Road to Avonlea Review: The Journey Begins

avonlea the journey begins

Episode Summary: Taking place during the turn of the 20th century, Avonlea is about a pampered girl named Sara Stanley (Sarah Polley) who is forced to leave her home in Montreal and sent to live with estranged relatives on Prince Edward Island when her father is accused of embezzlement. At first she has a hard time getting along with her strict Aunt Hetty (Jackie Burroughs); however the two form a small bond when they relate their sadness over Sara’s mother’s death (Hetty’s sister). Along the way, we also meet Aunt Olivia (Mag Ruffman), Uncle Alec (Cedric Smith), his wife Janet (Lally Cadeau), and Sara’s cousins Felicity, Felix, Cecily, and Andrew (Gema Zamprogna, Zachary Bennett, Harmony Cramp, and Joel Blake)

Directed by Paul Shapiro, Written by Patricia Watson, Music by Hagood Hardy

My Grade: It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this show. Obviously this is the perfect beginning for an amazing television series. All the core characters are introduced, and some of the main conflicts (Sara vs. Felicity, Sara vs. Hetty, even Felix vs. Felicity) are introduced here. I think it’s good that this episode really mostly focused on the family, while, in the later episodes, we’ll see more of the town. (A)

avonlea nanny louisa

Spotlight Performance: Sara Stanley is escorted to Avonlea by her smothering, yet loving, Nanny Louisa, played by Frances Hyland. I believe this was the character that really drew me into the show. Nanny Louisa is just so funny. Also Hyland says the very first lines on the show. It’s unfortunate that the show only used her two more times after this episode.


Favorite Scene: Probably the scene when hired boy Peter Craig (played Miklos Perlus) first meets Sara. Sara’s sitting in the fields by her mother’s grave. I like this scene because it’s just so sweet. Peter Craig is one of the few characters in the episode that really connects with Sara. And when they run through the fields, the whole scene is just beautifully shot.

avonlea the journey begins

Final Thoughts: This episode was directed by Paul Shapiro, a prolific director whom I also know for his work on the wonderful After School Special “The Truth About Alex.” Strangely, this is his only episode of the series. On the other hand, writer Heather Conkie, whom I believe is one of the best television screenwriters (and is also responsible for the absolute best episode 7th Heaven ever aired), will end up becoming one of the more recognizable writers on the show. This is the first of many wonderful episodes from Conkie.

OK, so according IMDB, LMM Online, and Wikipedia (which I will be personally editing as time goes on), Heather Conkie wrote this episode. However, according the actual episode’s credits, it was written by someone named Patricia Watson. Knowing how far misinformation can spread on the net, I am going to trust the DVD credits before I trust those other sites.

I learn something new every day! And it looks like Watson wrote a few more episodes this season. Have I discovered another long, lost great writer from the Avonlea crew? It is my duty to bring this writer out of the shadows and into the light.


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