‘Little Women’ returns with Sunday night encores in December

Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy — there are few more iconic names in American literature. They are the March sisters created by Louisa May Alcott in her timeless novel “Little Women.” The three-part drama returns with hourlong encore presentations each week beginning Sunday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m. with the final episode airing Sunday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. Or, stream all three episodes online via the PBS app and Passport.

The miniseries, which originally aired in May 2018 on Arizona PBS, was adapted by the award-winning creator Heidi Thomas, who also produced “Call the Midwife.”

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, 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, their cantankerous wealthy Aunt March and benevolent neighbor Mr. Laurence, “Little Women.”

Heading the cast are Academy Award-nominee Emily Watson as the girls’ devoted mother; Michael Gambon as Mr. Laurence; and Academy Award-winner Angela Lansbury as the March family matriarch, Aunt March.

The March sisters include newcomer Maya Hawke as the willful and adventurous Jo, Willa Fitzgerald as the romantic and responsible Meg; Annes Elwy as shy Beth; and Kathryn Newton as artistic, impetuous Amy.

A celebration of family as much as it is a recognition of the challenges of growing up and forging an individual identity, “Little Women” 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, “Little Women” speaks to current issues as much as it does to the issues women faced in the second half of the 19th 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.

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