‘The Best Time’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

It’s time for the last episode of Series 6 of ‘All Creatures’. It’s a pretty standard episode of the season and not worth considering to be a finale. But don’t worry, we are getting closer to Tristan’s return. 😀

‘The Best Time’, based on the ‘James Herriot’ books, is by Johnny Byrne and is his third contribution to Series 6. I do wonder if Johnny Byrne had any specific layout to plan each season that got produced.

This episode is also the last one to be directed by Tony Virgo and it’s his final contribution to the ‘All Creatures’ series. I’m saddened Tony Virgo didn’t come back to do more for Series 7 as he’s very good.

The final episode does feature two special guest stars. Well, three really. There’s Margaretta Scott back as Mrs. Pumphrey in the episode along with Tricki-Woo. It was nice to see the two in this episode.

The episode also features Thora Hird as Mrs. Clarke. Thora Hird is highly-regarded as one of Britain’s finest character actresses, appearing in TV shows including ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ and ‘Heartbeat’.

It was also interesting to hear from my parents that Thora Hird was a committed Christian in her time. It’s rare to find that in many TV shows. I am glad a Christian actress appears in an ‘All Creatures’ episode.

In this episode, Siegfried gives a lift to old Mrs. Clarke and little girl Jessica Sewell as Mary Clarke. Mrs. Clarke does seem to be a nice friendly lady when Siegfried gives her and Mary a lift back to their home.

But there’s also a sad side to Mrs. Clarke. She lost her son during the war and is still grieving despite the war being long over. Siegfried does his best to reassure Mrs. Clarke when she gives raspberry cake.

Mrs. Clarke also refuses to have anything to do with her young neighbour, Ray Mangion as Franco Pedretti. This is because he’s an Italian and her son was killed in Italy during the Second World War. 😦

Franco is actually a very nice young man. He doesn’t speak very fluent English, but he seems easy to understand when having a nice conversation with him. Siegfried gets on well with Franco here as well.

I like how Siegfried tries to bring Mrs. Clarke and Franco together and reconcile their differences. This happens when one of the rams on Mrs. Clarke’s farm is really ill. Siegfried needs help to carry the ram.

When asking for Mr. Franco to help, Mrs. Clarke refuses to have him on her land. But Siegfried justifies his arguments and Mrs. Clarke reluctantly agrees. She sends Mary to summon Mr. Franco to help here.

I like that Franco brings a gate for him and Siegfried to carry the ram into Mrs. Clarke’s barn. Franco also has this special kind of medicine to cure the ram. Siegfried examines it before using the medicine.

Mrs. Clarke witnesses this and even goes “Is that wise?” to Siegfried in ‘Dad’s Army’ manner. 😀 But Siegfried’s convinced they’ve got nothing to lose, deciding to take a chance. Thankfully it’s worthwhile.

I like that scene where Siegfried and Franco enjoy Mrs. Clarke’s food after attending to the ram. Siegfried gets to know who Franco is and where he comes from. Franco says that his home is a good place.

Mrs. Clarke then enquires why Franco doesn’t go back to his home, still grieving over her son’s death. It then transpires that she and Franco have a lot in common when he shares he lost a family in Italy too.

It was moving to hear Franco relate the story of how he lost his family during a bombing in WWII. Franco feels he can’t go back to his home anymore with no family to look after. This is understandable.

It seems Mrs. Clarke is reluctant to accept Franco and what he’s been through compared to her. But gradually she softens and comes to like Franco, especially as it turns out her ram has been cured here.

I like the old Mrs. Clarke and Franco story in the episode. It’s very well-handled and features some moving character drama. This is especially in terms of how Siegfried interacts with the two characters.

Mary is interesting as a character. For a while, she didn’t speak very much when Siegfried visited her and Mrs. Clarke. I wondered if she could not speak and had a condition like she was deaf or something.

But eventually she did speak in the episode’s final scenes which was a surprise to me. I wonder why she didn’t say much early on in the episode. Maybe it’s all due to Jessica Sewell’s inexperience in acting.

I like how the Mrs. Clarke/Franco turned out on a happy note in the episode. I discovered Mrs. Clarke, Mary and Franco are returning for one more episode in Series 7. I look forward to when I see that one.

An interesting revelation occurs towards the episode’s end when Siegfried and James come to visit Mrs. Clarke. Apparently, Siegfried has children as well as James. Wait, what? When this happen then?!

This is the first time I’ve heard of Siegfried having children in his life. We never get to see them as well as his wife Caroline. How is it we get to see James’ wife and kids but not Siegfried’s at all for this show?

Why couldn’t the producers have recast Caroline for Robert Hardy to work with? They did it with Helen, why not her? At least let us see Caroline and Siegfried’s kids in order to know that they’re there.

In fact, how come we haven’t seen James and Helen’s kids for a while in the series? I hope we’ll get to see them again soon in Series 7? As well as Siegfried’s? This does seem to be poorly thought-out here.

Anyway, rant over. Where was I? Oh yes! Elsewhere, James works with a farmer Dave Hill as Bert Longshaw. I didn’t find this subplot interesting as the one with Mrs. Clarke and Franco the Italian here.

It did get sort of interesting when Fred Feast as Jeff Mallock becomes involved. In this subplot, Bert Longshaw has major problems with some imported cows he has. The cows seem to be dying off a lot.

Bert Longshaw doesn’t seem to be the friendliest of chaps. In fact he’s quite blunt and off with James whenever he tries to give friendly vet advice. James gets very concerned about the welfare of Bert’s cows.

It also seems Bert is trying to hide the evidence when one of his cows dies off in the episode. James learns of this when he tells Mallock that Bert’s waiting for him, assuming he’s come to collect one cow corpse.

But Mallock stops James on the road in his van by honking his honk to berate him for playing a joke on him. It seems Bert didn’t ask him to collect a cow at all. This makes James curious once he hears this.

I did find Mallock stopping James on the road out of character. It also makes it inconsistent when you have a different actor playing that character compared to the one who played him in the early seasons.

Anyway, James goes to see Bert and ask him what he’s done with the cow that just died. Bert shows James where he’s buried them and says he did this to avoid being a laughing stock by the community.

Incidentally, the cause for the cows dying off is because they’re infected. It’s more to do with Bert’s farm being infected. I’m not sure how that’s the case considering it’s not fully explored in the episode.

The subplot with Bert’s predicament also ends rather weakly in my opinion. Bert gets a new stock of cows delivered to him by Mallock, I believe. James visits Bert when he’s unloading the cows off a truck.

I don’t think the cows subplot with Bert Longshaw was particularly interesting. The Mrs. Clarke/Franco plot took up most of the episode. But it was decent enough when watching this episode.

The Mrs. Pumphrey/Tricki Woo subplot wasn’t much either in the episode, but it was still pretty enjoyable. Before that, there’s this amusing scene where Siegfried gets his trousers wet in surgery. 😀

This happens when James and Siegfried finish an operation on a sedated dog. When the dog wakes up, it urinates on the operating table and the pee-pee goes all over Siegfried’s trousers. Whoopsie! 😀

It was funny when Siegfried got annoyed by that happening. He blames the operation table for being fixed in its position. He starts taking his trousers off to get them cleaned. Very bad idea there, Siegfried.

It’s at that moment Mrs. Pumphrey visits the surgery with Tricki Woo. Fortunately, Siegfried hides himself with James’ help in order to get out of the surgery. It was pretty amusing seeing the scene. 😀

Anyway, the purpose for Mrs. Pumphrey’s visit is that she thinks Tricki Woo has flotbot again. Thankfully it is not, yet James recommends performing surgery on Tricki to rid a condition that he has.

Mrs. Pumphrey is rather against the idea and ops for a non-invasive, medical treatment. James suggests a drug but isn’t certain about how effective it will be. Mrs. Pumphrey is keen to take the drug.

Incidentally, they talk about how old Tricki is in the episode. Seriously, it must be a different Tricki Woo. It can’t be the same one as from the first three seasons. This makes the show really inconsistent.

Later on, Siegfried has a brand-new adjustable table placed into surgery. Helen is bewildered when she sees Siegfried conduct some measurements in surgery. It includes being on the floor under a chair.

Thankfully the table is in place and James is rather impressed. Siegfried shows James how the table works. It does seem to be a good thing to be true as it has plenty of accessories and is really adjustable.

I did think the episode is going to end with Siegfried not liking the table and wanting the old one back. But that was not how it goes in the episode. I suppose we’re going to see that table during Series 7 next.

This is of course to avoid any more dogs urinating by having a wider table to operate on. I’ll give credit to Siegfried. He is forward-thinking when it comes to adding in new types of veterinary equipment. 🙂

The new operating table comes into good use when Mrs. Pumphrey turns up with Tricki in a state. It turns out Tricki was attacked by a group of male dogs who thought he was female. Very shocking that!

This is a side-effect of the drug James gave to Mrs. Pumphrey for Tricki. I found that amusing, although hasn’t that been done before in an ‘All Creatures’ episode? I’m sure it has. Not sure which one though.

Anyway, James and Siegfried use the opportunity to use the operating table to check on Tricki and whether he is feeling better or not. Thankfully he is and Mrs. Pumphrey is genuinely grateful about it.

‘The Best Time’ is a pretty decent finale to Series 6 of ‘All Creatures’. It was interesting to see how James and Siegfried cope as a twosome in the rest of Series 6. Thankfully, Tristan will be coming along. 🙂

‘The Best Time’ rating – 7/10

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