‘Little House on the Prairie’: What ‘Surprised’ Melissa Gilbert About Watching Pilot as Adult

by Katie Maloney

Most people watch home videos when reminiscing about their childhood. Actress Melissa Gilbert watches the pilot episode of Little House on the Prairie.

Melissa Gilbert, who starred as Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie filmed her very first episode of the show when she was just 10-years-old. With nine seasons under her belt by the time the show was canceled, Gilbert basically grew up on the Little House set. So, it makes sense that she would go back and watch episodes of the show when reminiscing about her childhood. And she’s not alone. The Little House on the Prairie cast reunited for a virtual interview last month. During the interview, several cast members shared their memories of filming the first-ever episode of the show.

“I think the pilot may be one of the most perfect films in its entirety that I’ve ever seen. Certainly, on television,” said Melissa Gilbert. I’ve watched it now as an adult, and the thing that really strikes me about the pilot of Little House on the Prairie is how much silence there is in it. There are these long moments of us just driving. Or just looking at each other. Or just being. And it’s so unusual these days when everything is just music, music, music, dialogue, dialogue, dialogue, cut, cut, cut…It’s very cinematic.”

One Cast Member Doesn’t Have Good Memories Of The Pilot Episode For Little House On The Prairie

Karen Grassle, who played Caroline Ingalls, agreed that the pilot episode is special.

“I love the pilot too. I have such fond memories of shooting that,” said Grassle. “And I think one of the reasons is because it was so intimate. It was just the family. We were just out there in nature. And none of us knew each other and we were all going through this strange experience together, just like the family was. So, it was edgy in that way for us. I like the pilot.”

Other cast members didn’t remember the pilot episode of Little House on the Prairie being so warm in cozy. In fact, Sidney Greenbush who played the youngest Ingalls family member Carrie, remembers being very cold during the pilot episode.

“I remember when they put me in the creek when the house was on fire. And the creek was really cold,” said Greenbush. “And every time I watch the part with Victor crossing the creek, and he’s up to here [motions to her waist] with water, I have so much respect for him doing that because that was really cold. I’m surprised he didn’t get hypothermia.”