‘Knowin’ How To Do It’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

It’s time again to take a look at another ‘All Creatures’ episode from Series 7. This one we’re looking at today is…okay, to say the least. There are some dramatic moments, but I question some plot points.

The second episode of Series 7, ‘Knowin’ How To Do It’, is by a new writer to the series – Sam Snape. He would pen one more episode after doing this one. Beforehand, he wrote some ‘Casualty’ episodes.

This episode is also the second to be directed by Michael Brayshaw in Series 7. Once again, we have to put up with those title sequences used for his episodes at the start and the finish. I don’t like them. 😀

The episode has James trying out at carpentry. He’s hoping to build a birthday present for Helen, which should be a kitchen cabinet. Unfortunately, things do not work according to plan as James gets injured.

After being mocked by Tristan over his carpentry, James gets advised to seek advice from a local cabinet-maker. This happens to be Kenneth Farrington as Mr. Edwards. He’s actually a really nice man.

Mr. Edwards lost his dog recently, but he’s happy to help James out on what to do when making his kitchen cabinet for James. Sometimes Edwards comes across as long-winded, but the advice is helpful.

The episode’s title ‘Knowin’ How To Do It’ comes from a phrase Edwards uses to give James the advice he needs. Over time, James gets to grips with his carpentry, often popping back and forth to see Edwards.

Edwards also gets a new dog. Helen suspects James over his visits to Edwards. This happens when Edwards’ new dog isn’t registered. She’s unaware about what’s going on with James’ present for her.

Yeah, regarding that, I found the business of the misunderstanding between James and Helen uncomfortable. It’d be fine with Carol Drinkwater as Helen, but not with Lynda Bellingham playing her.

You see, during a shopping visit, Helen sees a kitchen cabinet that she likes and hopes for her and James to buy it. But James keeps making excuses and dissuades Helen from purchasing this new cabinet.

Now this is the issue I have with this subplot. Why couldn’t James tell Helen that he was making a kitchen cabinet for her? It would’ve spoilt the surprise, but at least Helen would know what he’s doing.

Mind you, there are ways around not giving away the surprise. He could’ve told Helen that he’s got another special present for her and that he wants to save his money for that. That might have worked.

James didn’t need to make excuses, causing tension between him and Helen. It reeks of lazy writing in the episode. I think it’d be handled pretty differently with Carol Drinkwater as Helen. Or maybe not.

And I know Lynda Bellingham’s only doing as she’s told with saying the lines she’s given. But sometimes she comes across as bossy and not the Helen I used to know via Carol Drinkwater’s version.

It also gets uncomfortable when James and Helen are having dinner together and Helen’s suspecting something’s wrong with James as he isn’t spending enough time with her and the kids. More later on!

But at the restaurant where they have dinner, James receives a phone call to attend to Mr. Edwards. Helen storms off in a huff afterwards. Carol Drinkwater’s Helen wouldn’t do that from the original run.

I’m also not sure why James didn’t share with Helen that he was doing carpentry. It’s not like it had to be kept a secret. James could’ve done something else with carpentry in the future, having a workshop.

Thankfully, it’s all okay on Helen’s birthday when the surprise is revealed to her and she’s over the moon about James making a kitchen cabinet for her. At least it does end happily with James and Helen.

Going back to the kids James and Helen have, are they still around in the series? We haven’t seen them for a long time. I wonder what’s become of Jimmy and Rosie. Have they changed and grown since? 😀

Meanwhile with Tristan, he gets chosen to go instead of James, who was meant to go instead of Siegfried, to attend to the cows that belong to newlywed farmer Nat Briggs and his wife Barbara Briggs.

Nat Briggs is played by Joe McGann…wait a minute! Joe McGann?! One of the McGann brothers! I was amazed when I saw his name in the end credits! That means I’ve seen all four McGann brothers in something.

I’ve seen Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’; Mark McGann at a Post Office Museum video exhibit in Bath recently; Stephen McGann in ‘Call The Midwife’ and Joe McGann in ‘All Creatures’! Wow!

Anyway, Nat Briggs isn’t a very nice man when Tristan goes out to attend to his cows. Trist has a laugh with the other farmers John Wild as Ray and Tim Dantay as Phil, but Nat wants to get on with their job.

Nat’s pretty stern with Tristan and takes no nonsense. Tristan takes the hint, but that still doesn’t stop him from making a fool of himself. This happens when they inject those cows with some abortion serum.

Tristan tries to speed things up when they do two cows at a time instead of doing one cow at a time. In the process, Tristan accidentally injects Nat with the abortion serum, to Ray and Phil’s amusement.

Nat doesn’t find it funny and becomes convinced that he won’t father any children. Tristan keeps on trying to reassure Nat it’s not the case as the serum doesn’t work on humans, but Nat isn’t buying that.

He even threatens Tristan over what he’s done to him when they meet in the Drovers. This puts Tristan off from going to the Drovers ever again since he knows Nat Briggs will probably be there having pints.

Once Tristan stops going to the Drovers, Siegfried becomes concerned for his little brother. He thinks there is something seriously wrong with Tristan when he sees him not going to the Drovers ever again.

This is in spite of the fact that Siegfried earlier tried to dissuade Tristan from going to the Drovers, mentioning ale can cause liver problems. Inconsistent Siegfried here? Maybe. At least he shows concern.

It is amusing when Siegfried tried to persuade Tristan to have some wine that he and James were having. Tristan politely refuses. He preferred to have a pint of ale in the Drovers at that point. Spoil sport!

After learning of Tristan’s predicament with Nat Briggs, Siegfried eventually goes to the Drovers himself where he sees Nat Briggs drunk. He eventually takes him home where his angry wife waits up.

Maggie Norris as Barbara Briggs blames the Farnons for what’s happened to her husband and even begins to sue them when posting a letter to them. Siegfried blames Trist, even though it was in his name.

I’m not sure why Nat Briggs has this temper for most of the episode, especially when he gets impatient and threatens Tristan for the accident he caused. Maybe Nat is inexperienced as the young farmer here.

It was funny when Siegfried attended to Nat’s cows at his farm with Tristan accompanying him. Nat gets accidentally injected again…by Siegfried this time. It seems things have gone from bad to worse. 😀

Thankfully, Nat and Barbara Briggs come over to Skeldale on Helen’s birthday to apologise and announce that they’re about to have a baby soon. Well, that’s a relief, isn’t it? I’m glad that’s all sorted.

Nat says that Siegfried provided the cure for him when he injected him accidentally. I wonder how Nat manages to get accidentally injured twice by the Farnons. How come the other farmers didn’t get injected?

Incidentally, Barbara Briggs happens to be related to Jean Heywood as Mrs. Alton as I understand it. Not much of that gets explored in the episode, but then I’m not really getting into Mrs. Alton’s character.

She’s not like Mrs. Hall and she’s only been in a few scenes with Tristan and Helen so far. I think the daughter should’ve been brought back to cause more tension and add a dynamic to Mrs. Alton’s character.

It’s a shame I’m speaking about Mrs. Alton like this as I hoped she would be a well-developed character in her second appearance in the TV series. Maybe she’ll get developed later on in future Series 7 episodes.

It was funny that Tristan was reading the James Bond novel ‘Casino Royale’ which Siegfried disapproves of. The closest Peter Davison’s ever been James Bond is in a photo with Nicola Bryant. 😀

Apparently, Tristan finds the vet supplement books that Siegfried’s provides for him rather ‘boring’. Siegfried is aghast by Tristan’s attitude to finding his vet books boring, as they keep repeating the word.

Another subplot that goes on, but only for a short while, is with Rosalind Wilson as Sally Worrall. She’s a faithful customer at Skeldale vets’ surgery who comes in for to see her duck attended to. Yes! A duck!

Sally Worrall is quite a sweet character who thinks highly of Siegfried. She’s quite eccentric and easily gets distracted when she sees that James has injured herself following his troubles with the carpentry.

Insistent, Sally tells James not to attend to her duck because of the cut he has on his hand. Before Siegfried attends to the duck, he passes the job to Tristan who easily lazes about in the living room. 😀

It’s funny when James, Siegfried and Tristan are about to attend to Sally’s duck before they get distracted by a phone call or something. It’s also funny when Sally takes the phone call herself with everyone busy.

Thankfully Tristan attends to the duck’s needs, but it doesn’t seem to be good when the duck’s not well. I’m not sure what the illness the duck has, but then I’m not an expert on ducks and their illnesses.

James later goes to visit Sally at her place where her duck gets picked on by the chickens. 😦 It does look like Sally owns her own farm in this episode. She’s keeping her chickens and her duck in one place.

Eventually, when Sally visits Skeldale surgery, she tells Siegfried that she’s put her duck down. Wow! That was quite sudden. I was thinking this subplot might’ve lasted a while longer and not get cut short.

Sally also brings the dead duck around for Siegfried and the vets to do a post-mortem on him in order to find out what caused the duck to die. Siegfried assumed that Sally brought the duck around for ‘lunch’.

I’m surprised they didn’t do a scene where the Skeldale family ate the duck for lunch. 😀 But I suppose that would’ve been really dark to show, especially in a drama series like ‘All Creatures Great and Small’.

I don’t think ‘Knowin’ How To Do It’ is a great episode featured in Series 7. There are areas unexplored, especially with Sally’s character and how James and Helen’s relationship is handled. But it was decent.

‘Knowin’ How To Do It’ rating – 7/10

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