4.1684782608696 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Rating 4.17 (368 Votes)
Episode 1.8: Aunt Abigail's Beau - 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 votes

Janet King's spinster sister, Abigail is pursued by a former suitor who has returned from the Yukon a wealthy man.

Writer: Heather Conkie
Director: Harvey Frost
Special Guests: Malcolm Stoddard as Malcolm MacEwan and Rosemary Dunsmore as Aunt Abigail
Original CBC Airdate: February 25, 1990
Original Disney Airdate: April 2, 1990
Run Time: 49 minutes
Time Frame: Fall 1903

Highlights/Analysis

Alec resents Malcolm's tales of worldly adventures and feels confined to King Farm. The old "wobbly" bed that Janet insists Alec replaces, symbolizes his general sense of being: useless and unappreciated.

A misunderstanding between Malcolm and Abigail causes Abigail to turn down her suitor's marriage proposal. The theme that 'money cannot buy happiness' is revived in this episode as Alec learns that his happiness resides not in gold seeking adventures, but with his family at King Farm. Furthermore, Malcolm learns that his money cannot buy Abigail's hand in marriage.

Sara and Felicity ride to the rescue and the Story Girl continues her exaggerated expressions with "it's a matter of life and death!" The reunion between Malcolm and Abigail is highlighted by Sara's remark about Abigail's frantic driving.

Criticism

Malcolm immediately finding the egg in the haystack, while not implausible, is a bit far fetched.

Memorable Quotes

"Providence knows, it's probably your last chance to throw off the mantle of maidenhood." -Clara Potts (to Abigail)

"I think it's high time that you asserted your authority, Mr. MacEwan." -Felicity King

"Let Mr. MacEwan drive the buggy home." -Sara (to Abigail)

Notes

(1) The current episode was based on the short story 'Aunt Olivia's Beau' from Montgomery's 'Chronicles of Avonlea.' In the book, "dyed-in-the-wool old maid" Olivia Sterling is the representation of Aunt Abigail in the series and Malcolm's last name is MacPherson, not MacEwan (The characters Mary and Peggy are the series equivalents of Sara and Felicity). This episode follows the plot closely, but omits the subplot rivalry between Malcolm and Alec. Another interesting note from the short story is that Malcolm purchases the old Lynde home with the hope of marrying Olivia, but Olivia objects, arguing that she does not want to be uprooted from her home in East Grafton, less than twelve miles from Avonlea. 

(2) Malcolm left Avonlea for the Yukon on November 7, 1896. 

(3) Alec claims that he is 43 years old. Janet corrects Alec and reminds him that he's 44 years old, which means that Alec was born in 1859 and he was 29 years old when he married Janet. 

(4) Gemma from the avonleavillage list noted that the carriage Abigail chases near the end of the episode has a sign on the side that reads 'Dunsmore' coaches. The coach company was most likely named after Rosemary Dunsmore, the actress who plays Abigail MacEwen. 

(5) Hetty is not in this episode but Jackie Burroughts receives a credit.

Grade: A 

The episode provides insight into Alec's character, his desire for adventure and his eventual realization of the importance of his family.

 

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  • Ryan B.

    Timothy, that's really interesting! I never knew the original CBC broadcasts had some of the cast members introducing an episode. Now i'm getting determined to find the CBC broadcasts! I have attempted to view old content from the CBC before. I had sent an email to one of the CBC employee's in an attempt to find out about access to view Mr. Dressup's 25th Anniversary from 1994 which featured Sarah Polley in character (along with Anne Murray, Mr. Rogers and other celebrities) wishing Mr Dreesup a happy birthday. I was told however that the CBC no longer owned the rights to that video. There is also a lot of Avonlea content from Disney that's still out there (interviews, behind the scenes etc.) A VHS tape made by a fan contained tons of Avonlea Disney, Gemini awards and Cable Ace awards material that was called Avonlea Rarities. A lot of this tape is now available on Youtube

  • I had no idea about the Mr. Dressup Anniversary show with Sarah Polley. I hope you can track it down. I think I saw some of the rarities video on Youtube. I was relieved because it had a funny Disney clip I had on VHS that I lost. It featured Marc Worden (Road to Avonlea's Edward Ray), dressed in a Mickey Mouse clubhouse jacket, visiting an Avonlea set to interview Sarah Polley, Zachary Bennett and Gema Zamprogna. It was very surreal.

  • Ryan B.

    I actually have Marc Worden as a friend on facebook and that video has been posted at least twice on his page. He mentioned that he has no memory of doing that interview but did say he was grateful for the reminder and that it felt good to see old friends. Which was nice. Another notable video from that Avonlea Rarities video is a clip of the Hollywood Christmas Parade in 1990 which had an Avonlea float with Sarah, Gema, Zach, and Mag riding in it. I think I remember awhile back Mag Ruffman did an online Q&A and I think you had brought up the Christmas parade in a question to her. That was the first time I had heard of that, and was quite thrilled to see the video clip of the parade on the tape.

  • Amy Jordan

    What I would never make sense of about this scene, is after all that get worked up about not having any desire to leave Avonlea, we just observe Abigail and Malcolm in one more scene this season. They don't show up again until season 3 at that point vanish with not even a say until season 7!??

    Somebody could have at any rate said they moved to the Yukon. The YUKON?? That is to say, go ahead; this is a lady who wouldn't move to Carmody!!
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  • Ryan, I remember that chat with Mag Ruffman! That was great that Mag took the time to reminisce with us. I first heard about the parade from the Avonlea Traditions Chronicle publication. That's funny that Marc Worden couldn't remember the interview. He must have Bruce Greenwood syndrome where Greenwood couldn't remember he was in the episode Stranger in the Night. That's funny, considering he won a Gemini for his role as Caleb Stokes. :)

  • Amy, I'm laughing at your comment about Abigail moving to the Yukon after her fierce resistance to moving anywhere! :) And what happened to Malcolm in the Yukon? He had such charisma and personality in this episode. When he shows up later--and is replaced by another actor--he returns with the bland personality of a damp wash cloth!

  • Newbie

    The timeline is weird. When Malcolm comes to King Farm with the bed, Alec is just waking up. So assume it's morning time. Malcolm says he's leaving on the 2pm coach. The girls hear this and rush off to Abigail's, then rush off to harness the buggy. Yet still miss the 2pm coach? Even assuming it's late morning, it still took 5 hours for the girls to harness the buggy?

  • Anna Howell

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    Comment last edited on about 10 months ago by Timothy
  • It is interesting to guess whether Cecily said the following line as scripted or she mixed up a couple words and they left it in. In the episode’s second minute, she says to her mother about Aunt Abigail, “Clemmie Ray’s mother says she’s a dyed-in-the-old wool maid.” Even though Cecily was the youngest, over the years I don’t remember the writers scripting her lines with malapropisms. My guess is that Harmony Cramp transposed a couple words by mistake, Lally Cadeau deftly ad-libbed her lines correcting her, and it played better than if adhered to the script.

  • Thank you for all your comments. Michael, I never noticed that before. I do remember trying to understand what Cecily was saying. If Lally was able to correct it on the spot then that was a good "thinking in the moment" save of that scene. Does anyone have the Bantam Skylark book for this episode? Sometimes, they are based on the original script and might show the original exchange between Janet and Cecily. I checked and unfortunately, I don't have that particular book.

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