‘Dog Days’ (TV)

‘DOG DAYS’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

dog days all creatures

It wasn’t very long when my parents and I continued watching ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ in the second episode of the series. This is where everything came together, especially with the main cast.

It’s also the episode that would introduce me to the actor that I would enjoy seeing in years to come – Peter Davison. Back in 2003, ‘All Creatures’ was the first time I watched Peter Davison in anything.

‘Dog Days’ was adapted by Brian Finch from the books by ‘James Herriot’. Brian Finch was a renowned TV writer at the time. He almost contributed a ‘Doctor Who’ lost story meant for TV called ‘Leviathan’.

This episode was also directed by Peter Moffat. Peter would go on to direct a number of ‘Doctor Who’ stories in the 1980s, including three with Peter Davison’s Doctor. I’m pleased he directed this.

Anyway, ‘Dog Days’ follows up what happened in the previous episode with Siegfried going off to do the post mortem on the horse James shot. This is at Lord Hulton’s farm where Mr. Soames’ present.

George Selway reprises his role as Mr. Soames in the episode. It is clear Soames was careless in his actions to look after the sick horse for Lord Hulton and is determined to prove James Herriot wrong.

But Siegfried puts a stop to this as it turns out James was correct in his diagnosis and putting the poor animal out of his misery. It was tense when Siegfried returned. He was silent first before James.

Then it turns out he was teasing James before revealing the good news. I’m sure many newcomers to jobs would feel like that if they find they had a hard job to do and wondered whether they failed.

Siegfried then sends James off to do some ‘trouble-free’ cases (yeah right), whilst he goes off to do something else. Probably visit his ‘mother’ perhaps. He also asks James to pick up his brother Tristan.

Tristan is Siegfried’s younger brother and is coming home from taking exams at veterinary college. Siegfried essentially describes Tristan as a younger-looking version of himself. I debate that though.

Anyway, James goes off to sort out a case of a cow who won’t get up after calving. This cow belongs to Peter Martin as Mr. Handshaw who calls his cow a ‘bitch’. Whoa! Strong language, Handshaw!! 😀

When James meets Handshaw, he and two other farmers have theories on how to get the cow back up on her feet. This does go on a bit, including some ‘shouting’ before James conducts his diagnosis.

James soon concludes that the cow has a broken pelvis; will never get up again and suggests Handshaw sends her off to the butcher. It transpires James left the gate open and the cows escaped.

Seriously, how come James forgot to close the gate behind him when he went into Handshaw’s farm? Surely he would have known the animals would have ‘walked about’. Handshaw is not happy.

After that, we meet the star we’ve all been waiting for – Peter Davison as Tristan Farnon. It’s amazing this actor would have a huge impact on me in later years when I watched this back in 2003.

Peter Davison’s so young-looking in ‘All Creatures’ and this is what made him famous. Well, at least before he became famous again in some other series about a Doctor who travels in time and space.

James picks up Tristan from the railway station. From what I’ve seen in his first episode, Tristan is a reckless, youthful, almost juvenile person. He fancies the ladies; loves his drink and he smokes a lot.

In the first episode, Tristan and James get on well with each other, although it’s not an immediate buddying relationship. Tristan also has this tendency to play pranks on James during the TV episode.

Back home, later that night, Tristan is reunited with his brother Siegfried, although the reunion is rather tense, especially in that living room. James has yet to know the relationship between the two.

Tristan reveals that he did well in his parasitology exam but failed in pathology. James is clearly the peacemaker in the room when Tristan shares his news. James says Tristan did very well in his exams.

Yeah, of course! Tristan did well in parasitology. It doesn’t matter if he failed in pathology. I mean, he can always reapply for his exams and do them again for Christmas. No need to worry about this…

“You’re sacked!” says Siegfried to Tristan. Okay, maybe Siegfried’s not so forgiving. Yeah, Siegfried erupts in anger after being silent for a bit and gives Tristan a right ticking off. And then he fires him.

Well, that was a short stint for Peter Davison in ‘All Creatures’ after Siegfried tells him to get out. Siegfried even calls Tristan a ‘parasite’ after he leaves. Brotherly love – is it? This is a good start, hey?

James then visits Tristan in his room to tell him how sorry he is that things haven’t worked out. James wonders where Tristan is going to go. Tristan tells him he’s staying. James gets confused here.

Apparently Siegfried is always sacking him and forgets about it afterwards. Inconsistent character, Siegfried is. Peter Davison and I laughed when talking about those scenes in Folkestone, May 2018.

Eventually we then come to the second big star of the episode – the cute dog Tricki-Woo, owned by Margaretta Scott as Mrs. Pumphrey. Tricki-Woo was often the highlight for me during ‘All Creatures’.

When James goes to see Tricki-Woo with Mrs. Pumphrey, the dog happens to have ‘flop-bott’. This comes from the over-eating Tricki has given to him by Mrs. Pumphrey. She clearly dots on her Tricki.

Mrs. Pumphrey also seems to treat Tricki-Woo as a real person instead of a dog. She comes across as very eccentric when chatting to James. But she’s very nice and comes across as harmless in the story.

There’s a lovely scene where James phones Mrs. Pumphrey to thank Tricki-Woo for the stilton cheese delivered to him and he even talks to the dog. I do that every time with my cuddly toy dog. 😀

There’s a funny moment when Tristan plays a prank on James by disguising his voice as a Yorkshire farmer who wants him to sort out his horse single-handed. He does it whilst he’s inside a phone box.

Tristan also has a girlfriend with him. It was funny when Tristan and his girlfriend burst into laughter inside the phone box and James realises it’s him. James gets pretty annoyed by Tristan’s prank here.

Thankfully James gets his own back on Tristan as he plays the same prank in a phone box. He calls Tristan up, disguising his voice as a farmer wanting a cow job done that Tristan does not want to do.

I found it funny when the next day, in the surgery; Tristan tells James that he’ll get back on him someday. It is without the scene where Tristan realises James played the prank on him as he did him.

There’s George Malpas as Mr. Dean who loses his dog but gets a new one; Teddy Turner as Hodgekin who works for Mrs. Pumphrey and also Georgina Melville as Diana Brompton, Siegfried’s lady-friend.

I’ve said a lot about this episode. I clearly like ‘Dog Days’. It is a great second episode in ‘All Creatures’. This one features a great introduction to Tristan Farnon as well as to Tricki-Woo and Mrs. Pumphrey.

‘Dog Days’ rating – 9/10


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4 thoughts on “‘Dog Days’ (TV)

  1. Hi Tim,

    This was a really good episode, wasn’t it? I loved how they managed to both introduce Tristan, Mrs Pumphrey and Tricki-Woo, advance James’s own plot and give some more detail about the characters of James and Siegfried all in one plot. The characters already feel like old friends by the end! I do think it was a good idea to introduce James, Siegfried, Tristan and Helen over the course of three episodes rather than overwhelming the viewers with four new characters right from the beginning. This was also the approach taken in the James Herriot books, where (if I remember correctly) Tristan first appears a few chapters into the first book, and Helen not until a subsequent book.

    I also think that the resemblance between Siegfried and Tristan is not so pronounced – maybe it is something that you have to imagine for yourself! The age gap is also clearly too large for them to be brothers in any realistic scenario, but I’m happy to put up with that because I wouldn’t like anyone else to have played either of these two parts! I have seen one picture of Peter Davison as Tristan where I genuinely saw a resemblance to Robert Hardy. Despite the usual lack of obvious resemblance, they do interact with one another wonderfully and the two actors seemed to have a huge mutual respect, from what Peter Davison’s autobiography says.

    I like the way they deal with Mrs Pumphrey here. She is portrayed as eccentric but never as ridiculous or a figure of fun. It strikes a good balance. I think the subtext is that she is very lonely after losing her husband and invents the fantasy life with Tricki-Woo because of that. I don’t think it’s ever mentioned whether she has any children, but perhaps not, or perhaps they have left home and rarely visit, so Tricki is a kind of substitute child.

    That scene with Mr Dean was very moving. (There’s quite a lot of stuff in this episode about lonely people and their animals, come to think of it.) He appears in a later episode too, in another moving scene.

    Anyway, great review!
    Vicky

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Vicky.

      Very pleased you enjoyed my review on ‘Dog Days’. This is a very good second episode in the ‘All Creatures’ series, yes.

      Yes the way the series is structured in terms of introducing characters is very good for the first three episodes of ‘All Creatures’. I’d like to know how the handling of adapting James Herriot’s books by various writers including Brian Clark; Brain Finch; Johnny Byrne and Anthony Steven was managed. I mean, the plot and character development is so consistent in the series, you wouldn’t think all the episodes of the series were done by various writers. You’d think it was all done by one writer for the whole series. I suppose we can thank the script editor Ted Rhodes for that.

      Yeah as I said in my review, the resemblance between Peter Davison and Robert Hardy is debatable in terms of the age difference. But I suppose we can suspend our disbelief and accept they’re brothers. I’m sure there are brothers who have different ages where one’s more older compared to the other. Interesting titbits of yours from Peter Davison’s autobiography. I’ve yet to read that as I’ve recently purchased it at the ‘Carlisle Comic Con’ this year.

      I love it when we have episodes featuring Mrs. Pumphrey and her dog Tricki-Woo. They brighten my day whenever I see them. I know I can joke it about in my reviews but it’s out of the love I have for these characters and I have such fond memories watching these episodes when I saw them before ‘Doctor Who’ came into my life. The things I like about ‘All Creatures’ is its light-hearted approach and its strong character development and stories. Well, at least for the first three seasons anyway. Not sure what to make of the last four seasons as I’ve not seen them yet.

      Yeah I liked that little story with Mr. Dean losing his dog and getting a new one. It is rather sweet and having James in the story was good. I didn’t talk about him much in my review since I felt the review was going on for too long as I tend to write two-page reviews for ‘All Creatures’ episodes lately. I’ve become flexible about it now. Oh goody! Mr. Dean’s in another episode is he? Yes I’ve checked and it’s ‘Cats and Dogs’, the first episode of Series 2. I look forward to seeing him in that when I get to Series 2.

      Thanks for your comments, Vicky. Hope you enjoy the humour I put into my ‘All Creatures’ reviews.

      Tim. 🙂

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      • Hi again,

        The episodes are remarkably consistent, aren’t they? I haven’t developed a feel so far for a particular scriptwriter’s style. Perhaps each episode had a lead scriptwriter but contributions from others. Also, having existing material to adapt from, rather than having to invent stories, probably enhanced the consistency. I imagine that the writing process started out with a plan of how the series would unfold, with certain plot elements from the books assigned to certain elements, then the scriptwriters would be sent off to write the first drafts of their particular episodes, then the whole thing could be streamlined later to ensure consistency and continuity. Obviously they later deviated from the original plans due to Christopher Timothy’s accident, and it’s remarkable and impressive that they managed to keep things together despite that.

        There are other series with mutliple scriptwriters where the overall feel and continuity remains very consistent. In Inspector Morse, for example, different scriptwriters have a recognisable, signature style in terms of their plotting, but the characters feel very consistent throughout, and I think if I were to write a story about Morse, I would have a pretty clear idea of how he would be likely to react in a given situation.

        Perhaps it was ‘Doctor Who’ that was the exception. It seems that they introduced certain characters without setting out clear character arcs for them. If a character is introduced in one serial, we (and the scriptwriters for the next serials) don’t necessarily learn all there is to know about them in that one episode, so unless the scriptwriters have additional background information, they may well have different takes on the character development based on what they have seen so far. So for example, we have a competent, controlled Tegan in Castrovalva, but a rather panicky, hysterical one in Four to Doomsday. While the Castrovalva Tegan is more enjoyable to watch, her behaviour in Four to Doomsday is probably more consistent with how someone in her situation might behave. I can sympathise with both approaches, but the result is inconsistency in characterisation. I suppose everyone has a slightly different take on a character, emphasising aspects they find appealing and intriguing and downplaying others, but it’s the job of the script editor to impose some consistency.

        Perhaps the BBC simply invested more money and resources into ‘All Creatures’ than they did into ‘Doctor Who’…

        Vicky

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Vicky.

        Yeah I suppose the consistency for the episodes in ‘All Creatures’ comes from adapting the books by James Herriot and of course the writers must have had frequent discussions on how to adapt the episodes for TV which I think is a good approach to keep the consistency going. I’m not sure how that works for that last four seasons of ‘All Creatures’ which I assume aren’t adapted from the original books but created by the showrunners like Johnny Byrne.

        I think it’s a shame that more is invested into drama productions like ‘All Creatures’ compared to ‘Doctor Who’. I’m not sure what the line of reasoning is behind that as wouldn’t it make sense to apply the same approach of scriptwriting and developing the consistency of a TV series in both period drama productions and sci-fi productions? I don’t know, I’m no expert. But the fact that ‘Doctor Who’ isn’t given the same treatment as ‘All Creatures’ is so frustrating.

        Then again, JNT doesn’t come from a scriptwriter’s background compared to Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks who would’ve had more of a consistent approach to developing a season compared to the inconsistent one employed by JNT (and I suppose by Steven Moffat if we’re to talk about today’s TV standards).

        I get the impression that more thought is put into drama serials by the BBC rather than sci-fi, since I’ve seen some episodes of ‘The Musketeers’ and ‘Call The Midwife’ and the quality standards of storytelling are very good. Not that’s bad mind you, but it makes me wonder why it’s not done like that in ‘Doctor Who’.

        I’d like to think in my ‘Doctor Who’ fan-fiction series, I’ve kept the consistency of storytelling with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy flowing throughout. But then again, I’m one writer and I’m not sure if it would make a difference if I had a team of multiple writers writing stories during a standard season of stories I produce on my blog.

        Gosh I’ve said a lot here.

        Anyway, thanks for your thoughts and comments on the consistent storytelling in ‘All Creatures’, Vicky.

        Tim. 🙂

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