You know, when I saw clips of this one in class I immediately assumed I wouldn’t like it. The wigs are… painfully present, and the acting seemed too stiff. But actually, when I binged the first 5 episodes last night I found myself quite enjoying this adaptation. My original plan was to binge both the 1970s bbc version and the 1978 miniseries last night, stopping one series once it got tiresome and making the switch to the next. I never made it to 1978, however, because I never got bored during the 1970 version! And, listen, I know I’m pretty much in the minority here by voicing a favorable opinion of this adaptation, but here’s the thing: I don’t like the BBC version because it was good, I like it because it’s enjoyable. Not to say there weren’t decent parts, which we’ll get into in a moment, but overall, it’s a cheesy, melodramatic, flatly lit TV series. And I have bad taste.
Alright so let’s get into this. I think instead of a point-by-point or character-by-character structure, I’m gonna go with a chronological organization of my points, just due to the sheer mass of content a TV series possesses and also because I have a lot of opinions. Below is a transcribed/elaborated transcript of the notes app on my phone that I was putting my thoughts down on. There will also be pictures. This is very serious business (someone call grandpa Laurence lmao).
- Right off the bat, the first scene is an odd choice. I get wanting to start in medias res like a TV show or sitcom would, because when you only have 20-30 minutes or so per episode, you want to get straight to the action, but it’s kind of jarring. Also, it kind of stings a little because Little Women as a story already has a classic beginning so there’s not really a need to change it. At least, not when you’re replacing it with Amy shrieking.
- The sibling fighting in this one is a lot more aggressive, they actually like yell at each other and scuffle which I can’t tell if I’m into. On the one hand, the family is a lot more believable (to modern audiences perhaps) and it sets up the Jo/Amy rivalry well, which none of the previous ones have really bothered to do. On the other hand, it’s irritating.
- The British actors need to work a little on their American accents. I just heard someone say “sofer”. sofa!!!
- Like, Hannah is straight-up British here, right? I honestly can’t tell what is happening with the choices here but it makes me giggle.
- The audio mixing right here where Jo is talking to Hannah aside from everyone else is BAD. I can’t see any of the other characters in the frame, yet I can hear them all perfectly at the same volume as Jo and Hannah’s conversation, and the result is muddled and confused.
- I can’t get any farther without saying it: I’m so sorry to whoever that is playing Jo, sweetie, they should not have done that to you, that wig is absolutely atrocious and it looks big enough to host a family, like maybe that one that lived in a shoe.
- Mr. Laurence got me WEAK in this first scene he’s in. It is one of the most insanely trope-y, clichéd set-up for conflict I’ve ever seen outside of this scene in John Water’s Crybaby. I probably watched it like three times. First, the blocking. Laurie is standing behind his Grandfather, who is pouring himself a drink, and they are both facing away from each other, so each character is addressing his lines to a wall. It’s all very dramatic, but the icing on the cake for me is the conversation where Mr. Laurence mentions “the business” so often it feels like a parody. Like, I wasn’t watching Little Women anymore, I was watching like Days of Our Lives or something.
“Son, it’s time for you to start the business” “But I HATE the BUSINESS” “But son, the business is in your BLOOD!”
- So then, if this business conversation wasn’t dramatic enough, we get an absolute MASTERPIECE of cinema where Laurie and Grandpa Laurence tag-team a huge exposition dump of Laurie’s backstory with his parents, and the music stuff, and it ends with this perfect zoom of Laurie being like, “YOU forGET, grandfather, that I am HALF-ITALIAN!” and then fleeing into the night or whatever time of day it was supposed to be on what is clearly a soundstage. I just, I don’t know, if you don’t think this is funny I’m not sure what to tell you. I just love how over-the-top BBC decided to be when bringing the drama.
Maybe it’s being immature and melodramatic, maybe it’s being half-Italian
- Amy’s pigtails are the best wig decision this show made. They’re fun and remind me of Dolly Parton.
- Meg’s character is wayyy more vapid in this version, they basically make her a ditz. hmm.
- To be honest, Laurie gives off some creepy vibes, he’s like empty behind the eyes. OH MY GOD wait I know why he creeps me out. He reminds me of this guy who used to come everyday into the frozen yogurt shop I worked at and get diet (skinny8) froyo, and then try and hit on all the young women who worked there. We called him Skinny8 Man. He had been banned by past managers, but I guess the current one didn’t care, and he started coming in right at close so he’d be alone in the store with the workers. One night, he came in at close, and one of my coworkers whispered about him to a newer employee. Skinny8 Man heard this, and was apparently very pissed, because after he left, he posted to the Froyo shop’s facebook page under the pseudonym of a “mom” named Christie and left a long, creepy incel manifesto about my coworker that was definitely not written by a mom named Christie. I mean, it said that my coworker “hangs her breasts for the sailors and all of god’s green earth to see” like excuse me sir pls for the love of god get some therapy before you murder a woman next to a dumpster. Anyways, this Laurie looks exactly like that guy.
- Brooke! Finally a man with 70s hair thank godd
- I do like that they’re playing up Laurie’s music plot and his character flaw of laziness. It gives him more to do than just be emo over Jo.
- You guys, Beth is weird again lmao is she.. Scottish? 1949 Beth vibes
Beth being Beth
- I know I just absolutely slaughtered Laurie by comparing him to Skinny8 Man, but he also kind of reminds me of the guy from that one x files episode who eats hair
- Ok, in the dance scene, Meg being an airhead kind of works with Brooke being all awkward and goofy in this adaptation, and it’s legitimately kind of cute.
- Ok I take it back, I only like it when she’s with Brooke, when she’s not and I see what they did to her character and how she’s just like a simple, vapid fool with no wit or substance, I become like personally insulted.
- WHY DOES HANNAH TALK LIKE THAT MY GOD
- Every Laurie scene makes me crack tf up, I’m so weak this man is a serial killer. Like, I feel bad that I keep dragging him, but tell me why his line delivery has to be like this. Like, there’s a way to tell Jo in the library that you watch her bright, warm house when you are lonely in your palace of cold masculinity, and you envy her the family life she has, that isn’t creepy. It’s not creepy in the book, but for some reason this Laurie has to say shit like “Have you noticed me watching you” with his weird dead eyes and I’m like Jo get out he’s gonna wear your skin!! Maybe this adaptation is meant for people who like Netflix’s You.
- Speaking of the library scene, finally an adaptation that has Jo excited about books, although I am missing Katherine Hepburn’s line delivery, this scene feels empty without her
- Meg’s line, “Oh I’m so excited my fingers are all thumbs” ???
- BOOK BURN BOOK BURN finalllyyyyy book burn. This is the only part I remember from when I was a kid, and I’ve been waiting for an adaptation to include it.
“Sorry that your life’s work was just ruined, but you have to understand that your 11 year old sister has ‘adult feelings’, which is a completely normal thing to think and not at all strange”
- Marmee’s justification for Amy burning Jo’s book is so odd and kind of problematic. Like, making it about Amy having a crush on Laurie, or more accurately, depicting her feelings towards Laurie as “adult” feelings, made me a little uncomfortable and was unnecessary. I get wanting to set up the Amy/Laurie relationship early, so the payoff of them getting together makes sense, but having Marmee say the sentence, “It’s hard having the body of a child and the feelings of a grown woman” is gross. Amy’s a child, and they should let her be a child, not talk about how she’s mature in her feelings or something, because that just sounds like something pedophiles would say. I think if they just left that line out, they could’ve implied Amy having a childhood crush and it would’ve been fine. Like, her having feelings was implied well enough through her complaining about Jo hogging Laurie, that’s all we needed.
- I think boating instead of ice skating is actually a good substitute, I didn’t mind it at all, tho I don’t know why you’d need to change it.
- Another creepy Laurie alert: it was “just his luck” that he happened upon the sisters lmao no you are a stalker, sir
- Interesting that they added Mr. Brooke to the Castles in the Air scene. It makes it less about the meta-narrative and the themes of “what you want isn’t always what you need”, and more about the tension between Meg and Brooke. I thought having him hear Meg wish for wealth while knowing he can’t provide that for her was good set-up for their main conflict, and made me actually care about Mr. Brooke as a character.
- when he says, “I rather think it’s unattainable” aaaa hello pride and prejudice moment the YEARNING the ANGST
- Beth could try to emote a little bit about the baby that just died in her arms
- This adaptation has a lot of weird zoom-ins. This one zoomed super quickly onto Jo’s face because gasp! the Scarlet Fever!
What is going on
- Amy praying for Beth’s health by screaming directly into a slowly zooming-in camera was one of the oddest cinematic experiences so far. Felt like it was out of a B horror movie.
- None of these actors are up to the challenge of portraying grief, this is painful to watch
- They included the Laurie letter prank on Meg, which I had completely forgotten about from the book. I like the extra drama and bits that can be included in a TV series.
- Episodic nature of tv kind of a better medium for this story in many ways, at least in the beginning part of childhood, when Alcott’s story was more episodic. I like the pacing of this better than most of the movies.
- The casting of Mr. March is kind of odd to me, he looks like he owns a large jewel or an oil company. It’s interesting that he has a conflict about feeling distant from his children. I don’t remember that from the book, is it added? See what I mean about TV, even Dad March gets a storyline
- The proposal scene with Jo and Laurie is not nearly angsty enough for my liking. Laurie is so sarcastic and goofy about it the whole time, it doesn’t even seem like he really cares. These two do a great job of convincing me that they’re better as friends. Also didn’t like that apparently Laurie kissed Jo offscreen when she didn’t want it.
- I know that this was in the book too, but like the thing where Laurie picks up one drink of alcohol at Meg’s wedding and Meg preaches at him about the horrible habit of drinking is weird, like if you don’t want him to drink, then why do you have booze at this party. Also it was one drink. Meg totally thinks marijuana is a gateway drug.
Mr Brooke and his “friend” have some tension, in my opinion
- The scene of Jo and Laurie messing up Meg’s cooking is there to show Meg’s new distance from her sisters because of her marriage to Brooke, but I still didn’t like it because it was obnoxious
- It’s weird seeing normal petty marital bickering in a period piece, I kind of like how it grounds the narrative, though this whole Meg/Brooke episode feels the most like a sitcom out of all the episodes so far.
- I like the running joke of Sally Moffat
- At the end of this episode, Meg THROWS A PILLOW right into Brooke’s face and that is the last scene, I’m so shocked and thrilled that this is how they decided to end it, and on that note, I think I will be signing off because this post has been going on long enough.
This is a lot