Please feel free to comment on my review.
It’s time for the fifth episode of Series 7 of ‘All Creatures’ and it’s all about ‘Spring Fever’. Sing it with me! (singing) ‘O why should I have spring fever, when it isn’t even spring’. – ‘State Fair’ from 1945. 🙂
Anyway, this fifth episode should’ve been the fourth episode with its directed by Michael Brayshaw. The episode uses that title sequence of Siegfried and James exiting out from a shop, directed by him.
‘Spring Fever’ isn’t the last episode to be directed by Michael Brayshaw, as he would direct the 1990 Christmas Special ‘Brotherly Love’. He’ll probably use that title sequence he uses for that episode. 😀
Okay, look. With me criticising his title sequence for ‘All Creatures’ episode, I’m not criticising his direction on the episodes he makes. In all fairness, he is a pretty decent director for the series itself.
Mind you, with that said, I did find the plot threads for this episode rather jumbled up. They didn’t seem to hold together, especially towards the end. That might also have to do with the writing here.
The episode is by new writer Joan Salter. And surprisingly…it’s the only one she’s written for ‘All Creatures’ and TV according to IMDb. Wow! I would’ve thought Joan Salter had more writing credits.
I can’t find much information about Joan Salter as a writer on the Internet. There is another author called Joan Salter who’s done maternity books but I’m not sure it’s the same one for ‘All Creatures’. 🙂
Anyway, let’s talk about this episode. It starts off with Siegfried and James driving in a car in the countryside. Siegfried talks about the goodness of spring to James. At least they’re keeping with the title.
But…I don’t know. It doesn’t ‘spring’-enough to me. It still feels like winter. Then again, it could be the end of winter going into spring at around March time, but I don’t see why Siegfried should be happy.
The episode has Siegfried and James passing Mrs. Donovan, who is giving vet advice to many people. Now Mrs. Donovan has been in ‘All Creatures’ before. She was in ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ in Series 1.
She was played by Sheila Reid in that episode. Here, Sheila Reid plays Mrs. Donovan again! Now I don’t mind having a past character back in a Series 7 episode. It’s really nice to have that connection.
But I have an issue regarding Mrs. Donovan’s character. I couldn’t remember who she was! It’s a while since I’ve seen ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ in Series 1. That was the only solo appearance she did.
I doubt many people would remember Mrs. Donovan’s character from a Series 1 episode in a Series 7 episode. It’s quite a stretch for people to remember someone who only made a single appearance.
Actually, as a side note, Johnny Byrne was the writer of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ in Series 1. Was Joan Salter perhaps a pseudonym for Johnny Byrne writing ‘Spring Fever’? That would make sense. 🙂
And if that were the case, did Johnny Byrne want his name taken off the episode’s script because it was being interfered with by the script editor Joy Lale. I’m just speculating, but this could be true. 😀
Anyway, to keep you up-to-date, Mrs. Donovan is a self-styled animal healer who seems to interfere with the vets’ work. She’s a gentle soul, but can be quite eccentric and demeaning to the three vets.
James and Siegfried seem to be praising of Mrs. Donovan’s work to help animals early on in the episode. They also comment on Mrs. Donovan recently losing her dog. Roy, I believe he was called. 🙂
I must admit, I did find Mrs. Donovan rather annoying in this episode. I must’ve tolerated her in the Series 1 episode she was in, but that was a long time ago. Here, she’s quite a nosey old bossy boots.
As James, Siegfried and Tristan try to get on with their jobs, Mrs. Donovan seems to be criticising them whenever she visits the surgery. Sometimes when on farms, she keeps causing an interference.
Tristan has a hard time with Mrs. Donovan, who at one point…sits in the surgery’s chair with her eyes shut and sitting like a Buddha…what? She criticises Trist for the aura of the surgery he works in.
She also encourages Tristan to have thoughts of beauty whilst he tries to get to leave. Mrs. Donovan’s also there whilst he’s visiting Rosemary Brocklehurst regards her tortoise (more later on).
Siegfried also challenges Mrs. Donovan’s tonic cures in the search for science by giving a distilled water solution to Mr. Carter for some of his pigs. I’ll return back to this plot thread in the conclusion.
Simply saying, I didn’t care much for the Mrs. Donovan part of the episode and found her rather mean-spirited to the vets. Thank goodness she does not return in future episodes of the TV series. 😀
That’s enough on Mrs. Donovan. Let’s talk about Tristan. First of all, he gets a visit from an old school friend of his. That happens to be Peter Alexander as St. John…or Stingy as Tristan names him in this.
Stingy? That’s the name Bertie Wooster would give to one of his friends like Stinker instead of Harold Pinker. Tristan and Stingy even do a little ‘hand and pat’ dance when they reunite together. 🙂
Anyway, Stingy is a bit of a layabout. A bon vivant, apparently, that Siegfried didn’t like very much when he met him long ago. And if I’m honest, I find Stingy did not provide much to the episode here.
He just comes in being lazy and an embarrassment to Tristan and that’s it! He even stays for a few nights at Skeldale House because…I don’t know. He’s got some…important business somewhere (?!)
Yeah I’m not sure what the deal is with this guy. He’s just a bit of unhelpful jerk who Tristan tries to hide from Siegfried. Which makes me wonder…why? Why would Tristan hide Stingy from Siegfried?
Siegfried doesn’t live in Skeldale House. At least I hope he doesn’t. He must be living with his wife and kids. Which we still don’t get to see in the reboot era! Seriously, where are they? Goodness me!
Is it because Siegfried doesn’t want Tristan having Stingy ruining the place or something? It’s rather weak. Even Siegfried meets Stingy and does not recognise him at first, it feels rather weakly handled.
Siegfried seems to recognise Stingy from somewhere but it never gets followed upon. Siegfried doesn’t even realise it is Stingy, Tristan’s old friend, and doesn’t throw him out as you would expect.
I’ve checked whether Stingy comes back in a future episode and apparently he doesn’t. How come the episode did not take advantage of Siegfried throwing Stingy out or realising he was Trist’s friend?
It’s like things are set up in the episode but they’re never followed through. Tristan keeps hiding Stingy away from Siegfried and even Stingy becomes a nuisance interfering with Tristan’s love life. 😀
Yeah! In the episode, Tristan realises Rosemary Brocklehurst, the girl he fancies with the tortoise, knows Stingy at the end. That is rather weakly developed and it does seem to come out of nowhere.
Tristan gets into such a rage about it that he kicks one of the wheels of Stingy’s car before actually injuring his wrist. That was a running joke that had been played between Tristan and Rosemary in this.
One more thing to add regarding Stingy, Tristan keeps it a secret from Mrs. Alton that Stingy is living under Skeldale’s roof. I don’t know why he did not do that. Tristan seems quite immature about this.
Even when Mrs. Alton discovers Stingy has been staying overnight, Tristan comes up with a lie that Stingy works with the government. That does impress and convince Mrs. Alton, but why lie to her?!!
By the way, I found it funny when James made a cup of tea for himself, which Trist takes before James takes it from him to give to Mrs. Alton. Stingy takes the cup off Mrs. Alton, but it is still funny.
Anyway, as I’ve mentioned, Tristan becomes smitten again with a lovely blonde-haired client, Rosemary Brocklehurst, who has a sick tortoise. Rosemary Brocklehurst is played by Emma Hardy! 🙂
Whoa! Emma Hardy! Emma happens to be the real-life daughter of Robert Hardy! If Rosemary turned out to be Siegfried’s daughter in the episode, that would’ve been really hilarious, wouldn’t it?
Sadly that’s not what happens though. I don’t think Emma Hardy has any scenes with her father, playing Rosemary. Anyway, Tristan seems to hit off well with Rosemary as he attends to her tortoise.
Tristan does his research in looking up on tortoises and even makes out he has a sprained hand when attending to Mr. Carter’s dog Sam. He gets sympathy from Rosemary when he bandages it up.
Mind you it’s a fake bandage, but he still gets sympathy. Thankfully Tristan works hard to seeing the tortoise recovered. Rosemary is very grateful to Trist when seeing the tortoise come out of his shell.
By the way, Helen only appears in one scene of the episode when she attends to Rosemary’s tortoise. I get the impression Helen is rather side-lined in Series 7 episodes. I hope I’m wrong on this.
The episode also features Ian Thompson as Mr. Carter, a farmer who has a problem with his pigs. Ian Thompson has been in the ITV series ‘A Family At War’, playing John Porter. I’ve seen him in that. 😀
I didn’t recognise Ian Thompson in this episode as he grew a bushy beard since doing ‘A Family At War’. I rechecked the episode again with a few scenes featuring him and I could see that it was him.
I’m amazed I’ve seen Ian Thompson in a few more things beyond ‘A Family At War’. Not just ‘All Creatures’, but also ‘Blake’s 7’ too. I hope there are more things to spot Ian Thompson in after this. 🙂
Just to go back to the episode’s ending, it was strange when Siegfried enquired Mr. Carter about his pigs who had been given two types of treatment. One lot by Mrs. Rosemary and one lot by Siegfried.
Mr. Carter tells Siegfried that the pigs are fine, before telling him that the pigs he treated had died. Yet Mr. Carter doesn’t seem bothered by it when he’s having a drink at the Drovers. Really odd that.
Also, whilst Tristan and James are worried, Siegfried shows worry before he smiles as the end credits come up. Odd that. Surely Mrs. Donovan’s wonder medicine being better than the vets’ should greatly worry him.
‘Spring Fever’ is a very underwhelming ‘All Creatures’ episode with loose plot threads that don’t go anywhere. With that said, I’d prefer watching ‘Spring Fever’ than the 2019 BBC ‘A Christmas Carol’. 🙂
‘Spring Fever’ rating – 7/10
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