‘Practice Makes Perfect’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

This episode sees Tristan getting the results of his final exams to become a vet. And it’s not good. How will Tristan win over Siegfried over this news if he can? Will he attempt to make amends for it?

This episode was adapted by Johnny Byrne from the ‘James Herriot’ books and was directed by Christopher Baker. As well as ‘Doctor Who’, Johnny Bryne also penned TV episodes of ‘Space: 1999’.

So yeah, like I said, this episode begins with Tristan finally getting the results of his final exams and he’s failed. Tristan is in a state about it and becomes abrupt with James without explaining his issue.

Eventually, Tristan and James go to the Drovers together and all is revealed. James is naturally concerned for Tristan about this mess, especially as Tristan wonders what he’s going to tell Siegfried.

Now to be fair, it is nice to see Tristan being concerned about the failure of his exams. It shows him not being reckless and immature as he can be. He wants to be a vet and to win Siegfried’s approval.

Eventually James gives Tristan the inspiration he needs in order to soften Siegfried before telling him the news about his exams. Tristan decides to start an exercise program and to cut down his fetishes.

This starts with Tristan getting up early in the morning and…dressed up in a cricket jumper and blue shorts before Siegfried’s eyes! Hey, Tristan’s becoming the Fifth Doctor at last in this episode! Yay!!!

I got to admit, it was funny to see Tristan running on the spot in his cricket jumper and shorts. Peter Davison does brilliantly balancing the comedy and drama in his performance as Tristan in the TV tale.

Siegfried is quite astonished to see Tristan being this way and getting exercise by doing running. By the way, Siegfried has undertaken some training himself by going out on horse-riding on the moors.

There’s a scene where Siegfried and Tristan run into each other, as Siegfried rides a horse and Tristan does his run. This after Tristan smokes a cigarette behind a bush…okay, that’s cheating here.

Yeah one of the things Tristan decides to cut down is smoking as well as drinking. This isn’t going to help with Tristan smoking before he does his run is it? Tristan is going to cough plenty afterwards. 😀

Tristan also decides to run errands as a proper vet would in order to soften Siegfried up and impress him. One of the errands is making a visit to Peter Martin as Mr. Handshaw at his farm with his cows.

Ah, thankfully James doesn’t have to visit Handshaw in this episode and receive jokes about the cow he said would never walk. Also, is it my imagination or is there snow where Mr. Handshaw’s farm is?

Tristan and Mr. Handshaw try to get the cows inside the barn so that Tristan can do his work on them. But the cows seem reluctant to go inside the barn. Tristan and Handshaw have a difficult time.

But eventually, one of Handshaw’s helpers (I think) comes along and uses his ‘whistling’ (I think) to get the cows to go inside the barn. This seems to work. Wow, if only they had used that man earlier.

Meanwhile with James, he has to deal with Mrs. Donovan who is a self-styled animal healer. Sheila Reid guest stars as Mrs. Donovan. Wait a minute! Sheila Reid! Haven’t I seen her before? Yes, I have!

Sheila Reid appeared in the ‘Doctor Who’ story, ‘Vengeance on Varos’ and she played Clara’s gran in ‘The Time of the Doctor’ and ‘Dark Water’. She also featured in an episode of ‘Monarch of the Glen’.

I didn’t realise it was Sheila Reid until I was half-way through the episode. It was nice to see her in ‘All Creatures’. Her character Mrs. Donovan seems confident in her amateur ways of healing animals.

After a bit of an episode with somebody’s dog, James realises that Mrs. Donovan has been giving different medical advice contrary to what he’s given. He requests Mrs. Donovan to cease interfering.

Mrs. Donovan is a gentle soul if a little eccentric at times. Despite not being qualified in healing animals, she’s confident she can do well as vets. James isn’t convinced when she asks her to stop it.

Later on in the episode, Mrs. Donovan’s dog, Rex, gets run over by a car accidentally. Wow, that was sudden! James and Siegfried try to treat the dog, but it’s already too late. Mrs. Donovan is so upset.

James comforts Mrs. Donovan, reassuring her that she can get another dog. But Mrs. Donovan is adamant that she’ll never have another dog again as it seems that Rex was her life-long companion.

Eventually, James gets called in by the local constable to deal with a case of animal cruelty. A dog was found in an abandoned shed (I think). Mrs. Donovan also comes along to examine the poor dog.

James soon knows who can provide the poor dog a new home. He asks Mrs. Donovan if she’d like to look after him. After a bit of toing and froing, Mrs. Donovan eventually agrees to keep the poor dog.

She even names him Roy, as it says on his collar I believe. Eventually, Mrs. Donovan takes Roy into the vets and he looks brand new and healthy. This was a sweet little story to enjoy in the TV episode.

Also in the episode, James is asked by Siegfried to help Andrew Crawford as Angus Grier…oh no! Not him again! In case you do not remember, Angus Grier was that neighbouring vet who bullied James.

Yeah that was in the episode ‘Sleeping Partners’ where James was made to wear that rubber suit to be made fun of. James understandably feels very uncomfortable over helping Mr. Angus Grier again.

But Siegfried tells James that Angus Grier has broken his arm and he’s lost his previous assistant, Mr. Clinton. I suppose Clinton had enough of Grier by then. Or Peter Duncan moved on to do ‘Blue Peter’. 😀

Reluctantly, James agrees and goes to see Angus Grier to help him out for a few days. It doesn’t start well as Angus Grier becomes bitter and argumentative with James whilst he’s being extremely polite.

James goes to see somebody’s cow that isn’t given the proper treatment it deserves. After Grier sees the cow for himself with James, he starts to become friendly with James for a pretty peculiar reason.

Maybe he’s trying to make James not reveal how incompetent he is as a vet. It shows. Anyway, James gets asked to visit Mrs. Mallard about a bone in her dog. Lucy Griffiths returns as Mrs. Greer.

In fact, it’s Mrs. Greer who mentions about Mrs. Mallard and her ‘sick dog’. Angus Greer sends James instead of him to see Mrs. Mallard. James agrees to this as he sees Mrs. Mallard at her house.

But it seems Mrs. Mallard had been expecting Mr. Greer instead. And I mean in a more…’romantic’ manner. I assume that Angus Grier has been cheating on his wife and has been seeing Mrs. Mallard.

I think James assumes this too, but doesn’t let the cat out of the bag. In fact he gives the prescribed treatment that Grier asked him to give to Mrs. Mallard’s dog and saying that he’s suffering laryngitis.

I wonder why James lied on Angus Grier’s behalf, especially when he doesn’t like him. Is it to tease him or make Angus Grier like him more? I don’t know really. This only just occurred to me just now.

As James leaves, he teases Angus Grier about the condition of Mrs. Mallard and seeming to approve of his prognosis of her dog having laryngitis. Grier seems confused. I’m sure I’m a little confused too.

There’s a nice scene between James and Helen in the episode where she finds some spare cash in his trousers and puts it in their piggy banks. This is all before the two have a romantic moment together.

There’s also a funny scene where Jean Harrington as Connie (James’ previous date in ‘Out of Practice’) comes over to see Tristan about their pre-arranged date. She finds him in the bath. Oops! 😀

The episode ends with Siegfried getting everybody including James, Helen and Tristan in the Skeldale House living room. Siegfried is about to toast to Tristan, approving of his brother’s improving efforts.

Tristan then admits to Siegfried that he’s received his results for the final exams. As Tristan gently breaks it to him, Siegfried at first seems to erupt in anger over his brother’s failure but he walks out.

After what thinks Tristan is a close shave, Siegfried comes back in and tells his brother of his decision. Due to his latest efforts, Siegfried decides to reduce Tristan’s pleasures to keep his training.

This of course shocks and upsets Tristan when he finds he’s limited to the drink, smoking and women he can have. I found it funny to see as it was nicely done how Siegfried handles the situation.

‘Practice Makes Perfect’ is another enjoyable episode from ‘All Creatures’. I like how it starts with Tristan receiving the news of his failure over his exams and how he softens Siegfried to win him over.

‘Practice Makes Perfect’ rating – 8/10

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