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» » Little House on the Prairie The Legend of Black Jake (1974–1983)

Short summary

A pair of bumbling crooks kidnaps Nels and holds him for ransom. However, Mrs. Olesen refuses to pay the $100 fee required to free her husband, so Nels decides to work with the crooks to get his revenge. In the process, nearly everyone in Walnut Grove finds themselves on the wrong side of the criminals.

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: Oreavi
    Our very funny story begins with a bank holdup, where we see two bad guys exiting the bank—but they back right up into a paddy wagon and are hauled off to jail. We are told it is now 12 years later, and the two, Max and Georgie, are riding a donkey just outside Walnut Grove. Max is the leader, played by Todd Susman, who is known as Officer Shifflett to fans of the Newhart series. Georgie (Royce D. Applegate) is the bigger, stronger, and dumber of the two.

    They overhear Nels telling Charles about his "pure gold," but they have no way of knowing he is referring to his lucky fishing lure. So the bad guys on their donkey follow Nels on his wagon as he heads out of town. When they accost him and learn he doesn't actually have any gold, they clumsily remove their masks, then figure they can't just let him go.

    So they take him to the abandoned mine they want to use for a hideout, and send a ransom note demanding $100. Harriet delivers no money, just a note saying she doesn't believe they'll release him and she doesn't want to lose both her husband AND $100. A second note asking for $50 is similarly rejected.

    Now Nels is upset at his wife more than his kidnappers. He tells them he has an idea. Before you know it, Nancy and Willie are asking the bank president for "more" ransom money because Harriet has now been kidnapped as well as Nels. It seems Harriet let them think she paid the previous ransom. The banker won't let them have any money, because Harriet is the only person authorized to remove money from the account.

    Back in the hideout, Harriet has been introduced to the gang's "leader" a hooded, quiet man called Black Jake. She mentions that the kids won't be able to get money because she is the only one authorized on the account.

    As Harriet is sleeping, Nels gets an inspired idea. The kidnappers had already told her they killed him, so he coats his face with flour and appears, ghostlike, asking Harriet why she didn't treat him better, and promises her he has made his complaints clear and that her time is coming sooner than she thinks. This leads to another of her comical faints, which are numerous in this episode.

    The comedy continues as we see Nancy and Willie planning on holding up the bank with a licorice-shaped gun the next morning, only the banker never shows up. It turns out, he's joined the group of kidnappees inside the mine shaft. Soon, he seems to be having a heart attack, so the bad guys go to get the doctor. They return with Doc Baker AND Rev. Alden, who was with Doc.

    The next plan—again coming from Nels, as he talks to the guys outside the shaft, away from the others—is to send Doc and the Reverend to the bank, with Banker Anderson's key. This plan goes awry too. Soon enough, there are more of the citizens held in the mine shaft by the bumbling crooks, who are out of ideas on what to do.

    Applegate and Susman might not have been as funny as Tim Conway and Don Knotts in the Apple Dumpling Gang, but the style of humor here was quite similar. I thought this was a very funny episode of the series, one of the funniest. I would have liked the series better if, say, one episode of every five had been a comedy like this one. To me, it's a 9.
  • comment
    • Author: inform
    This is one of those silly episodes. I really like this episode. It all starts with these two stupid bank robbers who get out of jail after stupidly backing into a prison wagon. The arrive in Walnut Grove and overhear Nels and Charles talking about Nels having gold. It's not exactly the kind of gold they are expecting, but after they kidnap him they decide to hold him for ransom. They don't know Harriet like we do!

    Harriet's reaction is funny. She doesn't faint because Nels is kidnapped. She faints because they want $100. The ransom note she sends is pretty funny as well, and Nels does a good job in getting her back!

    After Harriet disappears, Charles and Almanzo try to solve the mystery. Nancy enlists Willie to help him get their parents back, but Willie eats their plan. Willie really doesn't act his age here. I think he was quite immature...Scary as it is, Nancy was more mature than Willie is!

    If your looking for a light-hearted stress-free episode, watch this one. Dr. Baker, Reverend Alden, Nancy, Willie, Nels, and Harriet all bring comic relief!
  • comment
    • Author: Xtani
    After spending twelve years in prison to answer for their unsuccessful bank robbery, Georgie and Max are out and trying to catch a break. After making so many mistakes in their crimes, they're just as determined as ever to get it right one of these days. While riding through the countryside on the back of one poor mule, the two bumbling bandits wander into Walnut Grove, noticing a small advertisement for Oleson's Mercantile right beside the town sign. Well, after listening in on a conversation between Nels and Charles, they think Nels is carrying pure gold, so they follow along behind him as the poor merchant just wanted to go fishing, but they catch up to him down the road, stop him dead in his tracks and hold him up. Well, come to find out, the pure gold was just trinkets, and Georgie makes the mistake of removing his mask during the hold-up, so now they gotta kidnap Nels and hold him for ransom. That night, they deliver the ransom note to Harriet. who fainted dead away. It took Doc Baker to reviver her (darn) and it all came back to her: the kidnappers wanted $100 in exchange for Nels. Feeling to be the only one fit for the task, Harriet went to deliver the ransom herself, despite protests. But Georgie and Max are in for a surprise, because in lieu of ransom money, Harriet left a snotty letter trying to call their bluff and wouldn't risk the money...yeah, leave Nels at their mercy, at least she won't have to be $100 poorer. What a bitch; Well, if at first you don't succeed.... so Georgie and Max send a second note, claiming it's either money, or Nels' life.

    Well the fat bitch didn't come through the second time, so Nels decided to try and work with Georgie and Max to help them get their money and spare his life. His solution: kidnap Harriet, so they do just that, and Nancy and Willie try to get the ransom money out of the bank, but have no luck. Not even when they try to rob it. Yes, they attempted to rob the bank using a licorice gun, but that failed when Willie ate it; back at the kidnappers' lair, Nels Oleson, now donning the identity of Black Jake, meanest, darkest outlaw ever to brandish a blade, delights in tormenting Harriet by making her think he was killed. It was all in good fun, but it looks as though they won't be getting their ransom, since only Harriet has access to their bank account. Next logical solution: kidnap Anderson, the banker. Get this: Anderson suffers a heart attack so they have to go fetch Doc Baker, and since Reverend Alden was visiting him, he too found himself kidnapped and brought to Max and Georgie's hideout. With no other alternative left, Nels suggests they simply take the key from Anderson and rob the bank...now why didn't they think of that? So while Baker and Alden are sent on their forced mission, donning black hoods, Charles and Almanzo stake out the bank to await the obviously impending robbery. Well, the two punch-drunk idiots attack and knock out the poor doctor and reverend respectively. But when they came to, they were unable to carry out their task, because thanks to Charles, Reverend Alden forgot the combination to the safe. Next plan of action: the old switcheroo! Never fails! So after an exchange of clothing, Reverend Wilder and Doc Ingalls set off to infiltrate the kidnapper's hideout...and get captured, as do Alden and Baker. Well, with no money and six hostages, Georgie and Max sorta just...give up and run away, releasing everybody. But at least Harriet learns that Nels is alive and well...and faints dead away again. Th-th-th-that's all, folks!

    Funny episode. One of Little House's few funny episodes and they really pull it off. Even Nels' cheesy ghost effect was done with dignity. While not one of the best episodes, it's still a lot of fun. Richard Bull was terrific, as were Todd Susman and Royce Applegate as the two bumbling bandits. Nice to see everybody got in on the adventure in this one. Before much longer, all of Walnut Grove would have been held for ransom, but it was only a 60-minute episode. I also liked how Nancy wasn't a total brat in this episode. Just goes to show she could be a responsible person and do what was right if they didn't keep making her character so teeth-gratingly obnoxious. Anyway, if you're a Nels Oleson fan or you like funny Little House episodes, this one is for you. Check it out and learn the true legend of Black Jake Oleson!
  • Episode cast overview, first billed only:
    Michael Landon Michael Landon - Charles Ingalls
    Karen Grassle Karen Grassle - Caroline Ingalls
    Melissa Gilbert Melissa Gilbert - Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Rachel Lindsay Greenbush Rachel Lindsay Greenbush - Carrie Ingalls (as Lindsay Sidney Greenbush) (credit only)
    Sidney Greenbush Sidney Greenbush - Carrie Ingalls (as Lindsay Sidney Greenbush) (credit only)
    Katherine MacGregor Katherine MacGregor - Harriet Oleson
    Richard Bull Richard Bull - Nels Oleson
    Dean Butler Dean Butler - Almanzo James Wilder
    Jonathan Gilbert Jonathan Gilbert - Willie Oleson
    Allison Balson Allison Balson - Nancy Oleson
    Kevin Hagen Kevin Hagen - Dr. Hiram Baker
    Dabbs Greer Dabbs Greer - Reverend Robert Alden
    Todd Susman Todd Susman - Max
    Royce D. Applegate Royce D. Applegate - Georgie
    Sam Edwards Sam Edwards - Mr. Bill Anderson
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