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Family-Friendly Entertainment

Masterpiece: Little Women Now Available on DVD @masterpiecepbs #Sponsored #LittleWomenPBS

5/25/18
I will receive a copy of Masterpiece: Little Women. All opinions are mine. This post contains affiliate links.
PBS Masterpiece, Louisa M Alcott
Did you catch Little Women on your local PBS Station?  If you missed it on tv, you'll be happy to know that MASTERPIECE: LITTLE WOMEN” released on May 22nd to DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD!  {You can also watch all 3 episodes at PBS.org for a limited time. The first episode expires 5/27 so hurry!}
Set against the backdrop of a country divided, the story follows the four March sisters on their journey from childhood to adulthood while their father is away at war. Under the guidance of their mother Marmee, the girls navigate what it means to be a young woman: from gender roles to sibling rivalry, first love, loss and marriage. Accompanied by the charming boy next door Laurie Laurence, their cantankerous wealthy Aunt March and benevolent neighbor Mr. Laurence, Little Women is a coming-of-age story that is as relevant and engaging today as it was on its original publication in 1868. 
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Little Women, 2017 Masterpiece PBS

“Little Women is one of the most-loved novels in the English language, and with good reason,” says writer and executive producer Heidi Thomas. “Its humanity, humor, and tenderness never date, and as a study of love, grief, and growing up it has no equal. There could be no better time to revisit the story of a family striving for happiness in an uncertain world.” 
Heading the cast are Academy Award® nominee Emily Watson (The Theory of Everything, Hilary and Jackie) as Marmee, the devoted mother of the four adolescent March girls; Michael Gambon (Churchill's Secret, Page Eight) as Mr. Laurence; and Academy Award® winner Angela Lansbury (Murder, She Wrote, The Manchurian Candidate) as the March family matriarch, Aunt March. 
The March sisters—the “little women” of the title—feature newcomer Maya Hawke as the willful and adventurous Jo; Willa Fitzgerald (Scream: The TV Series) as the eldest and most virtuous, Meg; Annes Elwy (King Arthur: Excalibur Rising) as the shy sister, Beth; and Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies) as Amy, the youngest of the family. 


PBS Masterpiece, BBC
Little Women 2017, Masterpiece PBS
Also appearing are Jonah Hauer-King (Howards End) as Laurie, the loveable boy next door; Dylan Baker (The Good Wife) as Mr. March, who is serving as a chaplain with the Union Army; Julian Morris (Mark Felt) as John Brooke, Laurie’s cultured and handsome tutor; and Mark Stanley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as the charming Professor Bhaer. 
A celebration of family as much as it is a recognition of the challenges of growing up and forging an individual identity, the program remains relevant due to the universal themes at its core. Backed by a nearly all-female creative team, Thomas’ adaptation doesn’t shy away from tackling the darker, more complex emotions the March family experiences. Drawing from a novel that was well ahead of its time the show speaks to current issues as much as it does to the issues women faced at the turn of the 20th century. 


Devotees of the original novel will relish the book’s indelible scenes in this MASTERPIECE production: the cruel fate of Jo’s manuscript, Amy’s accident on the ice, Meg’s first ball, Beth and the forbidden piano, the pickled limes affair, and many other cherished episodes in a journey to a bygone time. 


Masterpiece PBS
Little Women 2017 Masterpiece PBS

Although modern society would be disorienting in the extreme to the March sisters, Thomas notes that even today “girls are still confused about their desires and their desirability, and the passage from innocence to experience is more turbulent than ever.” 
“We need hope, and we need empathy,” she adds. “We need laughter, and we need catharsis, we need joy and inspiration. LITTLE WOMEN gives us all of these things.”
MASTERPIECE: LITTLE WOMEN” has been commissioned by Piers Wenger and Charlotte Moore at the BBC, and is produced by Playground (Wolf Hall, Howards End) for BBC One. The series is a co-production with MASTERPIECE on PBS. The producer is Susie Liggat. Executive producers are Colin Callender and Sophie Gardiner for Playground, Heidi Thomas, Lucy Richer for the BBC and Rebecca Eaton for MASTERPIECE. 
One of my all-time favorite books growing up was Little Women.  I probably read it at least 20 times!  I grew up in New England, and have always been fascinated with Louisa May Alcott's life in Massachusetts. 


PBS Masterpiece, Little Women
Louisa May Alcott, Courtesy PBS.org
I have seen many film versions of Little Women over the years.  The 1994 version with Wynona Ryder has always been my favorite.  I don't know if it's because of the nostalgia of that time in my life or because of the amazing cast or both.  


Columbia Pictures
Little Women 1994, Columbia Pictures
I am pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this version almost as much!  The storyline didn't stray too far from the original {there were some additions and things added for a more modern audience} and the actors were very good.  I love how the writers showed the more vulnerable sides of Marmee and Jo. 
I also like how they showed more insight into Beth and how kind Mr. Lawrence was to her. Michael Gambon was the perfect choice for Mr. Lawrence and Angela Lansbury was absolutely divine {and hysterically cranky} as Aunt March!
Spoiler Alert:  If you are not familiar with the story line, please skip this part!
There were a few things that I didn't think were quite perfect.  Amy didn't seem to progress in age from when she was a little girl to a grown young woman.  She was supposed to be 12 in the beginning, but the actress looked too old.  I liked the 1994 version where they used two different actresses to show that progression better.  The writers seemed to focus a lot on Amy's art, but not as much on her silly obsession with her nose and pinching it with a clothes pin to make it appear smaller and more turned up.

I also didn't think that Professor Baer was a great actor match {they made him a bit younger}, but I've always had an issue with Jo falling for the Professor vs. Laurie (the giant age gap, good grief!).  I think Laurie was perfectly portrayed and I still found myself mad about how Jo turned him down and he ended up marrying her sister instead.  (I mean, what tween girl didn't fall for Laurie?)  
Over all, I think this version is definitely worth watching again. If you're looking for another great re-telling of a classic story, I recommend you watch Masterpiece PBS: Little Women!



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