The Famous Five, Disneyfied

March 19, 2008

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From Reuters reporter Gavin Haycock: 

Enid Blyton ‘s Famous Five books are getting a Disney-style makeover.

The Disney Channel will launch an animated version of the Famous Five in Britain on May 5. English youngsters George , Julian, Anne and Dick become Anglo-Indian Jyoti, Max, Allie from California and Dylan, an 11-year-old who harbors dreams of being an international business tycoon. Timmy the dog keeps his name.

The original stories, written during the 1940s-1960s, tell of a simpler life when kids would hike or bicycle along a coastline for hours by themselves enjoying camping and picnics with non-alcoholic ginger beer. They would play and solve mysteries against a backdrop of caves, lighthouses and secret tunnels.

Now, Dylan brandishes a laptop. One child detective remarks that “cellphones are human kind’s greatest invention,” and gone are the quaint exclamations, “simply smashing,” “golly gosh” or “mummy.”

One episode involves a bootlegging operation with subliminal signals embedded in DVDs, which brainwash kids. The bootleggers are foiled by the kids, who manage to crack down on media piracy .

Crikey! Is this a case of Disney pushing its own digital anti-piracy agenda? “It’s complete coincidence. If we had thought of that we could have made some big points,” Steve Aranguren, vice president of Disney Channel’s global original programming division told Reuters.

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