‘Food For Thought’ (TV)

  

‘FOOD FOR THOUGHT’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

I have mixed feelings about this episode here. It doesn’t feature Tristan again which is annoying. There are times when the episode could be amusing but its ending is rather mean-spirited in places.

I don’t know the reason why Tristan is absent in this episode this time. He’s probably still in London following the Queen’s coronation in the previous episode. Do not worry. He is in the next episode. 😀

‘Food For Thought’ is an episode by Roger Davenport. He’s written previous episodes like ‘The Nelson Touch’ and ‘The New World’. He would write two more stories for Series 7 of ‘All Creatures’!

This episode also happens to be the first one directed by Richard Martin. Richard Martin directed some early ‘Doctor Who’ stories such as ‘The Daleks’, ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ and ‘The Chase’!

Once again though, the titles sequence has changed. I can’t understand why they couldn’t keep to one titles sequence instead of letting the directors have their own title sequences for their episodes.

It just makes things confusing. And with respect to Richard Martin, the title sequences for his episodes aren’t very special. Looking ahead, they don’t stay consistent either with different footage.

The episode’s special guest star is Dinsdale Landen as Stewie Brannon. I’ve seen Dinsdale Landen before since he was Dr. Judson in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘The Curse of Fenric’ with Sylvester McCoy.

Stewie Brannon is an old friend of Siegfried’s. If you don’t recall, he appeared in the Series 1 episode ‘The Last Furlong’ and was mentioned in the Series 3 episode ‘Home and Away’. I just remembered!

He was played by a different actor in ‘The Last Furlong’ which was Ronald Lacey. Now I can forgive the episode for the change of casting in the character. I have become used to that in the reboot era.

But the character’s surname is spelt wrong in this episode. In this episode, it’s spelt Brannan – not Brannon. I checked the credits for both ‘The Last Furlong’ and ‘Food For Thought’. They don’t match.

It’s a bad sign when the production team don’t do their research properly and get the surname for one of their characters wrong. Granted Stewie Brannon has only appeared in two episodes, but still!

Anyway, Siegfried’s delighted to see Stewie again after being played a joke by him. Stewie apparently was on his way home after attending a conference in London. I wonder how true that is!

I mean, I’m sure he did attend the conference but I’m not sure whether he just went for the booze and food. He got Siegfried drunk one time attending the horse races so it’s likely to be the case here!

Stewie tells Siegfried that he’s in a bit of a pickle. At the conference, he drunkenly invited the renowned Professor Norton to attend dinner. As the Professor said “Yes”, he asks Siegfried for help.

He wants Siegfried to host the dinner for him at Skeldale. Siegfried of course obliges, but he has to inform Mrs. Alton about the arrangement. Something Mrs. Alton is not too keenly happy about here.

This is for a number of reasons. One, Stewie smacked Mrs. Alton once on the bottom in gratitude for the lunch he provided. I must admit, I was quite shocked by this action as much as Mrs. Alton was. 😀

I did think that would be explored further with more interaction between Stewie and Mrs. Alton in terms of their relationship. Sadly that wasn’t the case. I’m surprised Stewie did not apologise to her.

As I think about it, I’m not sure if Mrs. Alton a widow by this stage. I know she has a daughter but I can’t recall if she lost her husband. Perhaps she had. I’ll have to double check if I re-watch the series.

Another reason for Mrs. Alton’s reluctance to prepare dinner for Siegfried, Stewie and the Professor is because of the hard work she does in the week. She doesn’t like to do hard work on the weekend.

This might have something to do with her religious convictions, which is understandable. She would like there to be church early on Sunday. Regardless of this, Mrs. Alton adheres to Siegfried’s request.

We’ll get back to how the dinner with Professor Norton turns out later. Elsewhere, James attends to the farm of brother and sister Peter Benson as Bernard Wain and Ruth Holden as Mary Jane Wain. 🙂

These two have been in ‘All Creatures’ before. They were in the Series 5 episode ‘The Salt of the Earth’. I’m surprised they returned in this story. Roger Davenport didn’t write ‘The Salt of the Earth’.

That was written by Brian Finch. Anyway it was nice to see them again in their second appearance of ‘All Creatures’. They don’t come back for a third outing, which is a shame. I’d like to see them again.

Peter Benson of course was also in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘Terminus’ as well as an episode of ‘Jeeves & Wooster’, in ‘Heartbeat’ and a Lord Peter Wimsey serial. His journey is in this is intriguing.

If you recall in ‘The Salt of the Earth’, Peter Benson’s character Bernard Wain was put down by his sister Mary Jane for being useless. She still treats him like that. I would’ve thought she had changed.

Her temperament towards him hasn’t improved I don’t think. James is still supportive of Bernard when asking him to help out saving his animals at the farm. He even contradicts Mary Jane at times.

Bernard however has something new to his character. He’s become sensitive to bad odours which is unusual. I don’t know how this has come about, but you would think he’d be able to cope with that.

James suggests to Bernard that he’d wear a handkerchief over his nose when he senses bad smells in the air. This Bernard takes on, but it does make him appear like a desperado wearing a handkerchief.

Especially when the handkerchief is red! And that’s what the local constabulary thinks when a policeman arrests Bernard wearing the handkerchief over his nose in visiting the fish-and-chip shop.

Thankfully James is able to get Bernard out of prison after writing in some paper work at the police office. Bernard also has to pick up the bike he left behind once James gives him a lift home in his car.

I’m surprised there wasn’t a scene between Bernard and his sister Mary Jane about this incident. It seems like the brother-and-sister relationship was a wasted opportunity in the episode and in series.

I would’ve explored more with Bernard and Mary Jane in terms of how Mary Jane lowers her temperament and treats her brother with more brotherly love. Sadly, that was not to be the case. 😦

Going back to Stewie for a bit, James is rather disgruntled about his best tweed jacket being ruined by him once he tears it up over lunch. Siegfried notices this when seeing James later in the surgery. 🙂

James also has to pick up Professor Norton from the train station when Siegfried and Stewie have to go and get ready before they’re called out to attend to the pregnancy of a farmer’s cow…yet again!!!

Sorry, I know this is a common thing in ‘All Creatures’ where cows give birth to their babies. But it seems to be happening a lot more lately. And still I’m put off by it whenever I see it in ‘All Creatures’! 😀

Anyway, back to what I was saying. James goes to pick up Professor Norton at the train station. Can I just point out that it has been a while since we last saw Calum and Deirdre in the series? I miss them.

Edward Burnham guest stars as Professor Norton in the episode. I was pleased to see him as he was in the ‘Doctor Who’ stories ‘The Invasion’ and ‘Robot’ and he’s been in the BBC’s 1985 ‘Oliver Twist’.

Professor Norton’s a funny character when James meets him. The Professor keeps chattering away whilst James is trying to take him back to Skeldale and back home to where his wife Helen is waiting.

Once back at Skeldale, they find Siegfried and Stewie still not back yet. James has to put up with the Professor a little longer while waiting. James soon tells him and Mrs. Alton he needs to return home.

Mrs. Alton eventually shares with the Professor what she’s prepared for dinner, including vegetable soup, steak and kidney pie with vegetables and her own fruit preserve with cream. Sounds very nice!

But the Professor won’t have it since he seems to have gone on a diet. This clearly has Mrs. Alton upset. I am surprised Stewie didn’t know that when telling Siegfried about the dinner arrangements.

James is clearly amused though. 😀 Meanwhile, Siegfried and Stewie attend to the expectant cow of John Pickles as Mr. Smethwick. I will give Stewie credit. At least he does help out in Siegfried’s cases.

But at the end of the operation, Stewie agrees for him and Siegfried to stay behind and have Mr. Smethwick’s freshly-baked potato bread with glasses of water. The potato bread’s warm and soggy.

That’s how Siegfried describes it. Stewie enjoys it whilst Siegfried’s not so sure. The two end up getting stomach cramp. That must be painful. It would also be quite funny once they returned home.

But Siegfried and Stewie make the decision of not telling Mrs. Alton and the Professor that they’re…well…ill whilst having stomach cramp. They do not want to upset Mrs. Alton in her cooking.

But the stomach cramp gets the better of them when they’re belching and such and Mrs. Alton becomes very upset, storming out. That did feel quite mean-spirited when I was watching the scene.

Another instance where I feel things were mean-spirited was when James returned home to find Helen upset. Apparently she had been preparing a very special dinner for their wedding anniversary.

Now this is something James apparently forgot about and it’s the first time it’s revealed to us here. I would’ve thought Helen would’ve reminded James it was their wedding anniversary since he’s busy.

But nope! She expected James to remember their important date and is upset when he doesn’t. Now even in that instance, surely Helen would have understood James being busy and late to return.

James is apologetic to Helen, telling her he loves her, but she tells him it’s not good enough. Now I don’t think the Carol Drinkwater Helen would’ve said that. It’d just be out of character, would it not?

But once James tells Helen he still loves her, she…I believe forgives him, inviting him to come upstairs. Whilst I’m glad she’s forgiven him, it still gives me a sour feeling of it being mean-spirited. 😦

I don’t think ‘Food For Thought’ is a great ‘All Creatures’ episode. Whilst enjoyable, the ending did put me off in two directions. This is where I believe the ‘All Creatures’ series was losing its credibility.

‘Food For Thought’ rating – 6/10


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