‘Little House on the Prairie’: How the Iconic Series Recycled Music, Plots from ‘Bonanza’

by Madison Miller

The series “Little House on the Prairie” showcases the wholesome lives of a family living on a farm near Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

The show had a natural balance of love and family and lessons while also contributing darker themes of drug addiction, alcoholism, abuse, and cancer. “Little House on the Prairie” is a TV adaptation of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s semi-autographical books.

The Western-drama clearly used recycled material from the book. NBC executive Ed Friendly did in fact purchase the film and TV rights of the books. However, did the show happen to recycle anything else?

Content Recycled from ‘Bonanza’

“Little House on the Prairie” was on from 1974 to 1982. That is until Michael Landon and Karen Grassle left the show and it was renamed “Little House: A New Beginning.”

Right before “Little House on the Prairie” was on NBC, the network had “Bonanza.” This show aired from 1959 to 1973.

“Bonanza” is NBC’s longest-running Western and is still popular in reruns today. Therefore, at the time, it made sense to reuse some of what made “Bonanza” so popular and influential.

According to MeTV, the ending theme of “Little House on the Prairie” was originally heard as a piece of incidental music during a season of “Bonanza.” The song was also composed by David Rose. He is known for writing music for TV shows like “It’s a Great Life,” “Highway to Heaven,” “Leave it to Beaver,” and “Highway Patrol.”

David Rose has written for several NBC shows, so perhaps it just made sense to reuse some of his music.

However, the same was done for certain episodes of “Little House on the Prairie.”

Episodes from “Bonanza” like “A Matter of Circumstance” and “A Dream to Dream” became “A Matter of Faith” and “Someone Please Love Me” for “Little House on the Prairie.” These are only a few examples.

In “A Matter of Circumstance” Joe is kicked by a horse and breaks his left arm while everyone else is away for the day. In “A Matter of Faith” Caroline cuts her leg and gets an infection after sending everyone else away to the picnic grounds for the weekend.

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Reboot

Speaking of recycling content, will fans see more of the “Little House on the Prairie” characters soon? As of December of last year, a reboot was being discussed.

According to Today, Paramount TV Studios will be teaming up with Anonymous Content on a reboot of the classic NBC show. Trip Friendly, the son of Ed Friendly who produced the original, is set to be the executive producer.

There is little information regarding the show and there is no word of any cast members yet. There are also no writers, but the project has gained interest from buyers. However, Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson, has shown interest.

She wants to instead play Nellie Oleson’s mom this time around.

“I’m just the right age to play Mrs. Oleson. I’m totally there. I have no shame,” she said.