They were both centered around family. They both took place in a time very different from the one their television audiences lived in. And, they both kept audiences coming back for many years thanks to their interesting storylines.
So, it’s not surprising that the two shows would be compared to one another. And, according to an interview Michael Landon gave prior to his death, those comparisons did not bother him. The legendary television star talked about the comparisons during a 1974 interview with Bobbie Wygant. At the time, “Little House on the Prairie” was just beginning its very successful run on television.
“Some of the people have been saying that this is a kind of a western ‘Waltons,'” Wygant said to Landon during the interview. “Do you resent that?”
It’s an interesting question, for sure. And, interestingly, Landon said he did not resent the comparison to “The Waltons.”
“No. I don’t resent that,” Landon said.
Michael Landon Said Lack of Violence Was Something ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and ‘The Waltons’ Had In Common
In fact, he said his new show getting compared to “The Waltons” said something about how television shows were produced at the time.
“I think it’s an interesting commentary on the state of television,” Landon added. “In other words, any show that you have that guarantees, uh, non-violence is in fact someway a ‘Waltons’ episode.”
One of the factors that led to the comparisons between “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons” was the lack of violence on each of the shows, according to Michael Landon.
“If we were doing the future and there was no killing, then we would be doing a futuristic ‘Waltons.’ The fact is that when you watch the tube, everybody’s getting hit on the head and having car chases,” he said during that 1974 interview. “And, you can interpose one act of one show with an act of another and never miss a beat.”
What Michael Landon’s show and “The Waltons” did was provide viewers with compelling stories that many other shows were not giving their viewers. These were stories centered around family and community. So, it’s no wonder that Landon was content with his show being compared to “The Waltons.”
You can watch Michael Landon talk about “Little House on the Prairie” during 1974 below.