Farthing Watch – 1.02

Last Week – The animals of Farthing Wood decided that they would have to leave in search of a new home, their own currently being levelled to build a new housing estate or something. Their long-lost , recently returned compatriot Toad suggested that they head for White Deer Park nature preserve, and everybody got ready to begin the journey…

This episode begins with a pan across the wreckage of the wood, felled tree trunks lying beside diggers as (we presume) homeless bats flap across the sky. The mice are still singing, but horrible misogynist Mr Pheasant is more circumspect. ‘It’s a nightmare!’ he tells his poor wife, ‘How would they like it if they were hunted all the time? They’d not be singing and dancing then!’. Foooooreshadowiiiing…

A quick head count suggests we have 30 animals setting off on the journey. Despite the rather cold reception Badger gave Mole last week, this episode they are apparently firm friends, with Badger defending him against Adder’s criticisms (that he is slow and tasteless) and even offering to stay behind and wait for him when he, unbeknownst to the group, overhears Adder and scurries off.

‘What an adventure, can’t wait!’ says one of them (maybe a squirrel, the animation isn’t clear); ‘YAY!!!’ comes the general reply. To paraphrase a classic Weasel response – HAHAHAHAHAHA! Of course, at this point that still seems possible. This might be a fun little romp as the mismatched band of animals work their way through madcap scrapes and hilarious situations on their way to a new home. Ah, the innocent optimism of youth! We’ll miss you!

While not entirely a realistic show, Farthing Wood does not ignore the obvious. The newts are basically dying out of the water, some animals are slower than others, and adders are pretty vicious predators.

Badger tracks down Mole, who worries that Adder was right and he’ll only hold them back. In a touching scene, Badger promises to take care of him. ‘I’ll look after you Moley’ ‘All the way?’ ‘All the way’. Mole hitches a ride on Badger’s neck and they catch up with the others in the nick of time.

As they travel though a semi-constructed housing estate, despite Mrs Rabbit’s repeated cries of ‘Don’t panic!’, things are not going well. ‘Our baby’s dying’ says Mrs Newt. ‘Are we all going to die, Fox?’ asks a field mouse. ‘Probably! HAHAHAHA! Wanna take bets on it?’ replies Weasel. This sort of gallows humour is, for me, one of Farthing Wood’s unique selling points.

Owl has scouted out a source of water, which turns out to be a garden swimming pool. Here the newts get revived, Weasel holds Adder’s tail to lower her down to drink and Badger and Fox let the smaller creatures climb down them to reach the water. That mutual protection pact seems to be in full swing. Awwwww!

Toad’s pratting around wakes up the household and the animals have to skedaddle. Fox has to help Adder out of the pool (‘ssssubmerged but not sssunk’) and fight off a chunky ginger cat who fancies a mouthful of mouse.

Dawn comes, and brings with it a slight problem. Kestrel sees a nice large gorse thicket on some army land which will make a perfect resting place, but said land is on the far side of a big road and the morning rush is coming. ‘You haven’t got long!’ cries Kestrel. Will the tired animals make it across?

The animals split into groups, the fastest making it over in no time – but now the lorries are here! ‘There’s a lot of traffic coming!’ says Kestrel, as the second lot head over. ‘This is going to ruin my sssscales!’ says Adder, ssssssssslithering ssssssssinuously acrossssss. Despite her ssssasssss, Adder freezes up when a lorry approaches, only saved by Badger dragging her out the way. ‘I’d be mossst obliged if you didn’t sssquueeze ssssso, Badger’ is all the thanks he gets.

Toad is the last to cross, but he too freezes up. As the lorry gets closer, he says his prayers and lies down to accept the inevitable. Fortunately today is not his day, and the sure-sighted van driver stops to look at what is lying in his path. Owl distracts his and Fox pulls him through the fence.

All safe on the other side, Badger starts giving a speech about how proud he is to be travelling with such valiant companions…but everybody falls asleep. All is calm and peaceful, but what is that skull and crossbones sign on the other side of the hedge? See you next week to find out!

Wild Wisdom of the Week – ‘Only fools waste time discussing thirst when there’s water a few minutes away’ (Owl)

‘As Confucius say “let’s see what tomorrow brings”’ (Owl again)

‘Everything comes to he who waits…including death on the road!’ (Owl yet again)

Deaths – None! Again! This is not how I remembered it at all! But I know they’re coming, oh yes, oh yes…

Other musings – Notice how the vehicles are driving on the right-hand side of the road here? Well they don’t in every episode. This being a European co-production, we end up with a little continuity error regarding the Highway Code.