PBS Masterpiece’s latest British import, All Creatures Great and Small, besides being a really great show, also has the supreme luck of being an excellently timed show. After the insanity that was 2020, this show is a lovely, comforting piece of gentle escapism that everyone can find something to enjoy in. After finishing the first episode, I texted my animal-loving brother & sister-in-law, who aren’t usually into period pieces, to let them know I may have finally found a Masterpiece show they can enjoy with me!
Based on the series of books by James Herriot (real name Alf Wight), All Creatures Great and Small follows James (Nicholas Ralph) after graduation (circa 1930s) from veterinary school in Glasgow, as he finds himself transplanted to the Yorkshire countryside to assist the experienced but temperamental Siegfried Farnan (Samuel West), learning that veterinary practice is as much about treating the people as the animals.
And it is the people who make this show shine. The story itself is uncomplicated; Siegfried and James seek to treat their patients, as James attempts to find his place both personally and professionally in the community. But the characters are richly drawn and well-performed, making you care for them as you see how hard they try to care for each other. Callum Woodhouse’s portrayal of Tristan Farnan, Siegfried’s charming but somewhat impish younger brother, is a particular standout, providing much of the show’s comedic fodder. It’s also worth noting that this series features Dame Diana Rigg’s final performance, portraying Mrs. Pumphrey, the wealthy and doting owner of pampered Pekingese Tricki Woo.
So, if you are looking for a charming and sweet escape from reality, or just something light to enjoy with the whole family, All Creatures Great and Small might be just what the doctor ordered!