For those of you who are avid and regular readers of the blog, you all probably know my favourite Famous Five novel is Five on a Hike Together and the adaptations on to screen are the most scrutinized due to my love of the book. So shall we take a look at how the 1970s version holds up?
Like the 90s adaptation we start with the Five already on the moor, enjoying their weekend away from home. Its a fair enough entry point because otherwise we have all the faff about getting permission from school and their parents whereas from this point we’re pretty much on the home straight to action.
It is established fairly early on that Dick hasn’t wound his watch on, and thinks it’s half past two, this sets us up nicely for later on in the episode where they’re talking to the policemen about the escaped convict. It also makes it more believable for the police to disbelieve him because of getting the time wrong, because they would know when the convict, Nailer, had been recaptured.
We move quite quickly between the beginning, introducing the escaped criminal, the delivery of the message to the wrong Dick, and the arrival at Two Trees without all of the explanation. It would be interesting to find out if people who hadn’t read the books when this first aired could follow things as easily as those of us who are able to fill in the blanks. If you watched the episode first before reading the books, please can you let me know? I’d be really interested!
Moving on with our synopsis and overview of the episode, we are treated to the Five finding a raft and rowing out to the preset marker by Dirty Dick and Maggie, which differs from the cork mentioned in the book, to a bright yellow balloon; I suppose it makes more of an impact on screen. When the raft is paddled out to the middle of the lake, and the boys strip off their shirts and dive down to the loot. However instead of it happening in the cover of darkness it happens in the middle of the day so Dirty Dick and Maggie who have gone to get diving equipment notice what they’re doing and try and stop them. Not so clever there were we, Julian, Dick, Anne and George?
The Not So Good
As we find with all the episodes we have those little niggles that get us every time. There are a couple here which we need to look at. The biggest one that stands out to me is the fact that Julian and George don’t separate from Dick and Anne to take Timmy to the vets. This means that they are all present when Dick is talking to the convict, and I want to know why someone like Julian doesn’t wake up and join in with the detecting with his brother. Timmy also, should have barked at the approach to the barn from someone new, as he’s always considered to be a good guard dog. So then Tim, where was the warning bark?
Julian’s impeccable map reading skills are thrown into doubt as well when the police officer they are reporting Dick’s sighting of the convict to, points out that they were going the wrong way, and yet they still don’t find Blue Pond Farm, where they are staying the night, supposedly. You can only assume that moors are tricky to navigate, and maybe Julian had the map upside down.
One last not so good thing, the whole discovery of the lake, the house and the treasure seems to take place in one afternoon, whereas in the book it is stretched out over two or three days, as they all have a long weekend off from school. Undeniably it’s not a long time difference, when you compare the book to the script, four days turns into two, perfectly reasonable, but it just all feels rushed. I am not disputing in the fact that the story flows nicely as a stand-alone, but compared to the book, it lacks Blyton’s finesse.
What We Like
A seamless adaptation of one of Blyton’s best works, in my humble opinion, apart from a few difficulties which are clearly down to the twenty-five minute time slot and the eradication of the long weekend. I like the fact that both boys dive into the lake as well, which as you may remember has been cut from the the 1990’s adaptation, either because of health and safety or because of previous injuries, and its quite funny as Timmy does almost fall in, as does Anne when the boys dive off the raft.
There are some truly hilarious lines in this episode, one that really fixes is my head is one I want to share with you now:
It’s an exchange between George and her father when he comes to collect them at he police station after they turn in the jewels. Its quite a good line, showing the Five’s unerring instinct for falling into trouble.
My final thoughts come down to Hike being an successful episode, but just that I wanted it to be closer to the book and longer, and all my other little niggles. However, this episode is one of the best, and might (I did say might!) trump the 1990s adaption. I know! How honest of me is that?