an avonlea christmas

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jojo
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an avonlea christmas

Post by jojo » Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:26 am

I recently got the "an avonlea christmas" dvd, after not having seen the reunion film for about ten years. i like it so much better now! i watched it twice and it actually made me cry.

It´s funny how time changes our perspective on things sometimes. Sure there are a lot of things about it which are not good; I still don´t care for the Hetty storyline and I miss seeing the "real" avonlea town.

I do love Janets storyline though. I guess the reason it didn´t mean much to me back when the film was new is because I was very young and didn´t know much about loss or anxiety. Lally Cadeaus performanc is brilliant, she walks a fine balance with portraying anger, worry, grief and devastation without doing too much. A very genuine performace. Cedric Smith is great too I think, he is such a solid actor, you just believe everyword he says even when the writing isn´t very good.

I find it funny when Arthur bumps into Hetty and asks her how everyone in Avonlea is and she says they are just fine, compleatly forgetting about poor Felix missing and all those avonlea boys who were killed in the war!

I also love Cecily´s reaction when Felicity says she is pregnant, that is a very nice little moment.

Anyway, just some thoughts. Anyone else change their minds for the better about this film?

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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by Timothy » Wed Jan 06, 2010 4:46 pm

For me, "An Avonlea Christmas," or "Happy Christmas Miss King" as it originally aired, has gotten worse and has not stood up well over time. While Janet's role still shines, Hetty's role in the movie was a disappointment. I know there are those that feel this was a natural evolution to her character, but her manic role in leading the musical and the strange giddy stalking of her former pupil was too much for me to endure. Not to mention the rehashed back injury angle.

My opinion is also impacted by the possibility that this might be the last chapter in Road to Avonlea, at least with this cast. If this is the case, it is a very lackluster way to leave the series.

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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by hannikan » Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:29 pm

Yeah, I have mixed feelings about this movie, too. I do enjoy parts of it, esp Janet's part, but it was uneven. I think Hetty was a bit manic, too, but it bothered me more when she was interacting with Olivia. I think it was a believable storyline that she would have been upset about Jasper not coming and accusing him of being scatterbrained, etc... but the way they developed it was sort of melodramatic. It all happened too quickly, escalated too fast. Also I think that if they'd focused on Hetty being upset Olivia had to travel alone during a war (albeit the beginning of it) and feeling worried about Olivia being so far away just like Ruth was it would have made more sense and been more moving. Hetty should have complained that Jasper was recklessly taking her away like Blair did with Ruth. Instead of Hetty rambling about how Olivia was loved. Hetty had been loved, too. By Romney and probably Simon. I think Olivia's explanation of why Jasper wasn't there should have been handled a little differently, too. I felt like the Hetty injury storyline was all right as a metaphor for the old, hard-headed, stoic, reliable British Empire (sort of like Rilla was a metaphor for the youthful innocence of the New World/Canada in RoI). But considering it was very similar to Memento Mori it was a little too redundant. The stuff with Ainsley was a little silly but entertaining. Hetty does lose her head anytime competition is involved and latches onto any opportunity to have the last laugh. I think it would have been appropriate to have Rachel help Hetty organize the children's Christmas program since she played the piano and led the church choir. That could have also made for some entertaining interaction/conflict, too.

The main thing that bugged me though was the way Felicity reacted when Mrs. Potts suggested closing the foundling home because there weren't enough orphans. I thought Felicity would have fought back if not right away before the movie ended. Esp since she could have made the argument that there would soon be plenty of orphans due to the war. I know she was emotionally fragile having lost the Dean boys, Gus being gone and being PG but it wasn't like her to do that, esp saying go ahead and sell the property without consulting Gus first. Where would they have lived if he'd come home soon after? Hey, hubby btw I let them evict us and you have to move in with my folks. Then I liked the idea of Felicity being certified to teach the deaf. It was like professional development, expanding on her skills to offer more if/when she reopened the foundling home. I just hated that they dropped it without saying that that was the plan. In general the movie seemed rushed, with a script thrown together due to actors being unavailable (Michael Mahonen and Heather Brown most importantly). I would have preferred to see Felicity and Gus starting a family (even if Gus had been away for part of the movie) and a story for Felix and Izzy rather than the stuff with Hetty and Olivia.
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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by jimbeam1284 » Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:12 pm

An Avonlea christmas along with the final seasons would be better if Sara was still a main character . Now that she's no longer included a majority of episodes revolve the king farm and which tends to bring a lot of drama with Felicity, Cecily and Felix being the center of attention. They also would have benefited if they had included Gus Pike more often. He's a good man thats never self centered.

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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by hannikan » Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:55 pm

You can't have people involved who aren't available (Michael Mahonen, Heather Brown) or interested (Sarah Polley). Gus was supposed to have a prominent role in HCMK/Avonlea Christmas. I imagine Izzy was supposed to, as well.
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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by Shelly » Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:59 pm

hannikan wrote:You can't have people involved who aren't available (Michael Mahonen, Heather Brown) or interested (Sarah Polley). Gus was supposed to have a prominent role in HCMK/Avonlea Christmas. I imagine Izzy was supposed to, as well.
Given the original storyline was mostly Felix-centric, I would be surprised if Izzy didn't figure prominently at first. (According to MM at the first AvCon, Gus was supposed to be the one to deliver the "Felix is missing" telegram to the Kings.)

Janet's storyline was excellent (say it with me: Lally was ROBBED of a Gemini nomination!); but the rest of it was just... no. My own grievances after all these years...

* Barely any mention of Sara and her situation! I mean, Paris was the centre of a lot of action during WW1; she would've been living in the middle of a war zone, if she was still there. You would think Hetty and the rest of the Kings would be concerned about that.

* I'm with Hannikan in that it would've made more sense for Hetty to be frantic over Olivia and Jasper living in London (also the epicentre of a bit of action during WW1 (moreso during WW2, though, I think?)) and him sending her and the kids across the Ocean in the midst of a war. (The Atlantic itself was a war zone!) On the other hand, I thought the rest of her gripes regarding Jasper were a bit redundant. I also think Olivia's claim that Jasper was irresponsible was very out of character and very wrong. Jasper may've been clumsy and absentminded sometimes, but irresponsible? Never. Especially when it came to his family.

* Hetty needing surgery = Memento Mori II. Been there, done that. Didn't need to do it again.

* The ladies' reaction toward Janet's reactions to Felix being missing. I can understand them being uneasy about her newfound pacifism; but I don't understand the rest of it. Felix was one of Avonlea's own. A local young man, missing, in the middle of a war, thousands of miles away. While Clara Potts had no sons to send, surely Mabel Sloane should've been more understanding! (I'm going under the assumption she was also Charlie's mother.) Even Hetty acted like an ice queen toward Janet about this...and she's FAMILY!

* Unnecessary characters. I can understand the want to have someone like Mrs. MacGuire there -- to show the audience that war and casualty know no class/status; however, couldn't Alec visit Elbert's family instead? The Wertz family weren't all that well off, as I recall; they'd have accomplished the same goal, not to mention there'd be the connection, as Elbert and Felix were on the front together (and we'd learn what on earth happened to the former for certain). And what was the point of Wilfred Ainsley? To make Hetty and Rachel act like a couple of old fangirls? *shakes head*

* Felicity, Felicity, Felicity. I hated that she was swapping careers again. I hated that she was all deflated regarding the Foundling Home. (Definitely very OOC. The Felicity I remember in the series would've put her foot down and said either "NO!" or "Not until I consult Gus first.".) The other thing nagging at me was Gema's performance in general. I've seen better from her. Much better. It seemed like she didn't want to be there sometimes, IMO.

For what it's worth, a while back, I snarked on the film for my site.

http://shellysavonlea.net/writings/hcmkrecap/index.html
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Timothy
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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by Timothy » Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:30 am

Great write-up Shelly. I like the glossary too.

I have trouble calling it an 'Avonlea Christmas' since this title was part of a marketing strategy to repackage the movie. You would likely never get away with changing the title of a great movie--like changing 'The Godfather' to 'The Gangster' without an uprising. On the other hand, there hasn't been a lot of objection about changing the title of this movie.

Budget cutbacks killed Happy Christmas Miss King. It's unfortunate because we'll never see Sullivan's actual vision for the reunion movie. How could CBC do this to the producer that brought one of the biggest rating winners in Canadian television history? Sullivan expressed his outrage in this 1997 Toronto Star article:

"We've come to the conclusion that CBC right now is that horrible mixture of a bureaucracy that doesn't know where it's going -they've told us they don't - and the prototypical Canadian dilemma of don't let anything get too successful otherwise you can't control it.''

An angry Sullivan said his internationally successful Toronto company has invested "$5.5 million of our profits in programs for CBC - Wind At My Back and Road To Avonlea'' - but will not do so if it ever produces for CBC again.

"We'd rather take our profits and put them into our programs with other Canadian broadcasters.''
CBC, he claimed is ``so focused on cutbacks that it's lost sight of programming.

"There is mismanagement at CBC and it's getting worse. CBC is in such a disarray management-wise. Who is really running CBC? What is its vision?''

...Sullivan and Grant said the Cable Fund's $1.5 million will not be available again because its rules will be tighter as of April 1.


So no Telefilm Canada. If anyone questions what RTA may have been like without proper funding, you need look no further than Happy Christmas Miss King. Because of cutbacks, key actors couldn't be there and the original script had to be changed, and probably rushed, because of these limitations.

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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by hannikan » Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:01 pm

Thanks for that info, Timothy. I've never seen that article. Probably explains the contract issues, too. I am sorry we didn't get to see the original film as intended and it's too bad the funding held it back. I guess RTA could have been like HCMK without better funding but Anne 1 was done without a lot of funding wasn't it? Of course that was a movie and a series is different.

I took it for granted that Sara was done with her program, it had been more than 4 years since she started it. But that doesn't mean she would have left Paris, France or Europe. In my fan fiction, I have her move to England after she finishes because Olivia and Jasper are there and she wants to be near them. London wasn't as directly affected by WWI as in WWII when it was bombed.

It never bothered me that the church women acted the way they did toward Janet. I mean it bothered me but I thought it was accurate for the time, esp considering LMM's own writing in ROI. The way the people treated the pacifist in ROI was even worse, probably because he was a man and didn't have a son in the war. But yeah pacifists were not treated well at all during WWI and think it was appropriate to show that. Those women also really believed putting on a brave face and not speaking of the tragedies of the war (like Hetty not mentioning to Arthur that Felix was MIA) would actually help the situation. That's why Hetty acted as she did but it did get a bit cartoonish.

I do think Felicity was supposed to be sort of in a daze which can make it seem like Gema wasn't giving her all in the role. But I'm not sure that wasn't intentional. Still I would have rather seen her be more vibrant even if for only part of the movie. I really wanted to see her tell off Clara Potts at the end. I would have preferred Rachel take over the Christmas concert for Hetty, instead of Felicity to give Felicity a chance to get all her ducks in a row to get the foundling home back and confront Clara. The part where she gives in so easily to giving up the foundling home almost seemed like they forgot that Felicity wouldn't have known how long Gus would be away. They made it seem like she knew he would be away for years but they really all thought the war would be over quickly. If the war really had ended in a few months, really, where would they have lived?
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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by StoryJan » Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:55 pm

The CBC funding revelation certainly explains a lot about the recycled quality of Happy Christmas Miss King, but why even go to the trouble of making a reunion movie if it's only going to be a shadow of its former self? I am surprised no one has mentioned this yet... but I'm about to bring up the ugly "D" word. As much as I've heard fans complain about the Disney influence in RTA, they were a source of funding, being listed prominently in the production credits along with CBC. If CBC cut funding to Happy Christmas Miss King, then why didn't KS approach Disney? Or did he and Disney didn't show any interest in the project? I always found this strange... Disney and Sullivan had a long history together, including Anne of Avonlea, Looking for Miracles, Lantern Hill, and Road to Avonlea. When RTA was ending, Disney heralded it as the most popular show in Disney Channel history, and yet, just a short year later, all of the reruns were pulled, and no Happy Christmas Miss King for American Avonlea fans. Has KS ever publically commented on the Disney split? Or was Avonlea merely a sacrifice to the new Disney Channel programming, focusing more on shows like Lizzie McGuire and Hannah Montana and dropping Avonlea and Mickey Mouse Club?

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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by hannikan » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:33 pm

StoryJan wrote:The CBC funding revelation certainly explains a lot about the recycled quality of Happy Christmas Miss King, but why even go to the trouble of making a reunion movie if it's only going to be a shadow of its former self? I am surprised no one has mentioned this yet... but I'm about to bring up the ugly "D" word. As much as I've heard fans complain about the Disney influence in RTA, they were a source of funding, being listed prominently in the production credits along with CBC. If CBC cut funding to Happy Christmas Miss King, then why didn't KS approach Disney? Or did he and Disney didn't show any interest in the project? I always found this strange... Disney and Sullivan had a long history together, including Anne of Avonlea, Looking for Miracles, Lantern Hill, and Road to Avonlea.
Yeah that's a good point. I wonder if they did and Disney wasn't interested due to the somber nature of WWI? They did show some pretty serious movies though. Or maybe it was because CBC had complete rights initially and by the time they pulled the funding it was too late to approach Disney? Sounds to me like the reason they wanted to still put it out was they had already begun production and it would have been a waste of everyone's time and money. I still prefer to have it than nothing.
StoryJan wrote: When RTA was ending, Disney heralded it as the most popular show in Disney Channel history, and yet, just a short year later, all of the reruns were pulled, and no Happy Christmas Miss King for American Avonlea fans. Has KS ever publicly commented on the Disney split? Or was Avonlea merely a sacrifice to the new Disney Channel programming, focusing more on shows like Lizzie McGuire and Hannah Montana and dropping Avonlea and Mickey Mouse Club?
I was always perplexed about this too!! Why there were no reruns after it was touted as such a hit for Disney. I missed all of S7 and some of S6 originally because I was out of the country and then in college. So that is why I didn't know what happened all these years until I finally purchased all the DVDs (10 years later!)
Last edited by hannikan on Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by Shelly » Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:37 pm

If I remember, it was after the final season aired (which would've been end of 1996/early 1997 Stateside) that Disney lost US broadcast rights to the show. (They still have US merch rights, I'd imagine, given they released their own version of S1 on DVD.) Of course, HCMK/AAC did air in the US, albeit a year after its Canadian broadcast.

Meanwhile, the article also explains how come RTA and Anne are now in CTV's hands. Very interesting, that.
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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by Timothy » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:56 pm

Sullivan had invested money into the movie and made committments to actors and crew before CBC decided to cut the budget and that's probably why he didn't abandon the production. Then contracts had to be renegotiated leading to Mahonen leaving the project. CBC tried to tell Sullivan to go after the cable funds, but those were getting cut too. Sullivan wanted to go to another broadcaster to save the movie, but CBC owned the rights and wouldn't allow it.

Yes, CBC ruined Christmas. :twisted:

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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by StoryJan » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:59 pm

But did Disney actually "lose" the rights, or did they just decide not to renew them? "Losing" implies Disney was interested in continuing the contract, but I've always wondered if that was really the case. In the two short years between So Dear to My Heart and Happy Christmas Miss King, what changed? The last episode of Avonlea was hyped and advertised as if it was the last episode of Seinfield. Why snub HCMK? Did Disney know it was an inferior product and decided to wash its hands clean of it? All of this happened around the time Disney was switching formats from a premium cable channel to a basic cable channel, so perhaps their funds were limited or they were interested in a new direction for the station. And although HCMK eventually aired in the US on the Odyssey Channel, it never appeared on the Disney Channel.

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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by Timothy » Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:15 am

You may be right about the direction of Disney, but they were never going to get a chance to produce this movie.

Sullivan purposely cut ties with Disney and new funding allowed this to happen. When Wind at My Back was produced after RTA, Sullivan had a new source of funding in addition to Telefilm Canada. The Ontario Film Investment Program and the new Cable Production Fund provided the necessary financial costs for Wind At My Back.

He wanted Disney to have no part in the new series or the production of Happy Christmas Miss King. As Sullivan said in 1995:

No longer are we taking into account concerns of a lot of American- based executives who come to the plate with a lot of naivete about how a show like this develops.

cough*cough*WhatATangledWeb*cough*cough

This sent a clear message to Disney that regardless of what their plans were, Sullivan was moving on without them.

The Disney contracts were determined on a season-by-season basis, so when season seven ended, the Disney contract ended; and they only had rights to what they helped produce. (In fact, Disney delayed funding the seventh season until they were certain that the Telefilm Canada funding was approved. At the time, Telefilm Canada only funded a series for a max of five years, but made an exception for RTA).

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Re: an avonlea christmas

Post by hannikan » Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:26 pm

StoryJan wrote: And although HCMK eventually aired in the US on the Odyssey Channel, it never appeared on the Disney Channel.
This explains why I had never heard of HCMK until I got on the message boards a year and a half ago. I had never heard of the Odyssey Channel until people mentioned it online.

Interesting info Timothy!
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