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LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE: THE MUSIC BOX

Katy Kurtzman
title: LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE: THE MUSIC BOX
year: 1977
cast: Melissa Gilbert, Alison Arngrim, Katy Kurtzman
rating: ***1/2

That infamous rich bitch Nellie Oleson has a music box and poor little Laura Ingalls really, really wants it. It’s that simple? You wish! Laura, after swiping the box from Nellie’s bedroom during a private club meeting, hides it in her barn. And whenever needing a “fix,” she goes inside and listens to the chiming, metronomic tune that, after hearing it a dozen times, might drive you crazy. It sure does Laura… as the tune permeates into surreal, creepy, guilt-driven nightmares. The standout guest star is Katy Kurtzman, who in the next season would play a young Caroline Ingalls… Here she’s a sweet stuttering prairie girl named Annie who Nellie keeps from joining her club because… she’s just not normal enough, in Nellie's estimation, to belong. During one scene Nellie recites an impromptu poem that seems written by Mohammed Ali: “A chicken can squawk and a butterfly can flutter… But Anna can’t talk… All she can do is stutter!” This (and other classic Bad Nellie moments) makes for a classic episode: Especially after she catches Laura with the Music box and blackmails her into a form of mental slavery. And as Laura conceals the truth, she breaks poor Anna’s heart... All leading to a climactic emotional scene that proves Katy Kurtzman, who stutters and cries at the same time, was one talented child actress.

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