‘The Name of the Game’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

I remember this ‘All Creatures’ episode very well when I first saw it on DVD back in 2003. There’s a lot going on in this episode and it has James Herriot playing a game of cricket. Why didn’t Tristan play here?!

‘The Name of the Game’ is adapted by Brian Finch from the ‘James Herriot’ books and was directed by Robert Tronson. I seem to find Brain Finich’s name in ‘All Creatures’ episodes a lot more these days.

The episode first has Tristan on his way to the Drovers pub before hiding himself away from the local curate, William Hoyland as Mr. Blenkinsopp. Surely Tristan’s sins can’t be as bad as that to hide away? 😀

No of course not. The reason why Tristan’s hiding is made clear when Blenkinsopp goes to visit Skeldale House. He meets Helen and asks if he can see either Siegfried or Tristan. Helens goes to check.

When Helen tells Siegfried who it is that’s come to see him, Siegfried tells Helen to tell Mr. Blenkinsopp that he’s not in. Puzzled, Helen goes off to tell this ‘news’ to Blenkinsopp. Thus Mr. Blenkinsopp leaves.

But Blenkinsopp forget his umbrella in the surgery when he left as it is raining that day. So he goes back to fetch it before seeing Siegfried Farnon there in surgery. I found it funny how that was built up.

It turns out that Blenkinsopp wants Siegfried or Tristan to play for the local cricket team on a certain date in August. Siegfried tells Blenkinsopp he can’t make it as he’s got an important meeting that day.

Blenkinsopp is then directed by Siegfried to find Tristan at the Drovers. When Tristan meets Blenkinsopp, he says he can’t make the cricket match either as he implies he’s got a really broken arm.

I was shocked that Tristan backed out of playing a cricket match in this ‘All Creatures’ episode. Considering Peter Davison would later play a cricket-loving Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’, it’s unheard of. 😀

Tristan then suggests to Blenkinsopp that he recruit James to play for the local cricket team, applauding him for his cricketing prowess. Blenkinsopp agrees and very soon meets James at Skeldale.

James is surprised to be asked to play for the local cricket team. But when told by Blenkinsopp that Tristan recommended him with exaggerated high praise, James eventually agrees to play for the team.

I like the scenes James has with Helen in the episode when they have some nice quiet moments together. This is when Helen’s doing some gardening and when the two sit out in the garden together.

The romance stuff with James and Helen so far has been pretty sweet and happy so far. They haven’t bickered or argued with each other either. When there seems tension between them, it’s out of love.

I found it funny when James saw Tristan coming and he goes over to ‘want a word’ with him about recommending him for the cricket match. I wonder what was said. Hopefully no violence occurred. 😀

Meanwhile, James attends to the Dimmocks’ family which includes John Comer as Mr. Dimmock; Margaret Heery and their 8 or so children. I know this family that had a similar number of children. 😀

One of the children, a sweet little girl who is Georgina Eastwood as Nellie has a little puppy that seems to be rather unwell. James does his best to try and treat the little pup, but all of his efforts don’t work.

Eventually though, James decides to seek the assistance of Granville Bennett who appeared two episodes ago in ‘Tricks of the Trade’. Apparently Granville can provide a special touch to small animals.

However James is anxious about going over to Granville Bennett’s place since due to last time, the hospitality was overwhelming. But that I mean he doesn’t want to get drunk and over-fed at the place.

James asks Siegfried to accompany him to make sure he doesn’t get into trouble with Granville. Siegfried agrees of course. On the way, he even tells James they must get out of Granville’s hospitality.

This is of course where Siegfried’s inconsistency as a character comes in. After the operation on Nellie Dimmock’s little pup is successful, Granville Bennett, as expected, invites James and Siegfried to dinner.

By the way, doesn’t Granville’s surgery look different to how it appeared in ‘Tricks of the Trade’? Also why was the Granville surgery scene all shot in film? For ‘Tricks of the Trade’, it was shot on videotape.

James Grout returns as Granville Bennett. When Granville invites James and Siegfried back to his place for dinner, James makes the excuse they can’t make it. Siegfried however doesn’t back James up here.

What?! How come Siegfried let James down to support him getting out of Granville’s hospitality? Siegfried seemed to support James, telling him they must get out of it. How had he changed his mind?

Anyway, they soon agree to go back to Granville’s place and James hopes they won’t stop anywhere on the way – meaning the pub, of course. Granville says that he needs to stop in at his branch surgery.

But of course Granville’s branch surgery happens to be his local pub. James is clearly annoyed by this and once again has a few too many drinks. Siegfried does not help much either since he joins Granville.

I wonder why James ever considered having Siegfried joining him to see Granville in the first place. Maybe next time, James should have Helen joining him. I really hope so with future Granville episodes.

Again, why was Granville’s ‘branch surgery’ scenes shot on film instead of videotape as in ‘Tricks of the Trade’? Unless of course this is a different ‘branch’ surgery we’re seeing, but I somehow doubt that.

This episode also features the return of Pamela Salem as Zoë Bennett, Granville’s wife. I found Zoë was really sweet to James when he was in his drunk state, sitting at the table before dinner had started.

Siegfried and Granville eventually join James and Zoë at the dinner table and have big helpings of roast beef or something like that. James, in his very drunk state, pours out a jug of gravy on his dinner plate.

And by that I mean he pours out the entire contents of that jug of gravy onto his dinner. I thought James had fallen asleep by that point. Everyone seemed to be applauding him for it, which was strange.

The next day, Helen isn’t happy with Siegfried leading James astray, as it’s clearly shown when she meets him at the breakfast table. Helen of course does not lash out since she remains calm and polite.

James eventually enters, not in a very good state he’s in. Siegfried remains cheerful as James enters the room, but James refuses to talk to him as he takes a cup of tea and leaves the room. Well-handled.

I felt for James in that moment when he’s feeling pretty bad. He even forgets that he’s supposed to be playing for the cricket match on that day. He decides not to go ahead before Tristan persuades him.

Tristan tells James that a terrifying bowler named Tagger Hird won’t be there at the cricket match today. Apparently James has been concerned about Tagger Hird, hearing the mean reputation he has.

When James hears that Tagger Hird’s not playing today by Tristan, he’s pleased and decides to go ahead with playing in the cricket match. Of course it was all a trick by Tristan and Tagger’s really there.

I found it funny when James said “I’ll kill him!” and Blenkinsopp assumed he was talking about Tagger Hird. But of course James was talking about Tristan. Thus we cut to a shot of him in the next scene. 😀

Incidentally, James and Blenkinsopp are the only ones who are in whites at the cricket match. The others decided to not to make the effort. I think James and Blenkinsopp should be applauded here. 😀

Siegfried meanwhile seems to have had his important meeting cancelled at the last meeting. Very appropriate since he and Tristan go off to have a pint somewhere before seeing James’ cricket match.

Helen is obviously concerned about James and waits for him at Skeldale House before he comes back. But Mrs. Hall tells Helen that it may take a while before James makes his return from the cricket match.

The cricket match meanwhile has hilarious results. Upon watching this episode, I expected it to have a ‘Black Orchid’ feel to it from ‘Doctor Who’. But it had a ‘Dad’s Army’ feel to it from ‘The Test’ episode.

James gets hit in the leg by the cricket ball; Blenkinsopp has to get the cricket ball out of a pile of dung with a handkerchief and one of the players falls into the river to catch it. It was so funny to watch here.

I had the occasion to shout out “Catch it, Godfrey!” as it was in the ‘Dad’s Army’ ‘Test’ episode. 😀 James of course gets to play in the cricket match with his bat and unfortunately he is out in an instant.

The person who knocks him out is of course Stephen Mallatratt as Tagger Hird. He’s a mean person as well as a meal bowler with a bad temperament. Who can blame James for not outwitting Tagger Hird?

Siegfried and Tristan eventually turn up to see the match. There is a moment of tension between James and Tristan, but it’s quickly passed. The two Farnon brothers encourage James before he is out.

Tristan also meets a nice young girl who he starts to take an interest in and entertain her. This seems to go well at first, but it all turns out too good to be true when she happens to be Tagger Hird’s fiancée.

I like that scene where Tristan meets Tagger and discover the girl he met was his fiancée. Thankfully it doesn’t end up with him punched in the eye as in ‘Judgement Day’, but there was tension in the air.

Of course James and Blenkinsopp’s team lose the match to the opposing team, but it doesn’t matter as it was all a bit of fun. And that’s what cricket’s all about, isn’t it? It’s all about a friendly English game.

Mind you, had the Fifth Doctor been there, he would’ve been able to outsmart Tagger Hird in the process. Check out Darrowby Eight Five‘s amazing story, ‘Bowled Over’ to see this actually happen. 😀

I liked it when James tells Helen how much he despised being out there on the cricket field playing in the match. It’s a happy scene between them as Helen is pleased to see that James is alright in the end.

The episode ends with the Dimmock family coming to see James with Helen as Nellie’s little pup called Toby is feeling a lot better from Granville’s operation. And yes, every one of the Dimmocks has come. 😀

There was a running gag in the episode when Mr. Dimmock kept telling James to send him the bill after he saw the family. It was funny when little Nellie told James to ‘send the bill’. It was so easy to laugh.

I’ve said a lot about this episode, haven’t I? I must have enjoyed it! ‘The Name of the Game’ is one of my favourite ‘All Creatures’ episodes and I loved watching how James got to partake in a cricket match.

‘The Name of the Game’ rating – 9/10

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