Emily of New Moon was a long-form television series that originally aired in 1998–1999 and in 2002–2003 on CBC. Visually and thematically the antithesis of Road to Avonlea, it offers a drastic reconfiguration of popular notions of Victorian time/space. Instead of presenting Prince Edward Island as Avonlea’s fantastic bubble where reality rarely intrudes, Emily of New Moon openly explores such themes as illegitimacy, drug addiction, lunacy, Victorian hypocrisy, child abuse, misogyny, and the effects of extreme Protestant repression. Developed by longtime Road to Avonlea writer and story editor Marlene Matthews, the series was a co-production of Salter Street Films (Halifax) and Cinar Productions (Montreal) and filmed entirely in Prince Edward Island. Although the series was produced for broadcast on WIC stations across Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation eventually bought first Canadian broadcast rights and premiered the series on 4 January 1998 in Road to Avonlea’s former timeslot. Individual WIC stations began airing episodes of the series in fall 1998, but because they did so independently of each other, no uniform WIC airdate can be provided.
Like Montgomery’s corresponding novels, the television series initially follows the adventures of eleven-year-old Emily Byrd Starr (Martha MacIsaac), an orphan who must negotiate her passionate spirit and desire to write with the limits imposed by a repressive environment. In addition to this general framework, however, the series writers, working under Matthews’s supervision, 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) 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.
That said, the original plotlines have disappointed many Montgomery readers who would prefer a more literal translation to the screen, whereas several viewers have objected to the inclusion of such mature subject matter in Road to Avonlea’s old “Family Hour” timeslot. After airing for two seasons between January 1998 and January 1999, the CBC put Emily of New Moon on hiatus, with the remaining two seasons airing sporadically between January 2002 and February 2003. Combined, the first two seasons won three Gemini Awards (out of nineteen nominations), but the remaining two seasons were ineligible for Gemini Award nomination because of a technicality.
The regular cast initially consisted of Susan Clark as Aunt Elizabeth, Stephen McHattie as Cousin Jimmy, Martha MacIsaac as Emily, and Sheila McCarthy as Aunt Laura. Susan Clark left the show at the beginning of the second season and was replaced by two Scottish relatives, Linda Thorson as Cousin Isabel and John Neville as Uncle Malcolm. Thorson and Neville both left after the third season, and in the fourth season, Jessica Pellerin was added to the regular cast after playing the recurring role of Ilse Burnley for the first three seasons.
Also playing recurring roles in the series were Kris Lemche (seasons 1–3) as Perry Miller; Shawn Roberts as Teddy Kent; Richard Donat as Dr. Burnley; Emily Cara Cook as Rhoda Stuart; Normand Bissonnette (seasons 1–2) as Father Ducharme; Peter Donaldson as Ian Bowles; Jacqueline MacKenzie as Margaux Lavoie; Chip Chuipka (seasons 1–3) as Mr. Carpenter; Sheena Larkin (seasons 1–3) as Mrs. Bowles; Marlane O’Brien (seasons 2–4) as Mrs. Stuart; Jan Filips (seasons 2–3) as Mr. Stuart; and Adam Frost (season 4) as Jack Haszard.
Micheline Charest, Michael Donovan, and Ronald A. Weinberg served as executive producers throughout all four seasons; Dale A. Andrews was credited as executive producer for WIC Entertainment and Patricia Lavoie as creative producer for CINAR. Marlene Matthews served as supervising producer in season 1, senior producer in season 2, and executive producer in season 3 before departing from the series; Leila Basen took over as supervising producer in season 4, alongside Matthew Nodella as co-executive producer. The forty-six episodes of the series were written by Nobu Adilman, Leila Basen, Heather Conkie, Dennis Foon, Edwina Follows, Rob Forsyth, Jeremy Hole, Janet MacLean, Marlene Matthews, Peter Meech, David Preston, Lynn Turner, and Joe Wiesenfeld. They were directed by George Bloomfield, Chris Bould, Randy Bradshaw, Richard Ciupka, Phil Comeau, Steve Danyluk, Douglas Jackson, Jimmy Kaufman, Michael Kennedy, Gordon Langevin, Lorette Leblanc, Eleanore Lindo, Don McBrearty, Stephen McHattie, Bruce McDonald, Matthew Nodella, Gabriel Pelletier, Jean-François Pouliot, Stefan Scaini, Mark Sobel, and Giles Walker.
The entire series has been released on DVD. Prior to these releases, the entire first season of episodes was released on VHS.
- Emily of New Moon: DVD and VHS
- Emily of New Moon at Internet Movie Database
- Emily of New Moon at Wikipedia
S3E13: A Weaver of Dreams
S3E12: A Man May Work from Sun to Sun, but a Woman’s Work Is Never Done
S3E11: Command Performance
S3E10: The Bequest
S3E09: A Fall from Grace
S3E08: Had a Wife and Couldn’t Keep Her
S3E07: In the Valley of the Shadow of Death
S3E06: The Return of Malcolm Murray
S3E05: Bred in the Bone
S3E04: Bridge of Dreams
S3E03: Under the Wishing Moon
S3E02: The Return of Maida Flynn
S3E01: Ask Me No Questions, I’ll Tell You No Lies
S2E13: The Book of Hours
S2E12: Love Knots
S2E11: When the Bough Breaks
S2E10: Crown of Thorns
S2E09: Pins and Needles, Needles and Pins, When a Man Gets Married, His Trouble Begins
S2E08: The Devil’s Punchbowl
S2E07: A Time to Heal
S2E06: Rivers of Babylon
S2E05: The Witches’ Spell Book
S2E04: Where Angels Fear to Tread
S2E03: A Shadow in His Dream
S2E02: And So Shall They Reap
S2E01: Summer of Sorrows
S1E13: The Sound of Silence
S1E12: A Winter’s Tale
S1E11: A Child Shall Lead Them
S1E10: The Ghost of Wyther Grange
S1E09: Wild Rover
S1E08: The Dale of Duncan McHugh
S1E07: Falling Angels
S1E06: The Enchanted Doll
S1E05: Paradise Lost
S1E04: The Disappointed House
S1E03: The Book of Yesterday
S1E02: Storms of the Heart
S1E01: The Eye of Heaven
13th Annual Gemini Awards (1998)
Best Dramatic Series: Michael Donovan, Marlene Matthews, Micheline Charest, Ronald A. Weinberg (Nominee)
Best Original Music Score for a Dramatic Series: Christopher Dedrick, “The Eye of Heaven” (Nominee)
Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Dramatic Program or Series: Perri Gorrara and Andrée Brodeur, “The Disappointed House” (Nominee)
Best Costume Design: Kate Rose, “The Enchanted Doll” (Nominee)
14th Annual Gemini Awards (1999)
Best Direction in a Dramatic Series: Chris Bould, “Pins and Needles, Needles and Pins, When a Man Gets Married, His Trouble Begins” (Nominee)
Best Costume Design: Kate Rose, “The Book of Hours” (Nominee)
Best Original Music Score for a Dramatic Series: Christopher Dedrick, “Rivers of Babylon” (Nominee)
Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Dramatic Program or Series: Perri Gorrara, Zoë Sakellaropoulo, Don McEwen, and Dan Owens, “A Shadow in His Dream” (Nominee)
See scholarship and trade articles by Sid Adilman, Tony Atherton, Claire Bickley, Kate Macdonald Butler, Richard Corliss, Kevin Cox, Catherine Dawson, Jane Doucet, Christopher Gittings, Christopher Harris, Alexandra Heilbron, Brendan Kelly, Barbara MacAndrew, Gina Miller, Kelly Torrance, Ellen Vanstone, and Etan Vlessing.
Runtime: 46 episodes x 46 min.
Airdates: 4 January 1998–13 February 2003 (CBC)
Production Companies: Salter Street Films Ltd., Cinar Productions Inc., WIC Entertainment
Funding Agencies: Telefilm Canada (Season 1), Gouvernement du Québec: Programme de crédits d’impôt (Seasons 1–4), The Cable Production Fund (Season 1), Government of Canada: Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit Program (Seasons 1–4), Canada Television and Cable Production Fund (Seasons 1–3), Telefilm Canada: Equity Investment Program (Seasons 2–4), CTCPF: Licence Fee Program (Seasons 2–3), Enterprise PEI/Province of Prince Edward Island (Seasons 3–4), Canadian Television Fund (Season 4), CTF: Licence Fee Program (Season 4), the Province of Nova Scotia (Season 4), Nova Scotia Film Industry Tax Credit Program (Season 4)
Source Material: Based upon the novels Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, and Emily’s Quest written by L.M. Montgomery
Tag: Salter Street Films and Cinar Present