The Animals of Farthing Wood was an Animated Series on the BBC, based on a series of seven books by Colin Dann, who later added a prequel to the list. The series lasted from January, 1992 to December, 1995. A total of 39 episodes in three seasons.It followed a collection of animals from Farthing Wood, which was being destroyed by humans to build houses. The animals fled the wood as a group, led by Fox, in order to reach the sanctuary of White Deer Park, a nature reserve where they would be safe from humans. They swore the Oath of Mutual Protection, where they promised not to eat, bully or harm each other along the way. The journey was full of danger, and many animals lost their lives.The second and third series followed the adventures after journey's end, as the animals settled into White Deer Park. Naturally of course the adventures did not end there, and many White Deer Park animals joined the cast at this point.The series is sometimes better remembered as Farthing Wood Friends due to the popular tie-in magazine that came out during the run of the show.Unusually, the Series was produced in collaboration with the European Broadcast Union (who are more famous for the annual Eurovision Song Contest), and dubbed into a multitude of other languages.There were also a PC game based on the series and a set of audio tapes where a few of the main cast (Fox, Badger, Toad, Owl and Weasel) told the story of their journey to Fox's young cubs while Vixen was out hunting. Neither of these are easy to find any more.As of May 27th 2011, the DVD's of season 1 and 2 have been released in Germany.
Achilles in His Tent: The fact that both Owl and Weasel left White Deer Park was specifically what gave the rats the courage to invade White Deer Park, mainly because they were the swiftest and most effective hunters of small mammals.
Acrophobic Bird: Whistler. It's not that he is afraid of heights, but in season one, he does sometimes rather walk with the others than fly, for reasons unknown.
It's because he was once shot in the wing while he was flying. The bullet made a hole in the wing feathers, so a whistling sound is made when the air passes through it as he flies, hence the name "Whistler".
In the books, Bold mentions that Whisper's lithe movements remind him of his mother, Vixen.
Also, Adder, in a sneaky sort of way.
Adaptation Distillation: The series is very true to the original books, with the small matter that Adder, Weasel, Owl and Kestrel were originally male, and that Weasel in the books was a straight-arrow helpful ally, rather than the Spoony Bard most know her as in the show.
Season 3 generally took more liberties with the source material, including sparing a few characters who died in the books, and skipping out one installment (The Siege of White Deer Park) altogether. At this point the censors were beginning to get stricter over what they would allow children to see, so the especially violent content in The Siege of White Deer Park would have no longer been considered acceptable. Also explains the Lighter and Softer nature of the 3rd season.
Adaptation Dye-Job: A curious case with the foxes of White Deer Park. They were ordinary red foxes in the book but made into blue foxes in the cartoon (presumably to distinguish them from the Farthing Wood foxes).
Adaptation Personality Change: Scarface's mate is mostly just a background character and isn't necessarily evil but the cartoon expands her role into a proper Femme Fatale. Also Friendly takes on Bold's role as the sneak between Charmer and Ranger, making his name in the cartoon rather ironic.
Poor, poor Weasel. It wasn't enough that this originally male character became gratuitously female for the cartoon adaptation. In the book, Weasel was a loyal, dependable, heroic animal who did his part to help the rest of the group and was genuinely concerned about the welfare of others. In the cartoon, she's an obnoxious creature who laughs annoyingly when other animals are in danger, and everyone just wants to strangle her.
Animals Are Bastards: While the humans' portrayal is less then flattering, the animals in the story are more capable of racism, vengeance and hatred than the humans.
Animals Not to Scale: Weasel and Fox are both oversized, Weasel greatly so. Real weasels are smaller than rats, but the one in the series approaches the size of Badger.
Season 1 as far as movement sees mostly repeated loops like Weasel's laugh, head turns, Mouth Flapping and walk cycles to the left or right; plenty of exceptions, of course, but definitely enough to notice.
Season 2 sees a large increase in frame rate, strangely concentrated in scenes involving the Weasels.
Season 3 really begins to diversify the movements of each character, faces are more expressive, lips sync more with the dialogue, and more dynamic shots occur. Though this leaves room for more mistakes, which shows with the occasional stray mark or jiggling cell.
Anyone Can Die: Quite a lot of the main cast were killed off as the series went on.
Including at least one character that didn't die in the books, but weirdly two that did die in the books survive in the TV series.
Ascended Extra: Scarface's mate was just a minor character in the book but is given a much more prominent role in the TV series as well as getting a name (Lady Blue).
Asskicking Equals Authority: Fox. In season one, he lures hunters away from Vixen and he defeats a dog by bluffing. In season 2, he defeats the deer hunters twice by luring them to the pond with thin ice and on the second time, he lures them to get the warden's attention to apprehend them. Fox also fights Scarface to save the rest of the animals.
Fox was also made the leader of the Farthing Wood animals because he's the most cunning and one of the most physically capable of them.
Balloon Belly: Adder obtains one after she stuffs herself on the edible frogs. Toad is not amused by this at all.
Best Served Cold: Adder swears revenge on Scarface for biting her tail and almost killing her. After she escapes from him, she lies low until exacting it by biting his ankle underwater when he goes for a drink.
Beware the Nice Ones: Badger is usually the nicest animal of the Farthing Wood group, but if you try to hurt or kidnap his friends, the results would get ugly. The Warden's cat learned this the hard way when he hurt Kestrel.
Put into enthasis straight afterwards, where after swiping off the cat and checking on Kestrel, he wonders if he was too brutal.
Bittersweet Ending: At the end of season 2, Bold dies just outside of the park when he returned home, but he gets to know, seconds before he dies, that his cubs will be safe and that his father is proud of him.
Brother Chuck: Kestrel was dropped between Seasons 2 and 3, without so much as a mention. (In fairness, the same thing happened around this point in the books.)
Friendly appeared in the second episode of Season 3, only to be completely absent for the remainder of the series.
By Season 3, most of the entire blue fox clan (except Ranger and occasional other background extras) seemed to have disappeared.
This was the fate awaiting a lot of the more minor characters who were not "officially" killed off. Fieldmouse simply disappeared midway through the second season, while Hare and Rabbit were both gone by Season 3, to be replaced by their descendants.
Hare, Rabbit, Kestrel and others are simply supposed to have died of old age as the series (and books) advance. The lifespan of most wild animals is short. In the books, Fieldmouse was killed by Scarface.
Bystander Syndrome: In season 3, the white deer herd do not seem to do anything about the rats, while the rats threaten them too. (The reason they do not help in the fighting is most likely because of Trey.) We only see them fight the rats in episode 36 (on accident when they just stampede over the rats while not noticing) and in episode 39 (for less than a minute!)
Captain Crash: Whistler. He even lands so badly, everyone takes cover when he's going to land - not that it helps. He almost always falls on top of someone. Fox even mentions: 'If you and Speedy ever have chicks... please let her teach them how to fly.'
Plucky: Great landing! You almost missed me!
Carnivore Confusion: Averted by the Oath of Mutual Protection the animals take and, even after the need for it has gone, uphold out of the fact they've known each other far too long as allies.
Although once they reach White Deer Park, the carnivorous animals have the full right to eat non-Farthing Wood animals, which Adder in particular was happy to take advantage of (even over Toad's protests when she started eating some of the frogs he had befriended).
Cartoony Eyes: Whenever Measly and Weasel share a scene, it's weird seeing the former with big, wide, white sclerae compared with the latter, whose eyes flip-flop between realistic and Skintone Sclerae type.
Cartoony Tail: The foxes have beautiful red/blue tails, but you don't see any gray parts in it, which is common with real life foxes.
Darker and Edgier: Subverted. Though the books Siege of White Deer Park, In the Path of the Storm and Battle for the Park are written as darker than the others, Season 3 (which was adapted from the mentioned books) was toned down considerably, and it and left out the Siege of White Deer Park storyline entirely.
Determinator: Most of the Farthing Wood animals have had their faltering moments, except Fox. In every dangerous situation in the series, he usually leaps in to rescue one of his friends as well as Vixen at the risk of his very life, even a duel to the death with Scarface.
Fox: "But I promise you one thing. I will defend you to the last."
Dirty Coward: The rabbits almost drown Fox by overweighing him to cross through a river.
Disneyfication: YMMV, but it seems the smoother the animation becomes in this show, the sloppier the writing gets, namely season 3.
Driven to Suicide: The Hedgehogs towards the end of season 1, the noise of the traffic was too much for them and they could not ride on the larger animal's back because of their quills. The Hedgehogs had no choice but to roll themselves up which led to them getting run over by a lorry.
In the book, this only happens to SOME of the hedgehogs. Some survive and make it to the Park.
A Dog Named Dog: Nice: Fox, Badger, Weasel, Kestrel, Owl, Fieldmice, Hare, Rabbit, Adder and more...
Practically every member of the original group is named this way, sometimes with a Mr or Mrs tacked on.
Drama-Preserving Handicap: Bold gets shot in the ass, literally. He needs to survive, but he gets weaker and weaker. Not to blame him: can you hunt mice if one paw does not work properly anymore, and never will again? And thus, he has to rely on his friends.
Dub Name Change: The Swedish dub kept most of the animal-based names, but changed Scarface's name to Enöga (One-Eye).
Dumb Muscle: Mid-way through the 3rd season, we see a larger rat that Bully really likes due to his immense strength and has big plans for him. Unfortunately for Bully, the rat is stupid enough to eat all the poison dropped by the Warden.
The Dying Walk: Bold knows he's dying, so he sends Whisper away on an errand to get some food, then walks off so she won't find his dead body.
Since Season 3 is the grand finale for the series as a whole and seemingly ends on a more uplifting note than the previous two (or at least before anything else bad occurs to taint it) it may still count.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite the fact that Scarface is the antagonist of season two, he's still loved by his son Ranger and his mate Lady Blue - and Ranger is one of the heroes of the series!
Everything Trying to Kill You: The animals endure many hazards during their journey from drought, crossing roads, fire, angry farmers, crossing a river, the butcher bird, hunters and more humans.
Even White Deer Park is not safe in Seasons 2 and 3. They also endure a harsh winter, deer hunters, Scarface, a horde of rats, a poisoned stream and a hurricane.
For Bold, nothing is safe outside White Deer Park.
Extreme Melee Revenge: Bully's death was played straight in the books. During the final battle against the rats, Vixen avenged Toad's death by killing him and throwing his body over the park's fence.
Eye Scream: Bold is seemingly blinded in one eye when he frees Shadow from a gamekeeper's trap by biting through the wires which then hits him in the face. He is left with a permenant scar across his eyelid afterwards.
The Faceless: Surpringly averted. In the common low-quality version of Farthing Wood that has spread throughout the internet, (including Youtube and a torrent) many people thought that humans didn't have faces. However, the DVDs, which are much higher quality, clearly show faces - the people in the town in Season 1, the poachers in Season 2 and the Warden of White Deer Park.
Famed in Story: The Farthing Wood animals. By the time they arrive at White Deer Park, the Great White Stag already knows who they are, and Bold later went to a lot of effort to escape his father's rather large shadow.
Family-Unfriendly Violence: PLENTY, a crowning example even. For a show during primetime viewing for children, there's a lot of animals being shot, impaled, crushed, run over, mauled, necksnapped, caught in traps, and several other unpleasantly realistic moments.
However, some of the deaths ARE given Gory Discretion Shots, such as not seeing the pheasants get shot or the hedgehogs being run over. Regardless, the show leaves VERY little to the imagination.
Fast Tunnelling: Of all the animals, Mole is the best tunneller. This ability saves the animals from the farmer who locked them in the shed.
Fantastic Racism: The blue foxes towards the red foxes and, even more blatantly, Fox's own reaction upon learning of Charmer and Ranger's relationship, which even Vixen notes:
Vixen: "You sound just like Scarface."
Fan Sequel: Fan sequels based on Farthing Wood can be found on several websites.
One of them is a psychological action thriller based on Ao FW.
Another one tells the story that Scarface kidnaps Charmer.
Fear Is the Appropriate Response: Even though he's the bravest of all the animals, and without a doubt the heroic leader, Fox has fled in absolute terror from only two things - fire and fox hunters.
Thankfully he fights BOTH fears quite quickly for the sake of his friends. He runs straight towards the marshfire to save Toad from burning alive, as well as even drawing the attention of the fox hunters to himself, risking his very life against dozens of merciless hounds, just to save Vixen.
Gender Flip: Adder, Owl, Weasel and Kestrel were all originally male in the stories. Adder's mate Sinuous and Owl's mate Holly were originally female as well, and Holly was renamed Hollow for TV.
Interestingly, though Kestrel is female in the show, she sports the more colourful plumage of a male Kestrel.
Gone Horribly Wrong: In season 2, Fox orders the assassination of Scarface by Adder, and let the weasels give the message to Adder. You should never leave such things to weasels, now Adder has killed the wrong fox due to a misunderstanding, and everything is likely to escalate!
In the books, Bold and Friendly made this horrible mistake instead of Weasel.
Happy Ending Override: The animals went to the park to be safe, and at the end of the season 1, they reach it...to find out that trouble never ends as shown in season 2 and 3.
Harmless Villain: The rats. Seriously, when you're evil and have hundreds, thousands even at your command, and you only succeed in killing one single Farthing Wood creature, you must really suck as a villain.
Averted in the books, the rats were less cartoony and much more sinister in Battle for the Park. They killed Sinuous the adder, the Farthing Wood Toad and Mossy the mole. The cartoon writers had to tone down the deaths by sparing Toad and Mossy in season 3 because they felt that the kids would be traumatised over killing off the jolly Toad and the cute mole. The decrease in malice is a likely reason Bully was felt to deserve a deathless, more cartoony defeat in the show.
Have a Gay Old Time: At one point, the warden makes this remark seeing the animals acting strangely, "Well I'll be blown!"
Heel-Face Turn: Spike, in Season 3. Originally The Mole, until he decides that he prefers Toad's friendship to Bully's intimidation.
Heroic Dog: Averted. Rollo is just dumb, and when he tries to be heroic, he gets scared within 2 seconds.
Rollo: Don't kill me! I'm just trying to be a guard dog! But I'm useless! Useless!!!
He fights alongside the animals against the rats in season 3, if that counts.
Hopeless War: Many animals lose hope fighting the rats in season 3.
Humiliation Conga: Scarface. After Fox defeats Scarface in single combat, he loses the respect of the other blue foxes, excluding Lady Blue and Ranger.
Bully didn't die in the animated series, but after the Farthing Wood animals fighting side-by-side with the White Deer kicked his butt, he wants to continue the fight. However, the baby weasel Cleo bit his tail off, so he loses the respect of the other rats and has to retreat from White Deer Park.
Humans Are Bastards: For the most part, except for the Warden and the Firefighters. Fox also notes how humans can be both bastards AND kindhearted when he tells how fox hunters go home to look after their horses and dogs after a day out trying to murder his kind.
The chicken farmer who opted to leave Bold be when he noticed he was crippled was, by the standards of the show, pretty merciful.
Horror Hunger: Considering at least half are carnivores, this hangs over the heads of the group and gets mentioned nearly once an episode. Held at bay by the Oath of Mutual Protection. at least until Kestrel.
I Am What I Am: Bold tries to get away from his 'proud heroic father', as he doesn't like being the big badass' son and wants to be his own fox. When he runs away from home, he still uses the ideals he learned back home, such as caring for each other and making arrangements with other animals. Other animals in the wild don't understand this nonsense.
Bold: Yes, with a crow. We have an arrangment.
Whisper: I've never heard a sillier thing my whole life!
I Just Want to Be Normal: Near the end of season one, many of the animals long to get back their normal lives and forget about the Oath. Too bad that all of them changed so much in each other's company that they will never be the same again.
In the beginning of season 2, they even run to Fox when trouble starts, even though they thought that the Oath had stopped.
Insufferable Genius: Owl can fall into this category at times, particularly in the first season. She constantly uses phrases or quotes famous philosophers but her 'wisdom' is nearly always unwanted or inappropriate for the situation, often resulting in the other animals telling her to simply shut up.
It's All About Me: The male pheasant grieves over the death of his mate for roughly two seconds before immediately despairing over how he'll be able to live without her constant servitude to him.
Jerkass: Mr. Pheasant, big time. Also, Trey the new royal stag from season 3, though later in the end, he toned down his attitude after he was saved by the animals and the deer from a fallen tree.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Adder is vicious, callous and unsympathetic, yet her later actions show that deep down she really is good-hearted. Over time her negative qualities subside a bit and she becomes more outwardly sentimental.
Loads and Loads of Characters: Let's be completists here. There was Fox, Badger, Mole, Owl, Kestrel, Toad, the Rabbits, the Hares, the Squirrels, the Fieldmice, the Voles, the Shrews, Adder, Sinuous, Weasel, the Pheasants, the Hedgehogs, the Newts, Vixen, Whistler, Speedy, Measley, Edible Frogs, Paddock, Mateless, White Stag, Trey, Scarface, Lady Blue, Bounder, Ranger, Charmer, Dreamer, Friendly, Bold, Whisper...and that's just the main characters.
Love Martyr: Measly the male weasel, he would do anything to get Weasel to love him back even if it means getting themselves into trouble.
Maternally Challenged: Weasel does not make a good mother to her kids in season 3. Whenever her playful kids get into trouble, she always put her blame on Measly.
Meaningful Name: All of the character have meaningful names. Fox, Adder, Badger and all other animals, that have been named after their own species is of course meaningful. Other characters have names related to their personality: Bold was a bold person, Friendly was (usually) friendly, Whisper got her name from the fact that she could hunt very quietly, Whistler makes a whistling noise when he flies, and so forth.
An example omitted from the cartoon was a mole named Mirthful; formerly known as Mateless, she becomes Mole's mate and is renamed by Badger in honour of her cheerful laugh.
Mickey Mousing: By the bucketloads. EVERY character had their own walking theme. Weasel's was a cheerily annoying flute, Adder's was a low xylophone, the rodents were a high xylophone, Toad's was some sort of bass brass, Mole was tinkly and like a triangle, and Whistler was of course whistling
My God, What Have I Done?: Pheasant's feelings in general when his wife is shot and roasted for dinner by the farmer, because she took up the sentry duty he lazily neglected.
Also Kestrel at the beginning of Season 2, when she kills a fieldmouse that turns out to have been one of her own travelling party.
And a little later on, when she injures the Warden's Cat as a result of a complete misunderstanding.
Also in Season 2, Owl, when she mistakenly believes that some information she'd withheld about the poachers has led to the death of Fox.
Never Say "Die": Averted—this was before the era where 'kill' was considered a dirty word. So in other words, it was used all the time. Same with words like 'blood', 'dead', 'death', and even outright death THREATS.
There's also Fox and Measly who both wink at the audience when they meet their mates-to-be, Vixen and Weasel, respectively.
Fox: Things are looking up...
No One Gets Left Behind: In season 3, the animals of Farthing Wood are determined to get the kidnapped animals back. They find out that they have been brought to another park, which is surrounded by a large wall.
Now You Tell Me: Weasel tells Fox what Scarface is up to... ...after Scarface had killed Dreamer.
Rain, Rain, Go Away: On two occasions, the animals were forced to seek shelter from heavy rain even though some of them (lookin' at you, Toad) were delighted by it - once in a barn, and once in a church. Both occasions ended badly, although the church less so.
Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Subverted eventually by Adder, although it takes a lot of character development to reach that point. Most of it is during the third season when she is with Sinuous, although it begins in season one. There is even more progression after he dies.
Resigned to the Call: When Badger nominates Fox to lead everyone, he responds with "Thanks a bundle, Badger."
Resistance Is Futile: It is said several times in season 3 that fighting the rats would be futile because there were so many of them. The animals really overestimated them, as the rats themselves were Harmless Villains.
Species Surname: Most of the original animals' names were simply their species; e.g., "Fox", "Badger" or "Weasel". Their descendants had original names, however. Naturally there were headaches caused when Colin Dann, the author of the series, wrote a prequel; the eventual explanation was that, as there were more animals about in the generation before that of the original book, they all had a Species Surname plus some sort of adjective, such as Lean Fox and Stout Fox.
The Load: Mole, who spends several episodes in season 1 getting lost from his greediness for worms, is almost captured by humans and gets into enough trouble that Badger or some other animal has to rescue him.
Turn Out Like His Father: No matter how much Bold tries to distance himself from Fox's legacy, he eventually comes to accept that he shares a lot of traits with him. In fact, Bold and Fox occasionally share each others lines!
What the Hell, Hero?: Bold. He causes trouble, puts his father and brother's life in danger, runs away after a well-deserved punishment and is determined to not return home, not even for the sake of his cubs. Fortunately, he finally reconsiders, but he essentially still keeps his vow to never step inside White Deer Park ever again.
What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Rats, with the eventual exception of Spike, are the villains of Season 3 (as well as the de facto choice of prey for the Farthing Wood predators in Seasons 1 and 2). The Shrike (or Butcher Bird) of Season 1 is depicted as a coarse and unpleasant character, in contrast with the nobler likes of similarly predatory birds Owl, Kestrel and Whistler (possibly due to his particular method of storing his prey - by impaling the carcasses on thorn bushes). Also, weasels here are comical and lovable, but to get rid of the slightly bigger stoat would, according to Fox, "be doing the park a favour."
World's Smallest Violin: While it's not a tiny violin, Rabbit does pick up a stick and mock-play sad violin music when Mr. Pheasant starts to get a bit theatrical about "when one has faced death as often as me" before leaving back to the farm to help Adder find her way to the others. True enough, Mr. Pheasant just lost his wife to the farmer's gun, but the general opinion of his established character is that he's all too concerned in himself.
Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Lady Blue, after she gets wounded. It was her own fault. She shouldn't have tried to kill the cubs of Fox and Vixen.