The third Malory Towers book happens to be one of my favourites, tied with In the Fifth, but re-listning to the audio cassette today made me realize that even though its one of my favourite books, it is not one of my favourite audio adaptations.
Now until my teens I had only listened to the Third Year on cassette and hadn’t read the book, big mistake. When I read the book in my early teens I was transported not just to the wonderful world of Malory Towers but into situations that I could identify with as a teenage girl in the early 21st century. The friendships, the ambition and the jealously. You may wonder why I am saying this now instead of my review from a few years ago, but in all honesty until I revisited the tapes this afternoon I had not realised how much had been cut from the book, and how much my favourite characters were lacking in “oomph” (for want of a better word).
Bill, aka Wilhelmina Robinson, doesn’t have the depth that you get from the book, she comes across as a lot more spoilt in the audio, in an attempt at being earnest! In the book, because of the added detail, the disobedience she shows towards Miss Peters rules regarding her horse Thunder are clear, explained and justifiable. Without these details the audio just makes her sound unreasonable and childish.
The lack of Sally is frustrating because even though she comes back late because she’s been in quarantine for Mumps. Her arrival isn’t climatic, and her stance on Alicia’s trick isn’t made clear. It appears that all the form is involved when actually in the book, Sally is the only one to remove herself from agreeing the play the trick and is the only one who isn’t punished. She even offers to swap her half holiday with Darrell so she can play in the lacrosse team, but none of this is mentioned. The musical interludes take up so much time that we do not get the whole story.
There is a whole story line where Sally and Alicia compete for Darrell’s attention which is largely ignored. Then there is the friendship between Zerelda and Mavis seems to come out of nowhere and never really gets resolved as to the two staying friends. There are lots of things in this adaptation that just do not do justice to the book I fell in love with. There is too much cut from the story which when you are getting to know the series or trying to introduce a child to it, its fine, but when you’re a seasoned Blytonite you find rather disappointing.
The voices I can’t fault, there are some very strong performances in this cast and they deliver for the whole six episodes. The naming of characters is a little vague and you’re not even sure sometimes who is talking. If you have a keen ear you can here a change but a lot of the girls do have the same sort of tone of voice which makes it hard to distinguish.
I think my main problem with these adaptations is the script editing and the length of the musical interludes. If there wasn’t so much music, surely the script wouldn’t have had to have been so mutilated? Not that the music isn’t catchy, because it is, but its just over used.
I wish I had a cast list however, as I recognized the voices from some of the other Blyton audios and it would be nice to know who crossed over between series. I think the girl playing Darrell Rivers plays Anne in the Famous Five, but without a list I can’t be sure. If anyone does have one could you send it to me please? I would love to put names to voices.
So there we are, my look at the Third Year at Malory Towers audio; not glowing as you can see and have just read but when you love that book and it gets made into a substandard version of itself, in any media, you find it hard to love anything but the book. Am I right?
Next review Upper Fourth at Malory Towers: Audio adaptation
Or read a review of the Third Year novel here.