‘PIG IN THE MIDDLE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
I really liked this episode in ‘All Creatures’! It has plenty going on in terms of drama, comedy and character interactions especially between our main leads as well as happy go-lucky sheep dog in this.
The episode is again adapted by Johnny Bryne from the ‘James Herriot’ books, who previously adapted ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ for Series 3 of ‘All Creatures’. He’d do one more episode in Series 3.
The episode is also directed by Michael Hayes, who makes his second directorial contribution to the ‘All Creatures’ series. The first episode he directed was ‘Every Dog His Day…’ in Series 3 of the show.
‘Pig In The Middle’ begins with James paying a visit to Joby Blashard as Mr. Bailes who has a cow that seems to be sick. Throughout this episode, James pays several visits to see that the cow gets better.
But during his visits to Bailes’ farm, James gets scared out of his wits when a dog named Shep keeps barking at him out of nowhere. James is easily annoyed and irritated when the dog is barking at him.
Now I will come back to this point later in the review, but I find it astonishing that James would get so worked up about a dog barking at him out of nowhere. Can’t he be light-hearted on the situation?
What makes it even puzzling is that James has been living in a house where Siegfried owns dogs. Wouldn’t James be used to this unless he and Helen had decided not to keep one dog of their own?
I mean, James and Helen did look after a stray cat in ‘Charity Begins At Home’. Wouldn’t it be the same in looking after a dog as well as a cat? I know dogs and cats are pretty different to each other, but still.
Anyway, it turns out that James is supposed to remember a certain date next week in the episode. Mrs. Hall tries to remind him but he doesn’t remember, and she is pretty ashamed of James on this.
Siegfried then reminds James about the certain date next week and he still can’t remember. James then asks Tristan for help since he cannot recall what it is he’s supposed to remember for next week.
I would say it was his wedding anniversary next week and that’s exactly what Tristan tells him. It is supposed to be James and Helen’s first wedding anniversary next week. How can James forget this?!
Wait a minute! This is their first wedding anniversary together? So that means one year has passed since James and Helen’s wedding in Series 1 and their first wedding anniversary in Series 3?! Wow!!!
You could’ve fooled me! I thought it was two years in that time between seasons. But I suppose ‘All Creatures’ seasons do not work like that as does for ‘Star Trek’ seasons where it is one year later on.
I was thinking that James forgetting his wedding anniversary with Helen might lead down to some bad comedy situation wherein he forgets at the last minute. But thankfully this doesn’t happen here.
When James sets about to make plans for the first wedding anniversary, Tristan suggests that they go to the Harlequin, which he claims is a modest restaurant that opened recently. James takes it on.
James reveals to Helen after breakfast that he’s got a first wedding anniversary for them both but refuses to tell her what it is since it’s a surprise. Helen cheekily calls James a ‘beast’ as he won’t tell. 😀
But then when Helen is indecisive about what to wear for the special occasion, James eventually tells Helen that it’s the Harlequin they are going to. Now I was expecting Helen to not like this idea at all.
But it turns out she’s delighted even though she shows concern that it’s one of the most posh restaurants in the area. This is something that Tristan failed to mention when suggesting it to James.
This of course leads to James wanting to have it out with Tristan, but he manages to get away. James naturally of course worries about how he’s going to pay for the restaurant meal he’s already booked.
Speaking of which, Tristan continues to do that foreign accent thing when answering the telephone. Not sure why he still does it in this episode as well as the previous one. It just seems very odd to do.
There’s also a follow-up to Tristan doing the deed he was asked to do with Mr. Mount’s horse in the previous episode. We never see it but he managed to do it okay and he’s ended things with Debbie.
Not that there was much to be concerned about considering we never saw that relationship between them in the previous episode. But then Tristan hooks up with another girl named Betty. 😀
And we never see that relationship in the episode either. Nor do we see Betty either. I wish that nice Scottish girl, Alice McTavish, came back into the series for Tristan’s sake. I miss seeing her in the series.
Hey, the director Michael Hayes also directed ‘The Androids of Tara’ in ‘Doctor Who’. I’m sure he thought of Lois Baxter to play opposite Robert Hardy’s Siegfried in the episode when casting her. 😀
And don’t worry! She doesn’t do android engineering work like she did in ‘The Androids of Tara’ (thank goodness). But she does do some horse-riding with Siegfried which the two are very good at.
They also fall in love with each other pretty swiftly in the episode. I’m not sure if that’s how romantic relationships work but the Farnon brothers do have a way with the ladies in their own unique ways.
Out on one ride together, Margery Egerton invites Siegfried to a party she’s having at her home to which he accepts. But Siegfried needs to make sure Tristan is doing surgery that night when he’s out.
When Siegfried asks Tristan to stay in surgery for that night, Tristan refuses. He’s hoping to see Betty on that night too. The two brothers quarrel about it as they both want to have the same evening off.
Tristan won’t back down from Siegfried’s bullying into staying in for the surgery that night. Thus the two brothers ask James to arbitrate for them when they both want an evening off at the same time.
I just love it when James warms up to giving Siegfried and Tristan his answer, as he clearly enjoys it and has two glasses of Scotch to make his decision. He then decides the two of them should stay in.
This doesn’t make Siegfried and Tristan very happy in the slightest. They clearly wanted James to pick one of them and his saying that they should both stay in wasn’t what they hoped he’d make a decision on.
They’re not too friendly with him over breakfast but James seems to take on the insults from Siegfried and Tristan with a light-hearted approach. Eventually, things get resolved for this episode.
Tristan’s date, Betty, phones him to tell him she can’t do their evening together and asks if they can do it for the following night. Tristan agrees and then offers to Siegfried to stay in whilst he goes out.
I like how Siegfried winds his brother before agreeing to the arrangement. Even when tension is between them about who stays in and who goes out, Siegfried finds a way to tease his little brother.
I enjoyed it when James and Helen go out for their evening together at the Harlequin. Although they have to deliver a goat to someone on the way before their car breaks down and they must fix a tyre.
James and Helen thankfully have their special evening at the Harlequin where they dance together and have a meal. They have a pretty good time, but it seems to be all too good to be true by the end.
For you see, the goat that James and Helen were delivering managed to eat James’ cheque book when he took off his jacket. This means they cannot pay for their meal. What can they possibly do?!
James tries to explain to Ellis Dale as the Head Waiter about the situation that a goat ate his cheque book (isn’t it funny how that sounds). But thankfully the Head Waiter tells him not to worry about it.
What?! It seems that James and Helen’s meal has already been paid for in advance. James and Helen are surprised. James correctly guesses that it was Siegfried who paid for it and the two toast to him.
I must say I did like Helen in her stunning blue dress when she went out with James for that evening. If I went out with a girl who wore a stunning blue dress like that for a posh meal, I’d be pretty happy.
There are some nice little subplots in the episode that were pretty enjoyable to watch. There’s the time when James and Siegfried visits John Sharp as Mr. Biggins at his farm to attend to a cow in this.
Siegfried tries out a new way of treating a cow compared to an ‘old fashioned’ method that James uses. But the experimental method doesn’t work and it seems James’ previous method is preferable.
It was funny when James is amused by Siegfried’s new method not working and Mr. Biggins wanting the old method to work on his cow. Mr. Biggins also asks Siegfried not to use the new method again.
There is also Gillian Barge as Mrs. Ainsworth whom James visits to attend to her dogs as well as a stray ginger cat she looks after. The ginger cat keeps herself to herself before she sadly passes away.
It’s quite a sad story to see with the ginger cat dying like that, but thankfully there’s a little kitten that comes out of it. Mrs. Ainsworth gets to keep the kitten to which she is greatly delighted about.
There’s also the amusing story where Mrs. Hall becomes tipsy after attending a women’s sherry party. Siegfried and Tristan notice this when Mrs. Hall’s clearly had too much to drink from the party.
It was amusing when Tristan is served dinner by Mrs. Hall whilst James, Helen and Siegfried are out. Tristan is fearful Mrs. Hall’s about to drop the plates that look unsteady. Thankfully it does not occur.
Going back to Mr. Bailes and his dog Shep, James gets pretty annoyed when it scares him one time and he chases after it. Afterwards, Shep doesn’t bark at James again as he’s scared by him after this.
I was thinking this might lead to James reconciling with the dog at some point and perhaps be friends with him in the episode. That doesn’t happen sadly but Shep does get to bark at people soon.
‘Pig In The Middle’ is a very entertaining episode in ‘All Creatures’. I enjoyed every minute of this episode. I liked how James and Helen’s romantic wedding anniversary evening turned out in the end.
‘Pig In The Middle’ rating – 9/10
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