A couple of weeks ago, I brought you a review of Five Go Adventuring Again, remarking on how the story line worked and the acting. I hope to do the same with Five Run Away Together.
This story was filmed as part of the second series, during the 90’s run. I don’t know quite why Run Away was filmed in the second series, when the actors were older because its an early book, however, maybe they felt it worked better. Warning: Spoilers. Proceed at your own risk!
I used to adore this episode. I liked the way the actors had grown up, and there were subtle changes in appearances (the boys’ hair was slightly tamer as well!) but watching it again today, well I think this episode helped cement Julian’s reputation for bossiness. He’s very forthright, proper and in control in this episode which doesn’t really do anything for the story line. Even though in the book, Julian takes charge more its never quite to the extent that you see on the screen.
There is light hearted relief from Dick and George at times, a bit of teasing, a sly look or a word, but much of the chemistry between the four main cast seems to have gone off the boil a bit. The lines feel forced and flat, even though they are working with the talented Anita Dobson as Mrs Stick the baddie cook. She makes a rather fabulous villain, making you dislike her the moment she appears on the screen, but you can’t keep your eyes off her. She completely captivates the watcher and if I didn’t know she was the baddie, she would have a wonderful comic routine with the hapless Uncle Quentin (Christopher Good). Now that is a show I would love to see!
This is one of the episodes where I feel the story has been butchered rather a lot, and the continuity is up the spout. They make a big deal about Jennifer being kidnapped, and this mysterious project that her father is being blackmailed for. Now, in the book Jennifer’s father is very wealthy – which is why she is kidnapped for a ransom. However in the episode, she is the daughter of a general. I have never understood this change, it seems pointless! It doesn’t add anything to the story.
That is probably the biggest change in the story line that jumps out at me. The other thing is the rather odd change in why Aunt Fanny and Joan/Joanna the cook are both absent from the house. Again this wastes time in explanations and really is just done to necessitate the arrival of Mrs Stick.
It’s a very odd episode all in all, and I’m not sure how I can accurately describe the bad continuity to you, without you having seen it first. I think the cuts in the filming where they children leave and enter the secret cave on the island seem rather out of sync, and the actors sometimes have dirty faces when they had clean ones a moment before. Also, there’s a still of the island and castle, on a sunset background which then cuts to George asking Anne how she slept and the Sticks making their way up onto the island.
I really don’t know. As I said I used to love this episode because I loved the book and I used to get the video out of the library a lot so I know it like the back of my hand. However, seeing it now after a break I can find the flaws in it, irritating me beyond all belief.
One of my favourite bits however, is when Uncle Quentin attempts to make sandwiches and makes not only a fearful mess of them, but his hands as well. Later on the beach when the children unwrap the sandwiches, and all the ingredients are mixed together, I think there’s an awful lot of good acting there. The faces that are pulled are of pure disgust. However, I do have a good laugh when Dick eats the ‘disgusting’ sandwiches, as that’s just part of his character.
So all in all, apart from some rather genius bits between Uncle Quentin and Mrs Stick, the disgusting sandwiches and the odd good bit between George and Dick, this episode is so unlike the book that it could be a whole different story. So I’m afraid that this has to go right down the bottom of the pile. However, don’t let my opinions put you off. Do please watch it make up your own minds and let me know what you think!