March 11, 2010

"She's a' losin' her sight, boy," Merlin Olsen, 1940-2010

I can't quite explain my love for LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. Yeah, I'm one of those ironic hipster Gen-Y/Gen-X types who "loves" the show in a snickering ironic way, watching mostly to make fun of and laugh at it (Classic LITTLE HOUSE snark includes: "Mline? I'm going... mline?"; the mime who rapes Sylvia episode; the classic Laura "Turn and run away" maneuver; Albert's death by nosebleed; the baby battering ram; etc.).

But secretly... secretly I kind of love it in just an ordinary, sincere, genuine, straight-forward kind of way. Not jokingly, but for true. I might put up an ironic front when I tell friends I love LITTLE HOUSE, but on the inside, I love it for real.

So I'm sadden to hear today that Merlin Olsen, a.k.a. Jonathon Garvey, has passed away. Jonathon Garvey was the best. He never got sanctimonious like Pa sometimes would. He was always a good friend to the Ingalls. And, my God, the poor man suffered so freaking much (i.e.: his wife dying in the horrific blind school fire) and yet he still managed to keep on living and being there for others.

As much as I loved Pa and Ma, I really loved Jonathon Garvey. He was this huge guy (the real Olsen was a former pro football player), a giant among mortals in Walnut Grove, and yet he was so gentle and kind. Whether he was saving Walnut Grove from anthrax or telling Seth Barton about Mary's blindness, Jonathon Garvey was the quiet, unassuming best friend of Walnut Grove. I'd like to think that Charles Ingalls is playing his fiddle right now, welcoming Jonathon to heaven while Rev. Alden says a few comforting words. Yeah, I guess that's a little sappy, but I told you, I'm a sincere fan of LITTLE HOUSE. Sappy is allowed. Rest in peace, Merlin Olsen.

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