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The Worst Witch

Watching The Worst Witch (2017)

I normally abhor Netflix series, even though I know that Netfilx has nearly nothing to do with the production of most series anyways, they often acquire shows as oppose to producing them. Yet Netflix series tend to share similar qualities, like the comedy is always the same awful shake-my-head kind of crap (*cough* Adam Sandler *cough*), and the dramas are cliché, poorly scripted and poorly acted. "Anne" was the single most dreadful experience I've had with Netflix. The whole thing was a catastrophe and it could have had so much potential. When I heard that there would be a Worst Witch reboot on Netflix I cringed. My first thoughts were "they're going to Americanize it and modernize it, and it's going to be awful."

While I never did watch the Fairuza Balk, made for TV movie, starring Tim Curry, I grew up with the original British TV show (circa 1998). Living in Canada, it was commonplace for our local networks to pick up foreign made TV series. I assume that at the time licensing British TV shows must've been cheaper than acquiring American ones. That being said, I had a lot of exposure to British television. My best friend and I share a fondness for Are You Being Served?, and my brother and I enjoyed watching Father Ted and Keeping Up Appearances. One of my guilty pleasures was always The Worst Witch, and although I'm not ashamed to admit my fandom now, in my youth no one else in my social circle liked the show. For fear of being made fun of, I never brought it up. Now approaching my 30's I can confidently say, yeah I freaking liked this show, yes, it's better than Harry Potter. The gauntlet has been thrown down!

On that note, it irks the crap out of me that columnists are referencing Harry Potter when they write about this new series. Are they daft? Do they not do their research? The Worst Witch books preceded the Harry Potter books, often bringing into question whether Rowling was borrowing themes from Murphy's work. But I'll let the geeks battle that one out. In my eyes, Worst Witch reigns supreme. It's not Harry Potter for girls, it's a satisfying feminist piece for entire families.


 Review


My fears of the series being Americanized, poorly written and poorly acted were quickly put to rest within the pilot episode. If anything, I feel that this cast of actors is even better than in the original 90's series. I mean no disrespect to Georgina Sherrington, but her acting in the role of Mildred Hubble could really wear on your nerves after awhile. I remember her being shrill and whiny. Bella Ramsey manages to draw sympathy from viewers without putting them off with overtly emotional displays. She strikes me as more pensive and sensitive. When she feels defeated she gets quiet and seems withdrawn, which is more in line with how a pre-teen would behave, and instead of feeling sorry for her I tend to identify with her frustrations. Especially when it comes to Ethel Hollow and Miss Hardbroom, whom have been excellently cast. I had no issue with the former actors but it's a decidedly different flavor this time around. Raquel Cassidy plays a hardass, and while fans of the show know that in time Miss Hardbroom will come to show her redeeming qualities, we're barely given a hint of it in season one. It honestly feels like Hardbroom is out to get Mildred, even when Mildred does something outstanding for the school, she's never really rewarded for her efforts, instead Hardbroom will overlook her mistakes, but for only the time being.

Ethel Hallow, played by Jenny Richardson, is the perfect embodiment of the mean girl. A little overachiever, she stops at nothing to get Mildred expelled. What's interesting in this rendition of The Worst Witch is that we get a deeper understanding of what motivates Ethel's nastiness. There's a greater emphasis on her psychological and emotional struggles, and I really enjoy the maturity of such subject matter. It's important for children to see that bullies don't lash out for no good reason, we're all struggling with something.


I really appreciate the set design, costumery and special effects, although given it probably has a bigger budget than the original, and nearly twenty years have past, it's not terribly surprising. As sad as it is to say poor special effects can put people off of viewing a TV show or film, and for a series that is so dependent upon magic and other worldy creatures it ought to have at least good special effects. I'm happy to see that this is the case with The Worst Witch (2017), they're not mind blowingly realistic effects (notably that weird frog puppet) but for a children's show it's fun and visually appealing.

I have a few critiques of the series. For starters, it sucks that we have to wait a year for season two to come out, and it strangely occurs in the winter/spring. I would've preferred to see this start up in September/October, especially because it's fun to watch near Halloween and we have a shortage of anything to watch at that time. Something I noticed with this reboot is the distinct lack of students. I'm not sure if they can't afford more extras but the school feels small and looks to be populated largely by first years. There's no Fenella or Griselda, or other senior year students, I assume they've been replaced with the new Hallow sister, Esmeralda, who is an accomplished third year student. There are a few additional characters that crop up, Felicity being one of them, but interactions with these characters are few at best. I'd like to see stories involving various other characters. Another issue I have is that despite Ethel Hallow making multiple grievous mistakes, she seldom gets punished for any of it. If you watch the series you'll know what I mean, there's one thing she does that seems unforgivable but no real action is taken to correct her behavior. Unlike Mildred, she appears to get a free pass whenever she does something wrong, but it pushes the boundaries of what can be considered reasonable. I mean really, have her scrub some toilets by hand or pick up garbage, something to indicate that she is accountable for her actions, otherwise, what are we teaching children? Finally, each episode seems to follow a similar formula, people who have viewed the series have likely picked up on this. I would encourage the writers to experiment with less linear story telling.

 Conclusion

I'd love to see this series go on for a very long time and to possibly incorporate issues that reflect the struggles of today's youth, while keeping it relevant to The Worst Witch series. I'm really excited for next spring and I look forward to seeing where the writers take Mildred on her adventures at Cackles Academy.

Ladyfair

First Wedding Anniversary

Our Elopement

I never got around to sharing photos of our elopement with my online friends or with you, my readers. Seeing as how our first year anniversary is on the horizon, now seems like the ideal time to share our story and pictures.

My husband and I eloped in the sunny town of Goderich (Ontario's prettiest city), but we actually eloped in three towns at once! Confused? Most people are after we tell them that. Officially we eloped in Clinton, we had photos taken in Goderich and we ate dinner in Bayfield. The reason for this is simple, we couldn't find everything we needed all in one place, but also because we liked the entire Huron County area and didn't mind splitting the celebration in three ways.

In the beginning...

We had always dreamed of marrying abroad in some place like the Bahamas but it wasn't in the stars (or our bank accounts). We had postponed our elopement three times before we finally managed to arrange it. I remember telling people, "we're getting married this August!" and then it wouldn't happen because of some unforeseen expense, or another life problem got in the way.

I finally hit my breaking point in 2016 when I realized I had put on weight, my hair was falling out and I was approaching my late 20's. This followed a dangerous hysterectomy the year before, I wasn't sure if I was going through menopause or what and I feared that if we waited any longer I'd be bald and too fat to fit into my wedding dress. My fiancé consented and we began planning an alternative to our dream elopement.

I knew that I had to make this elopement special. Since we lost out on our dreams of pink sand beaches and feeding wild pigs, I had to come up with a way to make our elopement fun and just as beautiful as the Bahamas. It wasn't easy, but somehow, miraculously, it all came together on the big day.

The ultimate plan was to have a tea party in a garden, which turned into a photo set, which turned into an Alice in Wonderland tea party themed photo set! The plans just kept growing and changing until it came out as this polished, beautiful elopement.


As per my husband's request, I kept the theme subtle and very adult, no tissue paper flowers or oversized mushrooms. I used simple and sweet decor items. I remember people would ask me, "what are your wedding colours?" And I would say "all of them" because we were working with damn near every colour in the rainbow. Literally, my colour scheme for my wedding was floral.

The Process

I scrambled to get everything together three months before the elopement. The rings, the legal documents, and the restaurant and B&B bookings were first on the list. Then I began accumulating decor for the photo set, much of which could be used later on, like candle sticks, a patio bistro set, a large vase, or plates. I kept almost everything from our elopement, in fact the chandelier from our photo set hangs in my sewing room. The only exception was an adorable little pink nightstand that we returned to HomeSense the very next day... I know it sounds bad, but if you're eloping on a tight budget and you need decor or photo props, this is an ingenious solution. Just be clean and gentle with whatever you "borrow" and get it back to the store within the return policy time frame...
but you didn't hear any of this from me.

I am a super frugal bride. I bought my wedding dress for $60, dry cleaned it for $300 and sewed on $40 worth of Swarovski crystals by hand. It was pure fate that the wedding dress was my exact size and everything I had ever dreamed of. Like my best mate said, it's a poofy princess dress, it's fun, it makes a statement and it suits me. I got my shoes off of Amazon, they were my "something blue" and after working with the brand that makes them I got a good deal on the price. My hair is a combination between a bun form and a hairpiece from a brand called Hairuwear - unfortunately their product has changed since Simpson and Paves came along, but if you can find their old stuff (usually in a gray box) I strongly encourage that you buy it! I might talk about this more later on in the blog, it works really well if you have thin or thinning hair. I only paid about $25 for my hair to be put up because I lied and said it was for a family portrait! I spent almost $300 on makeup, but I did it myself. It would've cost the same to have someone apply my makeup and I would rather keep the makeup afterwards, so this was the best choice. I still have my eye shadow, blush and concealers, which I use often, so yes, it was totally worth doing. I also saved money by making my own flower arrangements for the photo set, the lady at Zehr's gave me great deals after she learned it was my wedding day! :)


The Big Day


We held the ceremony and legally eloped at the town hall in Clinton. After that was over we drove back to Goderich to the Colborne B&B, where I showered before getting back into my wedding dress, then we proceeded to assemble the photo set with the help of our awesome photographer, Heather Dietz. We packed up the set after a few hours of photographs and headed to Bayfield for a private dinner at The Little Inn of Bayfield. Unbeknownst to us, they had surrounded our table with tealights and there was a big beautiful flower bouquet in red and purple by the window - it was awesome! Finally, we finished at the Bayfield town hall, our back up rental in case it rained, where we had our first dance together, alone.

During the photo shoot the resident cat photobombed a few of our pictures (see if you can spot him in one of these). We actually found this to be very touching. Originally we had intended to include chalk board signs with the names of each of our cats but because we switched to having the photo set at the front of the B&B I had to cut out a number of decor items, this included seven or so additional vases and a large bolt of purple and white ombre fabric. Their cat looks like a long haired version of my boy Spencer, who I recently lost to old age. I am ecstatic to have him in my photos because it felt like this Cheshire cat represented all of my fur babies. I always knew that I wanted a cat to be present on my wedding day!


Conclusion

It was an exhausting night. If I did it again, which I hope I never have to, I would have preferred to spend more time at our tea party. The set was up and down in a total of three hours, which is a damn shame because it looked freaking adorable.

We have so much gratitude for John and Suzanne (the B&B owners) and Heather for their efforts. It wouldn't have been a success without them. Also thanks to Luann's Flowers for my gorgeous bouquet that almost brought me to tears when I first saw it, and The Little Inn for going that extra mile to make our wedding dinner special, and The Pink Flamingo Bakery in Bayfield who made our delicious cupcakes!

I hope you enjoyed our story!
Ladyfair