‘For Richer, For Poorer’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

Here we’ve come to the season finale of Series 4 of ‘All Creatures’. I think it’s fair to say that Series 4 got better as my parents and I progressed through the episodes. It’s not a great season, but it’s decent.

My main issue with Series 4 was getting used to the fact that Carol Drinkwater wasn’t playing Helen anymore and that Lynda Bellingham was playing. By the end, I’ve become used to Lynda playing Helen.

There are issues I have with some of the episodes and how the characters are developed, including the introduction of Calum into the series. But I am looking forward to how things develop for Series 5.

Just to point out, Tristan Farnon is back in the series. I’m very pleased that Tristan appeared in the season finale of Series 4 since he was absent in ‘City Slicker’. It’d be a shame if he was not in the season finale.

With that said mind, Tristan doesn’t have much to go apart from sorting out Kit Bilton’s pig and hanging about in the Drovers’ pub. Tristan’s time in Series 4 of ‘All Creatures’ does not feel stand-out.

But yes, ‘For Richer, For Poorer’ is the tenth and final episode in Series 4 of ‘All Creatures’. The episode based on the ‘James Herriot’ books is by Johnny Byrne. Very fitting for Johnny to write the last episode.

Mind you, I wouldn’t consider ‘For Richer, For Poorer’ to be a great season finale. Certainly not terrible, but I feel the episode is somewhat average. There wasn’t anything to dignify it as the last of Series 4.

Roderick Graham directs this episode of Series 4 of ‘All Creatures’ and it happens to be his last contribution to the series. Don’t know why this was his last. He was a very good director for the series.

The episode begins at a church where a harvest service takes place. My parents had to correct me on that one. I initially thought it was an Easter service. 😀 The Herriot children partake in the harvest service.

Jimmy Herriot also gets asked to partake in a musical recital by his piano teacher when he’s invited to at the end of the harvest service. It is something that James and Helen are pretty proud about here.

Yeah, that has been something that’s been reoccurring in Series 4 of ‘All Creatures’. Jimmy’s piano playing. I didn’t find it to be a major plot thread, but I am glad this gets touched on in the season finale.

The piano recital takes place in the episode’s climax. Thankfully James is in time to see Jimmy perform his piano recital after he and Calum were up a tree chased by a bull in a field. I’ll get back to that later.

Anyway, Jimmy plays the piano during the recital and it seems he’s struggling on his first attempt. He goes and sits down before given one more chance by his piano teacher. And he turns out to be brilliant.

I like how this episode illustrates Jimmy given another chance to play the piano during the recital. James and Siegfried applaud the boy’s efforts once he’s finished, which sounds very boisterous indeed. 😀

The episode ends with Jimmy sharing to his dad why he likes playing the piano since it relaxes him and he enjoys it. That’s intriguing. I wonder if Jimmy will end up being a musician instead of a vet here.

Earlier on in the episode, James becomes fed up when the car Helen has been using breaks down. He finds out this once Jimmy seems grumpy and revealed that he, his mum and sister didn’t go to a castle.

Once learning about the car problems Helen’s been having, James’ decision to accept the partnership offer from Granville Bennett may come to fruition. (wryly) That was a huge plot point in Series 4, wasn’t it?

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I appreciate Series 4 ending on a note where James is deciding whether or not to be a partner in Granville’s line of work. But I don’t feel that this has been properly developed.

Mainly because Granville doesn’t appear in the last episode of the series to illustrate that. He appeared in only one episode of Series 4 and he never returned to persuade James again to become his partner.

Mind you, I suppose it’d be better that didn’t return considering James gets drunk every time he sees Granville. But my point still stands. The partnership plot thread with Granville isn’t that exploited.

James also tries to find a way to butter up Siegfried when it comes to asking him to purchase a new car for Helen. He does this by providing him a lunch of a…pork pie, I think…supplied by Mrs. Greenlaw.

Oh yeah, that’s another issue I have with Series 4. Mrs. Greenlaw doesn’t appear much in the latter half of the season. Considering she’s Skeldale’s housekeeper like Mrs. Hall, we do not see much of her.

I wonder why she hasn’t been in the second half of Series 4 much, including the season finale. Was this a decision on Roderick Graham’s part? Was there this behind-the-scenes drama? I’m speculating.

However, James’ plans for buttering up Siegfried don’t go according to plan. This is because Siegfried overheard James being lenient to a nice old lady with her dog by saying there’s no charge for treatment.

Siegfried ridicules James’ softness with their customers, to which James contradicts that he’s done the same. Still James’ request for a car to be provided for Helen doesn’t go according to plan by that stage.

Fortunately, Siegfried does purchase a car for Helen and James is pleased when he’s been shown to it. Interesting how Siegfried eventually does do that request for James after seemingly telling him off.

As I mentioned before, the time has come for Kit Bilton’s pig to be slaughtered and Tristan has to do the job. Bill Croasdale guest stars as Kit Bilton…wait! I realise Kit Bilton’s been in ‘All Creatures’ before!

He was in the Series 2 episode ‘Pups, Pigs and Pickle’ and he was played by Gordon Kaye of ‘Allo, ‘Allo’ fame in that. I do not want to sound obvious, but Gordon Kaye and Bill Croasdale don’t look alike here.

I know it’s been a while since people have seen ‘Pups, Pigs and Pickle’ and there wasn’t much video availability. But how come some characters in ‘All Creatures’ do not get recast with the original actors?

Another issue I have is that Tristan doesn’t want to do the deed and Kit Bilton begs him not to kill his pig. Um, didn’t Tristan give some words of encouragement to Mr. Kit Bilton in ‘Pups, Pigs and Pickles’?

I have checked my review for ‘Pups, Pigs and Pickles’ and it seems that Kit Bilton was reassured by Tristan’s comforting words and seeing things in a positive light. How come that’s not followed up here?

Granted the episode was by Terence Dudley in Series 2 and not Johnny Byrne. But I’m surprised Johnny Byrne did not check this up when he wrote the episode since there does seem to be this lack of research.

After Tristan does the job of killing Kit Bilton’s pig, Kit is an emotional wreck once again. James and Tristan are in the Drovers when Kit’s there too. Kit calls Tristan ‘un-Christian’ with slaughtering his pig.

Tristan has a pound of sausages on him from killing the pig. How he got them isn’t clearly explained and very soon a dog tries to get at Tristan’s sausages. I got to admit that was really funny to watch here.

CUDDLES: “Why does that dog get his sausages and not me! I want my sausages!”

(groans) “Oh no! Not this again! Go away, Cuddles!”

CUDDLES: (whines) “Wuff!”

This episode also doesn’t show Siegfried having a good week here. From one thing to another, he becomes forgetful. This includes leaving things behind and locking himself out of a car when on a case.

That particular case is when Siegfried visits the Hardwicke family, who I found amusing to watch. They are a family who seem to do everything as a pack. They’re inseparable and even watch Siegfried work.

The Hardwicke family includes Ralph Bowland as Arthur and Carl Rae as Ben. There are also the wives of these two as well as the children, but they dont get credited in the cast list as they don’t speak here.

It was hilarious when Siegfried needed to go back to fetch spare keys for his car and all the family went with him. Yeah! All the Hardwicke family go with Siegfried back to Skeldale to collect some spare keys.

Some of the people living in the Dales are pretty weird. 😀 It was amusing when Siegfried revealed to the Hardwickes about what was wrong with one of their pigs regarding his anus and they laugh out loud.

This episode also has Calum supposing to collect Deirdre from a train station. But instead, he ends literally up a tree after he’s been literally chased by a bull. I’m not sure how he got up that tree though.

He’s smoking a pipe whilst he’s up there on that tree which I admit is rather amusing. James soon finds himself going up that tree with Calum after he’s been chased by the bull too once coming to save him.

Thankfully James and Calum get down from the tree and they go back to Skeldale via Calum’s motorcycle and side-car. Why didn’t James travel in the side-car instead of sitting behind Calum here?

Whilst James got back to Skeldale in time to see his son do his piano recital, Calum missed Deirdre at the train station. Fortunately, she is at the Drovers and she does forgive him missing her at the station.

(sighs) Okay, I think I’ve made this point clear already but I’m not really getting the relationship between Calum and Deirdre here. I bought James and Helen’s relationship since it’s so well-developed.

More so in the first two seasons than in Series 4 here, but still. Calum and Deirdre’s relationship is not so well-handled, especially when Calum seemed like a jerk and stole Deirdre under Tristan’s wing.

I admit Calum has toned down in terms of smugness in the series. But I found him rather inconsistent and quite frankly a rather eccentric character while watching him in the series so far which isn’t so good.

Calum even made a mess in Skeldale’s surgery which ticks Siegfried off the wrong way. Siegfried tried to demonstrate the correct procedure of handling a cow in surgery, though that ended disastrously. 😀

I believe the idea of Calum’s character is to have a parallel journey to James when he started being a vet in Skeldale in Series 1. But a lot of the creative choices for Calum’s character feel rather off-putting.

Maybe that might change when it comes to developing Calum further in Series 5 and hopefully he’ll be given more to do. But I’ve found his character flat and his relationship with Deirdre isn’t that better.

The plot thread between Michael Lees as Colonel Bosworth and Alan Partington as Phineas Calvert from ‘…The Healing Touch’ does get resolved here. Although as far as I’m concerned, it’s all one scene.

The episode also features Muriel Rogers as Mrs. Bilton, Kit Bilton’s wife. There’s also Tom Harrison as Mr. Buckle and Paul McLaine as Billy Buckle, who previously starred in ‘One of Nature’s Little Miracles’.

Overall, ‘For Richer, For Poorer’ is a decent finale in Series 4 of ‘All Creatures’. It’s not great, but I have enjoyed it. It was nice to see loose ends tied up with some of the characters featured throughout this.

And as for Series 4, well…it’s a lot better than I expected it to be. Certainly not a great season, but I have enjoyed it overall. Hopefully I’ll get to enjoy some more when it comes to watching Series 5 next.

‘For Richer, For Poorer’ rating – 8/10

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