All Creatures Great and Small
The first three seasons of "All Creatures Great & Small" ran 1978-1980; then the show vanished for 8 years, except for two specials in the interim. Its fourth season aired in January, 1988, quickly followed by three more specials before the series ended in 1990. The last season began the series' second life, accounting for why it has greatly-improved production quality, and why the whole cast looks older. Dr. James Herriot's wife Helen is played in the latter seasons by a new actress (Bellingham, who replaced Drinkwater). The story - or vignettes - are largely the same, however, with Herriot (Christopher Timothy again), Siegfried Farnon (Hardy), and his brother Tristan (Davison). Time has passed; the latter setting is postwar England, and each character finds significant adjustments must be made.
Each season is as well-written and charming as those in the previous seasons. The rural, agricultural, and veterinary focus of the shows strike a resonant chord with average English viewers, particularly Britons in Yorkshire, although that focus might be less interesting or meaningful to Americans. But anyone who delights in sophisticated, high-quality British television comedy will enjoy the new, enthralling direction in which each character has gone.
In an early episode, young Dr. Harriot is approached in the local pub by a farmer interrupting his day-end meditation by asking the indulgent young vet about a sick pig. Describing the symptoms, the farmer gives Harriot enough to make a diagnosis and recommend a cure are quickly. "Ah!" breathes the relieved farmer; "I knew you were a pig man! You have 'Pig' written all over you!"
We also see the return of ultra-spoiled Pekinese pooch "Tricky-Woo," whose aging owner's generosity toward the three vets in Harriot and the Farnons' practice is almost a source of embarrassment, and certainly an impediment to their persuading the silly, kind-hearted woman to stop killing her dog with too much food - and of the wrong kind.
Harriot's contented village life, hard work, and wise interaction with animals and people who live near him continue to fascinate audiences, who might have find it hard to believe they've found the kind of show Hollywood pleads "can't" be made, or can't be popular" It has material at once very funny, heart-warming, instructive, clean, and captivating. The only bad part is seeing the show end.
Based on four autobiographical novels by James Herriot
Lynda Bellingham, Carol Drinkwater, Christopher Timothy, Robert Hardy, Peter Davison, John
WWII country veterinarian in rural England
English Reviewer's Name:
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