Dying to Return to Walnut Grove
Young Albert Ingalls (Matthew Labyorteaux) is studying hard so that he can get in to the University of Minnesota to study medicine but a series of nosebleeds lead to the discovery that he has leukaemia and not long to live. Adamant he wants to enjoy everyday he has left he along with his father Charles (Michael Landon) return to Walnut Grove to stay with Laura (Melissa Gilbert). Whilst Charles finds himself getting involved with the farmers who are struggling and need to find away to survive a dispute they have with the railroad, Laura can't come to terms with the fact her brother is going to die and tries to force him to rest whilst Albert wants to be out there with those he grew up with before they headed to the city to live.
So when "Little House" or "Little House on the Prairie" as I always remember it came to an end they made three TV movie specials with "Little House: Look Back to Yesterday" being the first of the three. And "Little House: Look Back to Yesterday" certainly feels like the series I loved to watch as a child but with a few storylines interwoven to create enough drama to fill 95 minutes, 120 with adverts but not so much story that it becomes complicated or detracts from the heart which is at the centre of everything.
So what we get in "Little House: Look Back to Yesterday" is a very typical side as we have financial problems causing hardship in Walnut Grove with the farm owners having to lay off workers. So typically Charles gets involved in trying to find a way for the farmers surviving and making sure the families of Walnut Grove don't go hungry. And then there is the sadder but no less typical story of Albert having leukaemia and it hitting Laura hard as she is unable to come to terms with it. The thing is that the two stories whilst seemingly unconnected other than through locale end up interconnecting thanks to Albert and why he wanted to stay in Walnut Grove; the people and the community spirit.
Ironically considering "Little House: Look Back to Yesterday" is technically a TV movie special it isn't actually special but more of the consistently good family entertainment which the series delivered week in week out. And much of that is down to the casting with all involved delivering the sympathetic level of performance which made it so easy to fall in love with the characters every week when the show ran. But what is nice is this movie special gives Matthew Labyorteaux a chance to shine which he does.
What this all boils down to is that all those who enjoyed watching episodes of "Little House" will enjoy this feature length version as it stays true to how each episode was and that along with the familiar faces is all you really ever need.