Farthing Watch – 1.05

Last Week – The first proper brutal death as Mrs Pheasant was shot by a farmer. The animals worked together to escape from the farmland, and Fox showed his heroic side again in negotiating with the nasty farm dog. Just when they seemed to be safe, though, Badger realised that they had left Adder behind…  

Badger tells us at the end of his recap that ‘poor Pheasant could not get over the loss of his wife’. It has been eight minutes since she was brutally murdered, Badger! Give a bird a chance!

Badger realises that they left Adder behind – ‘I expect that big farm dog’s eaten her by now HAHAHAHA!’ says Weasel. Fox blames himself. Most of the animals aren’t bothered about going back for her. Vole suggests that they are better rid of her, and even Toad claims it is too far to go back. Fox, however, points out that her actions enabled them all to escape, and asks for a volunteer. It takes a while – ‘Popular, isn’t she? HAHAHAHA’ squawks Weasel – but eventually Pheasant steps forward. He wants to see his wife’s final resting place one last time. Now usually this would be a totally acceptable thing to do, but in this case HIS WIFE WAS BRUTALLY MURDERED TEN MINUTES AGO! So it is less a final resting place than the site of her very recent murder. Some of the other animals are really mean to him here too, particularly the Hares. Mr Hare mimes playing a violin as he leaves, while his wife shouts ‘if you’re going, go!’ at his departing singed tail-feathers. Empathetic bunch, these animals of Farthing Wood. Even Fox, while telling him how brave he is, criticises his flying.

Poor, maligned Pheasant makes it to the farm, only to find the roasted corpse of his wife cooling on the window ledge. Two things here: 1) how long does it take to roast a pheasant? I swear she was only killed half an hour back and the farmer’s wife would need to pluck her and maybe pull out some of the shot (though they do talk about how far back the farm is, so maybe they walked for a really long time and then it took Pheasant ages to get back?), and 2) why would you stick a freshly roasted bird on a window ledge to cool down?! Maybe she was planning on making pheasant sandwiches for the farm kids’ packed lunches?

Anyway, Pheasant sees the roasted remains of his beloved and quite understandably gets pretty upset. Adder warns him to hide but he can’t see through his tears. The farmer sees him, raises his gun…and a shot rings out through the countryside. Farewell, Pheasant. This was one of the moments which marked me as a child, and looking back now it is still exceptionally upsetting. The music is really good too, building up the tension. It’s nice that the animals get their rudeness thrown back at them as well. ‘If that’s Pheasant I’ll never forgive myself!’ cries Mrs Hare. So you shouldn’t!

With a bit of persuasion and a lot of smugness, Owl heads off to the farm. A new bird appears in the form of a rook, who recognises the animals as ‘that lot from Farthing Wood’. Nice to see their reputation precedes them! Mrs Hare suggests that they stay in Rook’s copse but Toad points out how impractical this would be once winter came. Badger says that they need to head on for White Deer Park. ‘Dare say we’ll survive the disappointment’ says Rook. Be thankful, Rook. This bunch would probably get your copse razed and your chicks shot.

Owl finds Adder – ‘where’s Pheasant?’ ‘roasssting for ssssupper’. They snack on some rats and complain about Fox’s leadership (‘Fox couldn’t lead a pack of hounds!’). It gets a bit House of Cards here, with the predators discussing the order of succession in the event anything should happen to Fox. Adder thinks Badger is just as bad, and suggests that a wise Owl might be the perfect leader. They then head off for a night of gleeful hunting.

The rooks singing ‘there’s no place like home’ sets half the animals off bawling. Insensitive bloody rooks! ‘Good thing Pheasant isn’t here,’ says Hare, ‘Or we’d all be drowned in tears!’. Yeah, great, let’s be happy our friend has been murdered.

Weasel steps up for the sing-song, killing a verse of ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’. Fox is worried about Owl and Adder (don’t stress, mate, be glad those backstabbers are AWOL!). The next morning they make it back – ‘heaven knows what she’s eaten!’ says a vole – but one of the bunnies gets caught in a snare. Owl takes this opportunity to question Fox’s leadership, blaming him for not checking the area for traps. She comes up with a solution, getting Mole to dig out the post which the wire is attached too. I’m not quite sure how this helps to loosen the wire, and I swear the post falling over would have garrotted the poor babbit, but it’s a heroic moment for Moley so I’ll go with it.

The next problem they have to overcome is a great big river. ‘It’s wide, but the current’s very slow’ says Toad, ever the optimist. Things go pretty well until the rabbits getting panicked and start swimming in circles. They really aren’t having a good day those rabbits! To add insult to injury, the rabbits leap on Fox and weigh him down, just as a MASS OF DEBRIS floats towards them and, as Mole calmly states, ‘IT’LL KILL THEM!’. Badger gets everybody back in the water and the rabbits are saved, but Fox is struggling. ‘I’m done for!’ gasps Fox, ‘Go back to the others. They’ll need you!’. ‘I’m not leaving you me dear friend’ says Badger, and they get struck by that MASS OF DEBRIS! The MASS OF DEBRIS hits a rock at the top of a waterfall, and Fox falls into the water below. We don’t see what happens to Badger. ‘I’m afraid we’ll have to accept that Badger and Fox are dead’ says Owl. We’d normally be inclined to think that this couldn’t be the case but after the psychological trauma inflicted on us these past two episodes anything is possible. But Toad has seen something! ‘Wait, look!’ he shouts. The animals look…

See you next week to see what they are seeing!


Wild Wisdom of the Week – ‘The burdens of leadership are great indeed’ (Owl)

‘Wings are faster than the fleetest of foot’ (Owl)

‘A moment’s thought can save a lifetime’s misery’ (Owl)

‘Those rabbits! Even with one your problems are multiplied!’ (Badger)

Deaths – Mr Pheasant. The first of the really, really nasty deaths. Mrs Pheasant’s was horrible but her husband is killed after seeing the cooked remains of his wife, and doesn’t even realise he’s in danger. Brutal. Adder kills some rats, too, and we can only imagine the carnage that she and Owl wrought on their night out!

Other musings – The dead rats look pretty horrible. It really is very satisfying that they don’t avoid the fact that carnivorous animals need to eat too.

This isn’t really a musing but I was going through the cupboards and unearthed another piece of Farthing Wood memorabilia – anybody else have a copy of this??