‘Ways and Means’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

This ‘All Creatures’ episode is a follow-up to Tristan’s romance with Alice McTavish in the previous episode. It also has James do some public speaking in front of a youth club. Will James get to fare well?

‘Ways and Means’ is adapted by Brain Finch (yikes that’s three episodes in a row now) from the ‘James Herriot’ books. The episode was also directed by Christopher Barry, who’s become a popular director.

The episode begins with Siegfried and James driving about in a car somewhere. James is concerned about the brakes on the car Siegfried is driving. But Siegfried reassures James not to worry about this.

The brakes then don’t work as Siegfried drives the car at a fast speed through a country house. Fortunately no accidents occur as Siegfried manages to drive the car out of the place without a scrape.

Siegfried then tells James that he should’ve told him about the brakes on his car not working. Again. Siegfried’s inconsistency comes to play here. James must be used to it by now. Why should we worry?

Afterwards, the next day I think, James comes back home from being in the rain and is in want for some breakfast. But he has to see John Sharp as Mr. Biggins first who’s wanting James to visit his farm.

However Biggins is vague on what he wants James to do at his farm. James becomes frustrated with Biggins’ vague request before he soon agrees to come out and see him later, causing hot air to let off.

I agree with James. Biggins can be a difficult farmer to deal with, as seen before in previous episodes. James of course doesn’t get a chance to have his breakfast, as he is given commitments to attend with.

One of these commitments is Sonia Graham as Mrs. Bond who comes in to ask Mr. Herriot to see to one of his cats. I did feel for James when he was wanting to have breakfast but Mrs. Bond was insistent.

Thankfully though it’s not Boris that Mrs. Bond wants James to see. Apparently Boris died in the interim between episodes with Mrs. Bond. Sad of course, but I’m sure that James is relieved about it. 😀

The cat that Mrs. Bond does want James to see is identified by a number (a multiplication number I can’t recall). James gives the cat some treatment and isn’t difficult. But is this enough to save that cat?

Meanwhile, Tristan is waiting to receive a letter from his friend, Alice McTavish, from Edinburgh. I like how Siegfried hides a letter from Tristan in order to tease and make him think nothing’s come for him.

Siegfried of course is not that cruel since he does reveal a letter that came for Tristan in the surgery moments after he told him nothing came. The look on Tristan when he realises is so memorable here.

Tristan discovers in the letter from Alice that her father sadly passed away. He invites her around to stay with them in Skeldale House in Darrowby. She agrees though doesn’t bring ‘wee’ Tristan with her.

It was nice to see Elizabeth Millbank back as Alice McTavish in the episode. We again have another chance to explore more of Tristan and Alice’s romantic relationship and whether this would work out.

Tristan and Alice’s spending time together is rare in this episode compared to last time, since Tristan has to do some vet jobs in the time Alice stays with them. Alice does accompany Tristan on these jobs.

One of them is calling upon a choking nanny goat who has eaten something quite unusual. This happens to be a pair of knickers belonging to the farmer’s wife. The farmer and Trist hide it from Alice.

It was funny to see that especially when Tristan inspects the goat and the farmer takes the knickers away to hide it from Alice. I don’t know. Maybe Alice would’ve found it funny if she saw what occurred.

Another is Tristan attending to Mrs. Bond’s ‘times number’ cat who’s been ill lately. Mrs. Bond would have preferred James instead of Tristan to attend to her cat, but James is away on some different case.

Thankfully Tristan doesn’t do a muck-up on inspecting the cat especially when Alice accompanies him. He recommends getting a special new treatment for Mrs. Bond’s cat, to which she gets relieved about.

There are tender moments between Tristan and Alice, especially where they talk about spending a future together. Alice notices how committed Tristan is committed to be a vet after seeing Mrs. Bond.

Tristan then shares his intentions to marry Alice to Siegfried when they’re together in the living room. Siegfried is obviously concerned about Tristan’s intentions. Alice overhears their conversation outside.

Later that evening whilst James doing a public speaking thing, Alice shares with Tristan what she overheard. She’s not ready to be married to Tristan, since there are rumours about a war coming soon.

It’s interesting how the Second World War gets rumoured on coming in ‘All Creatures’ but it hasn’t happened yet. This will all be dealt with Series 3. At this point, Tristan’s denying a war will come at all.

The other part of the episode is of course James taking a leap into public speaking at the Darrowby Youth Club. This was something Helen set up in conversation with William Hoyland as Mr. Blenkinsopp.

You may remember Mr. Blenkinsopp as the local curate who invited James to partake in a cricket match in ‘The Name of the Game’. Thankfully Blenkinsopp doesn’t want James to play cricket here. 😀

James is reluctant to a public speaking talk for the Darrowby Youth Club since he’s never done it before. But he is encouraged by Siegfried and Helen to have a go at it and suggest he talks on his work.

With encouragement, James has a go although it’s clear he’s not a natural for it. For example, his public speaking rehearsals can seem a little bit forceful and intimidating when trying it out for himself.

This is especially the case when he attends to a farmer’s dog who’s not well and has a litter of puppies. James practices his public speaking on the dog and it goes haywire. Here’s a comparison with the dog.

Beforehand, the dog was gentle and accepting of James. When James does his public speaking on her, she becomes aggressive and hostile towards James. James becomes scared as he tries to fend her off.

It was funny and tense when James is trying to get away from the dog and he can’t when the doorknob comes off in the room. Siegfried isn’t much help when he’s sitting in the car and is talking to the farmer.

Yeah. Siegfried accompanied James to visit the farmer and his dog, but he’s just sitting in the car having a sandwich or something and has a drink. He even offers a drink to the farmer whilst James’ in trouble.

On the big day itself, James is delayed attending to a pig belonging to Rosamund Greenwood as Muriel Dunn and Ann Way as Matilda Dunn. Ann Way appeared in the ‘Fawlty Towers’ episode, ‘Gourmet Night’.

The delay is caused when James has trouble attending to the pig as expected. Fortunately Muriel and Matilda have a way of dragging the pig out of its sty by giving her some digestive biscuits that she likes.

Eventually James gets to the Darrowby Youth Club at the church I believe where the audience have been impatient waiting. Helen also has been concerned regarding James whereabouts upon his arrival.

However his big talk to the youthful audience doesn’t go well. For one thing, James is forced straight into it without time to prepare himself beforehand. Would it not have been to have a cup of tea first?!

Also James’ way of talking to the youth is rather like him giving a lecture at a university. He uses veterinarian technical terms that kids wouldn’t get and he doesn’t maintain the audience’s attention.

There are also two young girls at the front who ask James questions about whether he’s had to kill animals in his job as a vet. Crikey, the Darrowby Youth Club are a happy bunch of kids, aren’t they? 😀

But yeah, it doesn’t go well for James in the end. Thankfully it doesn’t bother him much when he and Helen are looking at finances in the surgery. It’s almost like the public speaking incident didn’t happen.

The episode ends with Tristan seeing Alice off when he goes to return home back to Edinburgh. He’s sad of course, but Siegfried lets Tristan know Mrs. Bond’s sick cat has become well. That is something.

‘Ways and Means’ has been an enjoyable episode in ‘All Creatures’. It was nice to see another romantic endeavour with Tristan and Alice and it was so intriguing to see how James does some public speaking.

‘Ways and Means’ rating – 8/10

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