Last week YTV aired a new rendition of Anne of Green Gables. I say a new rendition because a Google search will tell you there has been around 15 versions of the classic novel made into television or movie productions.
I was fully prepared to not like it. For me, the Sullivan Entertainment version will always be THE version of Anne. Perhaps it was because I was in my early teens when it first aired. It would have been around the time we first had cable; I can’t remember if we actually had cable by then. Regardless, the airing was an event on our either 3 or 13 channels. I watched when it aired on both CBC and PBS. Much as Michael Keaton will always be Batman to me, those actors came to epitomize the characters in my mind, so when I watched “Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables” there was a part of me that was ready to nitpick everything about it.
The thing is, it wasn’t bad. I’m not sure I’d watch it over and over as I have the other series, but it was ok, especially when taken in the context of it being skewed for a younger audience. (While I generally love Martin Sheen, I did struggle with him in the role of Matthew. Part of me kept expecting Josiah Bartlett to start lecturing on the importance of the National Park system.)
One of the real draws of the Sullivan Entertainment version is the duration. There were 2 more hours to accept those actors to be the characters you know and love. You got to really experience the entire novel, not just a few scenes to give you a sense of what it was about. I think I remember a quote from MacLean’s Magazine about the filming of the sequel along the lines of “rushing things that shouldn’t be rushed”**. That’s a bit what the 2016 version felt like. Then again, maybe that’s what sequels are for.
** I have tried to find that quote, but it doesn’t appear to be online. It’s entirely possible it’s something I dreamt up.