I Don't Ever Seem To Have Original Ideas
Posted 24 July 2008 in Television by Catriona
I mentioned back during the second stage of my Magical Mystery Bookshelf Tour that I thought L. M. Montgomery was most interesting when she was exploring the darker side of late-Victorian provincial life.
I shouldn’t have anticipated that I would be the only one who thought that, but I hadn’t thought it would take such an odd turn.
You see, I was surfing through Wikipedia this afternoon—almost as dangerous an activity as surfing around on Amazon.com, and with a greater chance of unexpectedly coming across some examples of necrophotography—when I discovered that Emily of New Moon—one of my favourite Montgomery books, still—was made into a television series in the late 1990s.
(Honestly, I owe some my happiest television-watching hours to Canadian television. Unfortunately, Nick never enjoyed Degrassi Junior High, so I haven’t been able to rewatch that recently, but we both loved The Nero Wolfe Mysteries.)
So I would have been intrigued by this, anyway—getting, as I am, to an age where I find inaccurate adaptations of my favourite stories amusing rather than depressing, assuming that they don’t include random Nazis.
But then I stumbled across a review on the website of the L. M. Montgomery Reading Group’s website and, oddly enough, the stated inaccuracies only intrigued me more in this case.
[T]he series writers [. . .] added a number of elements and subplots that offered a record of 1890s Prince Edward Island that is radically different in tone and in topic from Montgomery’s. Emily’s “flash” and encounters with the supernatural are heightened in the television series, so much so that Ellen Vanstone refers to the production as “The X-Files meets Anne of Green Gables” (C1). As well, characters such as Aunt Laura (McCarthy), Aunt Thom (Janet Wright), and Margaux Lavoie (Jacqueline MacKenzie) [sic] all contribute to the series’ unflinching rejection of the Victorian idolization of courtship and its creation of situations that entrap women legally, sexually, and emotionally.
Now that does sound interesting.
As I mentioned at the beginning, Montgomery was well aware of the strictures on women in small communities in the late nineteenth century, so I can’t be sure how far away from the tone of her novels this has stepped. (The supernatural elements were certainly present in the original; Emily used what was called “second sight” to solve mysteries and prevent disasters in all three novels.)
But I’m certainly keen to find out, which is a shame, really, since the series aired ten years ago and was cancelled because of poor ratings.
But I see, thanks to Amazon.com that it’s coming out on DVD later this year.
So now all I need to do is convince Nick that he really does want to watch a Canadian children’s television programme set in the 1890s.