Archive for October 4th, 2008

October 4, 2008

Death, destruction and cute furry animals

A few weeks ago the theme tune for The Animals of Farthing Wood popped into my head out of nowhere. Reminded of the series, I looked for it on youtube (it’s all there – joy!) and was lucky enough to find (Aadisht did the actual finding) an omnibus edition of In the Grip of Winter, Fox’s Feud and The Fox Cub Bold at a secondhand book stall in Saket.
In my room at college (equipped with impressively speedy broadband) I have finished watching all three seasons of the TV show.
I cried when Bold died.

I cried at a lot of things, to be honest. The deaths of the hedgehogs. Many of the other deaths that seem to occur every other episode. Though not at Dreamer’s death, because somehow that is glossed over rather* – perhaps because the foxes are the animals we’re made to identify with the most during the series, and seeing Fox and Vixen reacting to the death of their cub might just be too much. But really, animals are dropping like flies throughout.

And one of the things I kept wondering as I watched was, how did I survive this series growing up? There’s violence and blood and death (and not the Tom and Jerry sort, where bodies magically reconstitute themselves, this is violence with emotional consequences) in every episode and I have always been the sort of person who cries at anything. In these degenerate times when a friend’s cousin only lets her child watch Bob the Builder, this amount of serious violence just feels startling. Were things really that different fifteen years ago?

I was also thinking what a wonderful series it was. Strong, nuanced characters, solid plotlines (for the first two seasons, at least). The books have some of this too, but the TV series really does add new layers to the animals’ characters. So you have Fox, who is excellent and heroic all through but is capable of becoming a snappy, old and conservative father where his own cubs are concerned; Badger who is nice but ineffectual (and knows it) and eventually senile; Bold, who does everything he can to escape his father’s reputation but ends up with a mate who married him “for your father, of course”. There are the weird emotionally abusive relationships within the family of blue foxes (and among the weasels in season three, but that was more about the series writers utterly losing the plot and trying unsuccessfully to be funny). And then there are the little things I would never have picked up on as a child – the male Vole’s trade unionism “we shmaller animalsh musht shtick together” (a lot of the time he has a point) and the moth-eaten rook in season three who spends his time running after owls while his mate sighs patiently and looks after him because that’s just the way he is.

I suspect I’m going to spend a lot of the next year or so watching things from my childhood online. Next week: Through the Dragon’s Eye, perhaps?

*Strangely, while arguing about their various parentages Charmer uses the deaths of various other Farthing Wood animals to justify Scar-hatred to Ranger, while somehow neglecting to mention her own sister.