Last week we looked into the first of the 1990s Famous Five episodes and actually it came out quite well in the grand scheme of the episodes. So shall we have a look at how part two shapes up compared to the book.
Laurel and Hardy
Something came up on my Facebook memories the other day, which I feel is appropriate to mention here because it has to do with this particular episode. So a couple of years ago I was watching the Five on a Treasure Island part 2 and my mother must have wandered in and sat down to watch it with me.
I mention this because at some point, during our viewing she likened the baddies in this episode to the comic duo of the silent films Laurel and Hardy because of their goofishness and tomfoolery. Surprisingly she is right, the two villains, Phil and Carter are reminiscent of the old Carry On movies with their physical pranks, falling out of the boats and the physical comedy between them is laughable and is very much for the younger children. The slapstick comedy comes from the Five Go Mad in Dorset and, thankfully, does not really carry through the whole series. There are some moments, mostly between Julian and Dick, but it’s not a major part of the adaptations.
It does make the episode slightly less credible than the first, the episode still does work but the seriousness that comes from the book is spoilt by the crooks tomfoolery. Let’s not dwell on that too much now, and look at the rest of the episode.
So we finished the last episode on a ‘cliffhanger’ with the box being taken away and George running off. We start with Julian sneaking into the study to get the box, and then the discovery of the map inside the box. We’re then treated to the whole scene of Uncle Quentin being interested in the island because it’s suddenly making him money.
The story goes on, fairly quick paced, because as you know we’ve only got twenty-five minutes to fill up, and it’s a fairly complex story. The long and the short of it is that we do follow the progression of the book, and the Five take to the island with their copy of the map to try and find the treasure.
Logically it all fits, it’s all done right; Julian and George being trapped, Dick getting injured, the rescue and trapping the bad guys in return. We do lose some of the magic of the first episode though because the first episode, though short, was slower paced, had more detail, more group interaction and more soul to it. Now we’re just down to adventure and all the little touching bits like being with Timmy, the big discoveries of the well and the entrance to the dungeons is skated over quickly so that we can get to the exciting part.
By the longest stretch of the imagination the adaptation isn’t bad, just rushed. As I ‘purist’ who would prefer that each book that’s being made into a TV show or a movie, include all one hundred percent of the written word, I know that’s just not physically possible. However, its nice to dream that one day we’ll get near perfect adaptations of books. Maybe when I become a millionaire?
Although we have notable performances from the main cast, Uncle Quentin, Aunt Fanny and the two villains the rushed format of Five on a Treasure Island Part 2 is what lets it down. Not having the option to look at the camping on Kirrin Island more carefully, the all too quick discovery of the well and then entrance to the dungeons and even the crooks’ own involvement just doesn’t allow for any depth to the story.
Its amazing really how two pieces of the same thing can be so differently distributed. I mean setting up the relationship between the Five in the first one, took up so much time that they had to rush the rest of the story just to fit it in. I suspect that you can’t really make children’s programs into three parters because the attention span just isn’t there, but the need for detail and a steady pace, for me, overwhelms what actually happened.
That isn’t to say that for a child it isn’t the most thrilling thing they’ve ever seen, (well in the 90s it was – not sure about kids today) and they don’t mind so much if all the details of the books aren’t there, they’re just getting caught up in the story which is the main thing, but part 2, after part 1, for me was so much of a let down. There are good bits, various interactions between Julian and George, Julian and Dick and Dick and Anne make it all worth watching, but its just the rushing that makes it hard to deal with because you feel like you miss out on half the story.
Anyway, those are my thoughts. Share yours in the comments!