Road to Avonlea
Wraps for its Final Season

"I just had to respond after hearing that the seventh season of Road to Avonlea will be its last. Every episode that I have seen on the Disney Channel has made me laugh and cry with delight, and I will dearly miss it. Thank you so much for creating such a high quality, entertaining series for the whole family." Grace Chiu, California
From around the world, letters from ROAD TO AVONLEA fans have been pouring into the offices of Sullivan Entertainment, lamenting the fact that the series is now in its final season.
Selling to over 140 countries worldwide, this award-winning program is the highest rated show to ever air on Canadian television, securing over 2.5 million viewers with its first-run episodes. Why, then, should this phenomenally successful series come to a close after seven years?
Executive producer Kevin Sullivan has been posed this question countless times. "ROAD TO AVONLEA has had an incredible momentum, with a marvellous creative impetus as it has grown up; but it has reached its zenith" states Sullivan.
The reason behind Avonlea’s turning point is threefold. From a creative perspective, ROAD TO AVONLEA has lived a rich life. "I think that, over the seven year process, I am most proud of the fact that Avonlea has had staying power, it has remained fresh, and has been consistently appealing to an international audience, because of its unique character and the fact that few prime time shows are produced in this genre," adds Sullivan.

However, he notes, "when television risks becoming an imitation of itself -- the creators should fold it, rather than risk disappointing their audience."
ROAD TO AVONLEA's rapid maturation can be partially attributed to the symbiotic relationship between the show's actors and writers. Although the spirit of Lucy Maud Montgomery lies at the heart of all of their stories, the writers began, after the show's first season to tailor their storylines more for the performers. Over the years, the characters began to be defined by the actors' personas, and from there a synergy grew.
The show's children, who literally have been raised on the set of Avonlea, have grown into young adults. Enlightened about the world, they have begun to define their characters as different people. Some have left the show entirely, such as Sarah Stanley (Sara Polley) and Felicity King (Gema Zamprogna) both of whom are pursuing their secondary education with great gusto. Sullivan felt the young people's work on the show had come to fruition, and they needed to follow other pursuits in their lives.
Finally, there lies the issue of the time period the production is set in, the seventh season, Avonlea about to change irrevocably. The world of this small Maritime community is only nine months from the brink of World War 1, and yet its citizens are completely unaware of this threat. Felix for example, joins the Navy. If the show proceeded further, he would no doubt be sent into the bowels of war.
Avonlea exists in that last great period of innocence in the 20th century before the world changes irrevocably. To leave Avonlea in its idyllic setting is how the show was always intended to finish. And memory is the definitive factor in Sullivan’s decision to wrap Avonlea and pursue new avenues. "Within Avonlea's framework, there have been tent poles, episodes that were designed to reflect back on what the series is truly about," says Sullivan. For example, through a scientific experiment in the episode Home Movie from season four, Jasper Dale created a film about the town of Avonlea, which faced possible extinction because people had begun to sell their land and move away. Hetty used the movie as a tool to show everyone what was meaningful about their town and their lives and how in a hundred years people would still be able to look back fondly on their unique spirit of place.
"To me, this particular episode in the series was timely, because it made the audience reflect on why they like Avonlea," he adds. "The fact that it has a certain innocence and nostalgic factor, is because it is a place that can no longer be reached today, As a contemporary audience, we search for an antidote to our daily lives. Avonlea is pure escapism. We wanted to close the series as in the Home Movie episode from season four; without tarnishing its image and by leaving a fond impression of the show with our audiences."
Recognizing the disappointment that audiences expressed in the show's demise Sullivan moved quickly to fill the new void. Now in production with a heart-wrenching new series entitled WIND AT MY BACK Sullivan will chronicle the struggles of the Bailey family - torn apart by economic hard times while trying to survive The Great Depression of the 1930's. Starring Cynthia Belliveau, James Carroll, and Shirley Douglas, WIND AT MY BACK will air during the CBC Family Hour in late 1996.

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