Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: PRIDE (inflated opinion of one’s self) (02/19/15)
- TITLE: Pompous Prune
By PamFord Davis
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Poised, Katherine Mac Gregor [as Harriet Oleson] stands behind the mercantile counter. Meticulous, she smooths the yoke of her Victorian pearl-buttoned blouse as beads of perspiration seep into the heavily starched collar. Clearing her throat, she makes eye contact with Michael Landon.
Landon sets up the scene. “Katherine, that last take was not quite right. Let’s give it another try. Harriet is berating Nels for giving credit to the Ingalls as he stacks the food shelves. Richard, you grow impatient and give her a tongue-lashing. Then Victor will enter. Okay? You both ready?”
Receiving their nods of readiness, Michael yells, “Action!”
Head tilted, Katherine [as Harriet] gazes upward towards Richard Bull [as Nels Oleson] on a stepladder.
“Nels…Do you hear me?”
“Don’t you dear me! Take the buckboard out to Ingalls place; demand they pay their bill in full! Tell them you are cutting off all credit. If it were not for my business sense, we’d be in the poor house! The nerve of that Charles, asking you to extend his credit. And for what? Coats for those ragamuffins!”
Without saying a word, Richard [as Nels] silently steps down from the ladder and carries it back to the storeroom.
Katherine [as Harriet] prances towards him, hands on hips and continues to rant.
“Nels Oleson, you haven’t heard a word I’ve said! I want you to make them pay!”
Richard [as Nels] gets right up in her face.
Surprised, in defense, she pulls her head back and opens her mouth to continue. Before she can utter a word, Richard [as Nels] cups his hand over her mouth and begins rebuttal.
“Now, you are going to listen to me! I like the Ingalls. They are good people, work hard, help their neighbors and have well behaved children, which is more than I can say for Nellie and Willie!”
Katherine, [as Harriet] is wide-eyed and infuriated; to no avail, she tries to free herself.
“Furthermore, [continues Richard as Nels] I own half of this store and I’ll give credit to who I choose and when I choose! Those girls needed warm coats for the winter.”
Katherine [as Harriet] finally loosens his grip from her mouth and continues. “If those pestilent girls were in dire need of clothing, Charles and Caroline should have saved their money to pay with cash.” (In a sarcastic tone she adds) “Maybe I should give them Nellie’s discarded clothes.”
Richard [as Nels] picks up a broom and shakes it in her direction. The normally subservient storekeeper takes a stand. “Harriet, go into the house! I have heard enough! Scat! Go! Go!”
Relenting, she stomps off to the living quarters, slamming the door behind her.
A bell jingles atop the storefront door as Victor French [as Isaiah Edwards] enters.
“Mornin’ Nels, with the racket from them there bells; a man would think its Christmas!”
He pauses to push a wad of chewing tobacco into his mouth before reaching to shake Nels hand.
“Nice to see you, Edwards. [Raising his hand above his head to serve as measurement he confides.] I’ve had it up to here with Harriet!”
Victor [as Edwards] chuckles saying, “Thinkin’ of takin’ her out ta’ the wood shed, er’ ya?”
A smile builds across the face of Richard [as Nels]. “It would serve her right! Pompous prune!”
The two men break into raucous laughter and Victor begins to dance a jig.
“Cut; that’s a wrap!” says Michael Landon. Continuing, he calls to Katherine. “Come back in, Katherine; you should win an Emmy!” Michael does an imitation of a hen with elbows flapping at his sides. “Harriet’s arrogance gets stuck in my craw!”
Katherine shakes her head from side-to-side. “I try to use method acting techniques in this role but hard as I may, I cannot get inside the mind of such a character! She is contemptible, Ms. high and mighty!”
[The cast breaks for lunch at the NBC studio cafeteria.]
At their 1:15pm return, Katherine speaks to Michael as he comes from his dressing room.
“I’m no psychologist but pride myself in being a good judge of character. In a future episode, I’d like to portray Harriet as a wounded survivor of heartbreak. Could you come up with a story line?
Michael folds arms across his chest, has a faraway look and then snaps his fingers.
“Yes, a severed relationship! You’re so right! A beau broke Harriet’s heart. She erected a protective and haughty barrier.”
*Fiction: Typical program themes. My goal was to bring out the root causes for Harriet Oleson’s attitude and behavior. They did make a program that revealed a broken marriage engagement. Her fiancé surrendered to a call by God into full time ministry. It revealed a different side of her character.
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