Back away from 'Little Women' and nobody gets hurt

RKO Pictures
RKO Pictures
Published July 30, 2015

Oh, shoot me now.

That was my first response to this story from

"EXCLUSIVE: The CW is taking on a literary classic in one of its first script buys of the 2015-16 development season. The network has put in development Little Women, a drama from rising writer Alexis Jolly, NCIS co-star Michael Weatherly and CBS TV Studios.

"Written by Jolly, Little Women is described as a hyper-stylized, gritty adaptation of the 1868 novel by Louisa May Alcott, in which disparate half-sisters Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy band together in order to survive the dystopic streets of Philadelphia and unravel a conspiracy that stretches far beyond anything they have ever imagined – all while trying not to kill each other in the process." (Read the rest HERE.)

Yes, because what we really need is another hyperstylized dystopian shoot-'em-up.You just never see those these days.

If the people involved in this want to make the zillionth iteration of that tired story, fine. But why, oh why, would they appropriate the title and character names of the most beloved book of my childhood, and a lot of other people's, for a TV series that has not the remotest resemblance to Alcott's classic?

That classic, just to break it down, was set in a small town based on Concord, Mass., not a "gritty" city. The March sisters are sisters, not half-sisters, and they adore and support each other -- kind of the whole point of the book, that sisterhood is powerful thing, Alcott having been a staunch feminist -- rather than trying to kill each other. And it's not "conspiracy" that complicates their lives but the Civil War.

Several movies have been based Little Women, notably the 1933 version starring Katharine Hepburn as Jo March and one in 1994 starring Susan Sarandon as Marmee, the girls' mother, and Winona Ryder as Jo. There have been TV series as well, such as a 1978 miniseries starring Meredith Baxter Birney and Susan Dey as Meg and Jo (although they were long in the tooth for the parts). And yes, I know about the reality series that uses the title, but I'm not counting it because I just don't count any reality TV, or pay any attention to it.

I'm not opposed to a contemporary take on Alcott's novel; indeed, it could be interesting in the right hands. I just don't think the Hyperstylized Dystopia Team is up to the job.