‘Old Dogs, New Tricks’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

Okay! I will admit, this is an ‘All Creatures’ episode that I found really good. That might have to do with Tricki-Woo being back as well as Mrs. Pumphrey. Tricki-Woo and Mrs. Pumphrey are always fantastic!

Still no sign of Tristan though. Thankfully, looking ahead, he is in the next two episodes as well as the Christmas Special ‘Brotherly Love’. Surprisingly, Mrs. Alton’s not in the episode. Must’ve had a day off.

‘Old Dogs, New Tricks’ is by Johnny Byrne. Despite the show’s up and downs, especially with Series 7, Johnny Byrne always manages to come up trumps with some good episodes in ‘All Creatures’ itself. 🙂

The episode is also the third to be directed by Richard Martin. Despite my issues for varying titles sequences by directors for the last two seasons of ‘All Creatures’, Richard Martin does direct well here.

Speaking of titles sequence, the one for this episode depicts a scene of a horse rider on horseback on green hill in the distance. It’s a nice piece of imagery. It sets up for what’s to come later on in the story.

The title sequence features the regular cast of Robert Hardy, Christopher Timothy and Lynda Bellingham, minus Peter Davison and Jean Heywood. There’s also Margaretta Scott as Mrs. Pumphrey.

Anyway, the episode also introduces us to David Ashton as Ewan Ross. Wait! Now that I’ve checked, Ewan Ross has been in ‘All Creatures’ before. Ewan was in the Series 2 episode ‘Fair Means and Fowls’.

In that episode, Ewan was played by Alex McCrindle. So, we’re doing another ‘regeneration’ of a character played by a different actor in the show. Yeah, sure. Why not? We have had them quite often.

Actually; this is particularly interesting since Ewan Ross seems to be a different character in this Series 7 episode compared to the Series 2 one. In ‘Fair Means and Fowls’, Ewan was a happily married vet. 🙂

But here, his veterinary practice seems to be in decline and he’s now alone. Did his wife die at some point or did she leave him? I don’t think it gets mentioned. There is a big missing gap in-between here.

It’s becoming quite a habit with the ‘All Creatures’ production team bringing back characters from previous episodes in Series 1, 2 and 3 but have them recast. I forgot who Ewan Ross was watching this.

It’s only afterwards that I checked up on my previous ‘All Creatures’ reviews I recalled who Ewan Ross was. This is a sign of the ‘All Creatures’ production team getting desperate when they run out of ideas.

With that said, David Ashton’s rather good as Ewan Ross. I’ve seen him before in Series 1, Episode 4 of ‘Monarch of the Glen’. He was also in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘Timelash’ with Colin Baker. Amazing!

There were occasions when I thought David Ashton as Ewan Ross looked like Patrick Troughton’s character from his ‘All Creatures’ episode from Series 3. I think the beard had something to do with it. 😀

Another thing to mention regarding Ewan Ross is that the Series 2 episode he was in had him connect more with James as a character. In this Series 7 episode, Ewan has more of a connection with Siegfried.

I think it would’ve been better if James has more of a connection to Ewan in this episode instead of Siegfried. It could have helped the audience to realise that Ewan had appeared in ‘All Creatures’ before.

I know Ewan is an old friend of Siegfried rather than James and it’s interesting that gets explored in the episode. But like I said, I did not register Ewan had been in ‘All Creatures’ before as I watched this.

Anyway, enough ranting on that. In the episode, Siegfried tries to arrange for Ewan Ross to help an old university friend of his. Siegfried is trying to encourage Ewan to become a regular vet for his friend.

Unfortunately, Ewan has gone into the habit of drinking heavily in the pub and not being on time for appointments with veterinary cases. Ewan’s drinking was touched upon briefly in the Series 2 episode.

Siegfried’s friend happens to be Ian Collier as Henry Clintock. I was delighted to see Ian Collier in the episode, having watched him in the two ‘Doctor Who’ TV tales ‘The Time Monster’ and ‘Arc of Infinity’.

In ‘Arc of Infinity’, he played Omega. Ian Collier would later reprise the role of Omega again in the Big Finish audio called ‘Omega’. I have also seen Ian Collier appear in a ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ episode.

I’ve checked my reviews and I don’t believe Henry Clintock has appeared in any previous ‘All Creatures’ episodes here. It was so intriguing to see Henry Clintock as Siegfried’s friend in the episode as I saw it.

On a side note, Siegfried wears a new kind of top hat in the episode. I was bemused to see that as it’s not what Siegfried regularly wears in the TV series. He usually wears a tweed hat of a sort, doesn’t he?

Ewan Ross even travels on a cart driven by a tractor with a driver these days. 😀 Anyway, Siegfried employing Ewan’s services to help Henry Clintock and his horse doesn’t go according to plan in the episode.

When Siegfried and Henry visit Ewan one time at his derelict house, they find him drunk, asleep and dishevelled from being in the pub. He was meant to meet them two. They have to carry Ewan upstairs.

Siegfried tries to prompt Ewan to get his act together and give Henry Clintock the help he needs regarding his house. It does seem that Ewan’s services are all for nothing when he seems very laid back.

Thankfully Ewan becomes of great help as he’s called to help in an emergency and this time he does come and meets Henry Clintock for the first time. His veterinary services prove to be of massive value.

His skills with attending to a horse and have it sedated are impressive. The paper bag thing over the horse’s mouth put me in mind of the ‘Danny the Champion of the World’ TV film except with a chicken. 😀

I like how the episode depicts Ewan Ross overcoming his decline and seeming to be back in business with Siegfried’s encouragement. A huge shame the ‘before’ and ‘after’ doesn’t get explored in the series.

Meanwhile, James and Siegfried receive a visit from Mrs. Pumphrey and her dog Tricki-Woo who’s come for his annual check-up. It transpires that Mrs. Pumphrey’s to go off to France. On holiday, is she?

And without Tricki? Unheard of. Provided of course that it’s the same Tricki-Woo she’s had since the series began. Yeah, I’m still not over that. It can’t be the same Tricki-Woo from the 1930s into the 1950s!

Anyway, James is reluctant to look after Tricki-Woo when Mrs. Pumphrey’s away once she suggests the idea. There’s ‘umming’ and ‘aahing’ about, but Siegfried agrees to James looking after Tricki-Woo.

James is put out by Siegfried agreeing on his behalf to look after Tricki-Woo. As a consequence, he has to take Tricki-Woo with him on his rounds which could be problematic when he runs off by himself. 🙂

This occurs when James visits William Ivory as Harold Peart at his farm with wife and child. Tricki runs off by himself before James catches him. Harold Peart calls Tricki a ‘hearthrug’ when James brings him. 😀

Just to go on a tangent with Harold Peart, he’s a farmer who’s put out when a ram he’s bought from Anthony Benson as Mr. Lupton doesn’t please him. He blames James on his veterinary expertise in this.

James did provide advice to the young farmer on the purchase of his flock of sheep including the ram when visiting Mr. Lupton at his farm. At the time, James assumed that the sheep and ram were alright.

Mr. Lupton also has trouble with his donkey when it’s not as happy as it used to be. James one time tried to greet the donkey, but he just brayed angrily at him. What did James do? They had only just met.

Eventually it turns out that the donkey and the ram have a…friendship…relationship…thing with each other. Okay. Anyway, James brings the donkey along to Harold Peart’s farm so he can heal the donkey.

Harold Peart believes James is playing a joke on him regarding the ram, but apparently the donkey is the ram’s medicine. I’ve never known that to happen before. Interesting love story going on there. 😀

Back to Tricki-Woo, James goes into a panic when Tricki runs off and disappears. My parents and I found this really funny when we saw Siegfried go into the living room, only for Tricki to run off and flee.

We guessed that Tricki ended up in Siegfried’s car when he and James weren’t looking. It seemed we were right as Siegfried opened the car to reveal Tricki inside when at Henry Clintock’s place in the story.

That was so amusing to watch in the episode. Although I did wonder why Siegfried didn’t phone up James or Helen at Skeldale to let them know that he got Tricki. It would have prevented them worrying.

Especially when Mrs. Pumphrey comes home to collect Tricki on that day. And without warning! James and Helen search about Skeldale House in order to find Tricki, but of course he’s nowhere to be found.

Teddy Turner guest stars as Hodgekin in the episode. He was quite mean to two kids who admired Mrs. Pumphrey as he told them to clear off. This was when he was waiting outside for Mrs. Pumphrey.

And it was when Mrs. Pumphrey had Tricki being given his check-up before she went off to France. Also early on, it was very odd when Tricki was given over to James before Mrs Pumphrey went off to France.

Mrs. Pumphrey gave a strange look to her butler when James took Tricki-Woo with him. What was all that about? Does Mrs. Pumphrey’s butler disapprove of her ‘molly-coddling’ Tricki as well as Hodgekin here.

Speaking of which, Hodgekin is being given drinks of scotch I believe before he realises that James has lost Tricki-Woo. James denies this of course before he hides away once Mrs. Pumphrey has arrived. 😀

Helen lets Mrs. Pumphrey in whilst James is hiding. Eventually, Siegfried returns home with Tricki which James is relieved. Meanwhile, Hodgekin has become quickly drunk to which Mrs. Pumphrey is appalled.

It was astonishingly amazing to see Hodgekin getting quickly drunk, especially as it concludes the episode. James and Siegfried help Hodgekin back to Mrs. Pumphrey’s car, putting him in the back seat.

James does offer Mrs. Pumphrey to drive the car back home for her, but she tells him she’s quite capable to drive the car. Wow! That’s impressive! I wouldn’t have thought Mrs. Pumphrey could drive.

I enjoyed ‘Old Dogs, New Tricks’ very much. My parents and I laughed at the Tricki-Woo stuff as that usually saves an ‘All Creatures’ episode. It was also so intriguing to see Ewan Ross in the show’s reboot.

‘Old Dogs, New Tricks’ rating – 8/10

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