All Creatures Great and Small: You've Got to Dream
January 14, 2021 12:48 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Channel 5's 2019 adaptation of James Herriot's book, now available in the US via PBS's "Masterpiece". In the first episode, James (Nicholas Ralph) sets out in 1937 for the Yorkshire Dales, seeking a job as a veterinarian with the prickly Siegfried Farnon.

It soon becomes clear that Farnon isn't thrilled with the idea of an assistant, and James requires the support of his housekeeper, Mrs. Hall (Anna Madely) to win and keep the job.

The books were previously adapted as a made-for-TV movie in 1975, and as a BBC series that ran for 7 seasons beginning in 1978. Critic Alan Sepinwall calls it "an incredible balm, and a welcome contrast not only to the dumpster fire of our own reality, but to a television landscape where too many shows, even the the great ones, are rooted in physical and emotional trauma."
posted by Ipsifendus (20 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
In an attempt not to swoon all over the main post, I'll do it down here in the comments section: this is a very relaxing show to watch. It's very warm and soothing and gorgeous to look at and everyone in it is wonderful. I'd move into this world in a heartbeat.
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:02 PM on January 14, 2021 [7 favorites]

I posted that I watched this on Facebook, and when a friend asked me how it is, I said "It's right about what you expect from a BBC/PBS Brit show - it's a warm cuppa tea and a biscuit."
posted by dnash at 1:38 PM on January 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

How does it compare to the original TV series?
posted by kyrademon at 1:39 PM on January 14, 2021

I think maybe it is a little more true to the books? I'm not sure, it has been a long time since I have read them or seen the old show. The biggest difference for me is that Callum Woodhouse is not as charming as Peter Davison, but I think it is mostly how Tristan is written in this one. If you enjoyed the original, you'll probably like this one. I certainly found it pleasant.
posted by Quonab at 2:18 PM on January 14, 2021

I'd agree that it hews a bit closer to the books. The humor is slightly less broad, and the characters are a bit more three dimensional, particularly Mrs. Hall...but it's not a radically different take at all.
posted by Ipsifendus at 2:23 PM on January 14, 2021

I could sit here and listen to an endless loop of characters saying, “Oh, another one?” but then I am anxious to see Diana Rigg.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:17 PM on January 14, 2021

I walked across England five years ago, right through the Yorkshire Dales, and it's just such a pleasure to see those green hillsides.

(Although it's not wild, Mr. Farnon. Hasn't been wild in millennia; those hillsides are full of grass and bracken because people cut down the trees and the sheep ate all the saplings.)
posted by suelac at 6:03 PM on January 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

I didn't realize this already premiered! I thought it was this weekend. My grandmother and I read these novels when I was little, and we loved them. Now that I'm a middle-aged old, I can't wait to watch them on screen.
posted by gladly at 6:32 PM on January 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

I blubbered like a baby when he delivered the calf. But, I also watch a lot of the veterinarian shows on NatGeo Wild, especially "The Incredible Dr. Pol", and I know Jan Pol would have hauled out his calf jack and had that little baby out without nearly so much struggle.

Kind of hard for me to let go of the original cast in my mind, especially Robert Hardy as Siegfried, but this was definitely the warm-hearted thing I needed.
posted by briank at 6:35 PM on January 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've seen the previews, and to me the person playing the love interest in the new version does not compare favorably to Carol Drinkwater as Helen Alderson Herriot in the 1978 show. I'm sure the modern woman is a lovely actress, but Drinkwater was one of the first celebrity crushes my ten-year-old self had, and that is just a feeling that 52-year-old me is never going to experience again.
posted by seasparrow at 8:13 PM on January 14, 2021

This was very nice, sort of Call the Midwife in tone but with moderate cow peril instead of thalidomide.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:02 PM on January 15, 2021 [10 favorites]

I haven't seen any previous adaptations of the books, but this first episode was grand, soothing and pretty and just the antidote to this dreary, tense January we're currently weathering. Please tell me the names of all the animals and cure them of their woes, thank you. Who among us does not wish simply for the opportunity to get slightly too drunk at the neighborhood pub and come home to feed the cats?
posted by the primroses were over at 11:30 AM on January 16, 2021 [5 favorites]

agree it feels like Call the Midwife and ChuraChura, thank you for "moderate cow peril" - for some reason that phrase speaks to me and I expect it will become part of the household lexicon.
posted by pointystick at 8:35 PM on January 17, 2021 [5 favorites]

I was an avid fan of the previous tv series and I'd say this is very good. Once you get used to the different actors, it's very similar but better production values, and the animals are a joy.
posted by The otter lady at 10:17 PM on January 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

I feel like this is the books in précis form but I haven’t seen the previous BBC tv version in decades and it’s been just as long since I read the books. The stories do come right back though. Does Helen show up so quickly in the books?

Regardless, a perfect Sunday night show. Beautiful and very subdued.
posted by GuyZero at 10:51 PM on January 17, 2021

Mrs. Hall is a bigger presence, but also younger and more elegant in this version. You can imagine her and Siegfried having a thang. Not so in the previous version.

And the actor who plays that odious tick Leslie in The Durrells in Corfu is not an adequate substitute for Peter Davison as Tristan *swoon*. So declares me-as-a-kid.

But it's very, very enjoyable.

Some nice articles about the animals: 1, 2. Tricki-Woo's real name is Derek, and the bull is a cuddly sweetheart.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 8:26 AM on January 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

oh my god, Orange Dinosaur Slide, thanks to those article I just realized that Eeyore is named for the sound donkeys make!!!!!!!
posted by ChuraChura at 8:38 AM on January 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Well, James is plenty dishy in this version. It's very hard to replace Robert Hardy as Siegfried; it took me ages to appreciate him in the 1st series. I think the casting is quite good and seamless, in a way. I'm remembering how nice it was to have all the animals and veterinary stuff. Should have been released months ago; this is absolutely perfect for PandemicTime.
posted by theora55 at 4:27 PM on January 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Wow, thanks to Orange Dinosaur Slide's link, I now know that they crew had two birthing cows set up to film! I really do think they're doing an excellent job having the animals in naturalistic settings and looking like they're being examined.
posted by gladly at 7:43 AM on January 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

I sat down with a tea and a plate of ginger snaps to watch this.

I love the settings, the fog is really rolling, the brickwalls really glimmerig of frost etc. The animals are picture perfect.

However, from my memories of reading the books, and watching the 1978 adaptation - these are my gripes.

Mrs Hall is too young and not disapproving enought, from my recollaction.

The introduction of Helen is very early compared to the books (as i remember it) - reading it in my 20s, I remember the description of how Helen walked a sick dog i the corridor of the clinic, and mr Harriot had a problem to watch the dog's gait, because he was pre occopied with following Helen's gait from behind.

All in all, I will probably watch it anyway. Just because I love the setting, and the mission of the characters. Will it be memorable for me? Probably not - the 1978 version and the books I read soon there after are to well embedded in my mind.

For people unaquanted with the originals, this will surely be a great series.
posted by Rabarberofficer at 2:06 PM on February 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

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