Enjoying a raspberry cordial with Anne

First, a couple of facts about me before my preview of CBC’s second episode of Anne. I’m a 46-year-old man who has never read the Anne of Green Gables books or watched the 1985 miniseries starring Megan Follows. Some may say it’s a disadvantage not to have absorbed the novels or landmark TV project, but I think it’s a good thing. It means I go into Anne without any preconceived notions or automatic comparison to the source material or beloved 80s project. I like good TV, and Anne is very, very good.

From the opening scene in last week’s debut where Matthew thundered towards the train station to grab Anne before she left town to that same shot bookending those initial 44 minutes, I was in thrall not only by the cast, scenery and cinematography but the writing too. So far Moira Walley-Beckett has stayed true to L.M. Montgomery’s tale (the die-hard fan in my house tells me so) while adding a decidedly dark edge when Anne is recalling her time with the Hammonds.

So, what does Episode 2, “I am no bird, and no net ensnares me,” written by Walley-Beckett and directed by Helen Shaver hold? Here’s what CBC’s episode synopsis reveals:

Hoping all is not lost; Matthew races to catch up with Anne while Marilla anxiously hopes and waits for their return to Green Gables.
And here’s what I can tell you after watching a screener.

Oh, those credits
I’ll never get enough of hearing “Ahead by a Century” as Anne‘s opening credits, nor the amazing, twisting, tree animation.

A Workin’ Moms star is workin’ it
Keep an eye out for Workin’ Moms actor—and recent You’ve Been Hooked interviewee—Alden Adair, who plays a small, but pivotal, role in Sunday’s opening minutes. That scene adds a gritty realism to Anne; not everyone is a nice person and wants the best for children. Other notable Canadian faces include Daniel Kash and Rob Ramsay in supporting roles.

Marilla’s crisis of confidence
From what I understand, Colleen Dewhurst was one heck of a Marilla Cuthbert. I have to say Geraldine James is simply fantastic in this iteration. She’s crusty and cross on the outside, but a total softie inside. She clearly sees some of her younger self in Anne … and is feeling awful for accusing the girl of stealing the broach and not believing Anne when she denied doing it. Marilla wants so badly to do something to right her wrong, but must leave Matthew to find Anne and wait at Green Gables, hoping for good news.

The little things mean a lot
I’m not talking about characters or performances in this case, but the minute details in sets and props that bring Anne’s world to visual life. Dirt caked under fingernails describes hardscrabble lives where hard work is important, sunlight blazing through a cherry blossom denotes hope and a bustling, loud, crowded Charlottetown dock is a sharp contrast to the quiet sanctuary that is Green Gables. Also, kudos to Amin Bhatia and Ari Posner (most recently of X
Company
) for their stellar music.

Anne airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
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4 thoughts on “Enjoying a raspberry cordial with Anne”

  1. It’s not actually very faithful to the original at all. Many parts are more of a nightmare version…. I’m glad it’s good TV, but as one who knows the original books, it’s a shock. There are weird distortions – Anne petulantly takes on Jerry Buote? She takes the Cuthbert’s last name? She gets sent away for the loss of the broach? Matthew goes tearing after her and sells his watch to pay passage? Again, I’m glad it’s a good watch, and my guess is the people who will enjoy it the most will be those who don’t expect any ties with the books. But telling us it’s faithful to the books will actually turn some people away when they realize how far apart it is.

  2. I read books 1, 2, 3 and 5, watched all 3 miniseries in the 80s and 90s and visited Green Gables at the age of 12. And I’m a redhead lol. And I’m 46 too. I don’t recall Anne being sent back or taking the Cuthberts name. It seems they’ve taken a few liberties with this new version.
    That being said, it is great and suits today’s grittier storytelling style. I like this aspect just as I loved “The Continuing Story” in 1999 because it was more serious and dramatic (taking place during WWI) and a welcome departure from the Laura Ashley world of the Kevin Sullivan production. All the cast including Colleen Dewhurst were wonderful but they have done a fine update. Also thrilled to hear the people behind the terrific music of the awesome X Company are working on this show.

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