Service of I Love All Creatures Great and Small

January 31st, 2022

Categories: Actors, Animals, Charm, Vet

I fully expected not to like the remake of the PBS series “All Creatures Great and Small,” because I so loved the original that I saw in the late 1970s. But I love it! And I’m thrilled that we can expect to enjoy seasons three and four.

In the day I’d also read the books, written by veterinarian James Alfred Wight under the pseudonym James Herriot. The first in a series of eight was “If Only They Could Talk,” published in 1970. “All Creatures” was a compilation of a few titles for the American market. The series has sold over 60 million copies.

“All Creatures” takes place in the Yorkshire Dales from the 1930s Depression to the 1950s. The actor Rachel Shenton, who plays Helen Alderson,  James’s love interest, [and wife eventually], is natural and understated, pictured in oversize overalls pitching hay and mucking around her family farm. No glamour girl here. Her straight arrow, clean, no artifice persona is representative of the show and what’s so appealing about it, the other characters, the sets, countryside and animals.

Rachel Shenton as Helen Alderson

Harriet Sherwood, arts and culture correspondent for the guardian.com wrote: “American viewers are enthralled by its bucolic setting, the small, everyday dramas and its old-fashioned sense of community. And, of course, the animals.” She wrote that the series “has become a surprising hit in the home of fast-paced thrillers and warring dynasties.” Like other British shows like Downton Abbey and Bake-Off it has “shown US audiences that sex, violence, celebrities and swearing are not essential to success,” wrote Sherwood.

The actor who plays Siegfried Farnon, Samuel West, said in a podcast, “It’s strangely revolutionary to be making a series about people trying to be kind to each other.” Executive producer Colin Callendar told Sherwood “A combination of the pandemic and the very uncivil society that we live in the US has meant the simple values of community, friendship and kindness have got lost in a very ugly political debate. The show serves as a relief from the stresses and strains that people are feeling right now.” It covers human frailties and flaws that exist in every decade and in most societies.

Guardian reporter Mark Lawson, who writes about television, said: “It goes back at least to the 1960s. British viewers who find British television too cosy have craved the edge of American television, and American viewers who find American television too edgy have craved the cosiness of British TV.”

Dice and slice the reasons I and others like it as much as you want: It’s a joy to look forward to watching the program on PBS at 9 PM eastern on Sunday night. What are some of your favorite series regardless of subject and country of origin?

Callum Woodhouse as Tristan Farnan, left, and Nicholas Ralph as James Herriot


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14 Responses to “Service of I Love All Creatures Great and Small”

  1. ASK Said:

    A recent favorite is “Seaside Hotel,” in reality, a Danish soap opera about a group of well-heeled Danes who spend their summers at this somewhat remote (at least by our standards) but cozy establishment. It’s in Danish with sub-titles and I’ve been so intrigued by it, I subscribed to PBS Passport program so I could watch all the episodes. The only problem: I can’t nip off to the kitchen and fix a snack because I can’t follow the dialogue: I don’t understand Danish!

    One British series I don’t like is “The Fall,” a little too edgy with an empowered Gillian Anderson playing an unbelievably icy chief constable/investigator who spars with an equally unbelievable serial killer who makes a living as a sympathetic psychologist/counselor to abused women. Brit audiences apparently loved it.

  2. BC Said:

    We adore that show too. Like most programs on PBS.

    Last nite, was an hour Program about the life of Lowell Thomas. We enjoy the History channel, veterinarian programs, and good shows on Turner Classic Movies.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    I started to watch “Seaside Hotel,” but it didn’t grab me. I should have given it more time. I’m not on PBS Passport but suspect you can put an episode on hold while you get a snack if it’s like other streaming services.

    I’ve never seen “The Fall.”

    I have friends who subscribe to every streaming service and I can’t keep up with the one I’ve got–Netflix. Everyone is talking about “The Gilded Age,” which I’ll miss as it’s on HBO.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    BC,

    Turner Classic Movies is often wonderful. I also admit to being a fan of “Law and Order,” and “Law and Order SVU,” as well as “Blue Bloods.”

  5. lucrezia Said:

    When the series ends, tune in to “The Incredible Dr. Pol” who with his knowledgeable staff, treat all manner of suffering animals, brought in from the wild or as pets.

    Not everyone enjoys a steady diet of mayhem, witness the Science and History Channels. Surf the unknown, and one finds all manner of exotica. Last night, in a funk since none of my favorite/semi-favorite teams have made the Super Bowl, surfing brought me to “Sunday Night Cartoons” a more than welcome relief.

    That said, violence has its merits, such as in a favorite, “Law & Order.” In summation, there’s plenty of something out there for eveeryone, and that’s the way it should be!

    This is not to knock PBS, it’s a fine channel, but the commercial “messages” have reached a point that ad avoidance has plummeted, and “adventure” is to be found elsewhere.

  6. TC Said:

    Recalling original series of “All Creatures….” of a wonderfully kind and gentle vet [true to the book story] it seems the updated version may be a bit “edgier” and graphic [with no link to the best selling book of the same title]. We still prefer PBS too.

  7. Moustapha Bin As-Lip Said:

    Yes, seaside hotel is a real gem, isn’t it? And when you get past about episode 3, everything changes and everyone is jumping into bed with each other! It goes to show how series’ like Baptiste are so well-written, while the American versions such as Law and Order just pile cliché on top of cliché, with every script sounding like it was generated out of the same computer, relying on massive moustaches for human interest!

    If you like All Creatures, for understated (and with not one contrived gratuitous murder in sight) how about Indian Doctor, Last Tango and Call the Midwife!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    TC,

    I adored “An Affair to Remember” with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr and although I’m not as familiar with the original Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer version, the remake stood on its own. I think the same about the “All Creatures” remake.

    I suppose the current Siegfried Farnon character may be harder on his brother than he was in the book or first series and the housekeeper in the originals was insignificant while she’s crucial to the one we see today. I don’t mind the differences.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I fall asleep watching Seinfeld re-runs on Netflix. They still make me giggle. And like you, I like “Law and Order” when I can find it on TV.

    The PBS “messages” give a person a chance to brush teeth or wash dishes and at least they come at the beginning and end of an episode, not every few minutes.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Moustapha,

    I love Jerry Orbach in “Law & Order” and the series in general and like you, I am fond of “Indian Doctor,” “Last Tango” and “Call the Midwife.” I was also riveted to “Baptiste” and currently, “Bodyguard,” though I can only watch it in patches and not late at night. I have a crush on “Lupin” and was taken by “Broadchurch.”

  11. Amanda Ripanykhazova Said:

    Yes, that’s the problem with cord cutting, isnt it? There is no incentive to give users any more than one PBS channel. So (especially if you havent got a Tivo) you have to forego most unusual quality TV series such as Vienna Blood or Death in Paradise and, -except on Sunday mornings, – almost all news analysis.

    Having managed to stop viewers thinking too deeply about what they are watching/doing, it really wasnt surprising that those viewers elected Donald Trump president!

    I am also getting a bit sick of that same endlessly repeated cruise-chief and cellular phone service messages

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Amanda,

    Listening to the cruise chief is better than Sy Simms’s daughter. I’ve been tempted to take one of those river cruises while I’ve never had a yen for a giant cruise and during the pandemic am tempted by none. I never missed “Death in Paradise” with the first two chief detectives but lost interest with subsequent ones. I loved “The Durrelles.”

    In the NY Metro area we have access to three PBS stations–NYC, LI and NJ. A popular series like “All Creatures” runs on two. In addition to Sunday night you can see it on WLIW on Monday night.

  13. Kathleen Said:

    We recently landed onto “The Indian Doctor” that shows the problems of how people from other countries face problems. So many countries, like France with the Algerians, UK with Indian and Pakistanis and today recently many Americans are attacking fellow Asian citizens.

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Kathleen,

    I admire how calmly and elegantly the characters in “Indian Doctor” take the discrimination and accusations they are faced with. If they both weren’t so attractive and smart I’d hate to think.

    There are communities that treat fellow Americans just the same. If your grandmother didn’t “summer here,” you might as well walk around town with guns a’blazing yelling obscenities. The reception to your arrival would be just as welcoming.

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