All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: Mrs. Pumphrey

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

I apologize for not posting last weekend. The family came first.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Every town or neighborhood has an older person who might be seen as oddball or weird but is accepted for who they are.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name) Mrs. Pumphrey (first played by the late Diana Rigg and then by Patricia Hodge) is a wealthy widow without children. In place of human descendants is her beloved Pekingese, Tricki Woo. Trickie is one spoiled dog.

This is to the chagrin of James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph), who is referred to as “Uncle James”. He is the veterinarian of choice when it comes to taking care of her furbaby. While James tries to convince Mrs. Pumphrey to feed Trickie healthier food, it takes a while for the suggestion to sink in.

To sum it up: Mrs. Pumphrey may be a little too indulgent of her dog, but it is out of love. She is a generous person who gives to those who she cares for and believes in sharing her emotional wealth with others.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: Hugh Hulton

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

If we are lucky, we find the one we are meant for when we are young. But as romantic as that ideal is, being with one’s childhood sweetheart forever is not always possible.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name) Hugh Hulton (Matthew Lewis) is a wealthy landowner in Yorkshire in the 1930s. Growing up with Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton), their relationship changes as adulthood approaches. Youthful games turn into mature love. An engagement follows and it seems that their future is sewn up.

But just because we make plans does not mean that they turned out exactly how we want them to be. The arrival of James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph), the new assistant of Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West) develops a crush on Helen. That crush turns into affection, which Helen eventually returns. Instead of following through on her promise to marry Hugh, Helen follows her heart.

It would not be surprising if Hugh used his power and influence to wreak havoc on James and Helen. Instead, he accepts that Helen has found love with another and moves on with his life.

To sum it up: Hugh could have been easily written as the wealthy baddy who uses his power to get Helen back and take revenge on James. Instead, he takes it like a man.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: Tristan Farnon

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

When we are young, we are often young and stupid. We think that we know everything. Maturity and learning that you don’t know everything sometimes requires a few mess-ups along the way.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name) Tristan Farnon (Callum Woodhouse) is the much younger brother of local veterinarian Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West) in 1930s Yorkshire. Like many young men, he is foolhardy, does not always think through his decisions, and is more about the present than the future.

He is the yin to James Herriot‘s (Nicholas Ralph) yang. James is serious, quiet, and takes his duties seriously. They are a nice balance to one another. Tristan brings out the fun in James while James encourages Tristan to put a little more effort into his job.

As the calendar moves on, he starts to grow up and wants his brother’s approval. But Siegfried is very hard to please. He has no expectations that Tristan will be up to snuff. When Siegfried makes a mistake and blames his brother (and is eventually proven wrong), their relationship starts to change. Siegfried also smudges Tristan’s academic record, which does not go over well when he finds out. When they finally get to talking, the elder Farnon reveals that he was jealous of the easy relationship Tristan had with their late father.

What he does not know is that further change is around the corner. World War II may force Tristan to make decisions that he may never have considered before.

To sum it up: Being young, fearless, and carefree is great. But it doesn’t last forever. Growing up comes whether we like it or not. Like all of us at that age, Tristan makes a few mistakes. But he does eventually start to mature and become an adult.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: Helen Alderson

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

There are two ways to get through life: complain endlessly or just get through it. Though complaining has its place, it takes much less time and energy to just deal with the cards that life has dealt you.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name), Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton) comes from a long line of Yorkshire farmers. Since the death of her mother, Helen has both taken the duties of farming and being the surrogate mother to her much younger sister Jenny (Imogene Clawson). Born and raised in this world, she is practical, intelligent, and just does what needs to be done. She is more than capable of getting behind the wheel of a tractor or rangling an unruly animal.

That does not mean that Helen is a tomboy who despises wearing dresses and putting on makeup. When the occasion arises, she is just as comfortable in a dress and heels as she is in overalls.

She is also the object of affection for two different men. When we originally meet Helen, she has been with Hugh Hulton (Matthew Lewis) for quite a few years. They have grown up together. The next natural step in their relationship is the ringing of wedding bells. Hugh comes from a wealthy family and would be able to provide for Helen and her family.

But there is someone else waiting in the wings. James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) is a newcomer to the area. He nearly instantly develops a crush on Helen and is devastated that she is spoken for. Though he respects the fact that she is in a relationship, James never wavers in his love for Helen. Eventually, Helen and Hugh go their separate ways. It takes some time, but James does eventually propose. She accepts and all appears well for their future.

But neither knows that World War II is waiting in the wings, threatening to turn their world upside down.

To sum it up: Though Helen is the romantic lead, she is not defined by the two men who want to be with her. She is her own woman who can clearly take care of herself and her family. It is that levelheadedness that allows modern women to relate to her but still keeps her grounded in the period that she lives in.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: Siegfried Farnon

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Every boss has their own unique eccentricities and personality. How their employees get along or don’t get along with said boss comes down to chemistry and understanding one another.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name), Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West) is the owner and proprietor of a veterinary practice in Yorkshire in the 1930s. Though he does well with the animals, humans are another story.

Siegfried is not shy about sharing his opinion, imperious, and quick to judge others. When James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) arrives at his doorstep, applying for an assistant position, Siegfried is quick to dismiss James. But Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley) convinces him to give James another chance.

Though he may seem like he is a little out there, Siegfried has a good heart. He cares deeply about his patients and loathes animal abuse of any sort. He does eventually come to respect James, but it takes some time. He also is a widower who has been taking care of his wild younger brother Tristan (Callum Woodhouse).

Siegfried wants his brother to succeed but doesn’t quite trust that he will. He even goes so far as to smudge Tristan’s grades, which does not go over well. After that blows over, he reveals to his brother that he was jealous of the easy relationship Tristan had with their late father.

In the romantic arena, he has not been focused on his work since his wife died. There was the possibility of a relationship with divorcee Diana Brompton (Dorothy Atkinson), but it fizzled out before it had the chance to begin. There is also a spark of something with Mrs. Hall, but it has yet to develop into anything worth talking about.

To sum it up: Siegfried is a character, to say the least. He is a challenge to both the reader and the people around him. He pushes buttons as only he can. But he is also a good man with a good heart who cares deeply for the people who care for him.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: Mrs. Hall

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

For most of human history, women have been contained the roles of wives, mothers, and housekeepers. That does not mean, however, that within their own homes, they are powerless.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name) Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley), whose first name we later learn is Audrey, has been the housekeeper for Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West) for a number of years. In addition to cooking and housework, she helps him to run his veterinary practice.

Mrs. Hall is a widow whose son has maintained a distant relationship with his mother. Though she is a figurative mother to Siegfried’s younger brother Tristan (Callum Woodhouse) and assistant Vet James Herriot Nicholas Ralph), she would prefer to be in her real son’s life. Balancing her out is Siegfried, who is the figurative father in the home, creating a unique chosen family.

She is calm, easygoing, and in control, while Siegfried is passionate, a little out there and a force of nature. Mrs. Hall is the one who convinces her boss (who at this point is more her friend/confidante) to give James a chance after he nearly botches his interview.

Though she has been married previously, that does not mean that romance is out of the question. A local man takes an interest in her. There is also a spark of something with Siegfried. But with World War II on the horizon, a new love may be the last thing on her mind.

To sum it up: Mrs. Hall is the glue of that household. Without her, the men who reside there would be hungry, dirty, smelly, and not able to do their jobs properly. Though she dwells within the traditional realm, her strength, warmth, and cool head makes her more than what she seems to be.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: James Herriot

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

One of the first great adventures as an adult is our first job. That experience (at least from my perspective) forever stays with us, regardless of how long our resumes become.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name), James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) is a newly licensed veterinarian who is eager to prove his worth in 1930s England. He arrives at the home and practice of Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West), hoping that Dr. Farnon will hire him.

Dr. Farnon is quite a character and would test the patience of the most understanding of people. He nearly goes home without a job, but the housekeeper, Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley) convinces her boss to give James a chance.

He is also helped by Siegfried’s carefree and sometimes less than practical younger brother Tristan (Callum Woodhouse). He is the yin to James’s yang in terms of temperament, perspective, and professional outlook.

Over the course of his employment, James becomes a respected veterinarian, appreciated by his colleagues and the community. Though he has the option of returning home to Scotland, he stays in Yorkshire. He is also infatuated with Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton). But Helen is spoken for. Hugh Holton (Matthew Lewis) is a local boy who is the son of the landed gentry. Eventually, Helen and Hugh go their separate ways, opening the door for James’s wish to become reality. When we last saw James, he had it all. A solid career, a fiance, and a future.

But World War II is on the horizon. He doesn’t know it yet, but everything that he knows is about to change.

To sum it up: James is an everyman. He doesn’t want much. He wants a career he loves, a family to come home to, and a place in this world to call his own. He has all that and so much more. But before he can get there, he has to go through a few growing pains along the way.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

Best New TV Shows of 2021

*I apologize for the delay in posting. I should have written this before New Year’s Eve.

  1. Loki: Tom Hiddleston shines once more as Loki, the complicated immortal who has become much more than the standard antagonist. Forced into new circumstances, he goes on a journey that forever changes him.
  2. The Wonder Years: This reboot of the beloved 1980’s/1990’s series is just as poignant as its predecessor. The choice of making the main character and his family African-American only adds to its relevancy.
  3. Law & Order: Organized Crime: This spinoff of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit starring Chris Meloni as returning Detective Elliot Stabler is a thrilling and spine tingling hour of television.
  4. Ordinary Joe: This new NBC series is the story of one man and three distinct life paths before him. Told concurrently and using different colors for each decision, is is a reminder of how one choice can affect the rest of our lives.
  5. Impeachment: American Crime Story: The latest chapter of this long running F/X series focuses on the affair between Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein) and former President Clinton (Clive Owen) and the impeachment trial that followed. Instead of focusing on Clinton, the story is about the women who were directly affected by his less than honorable actions.
  6. WandaVision: This first foray by the MCU via DisneyPlus is everything it promised to be. Wanda Maxmioff and Vision (Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) are living in family sitcom wedded bliss. But it not what it seems to be. With a star making turn by Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness, this series is a must see.
  7. All Creatures Great and Small: Ths unexpectedly Masterpeice/PBS series is adorable and charming. A rookie vetenarian starts his career in rural Yorkshire in the 1930’s and grows in unexpected ways. The new season starts tonight at 9PM ET/ 8PM CT.
  8. Atlantic Crossing: This second Masterpeice/PBS series tells the story of the friendship/supposed affair between Franklin Delanor Roosevelt and Crown Princess Martha of Sweden during World War II. Forgotten for nearly a century, this tale of one woman’s drive to save her nation is truly worth watching.
  9. The Book of Boba Fett: This latest entry into the Star Wars universe from DisneyPlus just premiered on December 29th. Though only two episodes have been released, it is already asking questions that are begging for answers.
  10. Behind Her Eyes: Based on the book by Sarah Pinborough, this six part Netflix series about a married man’s affair with his secretary has a delicious ending that is jaw dropping and completely out of left field. Few endings have wowed me as this did.
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All Creatures Great and Small Pilot Review

I don’t know about anyone else, but my first job out of college was eye opening.

The new Masterpiece/PBS series, All Creatures Great and Small, based on the books by James Herriot, premiered last night.

In 1930’s Britain, James Herriot (played by newcomer Nicholas Ralph) is a young man with one dream: to be a veterinarian. All hope seems lost until he gets a letter from Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West). Farnon is a veterinarian living and working in rural Yorkshire. James accept the job as Farnon’s new assistant.

His first meeting with his new boss is an eye opening one. Farnon is well, eccentric, to say the least. James is young, eager, and just a little green. Though he is not without allies. Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley) is fully aware of her employer’s nature and encourages him to give James a shot. There is also Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton), a local woman who works on her family’s farm and could possibly be a love interest.

This is not the first time these books have been adapted for television. They were previously adapted in the late 1970’s and late 1980’s. This is my first introduction to these characters as I had not seen the previous series or read the books. To be perfectly honest, I was not sure if I would enjoy the program. I am glad I was wrong. It is charming and a nice way to begin the week anew.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

All Creatures Great and Small air on PBS Sunday nights at 9PM.

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