Fred

When You Assume, It Makes a Goat Out of U and Me; or

Charge-in’ Charles

(a recap by Will Kaiser)

Title: Fred

Airdate: November 29, 1976

Written by Robert Vincent Wright

Directed by William F. Claxton

SUMMARY IN A NUTSHELL: Everybody gets an ass-butt from a goat. And, Charles is naked.

RECAP: We’ve a special guest with us this week: Amelia’s boyfriend Isaac. Now that we’ve brainwashed Amelia into being a Little House fan, we’ll allow Isaac into our little salon as well. 

Well, actually it isn’t the first time he’s ever watched Little House with us before. There was one other time. At the end of the episode, he said he thought the show was “dumb” and he “didn’t really like it.”

And yet, reader, he lives.

It was “My Ellen,” too!

But never mind that now. There’s a new writer this week: Robert Vincent Wright, who did scripts for Gunsmoke and Bonanza as well as an old Irwin Allen show called Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. (I’ve never seen this last, but it looks up my alley for sure.) 

Robert Vincent Wright donated his papers to the University of Oregon, but at a glance there doesn’t seem to be anything Little House-related in them. (This script is the only one he wrote for the show.)

Claxton is back as director. And the story they cook up is a dizzy doozy of silliness, crass humor, violence, and skin.

Let’s get to it, yes?

We open with a shot of a goat. 

ROMAN: “Wouldst thou like to live DELICIOUSLY?”

David Rose’s music throughout features an electric guitar “humorously” “commenting” on the action. (Some of us detected innuendo in those musical “comments.” You can sort of picture one of the Hee Haw Honeys bathing in a washtub to it, or something.)

(I can, anyway.)

Any innuendo is probably just our filthy imaginations, of course. But you can certainly tell it’s the same David who wrote “The Stripper.” 

The guy can’t help it

Anyways, behind the goat is a barn. And behind the barn . . .

ISAAC: THAT’s supposed to be Minnesota?

WILL: I know, this week it kind of looks like Appalachia, doesn’t it?

An old man emerges from around the corner. He might need hip surgery, judging from how he walks.

The old man makes a bunch of crazy “comedy” faces and goes into the barn.

As he goes, he sings “The Church in the Wildwood” – a gospel song that dates to the 1850s.

There’s a horse in the barn.

DAGNY: Is that Bunny?

OLIVE: Yeah, this guy nursed her back to health after all.

But no, apparently this horse’s name is “Happy.” The crazy old man screams at it to join him in a duet.

The old man is played by Don “Red” Barry, a prolific but apparently troubled and difficult actor. He was in a million ancient westerns and some forgotten TV shows, but he also was on the Batman TV show and Kolchak: The Night Stalker, which is cool. And he was in Orca (a family favorite of ours).

Don “Red” Barry in his younger years

Little House fans know him best, however, as the memorably evil, drunken, racist Jud Lar[r]abee, a recurring villain who shows up next season.

Remember him?

Anyways, in this one he’s nice.

Well, the crazy old man bends over, and the goat runs in and butts him in the ass.

So hard is the ass-butt, in fact, that the guy smashes through the barn wall and does a somersault.

OLIVE: Oh my God, I forgot the story of this one. Jeez Louise.

As the goat is charging, the guitar plays “The Bullfighter’s Song,” a familiar old tune written by a Mexican songwriter named Luis Arcaraz – who apparently was a bullfighter himself as a young man. (A nice choice.)

Out of nowhere, Laura and a woman we’ve never seen before suddenly appear. (But by this point in the series, we’re used to such surprises.)

Laura yells “Oh, Mr. Parsons!” and the lady says, “Rufe, did you hurt yourself?”

“Twarn’t me,” the crazy old farmer man says. That’s right, “Twarn’t.” I backed it up to make sure. 

(This episode contains more “old-timey talk” than any other we’ve had so far. Maybe because the writer was new?)

The old man starts sputtering, or perhaps spluttering, about how he wants to shoot the stupid goat.

“Oh, land’s sakes!” the lady, presumably his wife, exclaims. Some might say that’s an expression they’re overusing this season.

Mrs. Parsons is Joan Tompkins, a hardworking actor who was a semi-regular on My Three Sons

Joan Tompkins (at left), with Barbara Colletine (who was better known to Little House fans as Mrs. Richard Bull!)

Oddly, Tompkins will also return to Little House down the road . . . as Jud Lar[r]abee’s wife! (Were Barry and Tompkins some sort of duo, like Stiller and Meara?)

Coming soon on Little House

Anyways, Mrs. Parsons thinks her crazy husband is overreacting. He screams that the goat has butted him “afore” and will do so again, given the chance.

Laura listens to this speech, amused.

AMELIA: Laura’s facial expressions are great.

WILL: Duh, it’s Melissa Gilbert.

The wife yells at the farmer then. I’m beginning to like these two, actually.

The woman tells the man to pay Laura already for whatever work she’s done for them, and leaves.

The crazy guy grabs one of Laura’s school notebooks and starts scribbling in it.

WILL: He’s making notes for his blog.

ROMAN: Nah, it’s a Wordle.

Laura has to correct the crazy man a couple times when he’s calculating her paycheck. But it seems he’s a genuine idiot rather than a cheat.

No one ever explains what Laura did for this couple, but whatever it was, Parsons pays her 40 cents ($8) for it.

Laura then asks if he really means to shoot the goat. 

OLIVE: Grr, she was raised on a farm! I’m so annoyed the kids on this show are so soft about animals.

The old man says he’s a penny short on her pay . . . so Laura says she’ll just take the goat instead of the cash.

Bizarrely, the crazy farmer THEN goes into a sales pitch, talking the goat up as “the last of his kind.” Dude, she already said she’d take the thing, okay?

The old man goes on and on, saying the goat has “took” to Laura “like a hornworm to a tomato.” 

WILL: Disgusting expression.

The tomato hornworm (I hate larvae)

“And honey,” the crazy old man adds unnecessarily, “that’s a lot of tookin’.”

Also disgusting

Well, Laura walks the goat home. The cow moos blearily at them. Does it have a name?

Well, yes it does, because suddenly, Laura shocks us by looking at it and saying, “Hello, Spot.”

SPOT???????????

By my count, this is the heretofore-unnamed cow’s ninth appearance on the show. Why did it take so long to come up with a name? 

My theory here is that Landon, Hawkins, Sandefur et al. could never agree on one, so when they hired Robert Vincent Wright they all pledged to accept his suggestion and be done with it. 

And apparently the best Robert Vincent Wright could do, friends, was “Spot.”  

Maybe in the next life, Robert Vincent Wright

Inside the Little House, Ma is chatting with Ol’ Four Eyes – I mean, Mary. (The latter’s wearing her glasses for the first time in a while.) 

Ma is snipping beans, Karen Grassle’s lackluster knife skills again on sad display.

Mary is blither-blathering about studying. (Her default setting.)

One-note Mary

Well, the sound of the goat draws them outside.

Laura (rather tediously) tells them the whole fucking story. (I can sympathize, though. It’s not easy keeping these recaps so brisk!)

Mary is charmed by the goat, and suggests “William the Conqueror” as a name.

Nobody knows what William the C really looked like, but sculptor George S. Stuart thinks it might have been like Graham Chapman in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Laura announces she’s decided to call him Fred.

OLIVE: Why on EARTH would she name him that? The same name as her dead brother?? And nobody notices, or cares???

[murmurs of agreement from our entire company of viewers]

The late Charles Frederick “Baby Freddie” Ingalls

Then Laura starts talking about her homework, saying she’s got to do her “intas,” meaning long division . . . which is stolen from Jethro’s “gazinta” routines on The Beverly Hillbillies, right?

And all these years you thought you’d gotten away with it, Robert Vincent Wright!

Now we come to what’s many people’s favorite storyline in this episode, or indeed in the series as a whole. I refer to The Adventures of Naked Charles Amongst the Reeds.

We begin with a shot of a bog or pond. Immediately, we notice an unmistakable pink stripy shirt hanging from a nearby tree branch.

Within seconds, Charles emerges from the water. He is carrying an armful of rushes and, we can infer, is completely nude.

OLIVE: I like this part.

Charles tosses the rushes aside, when out of nowhere appears a buckboard carrying Carl the Flunky and Mrs. Foster! 

(Amazingly, despite Mrs. F’s promiscuity, she’s not been paired up with Carl to this point. Never too late, I guess!)

Anyways, with an “oh shit, my dick’s out” face that wouldn’t be out of place in a Porky’s movie, Charles conceals his nakedness by diving back into the bog or pond.

Mrs. Foster apparently did not see him. Probably a good thing for him too, given her history.

When they’re gone, Charles comes to the surface covered by algae or some other sort of aquatic greenstuff.

AMELIA: It’s The Dark Crystal!

When Charles and the Chonkies arrive home, Ma is setting up for a fish boil.

Charles, whose pink shirt is filthy even though he wasn’t wearing it to do the work, disembarks from the Chonkywagon.

He complains about the unpleasanter aspects of rushes-harvesting, including getting “bit” by “mud wasps.”

(I guess there is such a thing, but I’m not sure they dwell in marshlands.)

The mud dauber, or “mud wasp”

Charles then makes an expository speech, saying he’s been harvesting the rushes as part of a contract with someone named Phineas Jenks. Jenks, he says, is a skinflint who’s only paying him $8 ($160 today) for three days’ work. 

This he describes as “slave wages.” Much too soon on that one, Chuck.

He does confirm that where he was swimming was the place previously identified as “the swamp.” (We were never able to pinpoint its precise location, though, unfortunately.)

Previously on Little House

Caroline says, “Charles, there’s a hot tub and dry clothes in the barn.”

DAGNY: A hot-tub?

Charles starts frisking at her. She receives it cheerfully.

Chemistry

Charles steps into the barn to look for this “hot tub.”

But the goat sneaks up behind him. And, when he’s bent down to remove his sock, Fred charges up and butts him in the ass.

WILL: I just thought of a great Walnut Groovy line. When Fred charges at Charles, it isn’t Charles in Charge, it’s Charge-in’ Charles.

DAGNY: You might want to do some more exploration before launching that one.

Speaking of launching, Charles goes flying out of the barn into the dirt.

More exploration be damned!

That night, at dinner, Mary is giggling madly, like the possessed girl in The Evil Dead.

Madly giggling Mary

Pa asks what’s so funny, and she says it’s hilarious the goat’s name is “Friendly Fred.”

OLIVE: UNBELIEVABLE!!!

Charles says, “I’ve seen more friendship when I poked a hole in a hornets’ nest.” He’s obsessed with wasps for some reason this week.

Laura says she feels sorry for Fred, and Pa says, “Sorry for Fred? What about me?”

ROMAN: Narcissist.

Mary interrupts to tell the audience what rushes were used for back in the olden days. (Making furniture, and the like, I guess.)

Vintage rush chairs
Audience-helpin’ Mary

Pa says the goat has no practical value and so they should get rid of it. I’m surprised Carrie isn’t taking more of an interest, truthfully.

Laura points out Fred is “the last of his kind,” and Pa says he’s glad the line will be dying out.

ISAAC: Ha ha, genocide.

Genocide!

That night in the loft, Mary-are-you-awake-no-if-you-were-asleep-you-wouldn’t-say-no, etc.

Laura asks her sister for advice on the Fred sitch. Mary, whose expression suggests she’s thinking back to “The Collection,” the last episode where she had an interesting part in the saga, says they should just sell him for the leather.

AMELIA: Wow, that’s a dark suggestion.

WILL: Well, don’t a lot of women hate goats?

None of the women in this house thought so. I was sorry I said anything, in fact. I don’t know where I got that idea, and I apologize for making that assumption. You know what they say, when you ASSUME, it makes a goat out of U and me.

Takin’-it-there Mary

Anyways, this scene continues on for a little while longer, despite there being no further content in it.

Downstairs, Caroline and Charles it appears are, um, playing Mommy and Daddy. She’s tucking him in, anyways.

Then she blows out the lamp and walks around to her side of the bed.

OLIVE: Wait, their bed isn’t flush up to the wall? I always thought it was.

So did we all, it turns out. Well, it isn’t.

David Rose, whose score for this has been lecherous from the start, now gives us Johnny Johnson-type lounge-lizard music – suggesting Caroline won’t let Charles fall asleep right away tonight.

AMELIA: She must have been peeping on him in the rushes.

But the mood is destroyed by a loud crash and goat noises from the barn. Haw haw.

The next morning, Jack runs around insanely in the yard.

DAGNY: I hate Jack.

Laura comes out and realizes Fred has escaped. David gives us some very weird cakewalk-y sort of music.

Then she and we see that Fred is eating Charles’s rushes.

Charles himself rushes out, ha ha ha, and the score turns sinister – and familiar.

AMELIA: I don’t know about the Jaws music.

Pa makes an angry speech saying the goat must go, then stomps off and stubs his toe on a bucket.

This is a comedy one, in case you hadn’t gathered

After the commercial break, we see Mr. Edwards coming up a path singing “Old Dan Tucker.”

WILL: He hasn’t sung this in a while.

DAGNY: The other stories have been too serious.

ROMAN: Yeah. But this is an “Old Dan Tucker” episode if I’ve ever seen one.

He looks around furtively, so he’s up to something.

Soon we see Carl (Sanderson) has been tailing him. Brian Part is great as Carl in this one, but that’s always the case whenever Carl’s in the episode.

Mr. Ed arrives at some sort of crude tent that’s (very poorly) hidden behind some brush.

Inside the tent is a boiling kettle of moonshine.

Carl reveals himself, which gets Mr. Ed spluttering, or perhaps sputtering, in embarrassment.

Carl asks what’s in the secret tent, and Mr. Edwards says he’s boiling up some turpentine.

He adds that because this activity is dangerous, Carl mustn’t tell anybody he’s working on it.

ISAAC: He’s kind of John Goodman-like.

WILL: Yes, Victor French was kind of the John Goodman of his day.

John Goodman (at rear), with Melissa Gilbert’s sister Sarah at left

Carl agrees, and then, hilariously, he marches off singing “Old Dan Tucker” himself!

Hahahahahahahahaha!

All this has still been happening in the morning, before school. Now we cut to the schoolyard, where Willie emerges from the privy.

Laura, who’s hiding behind a tree with Fred, screams for him.

Laura goes into her “last of his kind” song and dance.

Willie, who can be very perceptive at times, says Fred “can’t be so special if you own him.”

Without mentioning Fred’s name, Laura tells Willie if he took the goat home he could make a fortune as a cheese producer.

Willie (who really isn’t this stupid) says he’ll take the goat off her hands.

OLIVE: Couldn’t they just let him loose?

WILL: He’s too dangerous.

Then Willie and Fred arrive in the yard of the Mercantile, where Mrs. Oleson is hanging clothes. She’s not thrilled about the acquisition.

Suddenly we cut back to the playground, where Laura and Carl (Sanderson) are riding on one of those things that’s like a sideways seesaw that spins and spins. I don’t know what you call it.

Just looking at it makes me sick, but Laura and Carl are impervious, and have a comfortable conversation whilst spinning.

Laura tells Carl she’s sold Fred to Willie, though if they went over the terms of this sale in the previous scene I missed it.

A boy runs past them – it’s hard to say who. An Ambiguously Ethnic Kid?

The kid grabs Carl’s hat from off his head, yelling, “You’re big and fat and I got your hat!” (The transcriptionist can’t quite keep up, though.)

We haven’t had a fat joke on this show in a while – this is the eleventh in the series so far, by my count.

In the background, you can see kids including Cloud City Princess Leia, Not-Albert, Not-Linda Hunt, the Kid with Very Red Hair, Sweet Colleen, and Nondescript Helen.

Back in the Mercantile yard, Mrs. O alternates hanging clothes on the line and shooting Fred dirty looks.

David Rose’s guitar comes in again.

AMELIA: What’s with the seventies porn music?

I don’t wanna know how she knows what seventies porn music sounds like . . . but she’s not far off.

Anyways, Fred eats some clothes, which gets Mrs. Oleson’s goat. (Hardly a worthwhile joke, I know – I might take it out later.)

Goats’ reputations for eating anything is mostly a myth it seems, though it is true they often chew up non-food items.

Mrs. Oleson screams “Oh, for heaven’s sakes!” a few times and unties Fred. 

Eagle-eyed viewers will notice her “ladies’ cut” version of Pinky is amongst the stuff hanging from the line.

Pinky 2

Well guess what, Fred butts Mrs. O in the ass and propels her face-first into a pile of mud.

Meanwhile, inside the school, Brainiac Mary is skipping recess to turn in homework

Typical Mary

“I hope you like it,” she says to Miss Beadle, as if grading the stupid kids’ papers is how the Bead gets her kicks on the weekends. 

(It isn’t, though.)

Well, just then the unmistakable voice of Harriet Oleson is heard braying in the schoolyard.

Still covered with mud, Mrs. O comes round the corner to find the whole class staring at her like the Children of the Corn.

Mrs. Oleson snarls at some gawking AEKs.

Willie and Tartan Nellie come swooping in, like chickenhawks on Jebediah Mumfort’s barnyard

(Nellie has no dialogue in this episode, sadly/strangely.)

Anyways, this squadron of Olesons wheels in formation to attack Laura.

But like Glinda the Good Witch (a character she resembles in a few ways, actually), the Bead blocks their advance on her charge.

Mrs. Oleson hilariously explains what happened, referring to Fred as a “loathsome monster” and Laura as a “swindling moppet.”

Ha! “Swindling moppet” is good, I think

Mrs. O then ridicules Willie for not noticing this “cheese-producing” animal is male.

Mary cracks up at this.

Mirthful Mary

Willie demands the return of what he paid for Fred. This consists of “two aggies, one mig, nine cents and a genuine Barlow knife.”

Aggies are pretty agate marbles, as we’ve noted before. 

A “mig” or “mib” is apparently a common or garden-variety marble not used for shooting. 

Nine cents was worth nearly $2 in today’s money, and a Barlow knife is the American equivalent of the better known Swiss Army knife. (Better known to me, anyways.)

The Bead tries shutting down this line of conversation by calling the kids back into school.

But when they go in, they find Fred, eating homework off Beadle’s desk. “My essay!” shrieks Mary.

The Bead, who after all is pretty easily angered, screams, “Laura, get that goat out of here!” 

Mary keeps screeching about her essay.

Screeching Mary

All the kids laugh at her (which is great).

Mary mocked

Laura drags Fred out the back door. 

Mary says “My essay” once more, but by now she’s losing steam.

Deflated Mary

Cut to Laura and Carl, who are down by the creek, and down in the dumps.

OLIVE: Is Charles going to come out of the water naked again?

On the soundtrack, David gives us “The Love of Willie Oleson” again. That title, of course, is obsolete, since by this point he’s used the same music for Laura’s love affairs with both Henry Henderson and Jason R., as well as for a generic going-to-bed scene and one in which Laura’s bummed she can’t sell any homeopathic medicines.

Carl and Laura have a blah-blah-what-are-we-doing-to-do conversation.

Carl says maybe Mr. Edwards will let him keep Fred, and hey presto, their problem will be solved.

OLIVE: Couldn’t they just let him loose?

WILL: He’s been raised in captivity. He’d never survive.

Off they go. Laura says Mr. Edwards is sweet and good with animals; plus, she heard he “sweet-talked a bear out a honey tree once.”

I’m not sure about that. I do know one almost fucking killed him recently, and Laura knows that too.

Carl says, “Why, old Fred’ll take to Pa like that Damon and Pythias book we’ve been readin’.”

Now, this seems a reference out of left field to me. You may know the Greek myth of Damon and Pythias, but I had to look it up.

So, this chap Pythias gets arrested for plotting against the government and is sentenced to death. His pal Damon volunteers to take his place on death row so Pythias can go dispense with his estate. (Probably he thought Pythias would leave him everything, in thanks.)

Anyways, time goes by and they’re about to kill Damon when Pythias returns. The Emperor or whatever is so impressed by this miracle of friendship that he frees them and gives them his blessing.

I don’t know if that one’s going to make my listicle of favorite Greek myths. It’s no “Leda and the Swan” for shock value, that’s for sure. 

This is one of the tamer depictions I could find

Better suited for the 7+ crowd, of course.

But when they arrive at the Old Sanderson Place, the first thing Fred does is butt ol’ animal-lovin’ Mr. Ed in the ass.

Mr. Edwards goes flying, and he also throws an armload of firewood in the air.

AMELIA: Ha! I loved that one.

But going back to the theme of mythology for a moment, we then cut to a shot of Laura, Fred, and Carl walking across a field that for a moment creates a perfect illusion that Laura is a centaur.

They discuss what to do with Fred now.

OLIVE: Couldn’t they just let him loose?

WILL: Oh, will you just drop it?

For no real reason, Carl suggests they hide Fred in Mr. Edwards’s secret tent.

When they arrive, Carl says he “found [Mr. Edwards] here one day, accidental-like.”

Actually, those of us who are PAYING ATTENTION would point out that happened EARLIER THIS VERY DAY, CARL!

Carl describes the tent as Mr. Edward’s “thinkin’ place,” though I don’t think Mr. Ed described it as such in the earlier scene.

Carl explains to Laura about the bubbling pot of “turpentine,” which she notices is made with sugar and raisins. (I guess there’s a type of moonshine called “sugar shine” that is distilled from those ingredients.)

They leave Fred in the tent, and he immediately begins guzzling out of the boiling (?) cauldron.

After another break, we see Caroline crossing the yard at the Little House. Behind her is some kind of horse and cart that says Phineas Jenks on the side.

And Charles is over by his pile of rushes talking to some bowler-hat-wearing hoity-toit – Jenks himself.   

The conversation isn’t going well. Charles sasses him right from the start.

The actor, who in an interesting touch is doing a Welsh accent (the name Jenks being common in Wales), is a man with the cool name of Arthur Space.

Arthur Space was in 287 movies and TV series, and I could spend half the day reeling off all the things you might know him from. He was a regular on Lassie, was in National Velvet and the 1954 version of A Star is Born, and worked with everyone from Judy Garland to Abbott and Costello and Laurel and Hardy.

More recently, he informed the nation’s dogs about the COVID-19 pandemic

Weirdly enough, he ALSO was on Irwin Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. I wonder if he and Don “Red” Barry kicked back on the Little House set and reminisced about their old underwater days.

Anyways, Jenks lives up to his reputation by trying to cheat Charles out of $3 ($60). 

Charles stomps off, saying he’d “rather burn the rushes” than sell to a swindler.

But Caroline settles him down with a word or two.

And so, Charles takes Jenks’s cheaper price.

Back at the moonshine tent, Laura and Carl return to feed Fred.

They hear a belch come from inside. And you know why: because Fred is drunk. 

You know, my grandmother grew up during Prohibition, and she used to crack us up by telling us how her father would make moonshine, then serve the leftover mash to his pigs, who would stagger about and fall over in inebriation.

Anyways, seeing Fred drank the “turpentine,” Laura and Carl assume he’s poisoned and charge off to see Doc Baker.  (You’ll recall just last week Dags said he wasn’t seen playing vet often enough.)

Doc is not pleased to discover his new patient is a belching goat.

WILL: I wonder if Landon did the burping himself.

Rather surprisingly, since he is a veterinarian after all, Doc objects to having a goat in his office, and actually locks the door.

A moment later, Grace appears on the stoop to deliver a package, but, finding the door locked, she sets it down.

Mr. Edwards comes toddling after her, saying, “I’m so hungry, my stomach thinks my throat’s cut.”

WILL: Another disgusting expression.

Meanwhile, Doc Baker diagnoses Fred as “swozzle-eyed, addlepated, sodden-brained drunk!”

The dialogue, fake-old-timey though it is, isn’t bad in this one. Replace drunk with cocksucker and you’d have a line from Deadwood.

Anyways, Doc opens the door, bends over to pick up his package, and Fred butts him in the ass.

This time, the attack causes Doc to lurch out of his office and fall into Plum Creek.

Grace and Mr. Edwards come running. Doc climbs out of the water and squelches off complaining about Fred’s drunkenness.

Teetotaler Grace investigates (another good title for a spinoff series), and corroborates Doc’s claim.

And so, haw haw haw, it comes out HOW Fred became drunk, and where he got the booze that made him so.

Teetotaler Grace flips out and vows to punish Mr. Ed when they get home.

OLIVE: He gets drunk every day. Suddenly she cares?

Before leaving, Mr. Ed frightens the children by recalling eating mountain goat in the Rockies. (Today, mountain goat is rarely eaten, but some people say it’s good.)

Gordon Ramsey, for instance

Laura, Carl and Fred return to the banks of the creek in the woods once more.

AMELIA [singing]: “Why are there so many/Songs about rainbows . . . ?”

Carl angers Laura by actually suggesting they set Fred free.

He reminds her God takes care of all the wild creatures.

Then Laura says that’s it, they should ask someone “close to God” what to do.

“And who,” she asks, “is closest to God?”

DAGNY: That guy on the mountain?

But no, she means the Reverend Alden.

You guessed it, this whole conversation was a mere contrivance to get Fred’s head and Aldi’s ass in the same scene together.

And sure enough, it comes to pass. They arrive at church to find the Rev going over his Sunday sermon, which is on the theme of loving all God’s creatures.

DAGNY: That’s cute. He’s rehearsing!

Carl mentions that today is Saturday, which is strange, because there weren’t any nighttime scenes between the homework-eating bit at school and now. I suppose an awful lot has happened, though.

Well, I find it kind of depressing that we see Jehoshaphat, Aldi’s horse, standing helplessly in the sun. But I guess that’s the life of a clergyman’s horse.

In just a couple sentences, Alden jumps around from quoting Genesis 1:26 to the hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (which was around in the 1870s, in some form anyways).

Laura and Carl enter, and Aldi quivers slightly with happiness.

They start telling Rev. Alden about Fred, without mentioning he’s a goat, haw haw. 

They go through a long list of people who are out to get Fred.

LAURA: My pa doesn’t like him, and Carl’s pa doesn’t like him. Mary don’t like him.

OLIVE: I hate how inconsistent they are with the grammar and slang. Usually they speak perfectly, and then suddenly they’ll say something like “Mary don’t like him.”

WILL: It’s a great convention of western screenwriting.

Anyways, blah blah, Aldi bends over and Fred runs in and butts him in the ass.

After another commercial, Laura, Carl and Fred lumber across a field discussing what to do. (Well, Laura and Carl are discussing it.)

Melissa Gilbert trips over the line “That’s what made me make up my mind,” but who wouldn’t. I’m going to 100-percent fault Robert Vincent Wright on that one.

Try it yourself if you don’t believe me

Eventually, they agree to set Fred free. They even throw rocks at him to seal the deal, which seems excessive.

Laura blubbers a bit, then she and Carl go home.

That night, we see Phineas Jenks sleeping on the ground near his cart, which, we see now, describes him as a “trader buyer” in “fine medicinal herbs and flora.”

The back of the cart is open, and inside is Fred, who’s chewing up Jenks’s rushes.

Fred’s belching wakes Jenks up. He puts his hat on, even though it’s the middle of the night, which seems strange.

Well, Fred attacks him. This time it’s more of a full-on frontal assault. (I think goats have that reputation too.)

Thank goodness it’s dark, so the kiddies at home can’t see.

Rated 7+ for bestiality

The next morning, the Ingalls family is returning from church. Apparently Aldi junked his “love the animals” sermon in favor of a mean one based on Romans 6:23. Seems like he should have done that “separate the sheep from the goats” bit I learned in Sunday school.

But what do I know

Anyways, clearly Robert Vincent Wright’s interests lie more with Greek mythology than with the Bible. 

The Chonkies look nice today, by the way.

Jenks and his wagon appear. Caroline looks good also.

Jenks says all his rushes were “et by a great evil monstrous goat” so he needs some more for a customer in Kansas City.

Jenks says he’s worried about losing his shirt, to which Charles replies, “I think you’d look good without a shirt, Jenks” and laughs nastily. All right, Chuck, we know you have a perfect physique, there’s no need to rub it in for the rest of us mortals.

“Not as good as me, of course.”

This time Charles makes the terms, squeezing $12 out of the guy in addition to the $5 he already paid. That means he’ll have made about $350 on $320 worth of work, in today’s money. Not the hugest profit in the world, but I guess every bit helps.

Jenks accepts the deal, but sputters, or perhaps splutters, that it’s the last time he’ll do business with Charles. Charles just sasses him back.

Then, rather unbelievably, Laura uses this incident to persuade Pa to bring Fred back into the fold, if you’ll pardon the sheep/goat metaphor at this late stage.

Mary brings up her essay again, but even she’s happy Fred’s returning.

And Carrie slurps, “I like Fred!”

Laura runs off to find the goat, and in what seems like an improvised bit of dialogue, Landon says he better hide his earnings or Fred’ll eat them, and Grassle cracks up.

Pure chemistry

To music that gets wackier and wackier, Laura searches hill and dale.

Just when she’s about to give up, she finds him – only he abandons her because there’s a bunch of “nanny goats” out in a random field that he wants to join. (David gives us raunchy music, of course.)

“Dozens of them,” Laura says, though I think there’s probably about a dozen.

I don’t know what kind of goats these are supposed to be. They can’t be mountain goats or bighorn sheep, because Minnesota never had any. They could be feral goats – but we don’t really have those, either. And all females? But if none of these explanations work, where did they come from? Who do they belong to?

I guess we’ll never know, because that’s it. Bum-Bum-Bah-Dum.

THE VERDICT: I asked our viewers to rank the goat attacks based on their entertainment value. Here’s how it shook out:

#7
#6
#4 (tie between Doc and Mrs. O)
#3
#2
#1

Some people feel this story is the GOAT. I don’t know about that, but “Fred” really is a winning story. It’s silly, but has many clever touches, and it might be the best Little House story made specifically for children. (Sorry, “The Godsister.” . . .)

Well, thank you, Isaac, and thank you, Amelia. Both of them are headed back to school now, but will no doubt rejoin us when they can. 

As for you, reader, we’ll see you next time. Thanks for reading.

UP NEXT: The Bully Boys

Published by willkaiser

I live in the Upper Midwest. My name's not really Will Kaiser, but he and I have essentially the same personality.

2 thoughts on “Fred

  1. I loved this! I especially like all the references to the movies. You made my day. A lot of people don’t like this episode but I love it. I think my favorite person that got butted would be the Reverend Alden.😁🐐

    Liked by 1 person

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