So if you have managed to follow the title of this piece – which if you’re not hugely up to speed with the 70’s Famous Five might take some explaining (however look back here for a bit more of an idea on whats going on). Once you’ve read that we had better get back to the actual story and what’s going on!
More Kirrin Island Again?
The second part of the first episode of the series seems to follow the lines of the sixth adventure of the Famous Five than the first book written by Enid Blyton, as the title of the episode suggests.
In this episode we move towards what’s going on at Kirrin Island a lot more. I suspect this is down to the fact that a lot of the story line was used up in the first episode, setting the scene, making the Five a compatible, workable unit, and establishing Uncle Quentin working on the island, not to mention the baddies.
The first episode worked well, it seemed to be able to make a go of changing the order of the stories to create a workable pilot, but did we really need a two-parter that just dragged on? Five on a Treasure Island, done 90s style (which coincidentally, needs to also be reviewed) seemed to work so much better as a two-parter because of everything going on, and being very much based on the children rather than around Uncle Quentin, which Five on Kirrin Island Again is.
In part two, we are treated to a lot more time with the captured Uncle Quentin and less about the children and them solving the mystery. By and large, Timmy did most of the work in carrying the notes back to Kirrin Cottage and then leading the boys through the tunnels to George and Uncle Q. Any actual exploration of the tunnel just wasn’t done, in a very similar way to the book now I come to think about it. In the book the tunnel is discovered by never really explored. So as far as I am concerned this is more about Uncle Quentin, his experiment and the chaps who are trying to steal the results for their own gain, the Five just happen to stop the island from blowing up, rescue Uncle Quentin and George, and capture the bad guys right at the very end of the episode.
Now don’t get me wrong I know this is a standard adventure novel but the fact that it feels like there wasn’t enough to make two episodes out of this and it should have just been the one. It is not very centred on the Five which is the whole reason for the series, I mean without the Five there would be no Famous Five and that doesn’t feel like it happens in this episode. I’m not sure what Enid Blyton would have actually thought about this all, but for me the second episode doesn’t seem to work.
Up until now I’ve not really gone into the whole Timmy issue and that’s because it’s hard to work with. Most of Five on a Treasure Island centres around the fact that Timmy belongs to George but isn’t allowed at home and as you know, he eventually makes it back into the house, much to Uncle Quentin’s horror at points. When we get to Five on Kirrin Island Again, Timmy is very much established in the house and even has to go to the Island with George’s father and act as a bodyguard when Quentin thinks he is not alone on Kirrin Island. Naturally this cannot happen because Uncle Quentin does not know that George still has Timmy so the idea that George knows something’s wrong because she does not see Timmy up in the tower with her father when he signals, has to be thrown out of the window. The idea, not Timmy, obviously.
Quentin is therefore totally lost when George says she gave his precious notebook to Timmy to get away for safe keeping. Despite the fact that they are possibly about to die, instead of saying “Oh by the way Dad, you remember that dog you wouldn’t let me keep? Well I still have him and he’s just saved your notebook,” she simply says, “Oh he’s just a friend” when she’s asked who Timmy is.
Julian then also covers up for her, by saying that Timmy belongs to him, Dick and Anne to save George’s bacon. At this point I think it’s quite obvious that the Five aren’t good liars and any regular parent would have realised this and known that Timmy was in fact George’s. Aunt Fanny does, luckily enough but Uncle Quentin has to have it spelt out to him in words of one syllable. You wonder how he made it to the level of professor at this rate!
So yes, Timmy saves the day, but not only by saving the notebook, but by taking Dick and Julian to George and Uncle Quentin, getting them back out again and even then going back into the tunnel to help the lost crook, Johnson, find his way out of the tunnel so that he can be arrested.
As I said earlier, Timmy is the whole reason this episode works and gets finished, because he is the star of the adventure and wraps it all up nicely for them.
Did we really need a two-parter? In my humble opinion, no we didn’t, there wasn’t enough material to pad things out with, but also, they made the first episode very well that they were left with the more mundane parts of the story to tell.
It was interesting to look at how Johnson tries to negotiate with Uncle Quentin, as it is really quite ridiculous and basic. This man is supposed to be from the government and he can’t even come up with something better than “You’ll be a very rich man, professor.” Yes, he could, but Johnson clearly didn’t do his homework or he would know quite simply that Quentin isn’t a greedy man. In Five on a Treasure Island, it’s a different matter as the family are running out of money to pay the bills because he isn’t making enough from his inventions, but boy the sixth book things seem to run their course very well and clearly this is a project close to his heart. Johnson would have got somewhere with the money idea if this was the first book, but its a completely different Uncle Quentin he’s dealing with. Johnson clearly doesn’t know any other language than money which is silly because he has no back up negotiation apart from the desire to blow up the island.
The Five do, technically save the day, thanks to Timmy, and we end with laughter and a silly joke as always which is supposed to lighten the mood but, to me, seems to cheapen the adventure. For what its worth, we really could have just had one episode to start for this series as two episodes lacked content. I wonder what Blyton would have made of them!
Those are my thoughts on this 70s episode, tell me yours in the comments below!