I know there has been a break in the flow of my reviews of Five Go to Billycock Hill, for which I apologise, but when the break is made up of those gorgeously gooey macaroons, can you agree with me that it was worth it?
Anyway we move away from macaroons and towards resolving the mystery of the Billycock caves and the missing airman. As I think I left you last time, you would now know that there is a plane missing from the airbase, and cousin Jeff (the one George has a crush on) has gone missing and is considered a traitor.
As of yet we do not know how everything ties together, the disappearance of the plane and Jeff, and the scary butterfly men. However, all is not lost as this episode is action packed and ready to spill forth with the glorious adventure on Billycock Hill.
First of all the Five are questioned by the military police about Jeff’s disappearance and if they heard or saw anything that night. Toby is distraught at the loss of his cousin and naturally the Five are as well. They tell the police about meeting the butterfly men in the storm and the police go off to investigate.
To be honest things happen quickly in this episode but I may have gotten some things mixed up between the episodes. There is a scene where the Five go to visit the Billycock caves in the first episode that I had forgotten to mention; the caves are nothing as spectacular as what they are in the book, but you know– budgets! They get a certain way into the caves and are chased out by strange noises
In the second episode they realise that someone may have been trying to scare them out of the caves and decide to explore again, this time taking Timmy who knows his way around the unmarked caves and finds dear old Jeff down a hole! Right as rain! So now we know that Jeff isn’t the traitor and those mysterious men hanging around the butterfly farm seem to be our next culprits.
We lose some of the continuity in this book as Uncle Quentin turns up and orders George and the others home just as they reemerge from the cave with Jeff. Its quite a shock for George, Julian, Dick and Anne to have Uncle Quentin appear but he does and is bowled over when Jeff appears to be live and kicking.
The ending to this episode is not Blytonish at all. Without wishing to spoil too much for you, its one big fight involving the boys, Uncle Quentin and Jeff. Most undignified, even if it was a good dramatic way to round off the series. If I’m honest its all a bit bigged up, very much play fighting and there is nothing less than total hilarity in the scene. Its such a mish-mash of things and shots that it doesn’t really work, tie in with the others or even resemble anything Blyton wrote.
Billycock Hill as always been one of my least favourite books, and I’m afraid the TV adaptation does nothing for me either. Given it had two episodes it could have been better done, we lose the second pilot accused of stealing the planes along with Jeff, we lost a lot of the tricks Toby does, and his little brother Benny and the piglet Curly. These changes are just to save time I know, but if you ear mark something for a double episode maybe you should use more of the actual book? Just a thought.
Let me know what you think? Where does Billycock Hill rate on your scale of Blyton adaptations?