So here we are looking at the second part of Five Get Into Trouble, and I feel safe in saying that this two-parter has to be one of the best. Now, grab some ginger beer, a sandwich and read on while I try to explain why!
The Bad Guys
After the ending of the last episode, we’re brought smack bang back into the middle of Owl’s Dene and the mysteries that are overflowing. The Five are reunited, as in they are all under the same roof. Dick is still being kept prisoner and the others have tagged along with Richard Kent. The smooth talking Mr Perton in my mind is one of the most dangerous criminals the Five ever face because he is a calculated criminal with real brains (even though in the book he is called the cat’s paw – but let’s just assume that he is the brains behind this operation). In fact this is closer to the way things are in the book than the 90s series because Perton is the brains, in control, calm in both this adaptation and the book, whereas in the 90s version, he’s more a bumbling idiot and Rooky is the one who’s seen to be in charge and the brains.
Another thing that is interesting to see how he, Perton, deals with Rooky, Hunchy and Ted and the difference in his attitude between them and the escaped criminal Solomon Weston, aka Solly. Perton (Stephan Chase) does his best to keep Solly sweet as the criminal knows the whereabouts of the valuable Culpepper diamonds that he had stolen.
An interesting fact that I noted from this episode is that Solomon Western is played by Walter Sparrow who has another part in the 90s series of the Famous Five; when he plays the kindly, yet strong minded Great Granddad from Five on Finniston Farm. Just an interesting titbit for you. Both performances are fantastic and he completely nails the two different personas. Walter Sparrow was truly a magnificent actor.
The Contemporary Feel
So first off, it’s clear to see the big changes in the show; the updated clothes, bikes, food, transport, but there are some bits and pieces that make you stop, rewind and reconsider. One thing I hadn’t noticed before from this series is that Marcus Harris, is wearing a necklace. I know, an actual necklace! I felt this was a bit much for our straight laced Julian, but I wonder if it was something that had been agreed by the creative team or whether Harris just decided to add it to the part or forgot to take it off! I would love to know!
One big thing I noticed when watching the second episode is during one scene where the Five and Richard are stopped from leaving because Rooky has spotted Richard underneath his hat, glasses and sooty hair. The children are all lined up in the kitchen being talked at by Perton and Rooky, when Julian starts standing up to Rooky he receives a punishment for his smart mouthed nature. As Rooky walks past Julian, he elbows him hard into the ribs. Now this is something we never see in the book, or in the 90s version – in fact no one lays a finger on anyone really in the 90s version – but in the 70s, there is much more rough and tumble with the cast and the baddies. I think it might have something to do with the changing times as well as the fact that the bad guys could be seen to be more violent, even towards children. However it isn’t just Julian who receives some violent treatment: in fact Richard Kent is manhandled quite horribly when Rooky is washing the soot out of his hair and Dick is brought down from the attic in quite a tight grip by the looks of things. The boys certainly have more to deal with in this series.
Now down to the nitty gritty, the plot. Last week I said I wasn’t sure how the show would cram so much of the book into a 25 minute slot, and surprisingly it did really well. There are some key elements that are left out, giving Aggie the money, feeding the chickens, getting secret food parcels from Aggie in the garden, but the time constraints are never friendly in these cases. It’s a secondary story really that doesn’t really add or take away from the main one. However, all the key parts were there, the children discovering the boot was big enough to hide Richard in, Julian exploring the house at night and finding the secret room where Western was hiding so that he could put the others in there for safety, and not to mention Richard making a dash for it out of the car and running away from Perton, straight into the police station.
Another thing I like about this adaptation is some of the dialogue that comes out at the end. A bemused Perton, trying to work out how he had been outsmarted by a bunch of kids, and ultimately blaming Julian, threatens him only to receive such a sharp quip in return:
Its just that moment of pure cheek that comes out of Julian, knowing that he has outsmarted this man, and done the right thing. Cool as a cucumber, aren’t you Ju?
Another good quote I enjoyed came from all of them really, the characters working together to create such an enjoyable last scene, that ends in the usual laughter. The inclusion of Uncle Quentin just tops off the scene as you can see he just doesn’t believe a word the children are saying and is just one of those ultra magic moments that charms you into the series, and keeps you there.
I think that has got to be a contender for the ultimate Famous Five TV series quote. What do you think?
Anyway, Five Get Into Trouble did its job wonderfully, and provided great story telling and viewing to make a damn near perfect episode, or two. These two episodes truly deserve five whole stars!