DG calls it “mumsy”—like there’s something wrong with that. I call it must-see TV.
If you’re brand new to All Creatures Great and Small, the Masterpiece Theatre series based on James Herriot’s enduring and beloved books about life as a country vet in the Yorkshire dales in the early to mid-20th century, there’s a brief recap here.
I love All Creatures, in all its variations—books, movie, 1970s TV series, and the current revamp. I do have my critiques of the new series. It compresses and collapses parts of the story, which I more or less forgive—the books are long and the animal health scares do repeat themselves. The new series focuses more attention on pets and racehorses, less on farm animals, but there’s plenty of all of them to go around. The farmers are also less brusque in this production; they don’t hide their good hearts as well as they do in the books and the earlier series, where James had to suffer more and longer to earn their respect. I’ve gotten used to Mrs. Hall the housekeeper being youngish and so, so lovely, but I miss the matronly Mrs. Hall, stooped over and stomping around in her apron—she was awesome. It’s OK to be old!
This production also injects the mores of the present into the past. Example: to my recollection (which may be wrong but I don’t think so), the books do not have a heartwarming story about a young Jewish evacuee bunking up with the dogs, cats, and vets at Skeldale House, teaching them about Hanukkah. It bugs me that others stories from the books were displaced by this one, which is a little too sweet and simplistic.
But these are cavils. All Creatures Great and Small is good storytelling, it’s stunningly beautiful, it’s lovely to knit to, and I was absolutely thrilled to binge the whole third series in a couple of happy evenings. I’ll go back to the first series and watch it all over again, with nary a neigh. I mean: Fair Isle vests and good-looking young people, come on!
Right now the third series of All Creatures Great and Small is airing on PBS stations in the US, and all three series are streaming on PBS Passport.
P.S. There will be a fourth series.
How to enter?
Step 1: Sign up for MDK emails, right here. If you’re already signed up, you’re all set. We have a new option for texting, so when you sign up for those, you’ll get a coupon code good for 10% off your next MDK order.
Step 2: In memory of Dame Diana Rigg and in honor of Tricki Woo the Pekingese, leave a comment naming the most spoiled animal you’ve known or heard of. (Tricki Woo is an acceptable answer. He was the spoiled-est.) Leave your answer in a comment.
Deadline for entries: Sunday, January 29, 11:59 PM Central time. We’ll draw a random winner from the entries. Winner will be notified by email.