‘The Pig Man Cometh’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

Yes, I decided not to use an image of pigs in my review for this episode. And no, I’m not going to include any pig puns like Mr. Freeze did ice puns in ‘Batman & Robin’. Mind you, that’s no promise. 😀

The fourth episode of Series 4 in ‘All Creatures’ is of course ‘The Pig Man Cometh’! I’m finding an irresistible urge to say that episode title like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze from reading it. 😀

The episode is by a new writer to the series, Terry Hodgkinson. It is based on the books by ‘James Herriot’ of course. I’ve not come across Terry Hodgkinson as a writer in anything before this episode.

Terry Hodgkinson previously wrote episodes for ‘BBC2 Playhouse’; ‘Call Me Mister’ and ‘One by One’. He would go writing episodes for ‘Lovejoy’; ‘Ballykissangel’; ‘The Bill’ and ‘Midsomer Murders’.

This is the first of four episodes Terry Hodgkinson writes for Series 4 and 5 of ‘All Creatures’. Like previous episodes before this one, I found it to be pretty average. It was not exciting as it should be.

Once again, Peter Moffatt comes back as the director for this episode. He directed the first four episodes of Series 4 so far. Peter would direct the next episode before Roderick Graham takes over.

The opening shot of the episode has us introduced to Johnny Leeze as Lionel Brough, who is the titular ‘pig man’. Not that I would have registered that in the opening shot considering it’s very brief.

In the early part of the episode, there is a lot of activity that goes on for James Herriot. This is when James is attending to somebody’s horse and Helen comes by to put the clothes on the washing line.

This is at Skeldale House by the way. Calum comes by as well…with buckets of tripe apparently. The early scenes did seem confusing for me. I was not really geared into the episode when it had started.

Anyway, James meets Lionel Brough in the episode and learns from him that he intends to buy a pig farm. James thinks that it might be too ambitious for Lionel to try out. But Lionel seems pretty keen.

Eventually, when Lionel does buy the pig farm, he runs into problems since his stock fall ill the instant he runs it. James comes round to inspect what’s going on and he suspects that it is swine fever.

As the episode progresses, the situation seems to be getting worse. James asks Tristan to accompany him at some point later on in the episode to ask his opinion on whether it is swine fever.

When Tristan inspects the pigs at Lionel’s farm, he agrees with James. It seems it is swine fever. This is despite the lab results from the Ministry of Agriculture that it is not swine fever, which is unusual.

Once James and Tristan inform Lionel of the situation, they recommend that he slaughtered the healthy pigs for marketing bacon and sausages. Lionel reluctantly agrees as this suggestion is made.

By the way, beforehand, I found it off-putting when James was examining one of the dead pig’s guts with Lionel watching nearby. It isn’t going viewing on a Sunday evening especially when eating food.

Another thing I’ve noticed. Fred Feast is now playing Jeff Mallock, not Frank Birch, when he comes to slaughter the pigs for Lionel Brough. I didn’t realise it was meant to be Jeff Mallock after I watched this.

Mallock was also in the previous episode too. I of course discovered that Frank Birch died in 1982, which was a shame. But why did the production team feel the need to recast Mallock in the series?!

Instead of calling him Mallock, give the character a different name as Mallock was easily recognisable for me in the series. So it isn’t just Helen who gets the recasting treatment in the series.

After Lionel slaughters the healthy pigs for market, James later turns up to tell him that they’ve received the new lab results from the Ministry of Agriculture. Apparently it was swine fever after all.

Lionel is pleased that he slaughtered the healthy pigs when he did. But he’s determined to carry on and start a new pig farm again. Uh, I would’ve thought pigs getting swine fever would’ve put him off.

But nope, Lionel starts his new pig farm again. And as expected (or not depending how you look at it), the pigs again get swine fever. Lionel can’t understand it as he summons James for help once again.

James examines the pigs and soon realises that it’s the water supply that’s the cause of it all. He tells Lionel to get the pigs to drink the water supply, since they can’t drink it from their low-down trough.

It was unusual to see James trying to get the pigs to drink from the foot of a wellington boot as water was poured down into it. Eventually, Lionel gives up the pig farm as he owns two pigs instead.

I can’t claim to be an expert on farming. But it is interesting to see how Lionel sets out on his desires to run a pig farm before it fails him twice and he ends up own two pigs instead at the episode’s end.

James also visits Olive Pendleton as Mrs. Dryden in the episode after attending to her cat with mange. James admires the front garden that Mrs. Dryden has at her house once he’s about to leave.

But she tells James that he is going to be selling her house. The reason why she’s leaving and selling her house is because she has not got enough money to keep it since her husband died, which is sad.

She intends to move in with her sister in Houlton but needs to sell the house first before she can do that. Once James hears of this, he sets his sights on buying the house at an auction as it is being sold.

Yeah, James and Helen are thinking about buying a house for themselves since Calum and his menagerie of animals are too much for them to handle. I can’t blame them. Calum loves his animals.

But here’s an issue I have with this subplot. You see, James sells an engagement ring he bought for Helen in the first episode in Series 4 and asks a loan from the bank to purchase Mrs. Dryden’s house.

And he hasn’t consulted Helen about whether she’s happy about moving into Mrs. Dryden’s house. Why wouldn’t he tell her this? James doesn’t even ask Helen to come and see the house for herself.

Helen isn’t any much better since she goes and sees a house that’s for sale by another seller. Yet she is not happy with the price of the house; decides not to buy it in the end and does not consult James.

Hmm. For a happily married couple, there is a lack of communication between James and Helen in this series. Mind you, there are married couples that could be like that. But still, it seems pretty bizarre.

When James and Tristan go to the Drovers where the auction takes place, they met Peter Martin as Farmer Handshaw, I mean Mr. Hartley. I still don’t see why he could not be Farmer Handshaw in this.

Tristan learns of James’ intentions to purchase Mrs. Dryden’s house at the auction and is concerned about his friend affording it. It’s interesting Tristan is being cautious about this compared to James.

James does seem hasty when keen to purchase Mrs. Dryden’s house for himself and Helen at the auction. There could be a chance where James might risk on being over budget and lose money.

I couldn’t help be reminded of the auction from the ‘Laurel & Hardy’ short film ‘Thicker Than Water’ from watching this episode. There is also a ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ episode featuring an auction.

Thankfully though, James doesn’t go over budget and doesn’t risk bidding high during the auction. The house eventually goes to Seth Bootland who seems to be this very prickly person regarding money.

I liked it when Mrs. Dryden thanked James for contributing to the auction despite not winning. I think Mrs. Dryden would have liked James to own the house instead of Seth Bootland in the episode.

Speaking of Seth Bootland, he’s played by Guy Nicholls. He’s joined by David Julian as Malcolm Bootland, his son. Earlier, Mr. Bootland wanted James to put a dog down, claiming it had distemper.

But when James inspects the dog, he tells Bootland that he hasn’t got distemper but a swollen pad. Bootland still wants James to put the dog down, complaining about the amount of money he spent.

Siegfried later attends to Mr. Bootland when one of his horses is sick – a colt, I believe. Bootland gives Siegfried an interesting offer to purchase the animal from him, to which Siegfried is astonished.

After thinking about it, Siegfried decides to purchase the animal from Bootland. But it turns out Bootland got rid of the animal the day Siegfried came with the money. Siegfried’s not happy about it.

Bootland then reveals to Siegfried that his son Malcolm went off to join the Air Force, to which he’s not happy about. This is especially when he’d purchased Mrs. Dryden’s house for Malcolm to live in.

Towards the episode’s end, Bootland sells the house to Calum to which he moves into and out of Skeldale. This seems to solve the house problem that James and Helen have been having in the tale.

I did enjoy it when Siegfried was attending to two brothers, Danny O’Dea as Rupe and Dickie Arnold as Will, who are constantly bickering. They also give their herd of cows ‘such daft’ names in this tale.

These names include ‘Smutty Nose’; ‘Fuzzy Top’; ‘Long Legs’; ‘Slow Coach’. Honestly, why didn’t they call them ‘Doc’; ‘Grumpy’; ‘Happy’; ‘Sleepy’; ‘Sneezy’; ‘Bashful’ and ‘Dopey’ from Disney‘s ‘Snow White’. 😀

I also enjoyed Tristan’s story (he arrives late in the episode by the way) where he finds himself the butt of a farmer’s practical joke. This farmer happens to be Alan Hulse as Mr. Stott in the TV episode.

I found it funny when Tristan decides to return the favour by playing a practical joke on Mr. Stott when saying one of his animals is seriously ill. I knew Tristan was playing the prank in the first moment.

But it seems Tristan isn’t having much luck with Deirdre since she seems to have left her dogs in Calum’s care instead of his. I felt for Tristan. Why didn’t Deirdre leave her dogs in his care instead of Calum’s?

Also, why didn’t Calum inform Tristan that she’d left her dogs in his care when they were present in surgery? Calum does seem a bit of a jerk. I am struggling to connect to Calum as a regular character.

‘The Pig Man Cometh’ is okay as an ‘All Creatures’ episode. That’s all I can say about it. There’s not much to excite me about these episodes, apart from some really minor comedic moments to enjoy.

‘The Pig Man Cometh’ rating – 7/10

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