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.
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.
The attention to detail is great, Richard Sparks did a good job with this episode, however, there are the niggles – 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!
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:
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:
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.
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?