This pilot for the long-running (1972-1982) family series stars all the regulars-to-be and spends half its length setting up character, setting, and mood. As with the series, the story is told from the viewpoint of Laura Ingalls Wilder (played by Melissa Gilbert), upon whose novels the film was based. In addition to delineating the usual travails facing 19th century Minnesota farmer Charles Ingalls (Michael Landon), his wife, Caroline (Karen Grassle), and the rest of the Ingalls brood, the Little House on the Prairie pilot throws in surly Indians and a prairie fire as extra added attractions. Virtually thrown away by NBC, which scheduled the film opposite CBS' powerhouse Saturday night lineup (Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, et al.), Little House on the Prairie created a respectable enough dent in the ratings to encourage pursuing the project as a fall series.
by Hal Erickson synopsis