Road to Avonlea Review: Misfits and Miracles

avonlea misfits and miracles

Episode Summary: After the ruthless Archie Gillies (John Friesen) bans women and “short” boys from joining the Avonlea hockey team, Alec, Felix, Peg Bowen, Jasper and others decide to form their own team. The two teams decide to play against each other. Meanwhile, Muriel Stacy comes back to town and proposes that Hetty add physical education to the curriculum. At first, Hetty refuses. However, when Alec sprains his back during a hockey practice, Hetty agrees to Muriel Stacy’s request if she helps coach the “misfit” hockey team. With the help of Muriel and a few members of a woman’s hockey team, the misfits are able to beat the Avonlea team. During all this, Janet is preparing to finally give birth. However, she fears that she may be too old to have another baby. With some help and encouragement from Sara, Janet successfully delivers a baby boy.

Directed by Harvey Frost, Written by Heather Conkie, Music by John Welsman

My Grade: This is another great season finale for the show. I think it was an interesting choice sort of blending a “hockey” storyline with Janet giving birth. The transition between the two plots never felt jarring; particularly because Sara’s struggles with learning to play hockey is intersected with Janet’s struggles with her fourth pregnancy. Nonetheless, the hockey scenes are fun, and the birth is a nice way of tying the season up in a bow. (A)

sarah polley lally cadeau

Spotlight Performance/Favorite Scene: Let’s talk about Janet King for a second. She’s a very interesting and complex character. She’s fiercely protective over her children. She has moments where she can be a little “stand-offish.” But, over everything, she’s just a mother who tries her best. And I think she’s rarely ever given the credit she deserves. Whether it’s Felicity chiding her mother over how dusty the kitchen is, to Hetty blaming her for Felix’s bad behavior, Janet takes a lot of heat from the people around her. And this pretty much continues for the rest of the series. And sometimes it’s frustrating but…she’s like Meg on Family Guy. It’s just something I’ve had to accept watching this show. But, anyway, Janet is someone who can be pretty insecure over her abilities. So her big scene with Sara where she cries over the thought of having another baby, while surprising for an episode that’s mostly humorous up to that point, makes perfect sense. It’s Janet’s way of finally letting off some steam and sharing her true feelings. And I think Sara, the niece she’s only really known for a couple years, is the best person for her to tell. It’s as if Sara’s a blank slate for Janet. She can tell Sara her true feelings without any baggage weighing her down. So, that scene is a favorite of mine in this series.

And Lally Cadeau as Janet is so amazing in that scene, and in the whole episode. She’s such a standout in this episode and the entire series. It will be a few more years before she finally wins a Gemini for her role on this show.

avonlea misfits and miracles

Final Thoughts: A few. I did find a couple exterior shots of the school from the beginning of the episode that had first appeared in the season one episode “Felicity’s Challenge.” So…yeah, I am weird like that.

Next, there are some hello’s and goodbye’s we have to get to. This is the last time we see Andrew (Joel Blake), but I already bid him adieu in my “Family Rivalry” post so I will instead reserve my tears for Dr. Blair. This is Dr. Blair’s last episode. His first appearance was “The Quarantine” episode from early season one, and he’s appeared continuously since then, whether a character got pregnant, had a toothache or a concussion. This is mostly notable because he was played by Michael Polley, Sarah Polley’s father. Polley will appear again in season 6 as a different a character. Michael Polley is mostly known for his role in the popular Canadian theatre drama Slings and Arrows. He will work with Sarah Polley during the show’s third season, and then again, years later for Sarah Polley’s “should’ve been Oscar nominated” documentary Stories We Tell.

However, this is the first episode for Archie Gillies, played by John Friesen. He will have a recurring role for the rest of the series. He will also appear in Kevin Sullivan’s Wind at my Back and the miniseries Seasons of Love. Archie Gillies will pretty much continue to be a blowhard, right?

avonlea misfits and miracles

So…this is it. The end of another season. First, I want to quickly go through some of the major awards this season gained. In terms of Emmys, the show received its first nomination for “Children’s Program” for the episode “How Kissing Was Discovered,” which was a fine representation for the show. It lost however to an episode of 3-2-1 Contact. The show will win sooner or later. Peter Coyote was also nominated for Guest Actor for his performance in “Old Quarrels, Old Love.” The show, in my opinion, deserved more Emmy recognition…but I’ll delve deeper into that when I talk about season 3.

Of course, the show always did better at the Geminis. It received 9 nominations, including one for Best Dramatic Series. Jackie Burroughs, once again, won for her leading role in “Aunt Hetty’s Ordeal.” Both Lally Cadeau and Gema Zamprogna (Felicity) were nominated in a supporting category; but they both lost to Sarah Polley for her performance in Lantern Hill. I don’t know what episode they submitted for consideration, but it had to have been for “How Kissing Was Discovered” and “Misfits and Miracles” respectively, right? I guess “A Mother’s Love” could also be a consideration for either one of them. John Welsman won for his score. And, finally, the holy trinity of writers: Heather Conkie, Suzette Couture, and Marlene Matthews were all nominated.

Well, this has been another fun season of posts. I’m going to try to take a small break from reviews for a little while (at least a week or so…maybe a little longer), because there are other types of posts I want to get to for this blog. But, I will definitely be back for season 3 and 4 and so on. I’ve really enjoyed doing these. Thank you everyone for reading. Season 2 of Avonlea proves that the “sophomore slump” is a myth. More than anything, this season has delved deeper into the lives of all the main characters (although, at the expense of the some of the recurring kid characters). Major relationships have been formed. And more emotional and dramatic storylines have been explored. Season 2 is a favorite for many fans…and I can certainly see why.


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