“Better than kissing my dog!”
Episode Summary: The King Farm is in disarray! Felicity is lovesick. Janet is just plain sick altogether. And the outspoken Great Aunt Eliza (Kay Tremblay) has decided to stay over for eight months. Felicity attempts to sneak out of the house and attend a ball in order to have a dance with the dashing (yet older) David Hawes (Greg Spottiswood). She soon realizes that she may be to young for him. Meanwhile, Aunt Janet discovers that she’s pregnant after feeling sick and emotional all week. We’re also introduced to Gus Pike (Michael Mahonen), a young and lonely migrant who, with the help of Sara and Felix, finds work and shelter at the King Farm until he can seek employment at the cannery. It is with Gus that Felicity receives her very first kiss.
Directed by Rene Bonniere, Written by Suzette Couture, Music by John Welsman
My Grade: What can I say about this episode? It is certainly a fan favorite…and it’s a favorite of mine as well. As I was watching this episode for this post, I kept finding myself writing little notes about scenes that I’ve always enjoyed. I think this episode is such a favorite because 1.) it’s very funny. The scenes where Alec is completely exhausted by the cries and outbursts of Felicity and Janet (and, even little Cecily) are so funny. We all also love Gus. This is his first episode, and he quickly became a fan favorite. We learn more about him in the next episode; but, even here, the little glimpses we get show us that Gus is a different character than what we’ve seen before. Gus is sort of a mixture of Malcolm McEwan and Peter Craig; he’s a gentleman with a rambunctious side; he’s resourceful but he clearly lacks a “proper” education and has to do physical work for his supper. He’s a great character, and I can’t wait to write more about him. (A)
Spotlight Performance: But, hands down, this episode belongs to Gema Zamprogna. The final reason I believe so many fans love this episode is because it is truly a “breakout episode” for Felicity. During the first season, there are very few references to Felicity being older than the other kids. Sure, Felicity uses her age to boss her siblings and cousins around; but, otherwise, she pretty much plays the same games as the other kids. However, this episode really introduces an older, teenaged (nearly 14) Felicity. Rather than running around with Sara and Cecily, catching butterflies, Felicity is sitting, reading her favorite romance novel. Felicity no longer has time for silly little games. She wants to grow up. She wants to put her hair up. And she wants a beau…preferably the dashing David Hawes. Sara has not reached this level of adolescence, so she doesn’t understand Felicity’s drama. It’s not like Felicity didn’t develop during the first season; but I feel like here, Felicity is no longer solely defined by how bratty and snotty she is. She’ll still have moments in the next couple of seasons where she is snotty and holier-than-thou, but those moments no longer really define her like they did during the first season. And, yeah, Zamprogna pretty much kills it from this episode on.
Favorite Scene: OK, there are a lot of scenes I like in this episode. Any scene where Gus pulls out the fiddle (fishing scene, Sara and Felicity practicing dancing) is golden. The scene where Sara, Felicity, and Cecily discuss Romeo and Juliet is great. The scene where Alec King attempts to take a hot, steam bath after the cricket match is funny. However, I gotta go with the scene where Gus kisses Felicity in the shed. “Better than kissing my dog!” Oh, Gus! You charmer!
Final Thoughts: This episode featured two pretty significant guest stars. the first, and most significant, is that of Greg Spottiswood. Before Avonlea, he starred in the Sullivan film Looking for Miracles, which also aired on the Disney Channel. His co-star was Zachary Bennett, who plays Felix on Avonlea. They were both nominated for Daytime Emmys, and Spottiswood ended up winning. It’s a really, really great movie about boys at a summer camp; I would definitely recommend it. He’s been pretty loyal to Kevin Sullivan, appearing in both Wind at My Back and Anne 3. Nowadays, he’s more focused on writing and producing, his most recent TV show being the now cancelled medical drama Remedy.
The other significant guest appearance is that of Kathryn Trainor, a young actress who had a supporting role in Anne of Avonlea, and had appeared in the season one episode “The Materializing of Duncan McTavish.” She just finds herself in great episodes! For some reason, she’s uncredited here, but I am one-hundred percent sure that is her.
Lastly, it must be said that this is the first episode we hear the legendary “Gus theme,” composed by John Welsman. It’s beautiful. It’s nostalgic. It’s a little rough around the edges. It is simply Gus. And we’ll pretty much hear it over and over again until the end of the series.