‘Where Sheep May Safely Graze’ (TV)

 

‘WHERE SHEEP MAY SAFELY GRAZE’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Interesting fun fact to begin with. The title of this episode ‘Where Sheep May Safely Graze’ is from a soprano aria by Johann Sebastian Bach which often gets used in churches and is often sung as a hymn.

My Mum mentioned this to me when we were watching the episode as it was performed before the episode’s end credits. Very intriguing for an episode title to be sung and musically played than spoken.

Also, to go off on a side note. As I write this review, Series 2 of ‘Great British Car Journeys’ with Christopher Timothy and Peter Davison is about to be shown on Channel 4 next Saturday. I’m excited!!

Another interesting note here. As we saw this episode, my parents and I commented on how uninteresting the title sequence for the second block of four episodes for ‘All Creatures’ Series 6 was.

It’s not very exciting with Siegfried and James coming out of a shop before getting into their car. Why couldn’t they have had the title sequence for the first four episodes of Series 6 throughout the season?

Anyway, ‘Where Sheep May Safely Graze’, based on the ‘James Herriot’ books is by Michael Russell. This is Michael Russell’s first contribution to ‘All Creatures’ as he’d write four more episodes after this.

The episode is also the second of the second production block to be directed by Michael Brayshaw. Funny how there happen to be two Michaels contributing to this episode in a writer and a director. 😀

In this episode, Siegfried rides on horseback in…Mordor? Oh no! Sauron has returned! (Pause) No, no! It’s what it looked like with dark clouds hanging over as Siegfried rides on horseback in the countryside.

Though it’s strange when Siegfried later recalls to Helen how it was a beautiful morning when he rode on horseback. Um, did he not see those dark clouds hanging overhead whilst riding in the countryside?

Anyway, Siegfried comes across Ian Bleasdale as David Braithwaite, a local sheep farmer who is about to sell his farm. Siegfried notices how depressed David is, as his dear wife had passed away a year ago.

Yeah, apparently James and Helen become worried about David, since they knew him and wife Mary very well. David Braithwaite has lost all interest in farming, hence why he decides to sell his farm here.

Now, there’s something I want to point out here. Not that I don’t have sympathy for David Braithwaite’s loss. It’s such a shame David lost his wife and I can understand why he’s depressed here.

But here’s the problem. This is supposed to be a character James, Helen and Siegfried know very well. And quite honestly, I can’t connect to David Braithwaite the same way James, Helen and Siegfried can.

It wouldn’t be so bad if he and his wife were introduced an episode before in Series 5 so that we can identify with him. But this is the only appearance in ‘All Creatures’ that we see David Braithwaite here.

In the original run from Series 1 to 3, if we’re to feel sympathy for a character regarding death and loss, we would be given two episodes for him or her. It would allow us to feel sympathy for him or her.

I’m not saying the way David’s depression over the death of his wife and him selling the farm isn’t well-handled. It’s just it’s expected for us as an audience to know who these characters are in the tale.

Maybe the passage of time between Series 3 and 4 from mid-1940s to early 1950s is meant to disguise our main leads knowing who these characters are. But isn’t it a struggle for an audience to appreciate?

Anyway, David Braithwaite sells his farm to a young married couple – Steve Delaney as Richard Ballie and Jill McCullough as Alice Ballie. They seem eager about purchasing and owning the new sheep farm.

They don’t see David Braithwaite’s depressed state and are insensitive when they thank him for selling his farm. David takes it pretty badly when he refuses to have any part in the running of the sheep farm.

Even when David’s border collie bitch Tess, whom he sold to another person, tried to commit suicide, he refuses to have no part of the matter at first. Thankfully James and Siegfried persuade him otherwise.

David spends a lot of his depressed time in the Drovers. Even when Richard Ballie asks David for help regarding the sheep they now own at the farm, he refuses to offer advice and help to that young man.

This changes when David hears of some of the ewes dying off and he visits James and Helen in the late evening to ask for their help. They come out with David to notice how much damage has been caused.

It’s at this point that David takes an interest again, especially when he assists James in recovering the animals that are left on the farm. He even dresses better by the time we reach to the episode’s climax.

I like that scene between Helen and Alice Ballie. Alice had hoped for their lives to be great when running the sheep farm, but it seems to have got worse. Helen gives words of encouragement to Alice.

This episode features the return of Margaretta Scott as Mrs. Pumphrey as well as of course Tricki-Woo. It’s been a while since we last saw them, isn’t it? And Tricki’s still alive by this point in the series?!

I’m convinced the Tricki-Woo in the reboot era is not the same as in the original era of ‘All Creatures’. It must be a new dog and somebody told Mrs. Pumphrey that it’s the same dog she’s always had here.

Maybe it was Hodgekin who told her. Yeah, Teddy Turner is back as Hodgekin in this episode. Thankfully he’s not trying to kill Tricki-Woo. I’ll never forgive him for trying to poison him with venison! 😀

Anyway, Mrs. Pumphrey shares with James that Tricki-Woo has become ‘most concerned’ for him. And this is to do with the serious cough he’s been having since the episode began. Yeah that happens here.

Earlier on in the episode, Helen became concerned for James that he was having a cough. He denies this and says it was a splutter not a cough. Trust me, I’ve had a cough recently and I know what it’s like!

Just to go off on a side note. The episode’s second scene has James gurgling from a glass of water – just like what Bertie Wooster did in ‘Jeeves & Wooster’ – and he spits that water out in a kitchen sink!

Ugh! I mean…UGH!!! Did we really need to see that? I could actually see James spitting the water out into the sink! Why did that have to be in the episode? It wasn’t necessary and it did shock me to bits!!!

Anyhow, Mrs. Pumphrey hears about James’ bad cough from Helen at the local church where she’s arranging flowers. Once Mrs. Pumphrey meets with James, she takes him to see the local confectioner.

Geoffrey Bayldon guest stars as Mr. Geoff Hatfield, the local confectioner in Darrowby. It was nice to see Geoffrey Bayldon again, since I’ve seen him in other TV productions as well as ‘All Creatures’ itself.

He was in ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’ with Sarah Sutton as well as the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘The Creature From The Pit’ with Tom Baker. I’ve also seen Geoffrey in one episode of the ‘Star Cops’ series.

The other ‘All Creatures’ episodes Geoffrey Bayldon’s been in include ‘Pride of Possession’ from Series 2 and the Christmas Special from 1983. He’s played different characters in all three episode and is very good.

It seems that Mr. Hatfield knows everything about sweets and can provide miracle cures to anyone who is ill. No, really! That seems to be the case here. Hatfield’s sweets are like ‘magic pills’ to anybody.

He provides special ‘boiled sweets’ (I think they are) to James when he recommends them to help with his cough. They seem to work, although they were too strong for James when he took one of them. 🙂

Mr. Hatfield knows how to help people with identifying what sweets they want. This is especially the case of Annie Leon as Mrs. Tibbett who comes into his shop and doesn’t know what sweets she wants.

But in the episode, Mr. Hatfield gets distracted for a bit when his tabby cat, Alfred, becomes sick. Those cat eyes of Alfred’s are mesmerising to watch in the episode, even when ill as James tends to him.

James does everything he can to treat Mr. Hatfield’s cat. I like the camaraderie shared when Mrs. Pumphrey and Mrs. Tibbett become concerned about Mr. Hatfield’s well-being at the confectionary shop.

At first, it seems like James’ attempts to heal Alfred the cat aren’t getting anywhere. He doesn’t seem able to find a solution and he becomes really baffled by it. He shares this issue with Siegfried in surgery.

Thankfully though, James finds a solution and is able to heal Hatfield’s cat by the time we come to the second half of the episode. Mr. Hatfield is very grateful to James once he sees his cat Alfred getting better.

As a reward, James gets given a box of chocolates by Mr. Hatfield for his wife on their wedding anniversary as a ‘thank you’ for saving Alfred the cat’s life. And James doesn’t need to pay for it. It’s a gift. 🙂

Yeah this has been going on in the episode where James is meant to be spending time with Helen because of their wedding anniversary. Like always, James’ work interferes with his love life with Helen.

Thankfully, Siegfried makes the suggestion that James should buy her a bunch of flowers. This James does before running over David Braithwaite’s dog Tess on the road and giving them to Helen at home.

James and Helen also have an evening to spend time together before they get interrupted by David Braithwaite regarding the dead ewes at the sheep farm. At least James and Helen have time together.

Incidentally, Siegfried and James make remarks to Helen at different times on what it was like when James and Helen got married and first met each other. This is difficult in the context of the series here.

I mean, it would be nice to feel that same emotional connection between James and Helen, except Helen regenerated from Carol Drinkwater into Lynda Bellingham. The emotional connection is diluted.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it being addressed now and again and it’s nice James tells Helen that he still loves her by the climax. I just wish it was with Carol Drinkwater as Helen, not Lynda Bellingham.

Again, no fault on Lynda Bellingham’s part as she’s doing her best here and is pretty decent as Helen. But this isn’t with the same warmth and loveliness that was found in Carol Drinkwater’s interpretation.

Otherwise, ‘Where Sheep May Safely Graze’ is an enjoyable episode. It was nice to see Mrs. Pumphrey and Tricki Woo again and I did like how the David Braithwaite and the Mr. Hatfield stories got handled.

‘Where Sheep May Safely Graze’ rating – 8/10


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