Episode Summary: Hetty resigns as the teacher for the Avonlea school in order to help Olivia take care of her baby. In response, the school board (headed by Alec) hires a new teacher, Mr. Clive Pettibone (David Fox), a former Military general. It turns out, he’s even stricter in the classroom than Hetty ever was. With the threat of being fired looming over, Mr. Pettibone agrees to loosen up. Meanwhile, Hetty begins writing pulpy romance novels under the pen name H.E. LeRoi. Mr. Pettibone discovers her secret and reveals that he’s a secret author himself. The two form a friendship.
Directed by Otta Hanus, Written by Deborah Nathan, Music by John Welsman
My Grade: I think bringing in a new teacher for the Avonlea school (along with a new family) is a nice change of pace for the show. While some of my favorite memories of the show involve Hetty being Hetty in the classroom, Mr. Pettibone, as we will see for the rest of the series, is a pretty interesting character in his own right. This is a solid episode, but not solid enough for it to be in the “A-range.” (B+)
Spotlight Performance: So, this is an notable episode because we’re introduced to the Pettibones, a family that will stay relevant for the rest of the series. David Fox pretty much hits it out of the park from his first scene. He’s a worthy acting partner for the late great Jackie Burroughs. David Fox is a Genie and Gemini Award nominated Canadian actor who has appeared in so many TV series and films. Before Road to Avonlea, he played John Blythe in Anne of Avonlea. He was born in the Canadian city of Swastika.
Favorite Scene: This is one of those episodes that mostly sets situations up, rather than offers anything really satisfying in terms of plot. However, the ending where Hetty and Clive trade their books, revealing that they named characters after each other as a sign of respect and admiration is very sweet. The perfect way to end this episode.
Final Thoughts: This is, of course, also the first episode for Mr. Pettibone’s two youngest children, Izzy and Morgan. Morgan is played by Mark Bigney. His only other credit is for the film The Young Adventurers. After this season, his character will leave town, only to return for an episode in season 7 by a different actor. Izzy, played by Heather Brown, will become a more significant character later in the series. Right now, she’s just a lovable tomboy. Heather Brown will continue to act after Avonlea, appearing in a “Dear America” special, an episode of Goosebumps, and a few other TV shows. However, it doesn’t seem like she’s appeared on screen since 2005. From the various boards, it looks like she ended up going to school and becoming a teacher or something.
This the first episode directed by Otta Hanus. He will direct a couple more episodes after this, those being the season finale and the season 5 premiere. He also directed a couple episodes of Sullivan’s other series Wind at My Back, along with Lassie, The Famous Jett Jackson, and My Secret Identity. This is also the first episode for writer Deborah Nathan. She was also a writer for Sullivan’s miniseries By Way of the Stars (which featured Zachary Bennett, Gema Zamprogna, and Michael Mahonen). She became a producer for Avonlea‘s 5th and 6th seasons, and then later produced the drama Twice in a Lifetime.
Felix and Izzy have their first scene together. It’s completely asexual but still…swoon. I can’t wait until we get to the episode where he adorably compliments her body.
I still think it’s weird that Gus is in the school with those kids. Isn’t there an adult education night school he could attend? Also…why am I more offended with that than with Gus and Felicity forming a relationship??
Recycled Footage Alert: They always come back to this image. Always. It’s like when they first created this shot, they left the camera on for half an hour and told the extras to walk (actually, that’s probably exactly how they filmed this).