Road to Avonlea Review: Proof of the Pudding

avonlea kids

“I’m sorry too…for whatever I might’ve done. Did I do anything wrong, Sara?”

“No!”

Episode Summary: When all the adults have to leave town for various reasons, Felicity is left in charge of the kids. Among the various moments of chaos, conflicts between Felicity and Sara, and Felicity and Felix, arise. After foolishly mistaking the governor’s wife (Doris Petrie) for their deaf Great Aunt Eliza, Felicity realizes raising children is hard, and that she isn’t perfect. In the end, she apologizes to Sara for making fun of her father, who is under investigation for a supposed embezzlement.

Directed by Dick Benner, Written by Suzette Couture, Music by Hagood Hardy

My Grade: This is probably the funniest episode of the entire series. It’s also a favorite among fans. In fact, I’ve seen this episode number 1 on various polls online. Although I wouldn’t say this is my favorite episode, I do absolutely adore it. I mentioned in an earlier review that I prefer the more dramatic episodes to the comedic ones; however, when an episode like this is so carefree and simple, I can’t help it. I don’t even know if I can choose a favorite scene. The dining scene where Felicity calls Felix fat and where Sara messies Felicity with pie and cuts her hair is golden. The scene where Felix eats those berries (“And what do you mean come out??”) is also hilarious. And the scene where it’s revealed that Felicity accidentally made pudding with sawdust is a nice bit of schadenfreude. This is a messy, crazy episode. A true one-of-a-kind (esp. since the kids do get older as the series progress). I also believe the episode received the highest viewers ratings ever for the series; so, Proof of the Pudding is truly a gem. (A)

avonlea proof of the pudding

Spotlight Performance: The entire kid cast (and, besides Sally, all the major season one players appear here) is golden. Sometimes, little kid actors can either be too cloyingly precocious, or too unrealistically sarcastic and adult. Ruthie from 7th Heaven represented the worst of both those qualities (sorry, but I loved Ruthie when I was little, but as I’m rewatching the show now as a 20-something year old, she is by far my least favorite thing about it). The kids on this show seem relatively real (at least for a show set in early 1900’s). Sullivan must be proud of how well he assembled this cast. If one performance did stand out, I’d probably say Zachary Bennett, who played Felix.

avonlea cecily

Favorite Scene: Again, so many. But I really like the quote at the top of this review. It occurs towards the end when all the kids are apologizing to each other, and Cecily’s like “I’m sorry, Wait, did I actually do anything bad?” Oh, Cecily! You do so little, but you’re still so cute.

avonlea doris petrie

Final Thoughts: I have a few. One, this episode was, once again, scored by Hagood Hardy. I’m of the opinion that the music in the series gets more and more “dramatic” as the series progresses. John Welsman’s scores are more dramatic than Hardy’s, but Don Gillis (whom we won’t hear until season 3) sort of beats them both in that apartment. Hardy’s music can seem a bit sparse in comparison to the two other major music scorers; but, I think this episode in particular perfectly compliments Hardy’s style. I can’t imagine anyone else scoring this episode.

This episode was written by Suzette Couture. It is the first episode by her. She only wrote four episodes for the series, but she’s definitely written the most beloved episodes, usually centered on Felicity. This episode was directed by Dick Benner, also known as Richard Benner. He is mostly known for writing and directing the 1977 LGBT film Outrageous! Unfortunately, this is the only episode he directed before he died of AIDS in 1990. It seems like Outrageous and Avonlea are so different in terms of audience and genre. I hope to watch Outrageous, so I can maybe catch some similarities in terms of style. However, “Proof of the Pudding” does contain some really funny/clever moments that probably only adults could appreciate so maybe Benner infused his own comedic sensibilities into the world of Avonlea.

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