So as you’re aware we’ve had a bit of a shift about with the blogs this week, it will come as no surprise to you that its left to me to entertain you this Sunday.
Earlier in the week I re-watched Five on a Hike Together and assessed the adaptation of the episode against that of the book. As it’s my favourite book, I often enjoy this episode but looking at it with a more critical eye meant that I was able to see a number of flaws in the story more keenly than before.We start off having jumped a great chunk of the beginning of the story, to the Five already on the moors and Timmy having got himself stuck in a rabbit hole. I am just going to mention it now, that Connal was really NOT stuck in a rabbit hole and was fine. However a dog that can whine on demand like that has got to be a god send. The one thing I never really got with the books was the fact that Timmy could indeed fit down this particular rabbit hole, especially if he is as big a dog as we are led to believe. I don’t imagine that rabbits dig particular big rabbit holes for that reason! However, I would find it more believable if it was say the entrance to a badger set that Timmy was investigating and got stuck in as I believe that badgers are somewhat bigger than rabbits.
Anyway, Timmy’s hurt leg leads them to a village and Dick and Anne get sent off the wrong way. However, instead of being given dodgy instructions by Julian and then an old man in a cart who can’t speak properly, the children are given instructions by a postman. I mean if anyone would be able to tell you where a bed and breakfast was it would be a postman wouldn’t it?
Well either that he’s not a very good postman or Dick just can’t follow instructions. I doubt we will never know! They end up at Dirty Dick’s farm and have to hide in the hay loft as there is no old mother about to hide Anne in the attic. Dirty Dick starts out by being a really scary villain but by the middle of the episode there is a shift away from his menacing persona to an all too comic one like many other villains. When Camille Coduri‘s Maggie gets involved Dick goes from being all moody and dangerous to being the muscle and as thick as two short planks. In the book this is never the case, all right Maggie seems to be in charge but Dick is never really portrayed as stupid. These sorts of sweeping errors are the ones that really grate on the nerves of a book worm. This is why producers can’t really be trusted with TV and film adaptations.
Anyway, moving on. Another sore point of the adaptation is that there is no fourth point on the map that Dick gets given by the escaped convict. In fact, there is just no steeple. I assume this is for location reasons, as it would be harder to find somewhere with a steeple. However, when we come to the lake scene where the children are all trying to spot the markers apart from the tall stone and dead tree the chimney isn’t shown so why they couldn’t add the steeple in, I have no idea.
This is one of the most important and atmospheric scenes in the book and in fact thewhole series, and it’s sad to see that the material they were given to work with wasn’t held in higher regard. I sort of understand why the children didn’t go back for a midnight dive into the lake, health and safety for one. For another Marco Williamson was still recovering from a broken leg (incidentally this is why he’s left out of several shots, seen limping, left behind on numerous occasions and why Paul Child gets to take the lead a lot more), so the idea of him diving down into the lake like the do in the book is hard to justify.
Some of the nicer things about the adaptation do include the fact that there is more of a ‘natural’ rivalry between Dick and Julian, as Dick gets to take the lead a little more instead of being side lined (as noted in Five Go Off in a Caravan, this rivalry probably begins when Marco’s leg actually is in plaster). As always it’s nice to see the boys tussling a bit more than they do in the books, even if some of it is over acted.
Overall, I do like the locations for Two Trees in this episode, it’s a perfect Gothic mansion and I have made up my mind to visit it one day. I just wish that it had been a more successful episode script wise. To me this is one of the best books in the series and its had a lot cut out or changed for no real reason, and that’s disappointing.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to re-read Five on a Hike Together to calm myself down!
Stef – it just goes to show that you would be the ideal person to adapt these books. Your knowledge and sense of what is important would make them so special. As you say, It is absolutely essential to make the villains menacing and believable. It is so patronising to children and the books) to make them figures of fun.
I will reread the book as well!