A reasonably faithful rendition of an old favorite
Being a tremendous fan of the books (and being one who hated the 70s TV show with the heat of a thousand suns), I have to say this series is... not bad.
The script is relatively true to the Little House On the Prarie book. Except for the inexplicable New Age nonsense inflicted on poor old Jack (spirit dog frightening the savages, my Aunt Fanny), all the changes make sense in the context of a TV miniseries. There's no need to bother casting a Carrie, a toddler whose literary counterpart isn't old enough to talk. There's also no real need to go into all the pioneering how-to, however fascinating such details are in the book.
The cast is tremendously likable, especially Erin Cottrell, whose portrayal of Caroline Ingalls is both saintly and human, just as the character was written in the stories. Gregory Sporleder does a terrific turn as Mr. Edwards, the wildcat bachelor from Tennessee.
Where the miniseries fails is at the adaptation level, not in the performances. The author of the teleplay, Katie Ford, has injected too much of a modern sensibility. The Charles of the book would not in a thousand years have expressed his appreciation for Caroline's sacrifices by weeping as if he were on Oprah. Caroline's whining about dressing up, Mary's "sassing" an adult (an adult who was expressing fear and hatred towards the Native Americans, an attitude common to white settlers of the time), and Laura's constant disobedience of her father's orders to stay on the homestead - these all ring falsely to anyone who ever enjoyed the iconic series of books.
However, with that aside, it must be said that LHOTP:2005 is a completely inoffensive, sweet little series. It's beautifully shot, evenly paced, nicely casted, and tailor-made for the "Wonderful World of Disney/Saturday evening movie" brand.
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