The late Michael Landon spent his life as a part of our tv family. From 1959 when Bonanza came on the air until 1989 when Highway to Heaven was cancelled, there was not a single year that he did not have a series on the air. That is a record that will stand for all time I believe. He specialized in creating high quality family programming. People don’t generally realize that Mister Landon wrote and directed the majority of the episodes of Bonanza, Little House and Highway To Heaven. Little House showed us a simple, strong loving family who stayed together and solved their problems with the power of love and understanding.
Michael was everyone’s favourite strict but loving father. Melissa Gilbert said she really looked upon him as a father figure and the chemistry between Half Pint and Pa showed it. Thru Mary’s blindness and her baby’s death to Laura’s marriage and all the other problems the Ingalls stayed together. The show had a first class ensemble cast and everyone did a wonderful job at creating colourful characters from Victor French’s lovable Mister Edwards to Katherine MacGregor’s snobby, mean Mrs. Olsen. What I like is the fact that Harriet Olsen always got her “comeuppance” at the end of every episode as did Nellie, but they never really did learn their lesson. One episode I remember particularly well was the one where Richard Mulligan played a Civil War veteran who was still troubled by his experiences at the Battle of Shiloh. He had ran away in battle and was seriously addicted to morphine. Mulligan was brilliant in the part and unlike most episodes, this one had a completely tragic ending. He killed himself. Also, the episode where Albert became an addict was excellent.
People made fun of the scene where he vomits on Pa during withdrawal but that is exactly what happens to addicts when they go through it. Matthew Laborteaux visited rehab centres to research his part and it shows. It is a chilling look at the horrors of drug abuse.