‘Will To Live’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

This is the penultimate episode of Series 3 in ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ and I’m feeling sad as this is where it’s the beginning of the end for me. ‘All Creatures’ wouldn’t be as good as this during Series 4.

Anyway, this episode features some plots that still deliver some comedic and dramatic moments, despite there being a war going on in the world in the background. I found this a pretty enjoyable episode.

The episode was adapted by Johnny Byrne from the ‘James Herriot’ books. Johnny would go on to do good things in ‘All Creatures’. 😀 This episode was also directed by ‘All Creatures’ favourite – Christopher Barry.

In the episode, we begin with James walking one of Siegfried’s dogs on a hill. He soon meets with Trevor Ainsley as Andrew Vine who also walks his dog. James and Andrew seem to know each other well.

But Andrew is having some concerns about his dog since the dear chap can’t seem to see properly. The episode progresses before it becomes sadly clear that Andrew Vine’s dog is about to go blind in this.

We’ll get back to Andrew Vine and his dog later. In the meantime, there is some friction between Siegfried and Tristan in this episode. Siegfried takes Tristan to task for not mending a hole in the Skeldale House’s fence.

This is where Tristan tries to stand up to Siegfried’s ‘tyranny’, if you would call it that. Tristan refuses to subject himself to Siegfried. He does not want to be bossed around with mending the fence for him.

It’s interesting how Tristan refuses to mend the fence especially when Mrs. Hall asks for it to be mended. Siegfried states it is Tristan’s responsibility, but Tristan shoves that responsibility back at him.

Siegfried has it out with Tristan in the living room, giving him 24 hours to mend the fence or face the consequences. However, despite Siegfried’s threatening manner, Tristan makes a stand not to do it at all.

I found it amusing when Tristan lays out his plans to James about making a stand against Siegfried and his tyranny. This is in spite of the fact that James happens to have the flu when Tristan’s talking to him.

Tristan tries to recruit James in his battle with Siegfried. Not sure why it needs to be a battle, but there you go. James however will have nothing to do with it, telling Tristan to go on into battle alone here. 😀

Good for you, James! Good for you not to help Tristan over some petty thing. Tristan could just be a good chap and mend the fence at Siegfried’s request. Mind you, I can see Tristan’s frustration on it here.

Tristan is probably getting tired at being bullied and bossed around by Siegfried, especially since he’s the younger brother. It’s interesting how he makes a stand against Siegfried to not mend the fence at all.

Very soon, Siegfried mends the fence himself and is very annoyed about Tristan’s rebellion in the ranks in this. But Tristan is still persistent and he continues to refuse being bullied by Siegfried to do his will.

Siegfried raises his concerns about whether he is being tyrannical within the Skeldale household to James. James acknowledges that Siegfried does have demeaning qualities that do make him annoying.

But James claims that he has never found Siegfried tyrannical. Very soon, James gives Siegfried the inspiration he needs to teach Tristan a lesson. Dear me! I wonder that inspiration could be in this story!

Anyway, Siegfried gives Tristan the option to be idle all day and not have to do any of the jobs about the practice; not make house calls and not do any other chores about Skeldale. This Tristan seems to go along with.

Although it’s clear Tristan is hesistant about entering into this arrangement before agreeing to it. And very soon, Tristan regrets it as he isn’t given anything to do and feels left out about the Skeldale house.

Even when Tristan tries to do some of Mrs. Hall’s work, Mrs. Hall berates him for it. Examples include him doing dishes for Mrs. Hall and cleaning the windows when the window cleaner’s meant to do that.

Tristan soon has enough about being made idle by Siegfried that he again has it out with him to give him something to do. But Siegfried isn’t willing as he goes upstairs to have a bath, which gets Trist annoyed.

In his annoyance, Tristan throws his cigarette on the floor and stamps on it for Mrs. Hall to see. Tristan tries to cover it, but it’s clear he’s made a mess on the floor and he didn’t pick up all the ciggy remains.

Meanwhile with James, he operates on a sick calf at a farm belonging to Larry Noble as Mr. Sowden. But it seems Mr. Sowden and his friend, Kenneth Oxtoby as Mr. Abbot, are far worse off than the calf.

This is the case when Mr. Sowden and his friend are coughing a lot, on the verge of having bronchitis. Very soon, James finds himself coughing and sneezing a lot when he shouldn’t be attending to the calf.

Back home, James comes down with a bad case of the flu with Helen looking after him, including a remedy for bad flu. I don’t think James should be working anyway when he’s down with some bad flu.

However, next day, James still works in surgery with the dregs of the flu remaining. Oh well, I suppose if James is getting better, especially when it comes to attending to Andrew Vine’s dog, then that’s fine.

What’s peculiar though is when James checks on Mr. Sowden’s calf to see that it’s better, Mr. Sowden is complaining about the high bill he has to pay. He also criticises James’ method to heal that sick calf.

Wow! So much for gratitude! And Mr. Sowden’s still got the bronchitis problem. It’s astonishing how farmers seem to be friendly at first, despite a bad cough and later become mean, despite a bad cough.

I did like that little subplot where James attends to another animal, a cow I believe, belonging to Keith Marsh as George Hindley. In that little subplot, Keith Marsh has a sheepdog that’s so busy at the farm.

The sheepdog comes by the farm and makes sure that everything’s alright with James attending to George Hindley’s cow. The sheepdog even makes sure that the little chicks at the farm are all in place.

It was lovely to hear the backstory given to James by George Hindley on how the sheepdog became so busy. This is especially in connection to when George Hindley’s wife passed away quite a while ago.

I do wish that more time was spent on the sheepdog subplot. I even liked it when James understood ‘doggie’ language from the sheepdog when he asked what her verdict on the sick cow’s condition was.

This episode also features the return of Lois Baxter as Margery Egerton, Siegfried’s former flame. If you don’t recall, she was first in ‘Pig In The Middle’ and she was referred to in ‘Alarms and Excursions’.

Apparently, the last time we heard of her, Margery was going to be engaged to someone in London. But when Siegfried comes to see how she is, it turns out the engagement is off and it was all a mistake.

So Siegfried and Margery are back together again. I like how that was handled and there wasn’t any bitterness between Siegfried and Margery when they reunited. Siegfried’s quite gentlemanly with her.

It’s also interesting how Margery broke off the engagement, since it was an impulsive attraction between her and her would-be fiancée. They decided to break it off, especially with war now upon them.

Margery still has to go back to London to do a new job in connection to the war. But at least Siegfried and Margery get to spend some time together as a couple before she returns to London which is nice.

I don’t believe Margery comes back into the series after this episode. Not sure what happened between Siegfried and Margery after this, but I’m glad the two reunited and reconciled in this episode.

During one evening, when Siegfried and Margery go out together, James and Helen hope to have a quiet evening together. This gets ruined as James gets called out on a case and Helen waits up for him.

Another phone call comes from Mollie Maureen as Alice Temple, Margery’s housekeeper. She calls for help as Margery’s cat has been poisoned. Helen soon sends Tristan out to attend to the cat in this.

Tristan attends to Margery’s cat and has the housekeeper helping him to provide a cure to repel against the poison. Pretty soon, Siegfried and Margery return to find Tristan managing to heal the cat.

I like how Siegfried confirms that Margery’s cat is alright and that Tristan’s judgement in the case was correct. It seems that Tristan staying at home as punishment by Siegfried was all worthwhile after all.

Siegfried makes negotiations with Tristan towards the episode’s end about his position in Skeldale House. But Tristan makes his own conditions on the matter, despite James and Siegfried needing him.

Anyway, back to the Andrew Vine and his dog plot, James has Andrew coming to see him in surgery so that he can attend his dog. He even gives Andrew eye drops for his dog to get better and to see clearly.

But it seems like Andrew’s dog is going to become blind despite the eye drop treatment given by James. This concerns James, as he has to give Andrew the bad news that his dog’s going to be permanently blind.

This is after a recent experience James had with attending to Paul Cotterell (the Nick Courtney character)’s dog in the previous episode, ‘Matters of Life and Death’. Paul Cotterell committed suicide in that episode.

James has some details given to him by Andrew Vine’s medical doctor about his mental state. It seems that Andrew Vine may go the same way as Paul Cotterell did, since he’s lonely and has depressive moods.

When James gradually tells Andrew about his dog being permanently blind, Andrew breaks down into tears in the surgery. Andrew wallows in self-pity, stating that he cannot live without his dog going into descent.

James then firmly tells Andrew to buck up his ideas, saying that his dog needs him no matter what his condition is. He manages to persuade Andrew to keep on going and look after his dog in his blind state.

Later on, James wonders whether he did the right thing in being firm and forthright towards Andrew in that manner. Helen reassures James, when they’re together, that she believes he did the right thing.

The episode ends with James walking on a hill with one of Siegfried’s dogs and seeing Andrew again with his dog. It seems that Andrew’s dog is still happy, running about the hill, despite going blind in this.

‘Will To Live’ is a very poignant episode, especially when James attends to Andrew Vine’s dog. It also has an interesting story of lessons learned concerning Siegfried and Tristain’s working relationship here.

‘Will To Live’ rating – 8/10

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