Please feel free to comment on my review.
Yeah to start off, why is the episode called ‘Bulldog Breed’? I don’t recall seeing any bulldogs featured in the episode. This episode should’ve been called ‘Pig Breed’, hence why I’m using the photo above.
This episode was adapted by Brian Finch from the ‘James Herriot’ books and was directed by Peter Moffatt. As well as ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘All Creatures’, Peter Moffatt also directed ‘Eastenders’ episodes.
By the way, the last DVD disc for Series 1 of ‘All Creatures’ contains the last three episodes of the thirteen-episode season. This does contrast with the early discs for Series 1 having two episodes each.
The episode begins with a young lady visiting the vets’ surgery. James sees to her and the young lady reveals to him that she’s pregnant and wants to be examined. Um, okay. Very odd to ask that at the vet’s.
But of course, it turns out to be a misunderstanding. Siegfried enters and directs the young lady to the place where she should be to see about her condition. She has her giggle with Siegfried in the corridor.
That’s quite a funny scene to watch, especially when it turns out the vet’s and the new GP’s place are close together in the same area of Darrowby. James must have been very embarrassed about it all. 😀
The episode features the return of Peter Davison as Tristan. Yeah, I was expecting him to come in much later in the episode considering he had to take his exams. But no, he’s in this episode very early.
Tristan comes back from doing his exams at school in Edinburgh. Siegfried and James ask Tristan how the exams went. He says, “Alright.” Sounds like Oswald from ‘Jeeves & Wooster’, Series 1, Episode 1.
When James and Tristan have a pint in the Drovers together, it’s revealed that Tristan may not have done well in his exams. For one thing, he kept hiccupping in the oral exam which must have been bad.
He also lost the key of someone’s car when it was put down his back to stop him hiccupping. I’m not sure how that would have worked with a key in his back and how Tristan would have lost it indefinitely.
When James and Tristan return home, Siegfried gives his little brother a scare when the father of a certain young lady he met called earlier. Tristan panics when the young lady’s dad seems to be coming.
But it turns out to be a prank on Siegfried’s part as James discovers. I like how James and Siegfried discuss Tristan. James believes Siegfried to be very fond of his brother. Siegfried denies this of course.
Tristan also gets to meet Christopher Brown as Richard Carmody, who previously appeared in ‘Sleeping Partners’. Carmody is a brilliant veterinary student who comes to have practical experience.
Carmody was initially hired by Siegfried to cover for Tristan in his absence whilst taking exams. Tristan takes a dislike to Carmody. He even makes fun of his surname as he says it sounds like a comedy show.
It was surreal watching this with Peter Davison and Christopher Brown working opposite each other. This is considering they would work again years later in the ‘Doctor Who’ adventure, ‘Enlightenment’.
Maybe this is where it begins for the Fifth Doctor taking a distrust to the Eternals especially with Mariner. 😀 I like how this episode develops Carmody as a character before he leaves by the tale’s end.
Throughout the episode, Carmody doesn’t really interact with the main ‘All Creatures’ cast on a social level. He has a snooty attitude to life and believes that country vet practice is easy to handle for his training.
It was interesting to discover from Helen that Carmody knows Richard Edmundson. James is disgruntled about this, as he believed they had heard the last of Edmundson after Helen got married.
But anyway with Carmody, he talks in a language that doesn’t sound like English. This is especially when he talks about veterinary approaches which Tristan can’t understand a word of as he chats to him.
The turning point in Carmody’s character comes when James seeks an opportunity to teach him what it’s like to work in a country practice. And it is when they visit Stan Richards as Mr. Dent’s farm of pigs.
James and Tristan had to deal with Mr. Dent’s sow beforehand in ‘Calf Love’. James gets Carmody to do some injections on a bunch of piglets inside Dent’s farm. Carmody takes on the challenge willingly.
I admire Carmody for braving something he’s never done before. He could’ve taken his jacket off first before doing the job. But he does this relentlessly when the piglets becomes troublesome and difficult.
He even remarks enjoying the experience in his muddy state. Gosh, how he’s ruined his fine clothes. But James becomes even meaner to Carmody when he gets him to do another job on Mr. Dent’s sow.
Yeah, James does get to be a little cruel to Carmody, especially since his experience with the sow was hard work. But Carmody has a good go when he tames Dent’s sow and gets knocked down three times.
Carmody returns to Skeldale House, has a bath and becomes a changed man afterwards. He even has a drink with the three male ‘All Creatures’ regulars and he becomes relaxed having learned his lesson.
I do like how the Carmody storyline was handled in the two ‘All Creatures’ episodes he was in. Christopher Brown’s performance is excellent. Carmody seems be less snooty by the episode’s end.
The episode also features another appearance of Ivor Salter as Gobber Newhouse. Okay, I haven’t really mentioned this character a lot in my previous reviews as he didn’t really have a lot to contribute.
But in this episode, it’s revealed that Gobber is a local bully and wife-beater. He seemed to come across to me a jovial person even in a bad taste. Maybe his heavy drinking caused him to beat his wife.
It would also be remiss of me not to mention that Ivor Slater starred in three ‘Doctor Who’ stories before and after ‘All Creatures’. He did ‘The Space Museum’, ‘The Myth Makers’ and ‘Black Orchid’ in ‘Doctor Who’.
Gobber Newhouse gets his just desserts and a lesson when he steps on a rusty nail. Not sure why Siegfried and James had him in the vet’s surgery first. Maybe it was awfully painful for Gobber to walk.
This episode features John Grieve as Harry Allinson, the new GP in Darrowby. He only appears in one episode of this series but he gets to teach Gobber his lesson by attending to his injured foot with care.
This ‘care’ by Dr. Allinson includes giving Gobber an injection not to his foot but behind his…behind. I’m glad they didn’t actually show that to an explicit degree. Allinson questions Gobber about his wife here.
I enjoyed the romance stuff featured in this episode between James and Helen. The two are setting up their new home in their own bedroom in Skeldale House. The process doesn’t go according to plan.
For one thing, James was meant to purchase a chair for their room. Instead he purchases things like ‘a ship in a bottle’ and a bunch of Atlases from a certain seller. These Atlas books even smell bad as well.
I like how Helen takes it calmly and gently mocks James over the purchases he’s made when he should be buying a chair. At some point, Helen says how much she loves James despite the faults that he has.
The scenes where James and Helen are in bed were nice to watch. There’s a peculiar shot where Helen has her head on James’ as a pillow. Yeah. That happens. This is when they’re interrupted in that night.
James has two phone calls from Frank Metcalfe the farmer and his neighbour Eli Bagley regarding the progress of certain cows. James has her romantic moments with Helen in bed as they get interrupted.
I liked that moment when Helen seems to be fast asleep and James wants to have another kissing session with her when he comes back. He sounds disappointed but it turns out Helen was teasing him.
Going back to Frank Metcalfe, James works with this young, hard-working farmer who has come from the city to tend to his herd of cows. James Lister is very good as Frank Metcalfe during the TV episode.
Unfortunately, after a promising start with his cows, Frank Metcalfe’s herd becomes diagnosed with brucellosis. This is an infectious disease that’s caused by a type of bacteria that affects a cow’s calving.
Rachel Davies (who was in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘State of Decay’) guest stars as Mary, Frank Metcalfe’s wife in the episode. Like her husband, Mary too becomes concerned about the condition of the cows when they become diagnosed with brucellosis.
There’s also Tom Harrison as Eli Bagley, Frank Metcalfe’s neighbour who seems to provide a certain ‘cure’ for the herd of cows. At first, it seems to work according to the two phone calls James had at night.
But in the next day or so, it seems to make things worse as cows die off one by one. It’s a pretty depressing scenario. James can’t rectify or find a cure for Frank Metcalfe’s cows and it seems he’s out of business.
The episode ends on a rather downbeat note. James and Helen receive a visit from Frank Metcalfe who tells them that he’s selling the farm. The last shot for the episode is of Metcalfe’s farm being sold.
‘Bulldog Breed’ has been an enjoyable episode to watch. Despite its downbeat ending, there were certain parts that I enjoyed including Richard Carmody’s story and James and Helen’s romance scenes.
‘Bulldog Breed’ rating – 8/10
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