I've been waiting for PBS Masterpiece's Little Women special to air for months! I always enjoy visiting the Marches in Concord. On Sunday, part 1 became available for online streaming here. Having reviewed Little Women extensively before on my previous blog, I thought I'd make a brief jot about my thoughts on Part 1 of Masterpiece's Little Women. This will contain spoilers if you are not familiar with the story.
First of all, Part 1 covered all the story points you would expect it to. The classic "Christmas won't be Christmas without presents," giving breakfast to the Hummels, burning Meg's hair, going to the party and getting to know Laurie a little, the day at the beach with Laurie's English friends, Amy burning Jo's story, skating, and Marmee going to take care of Father in Boston.
These are all the classic "Little Women" scenes, although there are many many more in the book that do not appear in the movies or stage productions. As a result, Part 1 did not seem to hold many new experiences along those lines. The events that did occur seemed rushed and to barely scratch the surface which they might have. That being said, having been reading the book shortly before watching Part 1, it is understandable that I would miss the many details. I appreciated the shots of Father as he is working in Boston, which help bring the war to life a little.
As for the characters, Beth seemed like a normal girl until she received an invitation from Mr. Laurence to play his piano. Then, her shy side came out as she repeatedly attempted to visit his house, but returning in fright each time before even knocking on the door or making it out of the front gate. However, she seemed to have no reservations when interacting with Laurie for the first time. When she visited the beach with her sisters, Laurie, and the Vaughn's, she stays behind alone on the beach, to find the companionship of one of the Vaughn boys who broke both his legs hunting. All though she is shy and awkward, her kindness comes out in this scene. Still, it was very short.
To me, Jo seems to be Jo. She did strike Amy in her fury over her burnt story, which I do not think Jo March would have done. In the book, she only "shook" her, which Jo in this version did plenty of as well. Other than that, Jo seems like Jo March to me.
Marmee seemed quite stern and guarded. I tend to think of Marmee as loving and allowing the children to self-govern themselves through her gentle suggestions, unless when more force is absolutely necessary. Although not necessarily the Marmee of the book, and Emily Watson often seems to be type cast into mother-figure roles (Book Thief, Little Boy, and Water Horse to name a few), Marmee is a full character and I appreciate that she is given the screen time she needs to become such.
I loved the kittens! Beth had live teeny-tiny baby kittens in many scenes and they were so cute.
The costumes and sets were very detailed. I did feel that the March house exterior (above) looked a bit too CGI.
Finally, there were a few moments when the camera angles were used to make the scene look especially... aesthetic. Like this one ↑ I realize that she isn't actually looking at the camera, but it's pretty close.
Well this is getting a little long. In summation, I would say that the first part was acceptable. I look forward to the next two parts!
Are you planning to see this PBS Masterpiece special? Have you read Little Women? Who is your favorite character?
*All photos except the first (which is linked) are screenshots from the live stream*