I was very excited when I learned that BBC's Anne of Avonlea was being released. The series did let me down somewhat as the filming and a lot of the acting was more in-line with a play rather than a film. Once I adapted to the play-like feel I was able to better enjoy the movie. The series begins just as the book begins, which is great if one is familiar with the characters or has seen BBC's Anne of Green Gables. The characters are not introduced to us and it can be a bit hard for one who has not read the books to know who some of the people are.
The first four episodes are from Anne of Avonlea. We begin just as the book does with the Dolly incidint and Anne's telling Mr. Harrison that she'd rather have red hair than just a fringe around her ears. We get to see Anne's triumphs- and brief failure, or at least to herself- as teacher as well as the rapscallion Davy and the no longer wooden and lifeless Dora. We attend A.V.I.S meetings and see Anne's "Avonlea Watcher" (no, not Gilbert's as in the book) predict Uncle Abe's storm and join Anne and Diana as they stumble across Echo Lodge where we meet Miss Lavedner and grinning Charlotta the Fourth.
The fifith and sixth episodes are from Anne of the Island. Here the series does deviate even more from the book as Anne boards with Phil and Jane Andrews. Priscilla is pretty much cut out of the movie, though she does appear in two episodes- bringing with her Mrs. Morgan. We do get to meet Jonas, Jimsie, Rusty, and Roy. The Redmond years pass in a whirlwind that moves and ends as quickly and abruptly with Anne's infatuation with Roy Gardiner. In a deviation to the book Mrs. Gardiner comes to Green Gables to visit and once Anne leaves the room Mrs. Gardiner begins to question Anne's parents and insinuates that Anne was born out of wedlock. Faithful Gilbert who is often there but rarely heard goes to Bolingbrook with Anne to learn who Anne's parents really were. Thankfully though, the deviation didn't change with whom Anne decides to marry.
Overall I do enjoy Kim Braden's portrayal of Anne Shirley. Sometimes the acting comes off a bit as being theatrical, but Anne too was sometimes theatrical. Kim did a wonderful job of capturing Anne's dreamy personality.
Davy and Dora Keith are in the series. Davy is like the book Davy- though perhaps slightly better. Dora was given more personality and it was a bit odd to see her fighting with Davy. Nicholas Lyndhurst did an excellent job portraying Davy.
Rachel Lynde, played by Madge Ryan, unfortunately is a grouchy crab and at times scared me a little. This Rachel certainly isn't how I pictured Rachel to be. While Rachel is meddlesome, she really does care for people and certainly doesn't constantly sound harsh.
I very much enjoyed seeing A.V.I.S. and it's members. My only regret is that we didn't get to see the town hall. I was a little shocked though with the scene where Ruby Gillis- who was excellently cast- talks to a shirtless Abe Pye's hired man. In those times Ruby would have been horrified to see someone shirtless and would have turned around while the man put a shirt on.
Unfortunately Gilbert wasn't given much of a role. It was hard to understand why Anne would be attracted to Gilbert and neither of them seemed to have any chemistry. Charlie Sloan- whom I found to be slightly more enjoyable- seemed to have received more lines and time than Gilbert. I found Fred Wright to be more likeable than both Charlie and Gilbert.
Roy fell flat and didn't seem to be very charismatic. He was eloquent, yes, but he didn't give any life to his lines.
It was wonderful to be able to see Miss Lewis, Charlotta, Aunt Jimsie, and Jonas.
It's interesting that while this was done by BBC quite a few of the characters, including Anne, seem to have more of a southern accent rather than a British accent. Some of the characters do have a British accent and it is a bit odd hearing Rachel say Mariller.
Overall I did enjoy the series, though I don't find it to have the same rewatchable quality as Sullivan's adaptation.
Back to BBC's Avonlea
Back to Anne Page
© Avonlea Vignettes