‘Little House on the Prairie’ Actress Melissa Gilbert’s Favorite Episode is the Pilot: Here’s Why

by Madison Miller

Melissa Gilbert will always be known for her role as Laura Ingalls Wilder on “Little House on the Prairie” from when she was a child.

Since then, Gilbert has had a number of roles, mainly in television films. She was also Caroline “Ma” Ingalls in the production of “Little House on the Prairie, the Musical.” She even ran for U.S. Congress as a Democrat in 2016 but dropped out due to a head and neck injury.

Despite her ongoing career, fans of the classic series still picture her surrounded by the prairie landscape and other iconic actors like Michael Landon and Melissa Sue Anderson.

She also continues to support the show through reunions and other events. Clearly, Gilbert doesn’t mind her close association with the show. The cast of the show got together for “Stars in the House,” which supports The Actors Fund.

Melissa Gilbert Favorite ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Episode

Gilbert talks about her favorite episode she ever filmed for “Little House on the Prairie.” The show was on from 1974 to 1982. It had close to 200 episodes during its run. There are a lot of episodes and plotlines for her to pick as her favorite, but Gilbert took it back to the very beginning.

“I think that the pilot may be one of the most perfect films in its entirety that I’ve ever seen, certainly on television. I’ve watched it now from the eyes of an adult … the thing that really strikes me from the pilot of ‘Little House’ is how much silence there is. There are these long moments of us just driving or looking at each other or just being … ” Gilbert said.

The pilot of the series was a two-hour-long television movie. It aired on March 30, 1974. We are just a couple of days away from the anniversary of its premiere. The pilot was based on the third book in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book series. It was called “Little House on the Prairie: The Pilot.”

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Pilot

According to IMDb, the pilot was directed by Michael Landon, who also played the father figure, Charles Ingalls, throughout the series. The episode was written by Blanche Hanalis.

The pilot follows the Ingalls family as they move from Wisconsin to the prairies of Kansas in the late 1800s. Isaiah Edward, their neighbor, helps the family get through hardships like storms, fires, and hostile American Indian tribes as they look to settle into their home.

That home does not last long, however. The government forces the family to immediately pack up and leave. The next episode of the series shows the family settling into Plum Creek near Walnut Grove, Minnesota. This is where the rest of the series takes place and where the family settles down and experiences new joys and defeats.

It’s also the first time the cast ever worked with one another. In this instance, they were creating a movie instead of the typical episode. Karen Grassle, who played the mother Caroline Ingalls in the series, explained how much importance and intimacy came from the pilot of the show.

“None of us knew each other and we were all going through this strange experience together, just like the family was. It was edgy in that way…” Grassle said.

‘Stars in the House’ Show

According to Playbill, Sirius XM Broadway host Seth Rudetsky and producer James Wesley co-host “Stars in the House.” It is a daily live streamed series that the two husbands host in order to support The Actors Fund and its different services.

The show started in 2020 amidst the coronavirus pandemic shutting down theatres all around the world. It also features different guests, musical performances, and conversations for viewers to tune into.

According to the show’s website, there was $50,000 raised in just the first four days of airing. Guests have been Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Lithgow, Jason Alexander, Kristen Chenoweth, Bobby Lopez, Kristin Anderson-Lopez, and several others.

Melissa Gilbert, Karen Grassle, Rachel Lindsay Greenbush, Sidney Greenbush, Matthew Labyorteaux, Alison Arngrim, and Dean Butler all appeared to represent “Little House on the Prairie.”

Viewers can interact and make donations while streaming. Performers have been out of work due to the pandemic for about a year now.