Monday #206

Another Monday, another week. This week as well as our posts for this week to share with you, I have an interview with Jemima Rooper, who played George in the Famous Five in the 90s, for you to read through. Its interesting how the interviewer describes her previous roles! See what it says here.

I hope you like the look of our blogs for the next week! ūüôā

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Blyton’s Britain – Part 1: Home

Thanks to a comment on one of my previous posts, from a reader saying that it would be nice to have a list of locations that Enid Blyton used for inspiration and where she lived, I have decided to put this post together. I’m going to first start off with her home locations; places we know she lived, loved and worked. Then over the next few blogs I’ll look the places she might have used for inspiration in her stories and why. Finally the plan is to look at the places used in filming the two Famous Five TV series for those avid TV fans!

So let’s get started with those home locations of Enid Blyton’s!

Beckenham

Beckenham, South London, near to Bromley is the birthplace of our great author. She began her humble life in a small terraced house near the station. Fiona and I visited a few years ago now with the Enid Blyton Society. You can find our blog about it here¬†with the walk we took. There are five of Blyton’s former homes here, plus a school she worked at, the church she went to Sunday School in and a street called Malory Close. This will be helpful if anyone else out there wants to follow the same route and take in places from Blyton’s early life. For any enthusiast, it is a fantastic walk as long as it isn’t raining!

Enid Blyton's home on Chaffinch Road

The blue plaque on the house on Number 95 Chaffinch Road

Bourne End

Bourne End is possibly my favourite place that Enid Blyton lived. Such a beautiful walking area down by the River Thames, a pleasure to walk the bank and watch the boats go by. You can really feel as though you might bump into Enid Blyton with either of her two girls,  or first husband, Hugh Pollock, walking their dog, Bobs.

Hidden away in Bourne End is the spectacular ancient cottage, Old Thatch, where Blyton spent a part of her life (from 1929 to 1938). The thatched roof, roaming gardens and beautiful surroundings were a favourite visiting place of mine up until Old Thatch’s owners decided to close their award winning gardens to the public. However, that should not deter you from visiting Bourne End and walking down by the river. It really is a spectacular place! (And you can usually get a look at Old Thatch through the hedge!)

To cap it all off, I do believe that Bourne End was the inspiration for Blyton’s Five Find-Outers and Dog’s village of Peterswood. She took the charm of her own village and put the Five Find-Outers right in the middle of it. The magic of that single piece of inspiration can just entice you to go searching for Fatty, Pips, Larry, Daisy, little Bets and Buster in the local area on the search for clues and eating gooey macaroons and ice creams. Places mentioned in the book by name are other places to go and visit as well, such as Marlow, just down the road from Bourne End and Burnham Beeches which is not even a fifteen minute drive away from the glorious Old Thatch.

If you’re looking for somewhere to eat as well, next door to Old Thatch, is a very well aged, good food pub called The Spade Oak. Thoroughly recommend it on your trip to visit this lovely area.

You can see all our blogs on Bourne End here just to give you a flavour of how beautiful it is.

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 Beaconsfield

Beaconsfield, is simply ‘up the road’ from Bourne End and Old Thatch, approximately a fifteen minute drive once again. This makes these three locations perfect for a whole day or two in the same area as they are so close together and as an Enid Blyton enthusiast you will want to spend as much time as possible at these locations!

The first place I suggest you visit in Beaconsfield would be Blyton Close. This is the location of where Green Hedges once stood. As Green Hedges was torn down in 1973 to make way for a housing development so we no longer have that luxury of being able to view the grand house that Blyton moved into in 1938 and lived in until shortly before her death, when she moved into a nursing home. A lot of her famous parties for children took place there, and she ended up doing most of her writing in Green Hedges.

Once you’ve finished with Blyton Close – literally the name is all that makes it stand out as something an enthusiast would want to see – you have a couple of options. The pub opposite is supposed to have been frequented by Blyton during her time in the house, I believe so that would be worth a visit.

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Blyton Close signpost

The next place you will want to visit in Beaconsfield is¬†Bekonscot. Bekonscot¬†is a model village and railway that has an array of delights for those of all ages (Fiona especially enjoyed it!) For the Enid Blyton aficionado however, the delight comes half way around the model village is a model of Green Hedges with a little Enid Blyton sitting outside it with her typewriter, writing a story while some children who look like they’re supposed to be the Famous Five exploring and splashing around in her pond.

The whole place is delightful and quirky; there is plenty to look at and enjoy, even if you just have this one little piece of Blyton memorabilia it is a brilliant place to visit and enjoy. There is always something to look at, examine and enjoy. Some of the things we saw we could not believe were actually happening in this small model village. You can find our blog about it here. To cap it all off, Blyton wrote a small book all about Bekonscot, and what sort of a model village it was. They do actually sell this small book in the gift shop (an old railway carriage) for something close to 50p – at least it was 50p in 2013. Prices may vary!

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Green Hedges miniature and the gardens at Bekonscot

So there you are; your first part of Blyton’s Britain. We focused on her homes today, and hopefully when I’ve done a bit more research we can look at other places you could go to to get your Blyton fix. ¬†These three places can be done comfortably over two days – Fiona and I did that in 2013 – while enjoying the whole Blyton atmosphere that surrounds a proper fan when they just cross the border into Buckinghamshire.

Let me know if you do go to any of these places! They come highly recommended!

Posted in Beaconsfield, Beckenham, Blog talk, Bourne End, Enid Blyton, Old Thatch | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Adventure Series on TV: The making of feature

On the final disc of the set is a feature called The making of The Enid Blyton Adventure Series. I can’t say I noticed one on the Secret Series DVD but I will have to check that.

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THE SERIES IN A NUTSHELL

The series is described as: A foursome with a parrot roaming the world finding treasure running away from baddies capturing them at the end. There’s a lot of adventure in it by David Taylor who played Jack. He had¬†read¬†all the Secret Seven¬†and Famous Fives¬†passed down from his brother but never the Adventure Series.

Also described as Critically acclaimed,¬†The flagship of the Blyton estate. The jewel in the crown and the legendary Adventure Series, brought to the screen for the first time ever. Well, not quite as Island and Castle had already been adapted for the small screen, but as they’re being so nice about Blyton’s work I’ll let them off.

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It could also be¬†slightly inaccurate¬†to say¬†that it is amazing how few of her books have been adapted for the screen as at a quick count there were 14 adaptations before this one! Not all in English, but they still exist.) Also said is that the books are¬†the story of Allie Mannering and her secret agent friend.¬†I think that’s where the series went a bit wrong, to be honest. Focusing too much on the adults – it’s supposed to be about four children and Bill popping up when necessary.

Another claim made is that it was the biggest children’s series ever filmed. There were 24 episodes, so the equivalent of 8 feature films back to back. Well, if a feature film is only an hour and ten minutes! Both adaptations of the Famous Five had more episodes than this series did, though they filmed as two separate series with a break in the middle.


A MODERN SERIES FOR A MODERN AUDIENCE

None better than Blyton they said, for a family audience from Granny right down to a five year-old.

And they have cleverly adapted and updated the stories to appeal for a modern family audience without losing any of the original values and the charm and a lot of humour too. Not sure that completely make sense, at least not the but about the humour. Did they not lose a lot of humour? Did they mean they added a lot of humour?

I’d go with the second meaning as they added rather a lot of slapstick moments (the clip playing of the idiotic baddie from Ship crashing his bike is playing while this is said). I also think they did lose at least some of the original values, and a lot of the charm!


WHERE AND WHO IN THE WORLD?

Where in the whole wide world would they make the series? Apparently they did do a lot of searching for locations and ended up in New Zealand as it has a very versatile scenery. It has beaches, grasslands, hills, rivers and all sorts of things. I know New Zealand often gets used in place of Britain for filming (and also doubles as Middle Earth too).

I agree it’s a very attractive place but doesn’t quite double as the Middle East!

Being filmed in New Zealand it was natural that many New Zealanders would audition for roles. In total there were around 1,200 children attended the audition – in the rain – and some had flown in from Australia and elsewhere.

Do you read EB? the presenter asks one group of rather older looking teenage girls. NO, they laugh, and then, yes we do, all the time, religiously.

I really almost cried at those 1200 kids queuing in the rain for hours and getting up at 5am to drive to the audition. After that, they were narrowed down to 12, three children for each part, and sorted into four groups.

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It was interesting to see the different groups with one or two of the final kids rehearsing with those who didn’t make it. Alexis Jackson, who played Dinah, had never acted before. They included hidden camera footage of¬†her getting told she was getting the part over the phone. (I may have cried real tears.) It also revealed that Alexis was not fond of creepy crawlies (but not to such an extent as Dinah) and she very bravely allowed a real spider to crawl across her face in one episode

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Jennyfer Jewel revealed she loved all the screaming she was allowed to do (and that was a lot!).


THE ADULTS

Mothers from the books are described as middle-aged plump, homely women, baking cakes and serving lashings of lemonade and ginger-beer. Well, I think they’re confusing mothers with the cooks, really! Aunt Fanny wasn’t plump even if she helped with the baking! They describe Kirsten Hughes’ Aunt Allie as more modern than the one in the book. So that would be the Mrs Mannering who ran an art gallery for years to support her children after her husband died? Even in later books she’s hardly a homely or plump woman tied to the kitchen. She holidays with her children all over the place and I’m sure she drives her own car.

To be fair she never went toe-to-toe with Sir George (or any equivalent) but that’s because nobody was phoning Bill’s mobile constantly and ruining their plans!

Malcolm Jamieson, playing Bill, liked to think of himself as a bit of a James Bond and did some of his own stunts – like the jump from one boat to another during Sea of Adventure.

They rather over-promote their baddies here, showing us all the ones they had. Unfortunately most of them over-acted their parts and came across as foolish rather than frightening.


PLACES AND PETS

We get to see the making of the various tunnels they used for filming. They are actually the same ones, turned to different angles and repainted¬†across the eight episodes. I do have to admit that this wasn’t too obvious (not as obvious as say, the later series of Red Dwarf where they only had one corridor and used it over and over for different parts of the ship).

For Craggy Tops, they found a perfect house, and a great location that really looked like it could be in Cornwall (even if it wasn’t quite the desolate craggy coast of the book). The only problem was, the house and the location were not in the same place. It was solved by putting the house on a very large lorry and simply driving it to the new location!

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For Kiki they had either three or four cockatoos acting (they used both numbers at different parts of the documentary). One was called Benny and¬†another, Goldie. The trainers had to squeeze into full sets to ensure the birds did the right action at the right moment. David Taylor (Jack) said he got along well with the birds, apart from the occasional bite, and even got used to the claws in his shoulder. That’s probably because his shirts had padding sewn into the shoulders!

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This was a nice 45-minute look into making the series, without going into boring detail of every location or character. I learned a few things certainly.

Posted in Blyton on TV, The Adventure Series DVD | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Monday #205

Our congratulations to Laura Petela (now called Laura O’Bree since her marriage) who has had a baby girl this week.

You can find her on Instagram (where the below photo is from) and Twitter.

How cute!

How cute!

And from us this week (probably less exciting than a new baby!):

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Those Dreadful Children: who was really the most dreadful?

Those Dreadful Children has long been one of my favourite Enid Blyton books. I had an Armada paperback when I was a child and I read it many times. I was quite firm in my belief that the Taggertys were the Dreadful Children of the title. I don’t think I had ever considered (despite the Taggertys calling the Carletons the same thing) that it was a clever story about two sets of Dreadful Children who rub each others’ corners off.


THE STORY IN SHORT

The Carletons, John, Margery and Annette are polite, well-dressed children with a polite well-dressed, if rather fussy, mother. The Taggertys, with four children – Pat, Maureen, Biddy and baby Michael – then move in to the house behind theirs, so their gardens meet at the bottom.

Initially the Carletons are excited to have someone new to play with, but soon find that the Taggertys are not to their taste. They are loud, rough, rude and dirty. The Taggertys, though, think the Carletons are stuck up cry babies and both sets of children vow to have nothing to do with each other.

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The neat, tidy Carletons on the left and the wild Taggertys on the right

This is a fine plan until their fathers come home to announce they have met an old school friend, and he has some fine children. And would you believe it? They live in the house at the bottom of the garden…

The children are then forced to see each other. Over time they get to rather like each other, despite their perceived faults. Both sets of parents are pleased at the little changes the children go through, as a result of these friendships.

Both sets do improve, but it takes a few disasters before the Taggertys truly buck up.


THE CHILDREN 

I definitely identified more with the Carletons when I was younger.

John is a quiet boy who doesn’t mind being as neat and tidy as his mother demands. He’d rather stay in and read a book than go tree climbing or on long walks with his father. His father wishes he was more of a ‘real boy’, 1950s gender divides clearly well established in his mind, but his mother puts being clean and tidy above most other things so she’s quite happy he’s not going out and getting muddy. His main character flaw is that he holds grudges. If his sister does something that he considers to be beyond the pale, he will tell her and then not speak to her for days.

Margery¬†is much like her brother in that she is happy to play nice, quiet games. There isn’t as much to say about her, other than she is quite a nurturing soul and likes sweet little animals and babies. She isn’t perhaps as well-rounded or fleshed-out as John is. She does have a ‘character flaw’ though, in that she is terrified of most creatures like mice, bats and even cats and dogs.

Annette¬†is the youngest, not yet at school. She is probably the most objectionable of the Carletons. She is rather vain, good at making her face look sweet to make sure she gets what she wants, and likes to preen and be told how pretty she is. She’s also a dreadful tattle-tale and goes running to Mummy at every opportunity, usually in floods of tears because someone wouldn’t play with her or she couldn’t find them during hide-and-seek.

I can see that the Carletons are not perfect. They are probably missing out on quite a lot by kow-towing so eagerly to their mother’s wishes. In a modern setting, there’s little wrong with John. His grudge-holding is probably unpleasant but something he may grow out of in time. Margery’s fears are the product of growing up without pets or access to animals I bet. I was pretty scared of dogs when I was her age as we’d never had one, and few friends or relatives did either. I did have hamsters, though, so I wasn’t afraid of all pets. Annette, as I said, can be pretty unpleasant. But at four she has plenty of time to grow up – though I suspect her older brother and sister wouldn’t ‘squash’ it out of her like other Blyton characters would. I suppose their other flaw is they, along with her mother, are quite quick to turn up their noses at people and things. They do judge people a bit, if they are not as tidy or well-mannered¬†and the children are only allowed to play with the Fitzgeralds (no-one else comes up to their mothers’ standards) who they call stuck-up. I wonder how truly Dreadful the Fitzgeralds are!

The Carletons are, however, very honest children, who never tell lies, cheat or disobey their parents (honestly.) They are helpful around the home and each looks after his or her younger sibling without complaint. It does seem a little unnatural at times, but some children are just extremely well-behaved.

And now, the Taggertys.

Pat, the oldest, is very much the leader of the children. He does try to keep them in check (sometimes) but his way of doing that is to bellow and slap. He’ll run around all day playing yet won’t lift a finger to do an errand for his mother, nor does he believe in working hard at school.

Maureen will also deal out a slap if one of her siblings rubs her the wrong way. She’s not as aggressive as her brother, but she’s about as lazy and won’t help with the baby or do any chores.

Biddy, ages with Annette is very good at hiding should her mother, or Bridget the home help, want her to tidy her own room. She’ll also lash out and squash any behaviour she doesn’t like in others.

Michael is the baby,¬†I would guess he is around a year old perhaps. He seems to spend all his time in a cot or his pram except when he is being fed, but that’s possibly normal for the era. He doesn’t say or do much, but requires being cared for and peace to sleep,¬†which add a bone of contention around the house.

There is¬†also Dopey, the Taggertys mad dog. He’s not a bad dog at all, just very excitable and often getting into trouble.

The Taggertys aren’t all bad, though. They are certainly active and healthy, and no doubt very loyal to their own (as long as loyalty doesn’t mean making the beds or tidying up the tea-things). They are very much free spirits who have been left to do what they want for a very long time, and so you can see why suddenly changing that would be hard. Their mother has been ill a lot, which is why the parenting has slid. And of course father, in the 1950s, wouldn’t be doing a lot of parenting (or housework) anyway. Both parents admit to being rather lax, doing things for an easy life.

I think you can feel sorry for both sets of children as they are absolutely products of their parents method of upbringing. The Carletons have never been allowed to be daft, care-free children while the Taggertys have not have enough rules or boundaries in place. You also get the impression that they have been brought up with far less money. They are excited to have a large garden because they’ve only had small ones before, and it’s said that their father is a writer. I wonder if he has not been that successful a writer in the past and so some of the grubbiness and so on is due to lack of money before. (I doubt they were living in poverty mind you.) They’ve also had to contend with a mother who couldn’t be “there” for them as much as they’d like because she has been ill. They haven’t been able to ask for her help with homework, and presumably they have gone without costumes for parties and so on as well. I can’t see them having done a lot of work around the home, though, which would be the default for a lot of children with a sick parent. Still, they can’t have had it entirely easy.

Neither sets of children are truly set up for facing adult life and have some hard lessons to learn. Annette will have to learn she can’t just cry and tell tales to get her own way and Biddy will have to learn that she can’t hide from all her responsibilities or smack other people when she doesn’t like what they’re doing.

Both have their own strengths, still. A Taggerty would rush to your aid regardless of the danger, while a Carleton would hang back and worry about getting into trouble for trespassing or tearing his/her jersey on a fence, but it would be a Carleton who would bring his you groceries when you were ill and be much more thoughtful over little, every day things.


And I have to stop for now, as I have written so much already! I will answer the question who was really the most dreadful next time, though I am already leaning towards the Taggertys.

What are your thoughts?

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Famous Five 70s Style: Five are Together Again part 1

wp-1486510903961.gifLike a lot of the 70s episodes of the TV series,¬†Five are Together Again¬†comes in two parts. For me that means another blog and for us as viewers it means more content from Enid Blyton’s¬†book on the TV screen. Gloria Tors is the writer of these two episodes and from past experience we know that the story can go either way! So let’s see how she does!


The Good

Gloria Tors seems to have done a good job getting all the relevant parts of the story into the first episode from Enid Blyton’s novel. All the details that you would expect from the episode and the writing are there and clearly visible to a practiced fan! So let’s have a look at what makes this episode work!

To start with,the essence of Tinker is perfect, Wayne Brooks who played Tinker seems to be the right choice for him. I know Tinker however is supposed to be younger than the others but he does seem a bit too young. However it does help the situation of Tinker bragging about his clever father, and his naivety about a near total stranger i.e. Mr Woo. The monkey who plays Mischief is much too big for him however, and clearly should be a smaller ape, however the duo is comical enough.

I find that Tinker’s interactions with Dick are by far the best in the whole episode. Dick has the least patience with the little boy and tries to act very disinterested when Tinker has a big thing to share with the Five. Tinker however is somewhat immune to Dick’s sarcasm and just shrugs it off which is something I wish I could do. I have to respond like for like!

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Its just a very laugh out loud line when this comes up, and is one of a few that Gary Russell’s characterization of Dick delivers in perfect form. I always imagined Dick as a very sarcastic young man, especially as he got older and could stand up to Julian a lot more. In the 90s version this happens when Marco Williamson is incapacitated with a broken leg, but in the 70s show it seems to happen more naturally with Marcus Harris’ Julian allowing Dick more responsibility and breathing space to develop and have these funny lines. Its really is a pleasure to watch, especially when Russell delivers a corker of a line about having to carry all the bags when they leave the train station at the beginning of the episode.¬†togetheragain1

Classic Dick! Makes for an enjoyable episode.

The Nitpicks

One thing that really gets me with this episode is that while the Five are still in the train station they get drowned out by the noise of the train when it goes to leave the station. This makes it hard to work out what they are saying above the clatter of the train. I do think that a little more could have been done on the sound balance of that one!

We also don’t see Timmy at all in this episode. We are told that he has to stay at Kirrin Cottage. We’re not really told any more than Professor Hayling doesn’t want him around. I mean come on, he lives with a monkey, surely a dog is less hassle? Anyway, Timmy isn’t allowed at the Haylings’ and George gets annoyed with Rogers more than her father. ¬†Julian does tell her to leave it alone when she says she will get Rogers back for keeping Timmy from her but that doesn’t stop her getting up in the night to try and fetch the pooch from Kirrin cottage. It’s all a bit of a saga really because instead of getting Timmy, they end up chasing around Charlie the chimp from the circus, who has somehow escaped his cage.

Just a couple more things to look into before we round up this blog, and next it is something that crops up in the TV episodes, throughout the 70s and 90s show¬†– the addition of characters into the story that don’t necessarily add anything¬†to the story. ¬†In this case it’s the introduction of Sam, played by¬†Kenneth Cope¬†who is someone even I recognise as a great talent. Such a distinctive voice, not to mention charm about him, Cope does wonders with this character Sam who owns the chimpanzee, Charlie. A deviation from the book where the chimp is owned by magician Mr Woo. The need for this update is unclear to me, ¬†unless it is to pad out the double episode issue. ¬†What do you think?¬†

My last nitpick is all about the simple issue of Mr Woo. This grand magician has seemingly turned into more of a memory man, picking random facts from the air and doing impossible sums in his head. ¬†So much less a magician as far as I am concerned and more of a trickster. Actor¬†¬†Peter Jeffery¬†does make a credible Mr Woo however and is very good at appearing to be a smarmy gent in a suit, under which you wouldn’t want to look. A little change but as I said, ¬†a nitpick.


Conclusion 

Overall, the episode is good. It has detail and Gloria Tors has done a decent job of adapting Enid Blyton’s original text into an dhow good enough for TV. ¬†There are few little niggles, but when isn’t there? Has anyone spotted any more?

Let me know what you think about this episode!

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Monday #204

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Once more it’s a Monday and we have a packed week for you coming up! I’ll be looking at the penultimate episode of the 70s Famous Five and Fiona’s going to review¬†Those Dreadful Children.

Hope you join us for the blogs and enjoy them this week!

Stef

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The Adventure Series on TV – The River of Adventure

Here I am going back to the penultimate episode after watching in book order. I rate River as my least favourite anyway, so I suspect this could be quite dire. I imagine a lot will have to be changed, as Tala and Oola’s portrayals might¬†potentially be considered too ‘racist’ just as Jo-Jo’s was. Then there’s the bargua – I can’t see Philip carrying a snake around for any part of this episode so some reasonable rewriting will have been done.


THE MYSTERIOUS PRECREDIT SCENE

It’s a dark night outside a government defence department. The gate has a sign reading No Entry and other writing in what looks like Arabic. A security guard comes to check the gate is still padlocked… Meanwhile, somewhere inside the compound a man with a torch turns down a narrow alley. He is dressed all in black with only his eyes showing so I have mentally nicknamed him Ninja Man.

 

Ninja Man¬†has a blank key card and a handheld device which manages to trick the door system into opening. Once inside he¬†already knows the code for the vault (which conveniently seems to be right¬†by the door he’s just come through). Inside is a room empty expect for a suitcase – marked¬†extreme danger – on a table. Ninja Man opens the suitcase to reveal a tube of green liquid.


SPOILED PLANS AGAIN?

Bill is¬†planning a river cruise with the Mannering/Trents, but is¬†interrupted by phone. It is, as usual, Sir George, who wants to speak to Bill. Bill reminds him that he is on holiday, but that means nothing in the world of secret service agents and so he has to go in ‘for a chat’ which apparently won’t spoil his holiday plans at all…

In the book Bill suggests the river cruise because he wants to keep an eye out for Raya Uma, and thinks his family will be the perfect cover. It makes little sense for them to plan a river cruise then be told that Raya Uma (or an unknown enemy) is conveniently going to be around that area, or even another river that you could cruise down.

And we know that Raya Uma is going to make an appearance (as a fat, bald man) because we then see him happily admiring his green vial while being served exotic food somewhere presumably abroad.


RAYA UMA AKA RAY UMA AND MR RABOS

So by complete coincidence, Uma who they wouldn’t normally bother a minute on – because he couldn’t organise a kids birthday party¬†is planning something big so Bill is to keep an eye on him while on holiday.

As noted in my heading he is now called Ray Uma, and is an overweight, Caucasian bald man. Raya Uma of the books had a very uncertain heritage – nobody really knew who he was or what he looked like. He has a man servant who seems to be of middle-Eastern origins, called Taj. Taj does all sorts of jobs though the episode from spying to passing on messages but he also serves food to Uma so I think that man servant still applies.

They are in league with a bad, evil man by the name of Rabos (pronounced Raboss, though I thought it was Ramos for a while).

So instead of ‘Raya Uma, criminal mastermind, plus a few hired thugs’ we instead get ‘Ray Uma, rather mad, power hungry but considered quite useless plus a prominent lacky plus a genuine evil mastermind that everyone’s terrified of.’ So basically a lot of unnecessary complications.


BAD SCIENCE

Unfortunately this episode is also guilty of a fair bit of bad science. Not as much as other episodes, but enough to be worthy of note.

The stolen vial from the teaser is called Zero One.¬†I’m not sure what that name is supposed to convey other than being easier to say and remember than ethalhexylmethylsuphate or something like that.

Anyway, Zero One is the deadliest liquid known to man. It is said that One drop could wipe out the whole of London and even breathing the fumes is deadly.

As such, it is of course a toxic glowing green. Plenty of very dangerous substances are incredibly innocuous looking, but film and TV makers always feel the need to make something dangerous neon green.


AT THE HOTEL SHIRAZ

By second handy (or not so handy) coincidence Bill and Rabos are staying at the same hotel. I immediately thought of red wine (which I don’t even drink) but Shiraz is also a large city in Iran – a choice to suggest we are in the Middle East somewhere.

Bill is oblivious to Rabos’ presence, but Rabos is sure he has seen Bill before.

Also at the hotel are a snake charmer and his boy assistant. He does a moment or two of snake-charming with a very plastic-looking cobra. This is derailed when a large and deadly-looking spider escapes from a drawstring bag. Bill throws some sort of cloth over the spider (isn’t your reaction usually to flatten it?) and the spider is safely stuffed back in the bag.

Unfortunately Rabos sees this and marks Bill as react(ing) like a man trained for action¬†and he puts Uma on finding out who he is, so that he doesn’t get in the way of their big plan.

The kids then see¬†that poor boy¬†of the snake charmer’s. He is being scolded and pushed about a bit roughly. This is nothing compared to in the book where he is beaten by his uncle. Yet the cause a big scene screaming at him to run away. It works well in a poor-run down town by the river, but not so well in an expensive hotel.


THE MIDDLE EAST AKA NEW ZEALAND

The hotel manages to look suitably Middle-Eastern, but when they head outside and onto the river we can tell they haven’t left New Zealand (which usually is pretending to be England but also Austria and Wales at times). Allie had earlier said that there wouldn’t be snakes on the river which seemed a bit ludicrous as there are many water snakes and snakes that live near water, but as they are firmly in New Zealand it seems more reasonable!

Bill gets off the boat at the first landing spot, and goes off in a taxi. The pretence of the Middle-East is held by having a cafe/shack surrounded by donkeys and chickens. The stall is being manned by Taj, adding to the effect.

The riverboat has also been doctored with a very obvious stick-on sign with Arabic text.


FAKE NAMES AND FAKE SPIDERS

Taj, having bribed the real stall-holder, is there to find out what he can from the kids. Being suspicious they stuff him up with stories of Bill being a pop star guitarist in a band called Kiki, and that surname of the family is Howe (some quick thinking after Jack stamps on Lucy-Ann’s foot and she yells “ow” which he turns into Howe). So not quite the ‘always be honest’ mantra from the books, where the kids will do everything they can to avoid lying, even if they manage to omit a truth occasionally.

After that, Oola, the snake charmer’s boy comes creeping around the boat. That begs the question as to a) how he knew where they were and b) how he travelled so far in a fairly short time. Anyway, he still has the big spider and Dinah quite rightfully screams the place down.

13spider

Instead of it being a poisonous (well actually I’m sure the term is venomous, but you know what I mean) spider with something done to make it safe, it is in fact a non-dangerous spider doctored to look like a dangerous one. Philip can’t pronounce its name but it translates to¬†whiteback.¬†So it’s a regular brown spider with a white bit painted on its back to scare people (unfortunately there is no act performed as with the barguas to really justify this). Oola gives the spider to Philip, making it his first pet of the series at last!

My worries about them seeing Oola’s role as racist were apparently unfounded as the kids happily proclaim¬†Oola, you can sleep out on the deck!


LOST TEMPLES, LOST POCKET COMPUTERS AND LOST PARENTS

An “official guide,” meets them at dock to take them to the temple of dreams. Allie is not feeling well, so Bill stays with her and Oola stays as his leg hurts…

15temple

Naturally they are disappointed with what’s left of the temple so the guide wants to take them to second temple and walks off.¬†That leaves the kids rather lost – the five minute walk from the boat was a lot further than promised.¬†Jack had plotted route back on his computer, but this has¬†gone missing in the past few minutes.

Bill somehow manages to find them, following Dinah’s screams.

The computer was taken by the guide and given to Uma, but is password protected. They try a few things and Taj suggests the name of the bird. Ray spells it Keke first, then Kiki. And they’re in. It kind of makes you glad of the “capital and lower case and number and punctuation” passwords forced on us now.

Back at the boat¬†Bill recognises Ray Uma right away when his boat “accidentally” bumps into theirs. Bill assumes Uma won’t recognise him, and Ray invites them to his camper nearby for a drink. Bill thinks this will give him a chance to get information from Uma, but he is suspicious enough to deliberately drop the drink Ray gives him, he gets Ray’s drink which is still poisoned and collapses.

Uma orders Taj to get rid of the kids, we need that boat. That seems rather ridiculous as surely you wouldn’t deliberately use a genuinely broken-down boat just to lure Bill out of the way. What if he hadn’t fallen for it? You’d then be left with a broken boat and no way of following him. Anyway, Taj tries to oust the kids from the boat but is scared off by the spider.

When Bill and Allie don’t return the kids leave Oola to guard the boat. They discover signs of a struggle at the cabin and return to find out that men with guns have overpowered him, loaded an unconscious Bill and tied up Allie onto the boat and stolen it.


TIT FOR TAT ON STOLEN BOATS

Naturally the kids take Uma’s repaired-by-Bill boat and handily find a vital map to follow.

Oola then abandons them to walk back to his village rather than go to the temple, as he believes it to be full of ghosts. It’s a shame, really, that his role has been reduced to the bringer of a spider and not much more.

The boat had only had a temporary repair so when it starts smoking they panic it will blow up Рhow dramatic. Instead it sinks after they get off and all we get is an off screen gurgling noise.


DARN THAT BIRD AND MORE BAD SCIENCE

Kiki (as so often is the case) flies off at inopportune moment leaving kids to search inside the temple/cave/tunnels for her. Another example of torches in very well-lit areas.

16torch

Meanwhile Bill¬†tries to turn¬†Rabos and Uma against each other by trying to make Uma look stupid (I’ve got men coming, Uma was so obvious)¬†and/or a double crosser (Uma ¬†couldn’t get the real Zero One, that’s a fake).¬†

Bill even goes as far as to encourage Rabos¬†to open Zero One. If he believes Bill and does that it¬†that could kill Bill and Allie too! Uma¬†suggests they use it on Bill instead. How? It’s not like they have protective clothing to keep themselves safe! (Even breathing the fumes is deadly, remember.)


UMA REALLY IS A STUPID SOD

Uma has hidden the vial in the underground burial chamber…. where Kiki just happens to have gone.

This is why these episodes are such a let-down most of the time. Why on earth didn’t Uma disguise the Zero One in an ordinary suitcase, meet Rabos at the hotel and receive a discreet envelope in return. Bill would never have noticed. They could have waited until the next day while Bill was on the river, in fact.

Instead we get a stupid and convoluted story that makes no sense, but manages to alter enough from the book to make it vaguely recognisable.

After solving a ridiculous looking yet easy maths puzzle to open the chamber door (clearly an underground waterfall would take up too much budget) the kids find the case of Zero One before Rabos and Uma get to it.


INEVITABLE POINTLESS WANDERING AND RUNNING

Every episode has it. A lot of wandering around tunnels. Kiki’s noises scaring people. Then the running around the tunnels. The kids play CATCH with the incredibly deadly vial. Then Philip hides it and makes Uma reach into a hole for it and we go through the “bitten by a poisonous creature who is not actually poisonous” rigmarole.

 


REVEREND MOTHER, I HAVE SINNED

Oola makes a nice little appearance at the end, doing a Sister Margaretta. He has removed something from Uma’s car, meaning Bill can easily arrest him later.


Yeah, so. A fairly naff episode. Not as ridiculous as some from the Secret Series, but a lot of nonsense added in. We get very little river exploring (which is probably just as well as it looked about as exotic as something any one of us could see if we drove an hour outside of a town), no sense of history or mystery around the mysterious Cine-Town.

There’s no rivalry between Tala and Oola, no thrilling ending at an underground waterfall, just a lot of extra characters and silly running around.

But I¬†may have nearly cried when letter came at the end to confirm they’ve legally adopted Jack and Lucy-Ann. But that’s probably just the pregnancy hormones.

 

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The Famous Five 70s Style: Five Go to Demon’s Rocks Part 2

This is going to sound harsh as I know that there are people out there who love the theme tune for the 70s Famous Five but after several false starts (I put the wrong DVD in for the episode three times before settling on the right one) the beginning of the song and the singing does rather begin to grate on ones nerves. For the first time in a long time I had to mute the titles in the beginning because I just couldn’t listen to the song one more time. I dislike when DVD’s put the theme song on the menu’s because it usually means that if you have to leave the room for whatever reason, the tune just keeps playing on and on and can really become annoying. Anyway, on to the second part of one of my favourite books!

The Good

There’s a lot of this episode that works really well, making homage to the books, and the little touches are lovely to see.

We basically start off with Dick teasing Anne, and its quite a nice, fond sort of teasing. He asks her what she’s cooking for dinner, and when he’s been told, he tells her that he doesn’t look impressed because she’s cooking it, and it may turn out to be anything! Julian doesn’t get involved until Dick mention’s he going to sit down. Julian then teases him about saving his energy for doing the washing up. Its a nice little moment between the siblings because there is no outside intervention from George and you get a screenshot into their lives and bond before they were the Famous Five. Its just a nice little moment to have included in the episode.

Another thing about this episode is that works really well is that you get to see a bit more interaction between Ebbie and Jacob and how they work as a pair. In the book there is little if any in the book interaction between the brothers . So this is a nice addition to the story because you get more of an idea of how they would react and interact with each other and arrange the locking in of the children and searching for the gold.

Overall the little touches with this episode are good ones, the use of the oars to block the door from the inside is fast thinking on Julian’s part, the use of the plans that Tinker’s father drew up to find the shaft in which the lighthouse’s foundations have been laid, thus leading Julian and Dick to the treasure. Not to mention when the Five and Tinker work out that Jacob and Ebbie wanted to keep them out of the way long before they had actually discovered any treasure which all started with the stealing of the lighthouse key.

One of the best bits was when Ebbie and Jacob, Dick and Julian were in the tunnel together but approaching from different ends and Julian starts making a noise which alerts the baddies to their presence while also scaring them and making them think that the tunnel is haunted. Its a nice touch, even if it does give the game away that the kids have found a way out of the lighthouse.

The Bad

There are lots of little things on the flip-side however. Mostly they are little niggely things like before, but as a Blyton Purest, they’re hard to ignore. Like Timmy being able to hear Jacob locking them into the lighthouse from so far up! I know Timmy is supposed to be a super dog and all that, but I’m pretty sure that there would be lots of other noises and things to distract him. Its the same in the book as well – how would Timmy hear the door being locked? Just doesn’t make sense to me!

Also without it even being mentioned before Dick brings in the fact that when they were down in the caves, his compass was apparently pointing east (towards the lighthouse) and no one thought to mention the compass before this point. In the book, Tinker brings it up by saying that he has a compass on his watch and the others accuse him of showing off. Whereas here, its randomly mentioned when Julian is looking at the lighthouse plans and they’re discussing the use of the foundation shaft as an escape route.

With this episode there are some technical issues I think. I remember from the 90s version that it was hard for them to create a good storm for the five to be caught in; it usually consisted of a rain video being played over the still of the lighthouse. In this episode the supposed storm barely brings in any rain, or a rough sea. Jacob and Ebbie are able to row across to the lighthouse in what is supposed to quite a strong storm just seems like the normal tide coming in and out. Obviously you can’t really predict a storm during filming, but people could have been out of shot, throwing water and making the sea seem rough to create the illusion of a hard, stormy sea.

Conclusion 

Overall its a nice little adaptation; all the right points in most of the right places. Just the small little points that have made it a little disappointing. I did love the little interactions between Dick and Anne about the food, and Julian putting his brother in his place.

Another good piece was when Dick reminded Jeramiah that he promised to eat his hat if they found the gold and the silly fool starts pretending to eat the hat.  Not to mention the points where we spend more time with Jacob and Ebbie, which is development on the book.

Overall its a good solid episode. I don’t think I can fault that really. I’d score this two parter quite highly out of all of the episodes so far. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

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Monday #203

It’s February, and I’ve finally got the hang of writing 2017 instead of 2016 (well, for the most part). I have also started writing extra posts now, so I can schedule them for later to give me a bit of ‘maternity leave’ from the blog. This benefits you as well as me, as I don’t think anyone wants to read a disjointed, rambling (well, more than usual!) book review from a sleep deprived mother.

Anyway, this week we have:

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The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage: How has Blyton’s original text fared in a modern edition? part nine

And so we have reached the final part! This one has taken me about 7 months to do.

Previous parts can be seen here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

As before my own copy is a Methuen from 1957 Рthe 12th reprint/impression of the original. The new version is the most modern of any paperbacks I have looked at so far,  an Egmont copy from 2014.


CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: AN UNEXPECTED FRIEND

There actually isn’t much to report in this chapter.

Single speech marks are added to sounding the letter D loudly at the end of Find. The word remains capitalised, though so it seems overkill to have speech marks too.

When they meet Inspector Jenks, his pipe is written out. The big man knocked out his pipe and looked round, therefore becomes  the big man looked around. Hardly worth having a sentence there just for that.

And lastly the one queer is changed to funny.

Oh and for completeness sake – the missing italics:

  • Mr Goon would be sure to pretend that he found out everything
  • I really have got brains
  • What is the matter with Buster?
  • it was most interesting, most interesting
  • Oh yes
  • it’s awfully late
  • We shall get into a row

CHAPTER NINETEEN: THE END OF THE MYSTERY

And again, the editor seems to have given up by this stage of the book. Or maybe because there’s less going on there’s less to change? I don’t know but it seems that every book has a far lower number of changed in the final chapter or two.

Anyway – what is changed:

Firing it is this time changed to starting it (as in starting the fire) pretty much all previous changes have been to setting fire.

And that’s all, apart from a couple of missing italics:

  • it was a bit of luck
  • you simply never know

And so, to end on an anti-climax: that was three whole changes. That brings us to a final tally of 187 edits. (Yes, I know, for someone who decries these updates at every opportunity it seems strange I’m complaining that there aren’t enough. But I LIKE complaining about them, it gives me something to do.)

So there we are, at the end of another book. I’m not sure if I will start a new one now, I don’t have any paperbacks ready to go anyway. I do plan to do some sort of comparison of comparisons seeing which book is the most chopped at though. So stay tuned, I bet you can’t wait!

 

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Famous Five 70’s Style: Five Go to Demon’s Rocks Part 1

Not being as familiar with the 70s Famous Five as I am with the 90s one, I clearly didn’t realise that Demon’s Rocks was a two-parter! I thought it was just one episode and actually it’s two, so next week will be the last part of this thrilling novel.

Demon’s Rocks

You know what, this works really well as a two-parter. I enjoyed that there was more detail, and more visualisation of the book. It’s a strange sort of book, as in there is a lot of build up to the climax of the book, but there is a lot of detail to look at.

In this episode we start off with the Five and Tinker Hayling (played by Wayne Brooks) being cooped up in Kirrin Cottage, driving (ha!) the two professors up the wall with their noise. In the end Uncle Quentin tells Julian, Dick and Anne that they are to be sent home the next day, making George furious with her father for breaking up the Famous Five before the end of the holidays. Uncle Quentin is unrepentant and the Five don’t know what to do next until Tinker mentions his lighthouse.

After some discussion about whether or not such a small, loud and noisy boy can actually own a lighthouse they are packed off much to the delight of the professors and the Five can’t actually believe they are off to a lighthouse to stay.

We get introduced to Jeremiah Boogle pretty much straight away, which means we get introduced to the story of the wreckers, Jacob and Ebenezer fairly quickly. The story of the lost gold obviously catches the children’s attention and they’re off looking for it, as quick as you like.

Demon’s Nots

The attention to detail is great, Richard Sparks did a good job with this episode, however, there are the niggles Р although not all to do with the script.

One bit I found particularly annoying was that after the theft of the key from the lighthouse, Julian didn’t seem to feel the need to report it straight away! If that was me and I thought I had had my keys stolen the first thing I would have done would have been to go and tell the police, not swan about trying to find treasure in caves! That is annoying ¬†because the Julian in the book is much more proactive at that stage and goes straight to the police. It just makes no sense because in the time they take to tell the police, in theory the police could have caught the thief… anyway a niggle as I said.

To be completely honest there are only two niggles I can think of, and mostly they’re to do with the way the episode was written. The second one I want to tell you about is a bit of an anti-climax to the end of the first episode. Instead of something dramatic happening to round off the episode, such as Mischief the monkey finding the gold coin and Ebenezer spotting it from over the children’s shoulders and then running away, we end with Jacob rowing off to the lighthouse to potentially lock them in. ¬†How is that an incentive to get people to watch next week? That was a disappointing ending because it could have been so much better.

However as a staunch Blytonite I will be watching next week – even if it is just on the DVD. Those are my two biggest niggles of the episode, which isn’t bad really. It seems by the end of filming that the writers and directors had more of an idea what to do with the stories and had to make less up to fill visual gaps!

Oh Dick! 

Dick has some really classic lines right at the beginning of the episode that really caught my attention. Gary Russell was really coming into his own at this point in the filming process and its wonderful to see him deliver such cheeky lines with confidence.

The first one that caught my attention is rather quietly spoken, but all the same I would love to think of it as a line to remember. As the Five are playing, what looks like some sort of sardines/hide and seek cross over, Tinker Hayling zooms through Kirrin Cottage pretending to be a car. Dick utters this most fantastic line:

demonsrocksquote1

Due to there being so much noise being made by Tinker and the others it is hard to hear, but really sums up Tinker Hayling and his car obsession in one short, simple sentence. Perfect for Gary Russell to deliver in his unique style.

The second pearl of wisdom you get from Dick, actually starts off as a line from Julian about George’s hay-fever (you may know that Michele Gallagher’s hay-fever was so bad that they eventually had to write it into the script because she couldn’t stop sneezing). Julian suggests to George that if the hay-fever is that bad then she should get her father to invent something. George primly tells him that her father did invent something but it made it worse. Dick, as always ready with an answer then says to George:

demonsrocksquote2

Just the pure cheekiness behind that line makes it such a smashing one, and Gary Russell delivers it perfectly. He really was coming into his own at this point and its wonderful to see.

Final Thoughts

Quite a brilliant episode, with all the detail from Richard Sparks’ script to the acting on screen. It’s clear to see that the Five are older here, and it really does make a difference to their acting. Clearly more control in of their characters and yet not having outgrown them, as it was suggested that the 90s cast did towards the end. The ending of this episode does let it down however as it just doesn’t lend itself to bringing in an exciting part two!

So, what do you think? Where does Demon’s Rocks come on your rankings?

 

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Monday #202

Gosh, how are we flying through this year already? This is the LAST Monday in January! So whoosh! We’re one month closer to meeting the new addition to the World of Blyton Family – I’ve already been told that Fiona’s other half has vetoed any Blyton related names… still we’re going to work on slipping a slightly obscure one in there somehow! Ha! Can’t wait to meet our new WOB member – this baby is going to be so cute!

Anyway; this is what we have lined up for you this week Р hope you enjoy them!

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Review: Five Go on a Strategy Away Day

Stef has already reviewed Five on Brexit Island and Five Go Gluten Free.¬†She did not heap praise on those titles, and I’m afraid my review is likely to be equally negative. To save you reading further if you don’t have a lot of time: I didn’t think it was very funny, I didn’t think it was particularly good.

five on a strategy away day


THE BASIC PLOT

As is clear from the title, the Five (including Timmy) are going on a strategy away day. Julian is a manager in a company called Lupiter Funkstein, and has managed to wrangle Dick, George and Anne into taking more junior positions there. What’s more, they’ve all landed in his team.

They take a train to a country hotel where the strategy day is being held, and join the rest of the acquisitions staff in their designated room. The Five (well, four, as Timmy’s left outside) do a few team-building exercises and fail miserably at them all, before the final challenge is revealed.

The last thing they have to do is follow a map to a designate point, collect a flag and return first. Despite all their experience the Five bollock this up too, but manage to randomly overhear a critical piece of information while sheltering in a barn. Someone’s out to sabotage Lupiter Funkstein and the Five are able to scupper them now and somewhat redeem themselves.


THE DETAILS 

I had problems with quite a few things along the way.

First, to make it clear, I have no problem with having a grown-up Five doing grown-up things. I myself have written lots of stories about some of Blyton’s characters in their older years. And there is drinking, bad language and other adult content.

My issue here is that the adult things seem to be thrown in simply for ‘shock’ or ‘humour.’ “Remember that bossy lad, Julian? Well har-de-har he’s now an unpopular, hung-over middle-management fellow.” It’s cheap and pretty tasteless. If you’re going to make them grown-up and dealing with grown-up issues you have to have context, and there has to be some feeling behind it. Not just transposing a familiar character into a new situation.

For example, it starts with Anne saying she loves a good train journey. Immediately we think of the steam trains and beautiful countryside of the original books. Then we have Dick extricating himself from a sweaty armpit and it is revealed they are crammed into a tube carriage at rush hour. Not a bad idea – a bit of bait and switch. I don’t know if it’s the particular language that’s used (the word frottage comes to mind) or just the relentlessness of unpleasant moments but it just ends up seeming… tawdry? Seedy? It’s just not nice.

Anyway, that aside, there are other issues.

The Five have somehow lost all their smarts, skills, and what made them the Five in the first place. They can’t navigate a simple map, they seem to have lost their fondness for each other somewhere, and don’t seem to have any sense of fun any more. Particularly when they are asked to suggest ‘roles’ for each other, and what those roles can represent. i.e. Julian, the boss, someone who doesn’t listen to anyone else, is impatient and domineering and so on. It’s rather unpleasant seeing them being rather nasty to each other like that. Especially with no context as to why their relationships might have soured.

There’s a random cousin who crops up, who we’ve never heard of before.


A FEW BRIGHT POINTS

There were some moments I thought which did have potential. They stumble across the Secret Seven at the hotel (though it’s not clear if they work for the same company or are just attending the same event) and there’s a strong rivalry there. That was slightly amusing, but again was rather spoiled by the nasty and jaded attitudes of all involved. The ending where the Secret Seven manage to foil an even bigger plot than the Five (caused by the Five sabotaging their hike) was a nice idea – but nobody likes to see their favourite characters trashed quite as thoroughly as our Five were, so it also felt like a bit much.

I also thought that in a different universe, the minefield challenge could have been funny. This task involved Julian blindfolded and having to lead the others across the room, avoiding the paper mines. The followers have to direct him, but they are not allowed to say left, right or forward. It starts off OK, but as they then get banned from consistently using east and west it descends into a bit of a farce.

I think with a bit of physical on-screen comedy that could have worked well on a sit-com. In a book it still fell a little flat.

The humour around the pointlessness of these team-building days wasn’t bad over-all, but it has already been done to death really. We’ve all seen jokes about how out-dated¬†thinking outside the box¬†and¬†blue-sky thinking are, and it’s not really enough to sustain a whole book.


OVERALL

It wasn’t offensive (at least not to me) and it wasn’t dreadful. It just wasn’t very good. It raised a small smile from time to time and I’m sure there’s somebody out there who will find it very funny, but it didn’t do much for me. It lacked any affection for the Five which was its biggest downfall.

And I really do disagree with the idea that Enid Blyton would have loved them. I can’t imagine she would have particularly liked what I write about her characters (but then again, if the naked tennis is true… she might!) but I don’t proclaim that she would.

 

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Famous Five 70s Style: Five on Finniston Farm

b5fe05b20c9aa4ca4f966386dac83393Five 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.

The Twins

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!

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Monday #201

So here at World of Blyton we have some exciting news. There is going to be a new Blyton fan in my household as I will be having a baby in the summer. I’m already thinking of all the great books I can read him or her, and which (if any) Blytonish names I can sneak onto the suggestions list.

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We are both hoping that we can continue the blog as it is at the moment, especially as I hope to start writing extra content now to schedule later on when I’ve got my hands full with a baby. Anyway, that’s a while off yet so here’s what we’re writing this week:

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