‘Plenty To Grouse About’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

Here we begin Series 3 of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’! This is the season where we see our main characters reach a turning point in their lives as events lead to the outbreak of the Second World War.

This is also the last season where we see the best of ‘All Creatures’ with the main cast of Christopher Timothy, Robert Hardy, Peter Davison and Carol Drinkwater. There are two Christmas Specials after this.

But this is the season where we see the last of Carol Drinkwater in the regular role of Helen before she gets replaced by Lynda Bellingham. I recall seeing Series 3 of ‘All Creatures’ on DVD around 2006.

Incidentally, Series 3 was released in a complete DVD box set by ‘Playback’ as opposed to dividing the season in two volumes for Series 1 and 2. This would apply for the rest of ‘All Creatures’ from Series 4 to 7.

I’m not sure what the logic behind these DVD releases is. Clearly when ‘Playback’ decided to release the rest of ‘All Creatures’ on DVD, it was decided to do complete DVD box sets instead of two volumes for each season.

I’m not familiar with Series 3 of ‘All Creatures’ as much as I am with Series 1 and 2, although I did enjoy the season overall. Because of my lack of familiarity, these reviews might not be so heartfelt as before.

Anyway, the first episode of Series 3, ‘Plenty To Grouse About’ is adapted by Terrence Dudley from the ‘James Herriot’ books. My, my, Terrence Dudley is back to writing! When will he do ‘Doctor Who’? 😀

The episode is also directed by Christopher Barry. Before this, Chris Barry had directed ‘Merry Gentlemen’, the ‘All Creatures’ Christmas Special from Series 2. He must be fresh in directing this episode.

Oh by the way, Peter Davison’s name has been added to the opening titles sequence of ‘All Creatures’. Yet this is still the same opening title sequence with no image of Peter Davison’s Tristan to go with it.

The episode has James being busy with some tuberculin testing at some farms with cows. Not sure how it’s supposed to work out. It’s all very veterinarian stuff and beyond my understanding, I’m afraid.

Anyway the workload that James has got makes no difference to the Ministry of Agriculture. He gets summoned by them to answer to some test results of the tuberculin testing. The results don’t add up.

James meets up with John Ringham as Mr. Charles Harcourt in his office. I’ve seen John Ringham before in episodes of ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Dad’s Army’. He’s well-known for his ‘Doctor Who’ role in ‘The Aztecs’.

I enjoyed John Ringham’s performance in this ‘All Creatures’ episode. He’s not very happy with James’ efforts in handling the paperwork/forms of the tuberculin testing. In fact, Harcourt’s really annoyed about it.

I felt for James when he had to sit in Harcourt’s office being told what to do about his paperwork and being criticised for his handling of the situation. It’s like failing your homework when you’re at school. 😀

Meanwhile, Siegfried comes across a dog owner who rather mistreats his dog by believing to use strict disciple to teach it. The dog owner get pretty angry when the dog does not seem to obey his commands.

And who is this dog owner you ask? It’s Andrew Robertson as Mr. Murray from Scotland. And who is Andrew Robertson you may ask? Well, it took me a while to recognise him but I could see who he was.

Andrew Robertson played “Mr. Fibuli!” in the ‘Doctor Who’ story, ‘The Pirate Planet’, with Tom Baker. It was amazing to see him in a different role without the glasses and the striking wild hair that he had.

In this episode, Andrew Robertson is not playing a nice man. Murray is mean-spirited, especially towards his dog and Catrona MacDonald as his wife. He even ignores Siegfried’s advice on being kind to his dog.

Siegfried gets agitated when Murray refuses to adhere his advice about treating his dog with respect. This isn’t the last encounter with Murray though, as Siegfried finds him responsible for another matter.

As well as Murray, Siegfried also has to deal with some dying sheep that are being killed off by some ticks in some of the countryside’s vegetation. The owners of sheep may not have means to save them.

Siegfried soon discovers that Murray is responsible for owning the land containing the countryside’s vegetation infected with ticks. Calling at his grand house, Siegfried requests Murray to help out with this.

Murray however refuses, considering those who own the dying sheep inferior to him. Siegfried becomes even more agitated by Murray’s unreasonable behaviour. But he may soon have the answer.

I liked that scene where Tristan is with Murray in the local Drovers. Murray is presumably drunk and questions Tristan’s veterinarian expertise and whether he’s qualified. Siegfried enters and supports Trist.

It was nice to see rare occasions where Siegfried supported his brother despite occasions where he’s ridiculed him in the past. Tristan thanks Siegfried for it. Murray leaves in a huff along with his wife.

Later on, towards the end of the episode, Siegfried visits Murray at his grand mansion. He even sees the dog. Murray tells Siegfried to clear off. Siegfried refuses to comply. Murray threatens to call the police.

Siegfried then comes back with saying he has some information about Murray’s activities before he came from Scotland to Darrowby. I like how Siegfried manages to blackmail Murray at the story’s end.

Hopefully Siegfried has persuaded Murray to see past his arrogance and help those owners who need help with saving the rest of their sheep that are getting killed off by ticks. He could still be cranky though.

Meanwhile Helen gets a job as a secretary outside of Skeldale House. James is a little put-off by the news, unsure whether he approves. Naturally he is concerned that Siegfried won’t be happy about it.

I was expecting Siegfried to go fuming over the news about Helen becoming a secretary for someone else. But no! He think it’s wonderful! Oh! Well, that unexpected. I found that funny when seeing it.

It’s indicated that Tristan isn’t keen about the news as he will probably have to take over Helen’s duties when she’s not doing secretary duties in Skeldale House. Though I don’t think this is fully emphasised.

In fact, the Helen becoming a secretary subplot doesn’t become fully developed in the episode. Maybe it’ll get explored in future episodes of Series 3. I can’t recall it at this point. We’ll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, Mary Hignett as Mrs. Hall has got problems of her own. She gets visited by a man whom Tristan assumes is her boyfriend. As Siegfried discovers it from Mrs. Hall, it transpires he is her brother.

When Mrs. Hall sees Siegfried in the living room to have a word, she asks to leave to help her brother since he’s now alone to work his farm. She also tells him her brother is also having issues with dying sheep.

Siegfried tries to reassure Mrs. Hall and persuade her not to leave too soon as he believes there may be a chance to help her brother with his farm. This turns out to be the case especially by the tale’s end.

Also in the episode, Siegfried sees a farmer, Stuart Golland as Mr. Moverley. Moverley has a cow that happens to have tuberculosis. This is something Moverley’s not happy about when Siegfried tells him.

Of course the cow that has tuberculosis has to be slaughtered. This is something James sees to when he and Helen see Frank Birch who returns as Jeff Mallock in the episode. And he’s in a big bloody state.

Seriously, when Mallock’s doing the job of slaughtering diseased animals he looks gross with his apron on and bloodied all over. He doesn’t seem to mind that though, especially when he’s having elevenses.

But as James and Helen drive away from Mallock who’s to attend the cow and go about their rounds, they come across Moverley on his bike who tells them Mallock’s got the wrong cow. He’s got his best one.

Apparently there was a mix-up with two cows that Moverley had since his best cow has been sent to be killed and his diseased one has been sent to a buyer. James gets panic-stricken since this risks his career.

I enjoyed it when James and Helen drive around in their car, trying to find Mallock in his green van. It becomes a wild goose chase with James and Helen in the car. James get snappy with Helen at times.

Helen does her best in trying to comfort and reassure James when they’re on the road, but James isn’t the mood. I do think James is a little unfair when he speaks to Helen as he’s very agitated and annoyed.

Thankfully this is made up with some smugness on James’ part, thinking he’s cleverer than Helen, before apologising to her for being so snappy. It was funny when they came across the wrong green van though.

James honks his car horn at Malcolm Raeburn as the van driver to stop before he and Helen realise it’s not Mallock’s van. They eventually find Mallock back at his place, still in off-putting bloodied form.

Thankfully James and Helen are just in the nick in time as Mallock hasn’t killed the good cow of Moverley’s. James and Helen tell Mallock what happened and the three have a good laugh about it. 🙂

There’s one more thing I’ve got to say with regards to Tristan’s character. Mrs. Hall finds an old guitar that Tristan used to play when he was young. Tristan is delighted. He starts to play it in the living room.

This gets on Siegfried’s nerves when he’s in the living room with Tristan as he plays the guitar. He soon leaves the living room to go upstairs, yet Siegfried seems to like Tristan’s guitar-playing out in the hall.

This episode sees Peter Davison getting to show off his guitar-playing skills which he does rather well. I’m not sure if the guitar-playing is in Tristan’s character according to the books or if it’s just Peter Davison.

Tristan later shows his guitar Jayne Lester as Kitty Pattison. Kitty is Charles Harcourt’s secretary and whom Tristan fancies. She of courses plays the guitar wrong and Tristan gently teaches her.

It all ends up with Tristan and Kitty kissing each other in surgery before Mrs. Hall enters. Tristan’s guitar gets thrown onto the floor with a clang. Mr. Harcourt wants Kitty back and she becomes agitated.

Kitty then steps on Tristan’s guitar, which was shocking to see. 😀 Poor Trist’s guitar! Mrs. Hall finds it most disgraceful. Not certain whether she meant Trist’s guitar being stepped on or he and Kitty kissing.

Probably the later. Anyway, ‘Plenty To Grouse About’ is a good beginning to Series 3 of ‘All Creatures’. It doesn’t feature any grouse or grouse shooting which is a shame, but at least Murray was Scottish. 😀

‘Plenty To Grouse About’ rating – 8/10

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