Louisa May Alcott’s the Inheritance (Sun. (6), 9-11 p.m., CBS) Filmed in L.A. by Cosgrove/Meurer Prods, TeleVest and Alliance Communications. Executive producers, Terry Dunn Meurer, John Cosgrove, Jeffrey S. Grant, Laura Pozmantier; producer, Ed Self; director, Bobby Roth; writer, Maria Nation; based on novel by Louisa May Alcott; camera, Shelly Johnson; editor, Henk Van Eeghen; sound, Jacob Goldstein; music, Christopher Franke; production design, Glenda Ganis; casting, Lynn Kressel. Cast: Cari Shayne, Brigitta Dau, Paul Anthony Stewart, Brigid Brannagh, Max Gail, Thomas Gibson, Tom Conti, Meredith Baxter, Alicia Bergman, Michelle Davison, Henry Sanders, Paul Bartel, Rob Nilsson. Acovey of producers have turned a teenage novel by reportedly 17-year-old Louisa May Alcott into a potentially pleasant, period romp, though Jane Austen’s popularity is scarcely threatened. Maria Nation’s script, game though missing too much in the charm department, suffers from Bobby Roth’s uneven direction; how much viewers will buy into it is another matter. Cosgrove/Meurer and Alliance Communications acquired the lost novel, found nine years ago in manuscript form, in open bidding. Scripter Nation builds on Alcott’s novel about an 1850s orphan, 19 -year-old Edith (Cari Shayne), raised by the wealthy New England Hamiltons and now companion to their pretty teenager Amy (Brigitta Dau). Edith finds herself in a sad spot: She’s drawn to handsome, wealthy James Percy (Thomas Gibson), romantic visitor at the Hamiltons’ estate. James Percy shows every sign of caring for Edith. Of course she’s beneath his social station, as lovely, serpentish Ida (Brigid Brannagh) maliciously reminds her. Husband-hunting Ida’s after James, or after blueblood Frederick Arlington (Paul Anthony Stewart), who loiters around the fringes of the plot. Ida’s sorely tried by the men’s attraction to, of all people, Edith, whom the Hamiltons treat as if she were their equal. Mr. Hamilton (Tom Conti) unknowingly holds a secret that would change Edith’s life. For the time being, though, he and wife Beatrice (Meredith Baxter) simply enfold Edith into the family circle. Director Bobby Roth stumbles between depicting onscreen naturalism and uncovering some, if not much, charm or mannered stylishness among the characters. But the dialogue and the soap-opera characters fail Roth and most of the actors — particularly Conti, who attempts to make something substantial out of Mr. Hamilton. Cari Shayne’s Edith, a bit of a stick, works up little sympathy or concern. Brigitta Dau’s just fine as the sheltered daughter Amy. Baxter plays Mrs. Hamilton on a single, uninteresting level. Michael Gallagher’s thief Louis admirably sticks to the period; Gibson’s James Percy, who could use some elegance, only looks the part. Stewart’s Frederick offers few shadings. Max Gail, playing ill-mannered manor-owning Arliss Johnson to the hilt, displays how successful a farfetched Victorian meller can stretch when played straight; the former Det. Stanley (Wojo) Wojohowicz is a pleasure. Production, filmed entirely on locations around Southern California, is smart-looking, with Mary Malin’s mid-19th century costumes handsome and credible. Resourceful production designer Glenda Ganis and staff chose terrific location spots for the action, and lenser Shelly Johnson does a neat job with what’s at hand. The BevHills Doheny mansion, whose exterior was used extensively, also furnished the dazzling ballroom with its glass ceilings. Horse scenes, expertly filmed at the Disney Ranch, fill the bill with its helpful New England flavor. Smart-looking telefilm pitches a strong argument in favor of local filming, even if the production doesn’t come off. Some of “The Inheritance” does manage to sing: James Percy teaching Edith to dance, Conti’s final scene with Edith, and Edith and Percy finally facing facts give the telepic a necessary lift, but they aren’t enough. Editing by Henk Van Eeghen is solid, and Christopher Franke’s accommodating score fills out the moods. But it looks like Alcott’s pre-“Little Women” and “Little Men” romance needs character as well as stronger characters; trouble is, “The Inheritance” isn’t dated — it just looks like it is.