Soule, another very familiar character actor perhaps best known for voicing Batman in cartoons.
He was also in North by Northwest.
Cut back to Johnny and Mimi in the street. He’s bought her the hideous hat. She pecks him on the cheek and departs.
RAJA: That bird looks like a Styrofoam glider you’d get at the dollar store.
Johnny stops at the ticket window again, and is told a trip to Minneapolis costs $5.10 ($102). I didn’t dig too deeply, but that price is probably too low, considering the distance.
But Johnny doesn’t have that much left, so he proceeds to the job placement center. Hilariously, a sign tells us the available jobs are “bull whacker” (wagon driver), “saddlemaker,” “bucker and faller” (logger), and “skinner.” But he learns he isn’t old enough for a job (which I find a bit improbable).
Then Johnny notices the ugly bird hat is back in the shop window. He asks a raspy-voiced man who’s wiping the window what happened and learns Miss Mimi returned it and kept the money.
God, they got some weird-looking old dudes for this one. This one, Leonard Barr, was apparently mostly famous for being Dean Martin’s uncle in real life.
Assuming Mimi has fallen upon some sudden hardship, Johnny rushes to find her. We see she’s in her room at the hotel, counting her money. They actually used fake 1870s currency in this one; in “Money Crop” I noticed they just used modern bills.
Johnny arrives accompanied by Mr. Edwards, who’s caught up to him. Miss Mimi bursts into tears and said she needed the money to travel to see her parents, whom she calls Ma and “Puppa Paw.”
DAGNY: She’s good.
WILL: Yeah, she’s a regular Elizabeth Taylor. Or TV’s Horse Girl.
Ma and Puppa Paw apparently live in Maryland, but the hat refund alone isn’t enough to get her there. Johnny declares he’s now doubly determined to get a job so he can fund her trip.
I know things are really getting excruciating here, so I’ll try to get through the last fifteen minutes quickly.
First, in a hilarious blooper, we see Johnny begging a man who’s sweeping an outdoor stairway for a job. The actor accidentally breaks the balusters with his broom.
Then Mr. Edwards notices Miss Mimi is conning an older gent who’s probably the weirdest-looking character so far into re-buying her the hat.
WILL: It’s Paul Reubens.
DAGNY: No, it’s Gene Wilder.
RAJA: No, it’s Eric Idle.
(I don’t recognize Alvin Hammer, the actor, but apparently he was in Scrooged.)
Mr. Edwards leaps out from behind a corner, seizes the guy, and pretends to be Mimi’s outraged father. You know, somewhere in here there are some funny ideas trying to break through, but pure comedy is really outside this show’s comfort zone. (For instance, shouldn’t he refer to himself as Mimi’s Puppa Paw?)
Then, to Mimi, he says, “You and me are gonna have a talk,” and takes her back to her room.
DAGNY: Is he going to “negotiate” with her?
Miss Mimi starts crying, but Mr. Ed tells her to drop the “Ma and Puppa Paw” act. He cynically says maybe “runny-nosed kids” like Johnny and “lonely midgets” (yikes) like Paul Reubens/Gene Wilder/Eric Idle might be fooled, but he isn’t.
Mr. Edwards pulls out the $15 he had saved for his Winchester 1873, saying she can earn some money if she goes along with one final scheme to teach Johnny a lesson.
Then we cut to him looking glumly at the gun through a shop window, while a sad arrangement of “ODT” plays in the orchestra.
RAJA: The classic bassoon-vibraphone combo.
But Mr. Ed didn’t have enough money anyway; the Winchester 73 retailed at $35-$50 in the 1870s ($700-$1,000).
Back at the Silver Slipper, Mr. Edwards brings the card sharps in on the scheme, while the guy at the piano still weeps.
DAGNY: Why is he crying, exactly?
ROMAN: I think it’s because they don’t need a piano player anymore.
RAJA: Fuckin’ Industrial Revolution.
In the livery, Johnny is preparing to walk to Minneapolis to look for work. Mr. Edwards tells him with his luck, he should just win some more money at poker.
EDWARDS: What have you got to lose? It’s just as easy to walk with empty pockets.
RAJA [as JOHNNY]: “Not in these overalls!”
So Johnny comes back to the game room, where he does indeed clean up again. But when he looks for Miss Mimi to give her the money, the card sharps tell him she’s ill in her room.
Miss Mimi is not ill, but simply depressed and missing her ma and her Puppa Paw.
OLIVE: If she says Puppa Paw one more time, I’m out.
Johnny gives her his winnings to buy a ticket to see them, but she says she’ll only do so if he also returns to his father. He reluctantly agrees.
RAJA: Was she in a cheap porno from this time?
WILL: Why, do you recognize her?
The actor, Jane Alice Brandon, didn’t have a long acting career, in porn or anything else.
So Mr. Edwards takes Johnny home. Mr. Johnson gruffly but gratefully accepts him back.
DAGNY: He should start calling his dad “Puppa Paw.”
Then Mr. Edwards heads to the mill and tells Mr. Hanson he got the black eye fighting off robbers on the road. Kind of late to be introducing him into the storyline.
Blah blah blah, “Old Dan Tucker,” the end.
One credit in the end titles caught our eye, though.
RAJA: Who the hell was “Fat John”?
“Fat John” (Fat Joke #8) was apparently the sad piano player . . . and was played by Little House writer/producer extraordinaire John Hawkins! Bum-Bum-Ba-Dum!
STYLE WATCH: Miss Mimi wears a number of nice outfits. I’m not mad about the feather boa, though.
WILL: Did you enjoy the second episode in the Johnny Johnson saga?
Neither did I. Victor French tries his best, though.
UP NEXT: Founder’s Day