Masterpiece Theater’s presentation of “Pollyanna” seeks to position itself as classic holiday entertainment but is too choppy and disjointed to sweep the audience into the reverie achieved by the best in the genre.
As all adaptations of “Pollyanna” seemingly must, production walks a very fine line between cloying and sweet. Simon Nye, who also scripted Masterpiece Theater’s “The Railway Children,” adds enough humor to the piece to prevent it from being overly maudlin.
Tyro Georgina Terry has the cute, fresh-faced look for Pollyanna and easily goes beyond the character’s chipper demeanor when required. Amanda Burton as taciturn Aunt Polly manages to be both fairy tale evil stepmother and sympathetic spinster.
All these efforts, however, are undermined by the episodic feel of the work: Pollyanna comes to live with Aunt Polly; Pollyanna meets the estate’s staff and wins them over; Pollyanna meets the neighbors in the village and wins them over; Pollyanna meets an orphan boy and wins him over; Pollyanna gets hit by a car and wins over her doctors with her optimism.
Production and costuming is lavish, with the countryside near Windsor serving the early 1900s setting well.
Made-for originally aired on ITV in the U.K. in 2002 and is available on DVD overseas.