Old/Original DVD Release
The Road to Avonlea DVDs are very nice. What I dislike the most is that the discs are two-sided. I'm always afraid that I will forget that they are two sided and mess up one of the sides. So far, I haven't done that yet. What I like the most is the quality of the episodes. I had all the titles that were available on tape, and other than the episodes from the first season, the quality of the episodes on DVD is far superior. On the DVDs the episodes in the first season are grainy, but the rest of seasons become clearer and clearer. The behind the scenes are fun to watch- especially if you never saw them air on TV. The covers of the DVDs have changed slightly, but the boxes and setup is still the same. A thing that most fans dislike is the fact that the opening credits are played on few episodes. So far only five episodes have the opening credits. Those episodes are Sara's Homecoming, The Ties That Bind (aka Sister of the Bride), The Calamitous Courting of Hetty King, Tug of War, and Fathers and Sons.
There is no closed captioning. This means that hearing impaired people will not be able to watch these, because what is being said is not put onto the screen. If there is a big enough demand, there will be editions made with closed captioning.
The first five seasons all have Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel, and the animated Anne promotions. During an on-line chat with Kevin Sullivan, I asked him why Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story wasn't advertised, and he didn't answer. On season six, there are no promotions.
HD Widescreen Release
The hd widescreen releases are quite nice. The dvd cases have been improved by being considerable slimmed down. The actual dvds have received even better improvement by being made on dual layered discs which means the dvds are now single-sided and no longer need to be flipped!
The quality and clarity of the episodes has been vastly improved. Now we can actually see the magic seeds in Andrew's hands and clearly see Alexander's pox marks- just what we wanted to see clearer, eh?
The color also has been restored, though quite honestly there are a few episodes where I prefer the original color. The clarity of the episodes greatly overrides the sometime too warm image.
A con to having widescreen is that some of the top and/or bottom of the film has been clipped. Of course though we are receiving more film on the left and right which sometimes reveals telephone polls! The only disadvantage to having the top and bottom clipped is that sometimes in a close-up quite a bit of their head is clipped off, but do we really need to see their poofy hair?
If you would like to check out the clarity as well as see how much of the top and bottom is cut I would advice you to check out this page.
Two other wonderful editions, especially to season one, are the return of the opening credits before each episode and closed captioning.
These releases are not a true hi-def. Because these are being released as dvds they are not true hi-def. Hi-def (blu-ray) supports 1080 lines where as a dvd supports 480 lines. Regardless of this fact, the quality of the episodes is far superior to the previous dvd release.
Home Movie is a interesting rendition of The Journey Begins and Proof of the Pudding. The first fourty minutes of The Journey Begins is the same. It leaves out the "magic seed" scene and jumps to Proof of the Pudding. What makes this really odd is that in The Journey Begins Sara and Felictiy are constantly bickering with each other. In Proof of the Pudding Sara and Felicity are on more friendly turns. We see Proof of the Pudding in its entirety. Once it is done it goes back to The Journey Begins and continues with the fight in the haymow. Another oddity is that John Welsman's music is dubbed over with Don Gillis' music. I think it's pretty weird that the episodes were meshed together, but it is interesting to watch.
These are my reviews and opinions on the behind the scenes that are on the Road to Avonlea DVDs.
This behind the scene originally aired on TV before the series began airing. It's wonderful to watch and has short speaking parts from Sarah Polley, Jackie Burroughs, Gema Zamprogna, and Zachary Bennett. Kevin Sullivan tells a little bit about making the production and shows the outside and inside of Lawson's General store. There are clips that have views from behind the camera, showing where the camera is in relationship to where the actors are. It's a little odd hearing Anne of Green Gables music playing throughout the duration of the clip. (Running Time Ten Minutes)
The screen tests are heaps of fun to watch. We get to see Tara Meyer's screen test as Felicity. It's interesting seeing someone other than Gema Zamprogna be Felicty. We also get to see Asia Vieira play Cecily. It's odd seeing Cecily with dark hair. There are also scenes that we not in a few episodes and it's neat seeing them.
Out of five stars, I'd give this season's extras a five.
HD Widescreen Extras
An Unsuspected Journey – The Origin of the Series
This extra features Kevin talking on how the series began with Colleen Dewhurst's suggesting that Kevin do a series based on another L. M. Montgomery series. This extra also includes snippets of interviews with Colleen, Mag Ruffman, Cedric Smith, and Patricia Hamilton.
Spirit of Place – Short Stories to Screenplays
Kevin Sullivan talks about how he used short stories from Chronicles of Avonlea and parts from The Story Girl. This extra also includes snippets of interviews from Mag Ruffman, Jackie Burroughs (old material), Patricia Hamilton, Cedric Smith, and Colleen Dewhurst (old material).
P.E.I. Transposed – Building a Dreamworld
In this extra Kevin Sullivan talks about how he felt that filming on PEI wasn't possible and how it led him to driving on country roads and spotting the eventual place for the set.
Prodigious Talent – The Kids of Avonlea
This extra is somewhat similar to the screen test extras released on the old dvd season one release. This though features new cuts of interviews with the child actors.
Out of five stars, I'd give this season's extras a four. A con is that this release doesn't contain the extras from the previous dvd release.
Sarah Polley narrates the extras this season. It has behind the scene clips- showing stunts being done and the crew at work. Stuart Gillard talks about directing and Kevin Sullivan speaks about making the episodes. It has short clips from each episode. Michael York talks about his enjoyment in being able to be in a few episodes. Colleen Dewhurst talks about coming back to Avonlea. Patricia Hamilton talks about playing Rachel Lynde. Jackie Burroughs talks about the character of Hetty King. Alan King talks about the depth of the characters. Peter Coyote talks about filming in Canada and the long hours of work. Sarah Polleys talks about how close the main characters have become. This too originally aired on TV. (Running Time 14 minutes)
Out of five stars, I'd give this season's extras a four.
HD Widescreen Extras
Creating an Epic Dream World - Elaborate Design and Costume
This extra shows the set crew at work as well as talks about filming locations and how many period shoes had been accumulated by the end of the series.>
An Infusion of Talent - Gifted Guest Performers
This extra was brief interviews with Peter Coyote and Michael York and shows clips of guest stars from through out the series. Unfortunately the brief interview snippets were already previously released.
Further Down the Road - Evolution of a Series
Kevin Sullivan talks about continuing the series and adding darker elements as well as slightly touching into occults.
Between the Action - Choreographing Stunts
This extra is quite interesting as it was filmed while the crew was working on filming the bridge fight scenes in Family Rivalry. We get to meet Alison Reid and Bryan Renfro and watch them work the actors through their scenes.
I wasn't all that impressed with the season two extras until it came to the Stunts. That one was really interesting to watch. Apparently Alison was the lady in "Story Girl" whose skirt catches on fire. She also filled in for Hetty when Hetty fell off the bridge.
The behind the scenes for this season are about thirty seconds long and has no speaking.
There is also the promotional clip for Olivia and Jasper's wedding. This too aired on TV.
It has cast biographies of the main actors and several of the guest stars.
Out of five stars, I'd give this season's extras a one.
HD Widescreen Extras
Sullivan Cast Tribute
This is pretty much straight from the first minute or two of the extras from the original release of season two. There's no talking and we just see brief behind the scenes clips.
Back to the Past - Interview with Christopher Lloyd
While this is new material this extra had a few snippets of an interview and mostly showed clips from "Another Point of View".
A Tribute to Christopher Reeve
Now this extra was more interesting. Chris talks about how he had heard of Road to Avonlea from Colleen Dewhurst as well as talks about working with the horses.
This season did actually include the promo clip for Aunt Olivia's wedding!
Out of five stars I give this season's extras a three.
This behind the scene has many new shots, but some are similar to season two's extras. There's about three minutes of Mag Ruffman talking; Stuart Gillard talks about directing (same from season two); Kevin Sullivan talks about making the show (some the same from season one and two); Jackie Burroughs talks for a few minutes; Sarah Polley talks for a minute; Lally Cadeau talks for two minutes; Gema Zamprogna talks for a few minutes; and Cedric Smith talks for a few minutes. I find it a little odd that they show clips from season three episodes.
There are biographies of the main cast and biographies of some of the guest stars.
Out of six stars, I'd give this season's extras a five.
This season has many behind the scene clips that haven't appeared in early extras. There are "interviews" with Sarah Polley, Zachary Bennett, Mag Ruffman, Cedric Smith (some the same), Gema Zamprogna (some the same), Lally Cadeau (some the same), and Mag Ruffman. The last few minutes with Mag and Sarah is extremely funny. (Running time 15 minutes).
There are biographies on the guest stars of this season.
Out of six stars, I'd give this season's extras a six.
This season just had Kevin Sullivan talking about the series, and how surprised Lucy Maud Montgomery would have been to know that her books created a television program and that PEI is known throughout the world. There are also promotional clips that I think aired before any of the episodes originally aired on TV. It has clips from The Return of Gus Pike, Christmas in June, and Lonely Hearts.
There are no biographies, but like the rest of the seasons, it does have the credits (directors, writers etc.).
Out of six stars, I'd give this season's extras a one.
This is a review that I wrote for the entire season seven set and the extras that came with it.
I was disappointed with the behind the scenes. I'd seen them all already and almost all of it was already on previous seasons. They did have some season seven behind the scene. The season seven behind the scene was what was on the Return to Me vhs. At the end was a five? minute introduction to Wind at My Back. I'm pretty sure that that was also on Return to Me. Part of the WaMB is on the season one WaMB. It had the interview with Cynthia. Running Time: 12 minutes
Out of six stars, I'd give this season a two.
The soundtracks, locations, and scenery disc looks as though it will be very nice and interesting. I haven't had a chance to watch it, but I did skip through it. It looks as though it has photos and stills from the seven seasons of scenery and of buildings. I think that most of the music was Gillis music, but I did hear some Welsman such as Jasper's Theme and Sea Ghost. I only breezed through the disc though, so I'm sure there is more Welsman music. I plan to take caps from that too. Running Time: half an hour
Aunt Hetty's Scrapbook aka Along the Golden Road: I am rather impressed with this. I love all of the promotional photos. A few photos are stills. The size is a fold eight by ten (or whatever) glossy-ish paper. On the left side of the page there's a map of Avonlea. It has small photos of the buildings... I did notice a mistake and that was that they had the post office in the wrong spot. The map even includes Green Gables, Orchard Slope, and the Blythe's house. I'll be e-mailing Sullivan Ent. for permission to put the map on my site. Smile There are right ups on all of the kids... poor Cecily only has four brief sentences! There's also a write up on Arthur, Izzy, and a combined write up on Davey and Dora. There's a part on the season seven romance. There's a part on Hetty's thoughts on season seven (some was in Beyond Green Gables magazine). Then there are five rules of success. Some are rather humorous, and then the last two pages are on moving on. There are forty-six photos and fourteen pages.
I wasn't sure if I'd like the smaller sized case (width a vcr case), but it is really nice. When you open it the first disc is to the left, the middle two discs are on a swingy thing in the middle, and the fourth disc is behind those on the "back". I really like the push thing to get the disc out. When you push on it, the middle goes down (middle of the push) and stays down until you put the disc back in the case. It's very easy to get the discs out and one doesn't have to worry about breaking the disc when trying to get it out. ;)
Overall, I have been impressed with season seven. This season does have the French language option.
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