Five on Finniston Farm, in my humble opinion, has always been one of my favourite later Famous Five novels. In my opinion I think that it one of the three books in the latter part of the series that brings the magic back to the Five. Shall we see how the 70s TV episode works with this smashing book.
What we like
The feel of this episode is a nice and relaxed one, quite like the book really. The episode done by Gloria Tors, who as we have seen in the past creates good adaptations of the Famous Five books and Finniston Farm is no exception. Tors provides us with all the little details, such as keeping the names the same as the ones in the book, whereas in the 90s we have some pointless name changes and character reshuffles.
We have the inclusion of the antiquarian Mr Finniston, who is descended from the family who owned the castle and Anne actually seems interested in the horse brasses that are mentioned in the book. So to begin with, we clearly have a stronger base than the re-jigged 90s episode has; we have more or less the correct characters (Mr Philpot doesn’t seem to make an appearance – but then he isn’t majorly important in the scheme of things as far as the plot is concerned). We have the twins – who still don’t look anything alike, Granddad, and Mrs Philpot on the farm. Mr Henning, played by the actor Shane Rimmer (best know for his voice work – in my opinion – as Scott Tracey in Thunderbird by Gerry Anderson) and Junior who come to buy things from the farm .
Overall it would be hard to pick out all the pieces of the episode that were good because so many were. Toddy was a perfect Timmy, snarling and snapping at the bad guys and dealing with Junior when he was taken his breakfast in bed, though obviously in the book Timmy is a little more aggressive, but that is minor in the scheme of things
The Not So Good
The scene where George brings Junior his breakfast is one of my favourite scenes in the book, in fact the idea of George taking anyone breakfast in bed is hilarious because it is so unlike her. Its a shame that they didn’t include the prelude to that where Dick bets her his new pocket knife that she wouldn’t take Juniors breakfast. All I can think is that the producers didn’t want the children watching to think that betting was a good thing. As I said earlier about this scene as well, Toddy rather lacks in aggression but that is probably to do with the producers once again, not wanting to run the risk of him hurting anyone, even by accident. However I do feel that George doesn’t go the whole hog with the breakfast, at least there is no hot tea splashing on the arm or milky cornflakes onto the pjyamas. Minor I know, but a nice touch to show her fiery side, as its not something we get out of Michele in this roll.
The actual exploration of the castle tunnel and the discovery of the treasure is over far too quickly, it does feel like its been left for the last ten minutes and they they have realised that they can’t fit everything in, which isn’t good. More planning could have been used here because it’s terribly short and this is the most exciting part! I know not much can be done about it now, but hindsight and looking from the outside can be a wonderful thing.
Why oh why does it always come back to the twins in Finniston farm? How hard can it be to find a pair of actual fraternal or identical twins and let them play the roles of the Harries. Once again we have a clear mismatch between the two different Harries, and they are clearly one boy, and one girl. We don’t even get the explanation of why they talk at the same time or why they wear similar clothes, the mystery of them is never quite solved. We don’t get the whole animosity feeling from them than we do in the book, or the acceptance of the Kirrin’s is a bit unclear as well.
Just for once I want to see a decently matched Harry and Harriet – is that too much to ask?
So what do you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments!