Every season, GBH Drama prepares to bring you coverage of the latest and greatest in British dramas. This month, we get the triumphant return of MASTERPIECE’s remake of the classic series All Creatures Great and Small. Featuring eccentric characters, adorable animals, and the vast, rolling hills of Yorkshire, this series does not disappoint. GBH Drama contributor Amanda-Rae Prescott is here to recap the magic as it happens.
The big cricket game Mrs. Pumphrey teased earlier this season is finally here! The farmers and vets of Darrowby are fighting for the honor of the village against the men of property. On another level, the game is a proxy match for Hugh Houlton to win back his pride after the breakup with Helen. Who wins the match? Let’s find out!
If You Like It, You Should Put A Ring On It
Hugh Houlton is back in Darrowby after spending several months sulking in France. He asks for James specifically to install a nose ring on his young bull Monty. According to animal experts, rings on bulls allow farmers to control the animal to reduce injury. James greets Hugh in a gentlemanly way and gets on with the work. Hugh casually asks about the neighborhood gossip and if he’s seen Helen lately. James gives technically accurate answers: “once in a while” and “no, he hasn’t missed much.”
James doesn’t want to aggravate the situation by openly stating he’s going out with Helen. Monty has other ideas and manages to jolt during the ring installation. James falls on the muddy ground in the most awkward way possible. One can’t help but think this is a parallel for Hugh’s wounded ego. Monty is getting this procedure for a reason but it is revealed later on.
Separating Business From Displeasure
Hugh owns the land the Aldersons farm on and it just so happens the lease is up. Naturally, the Aldersons are nervous that Hugh won’t be able to separate his broken heart from the business. Mr. Alderson, Helen, and Jenny meet Hugh in the field and he tells them the lease will be renewed for another 20 years. In addition, Jenny and Helen are now added to the legal papers so they have an inheritance or leverage if they want to quit farming. This is a great example of taking the high road!
In addition to the not at all petty farm lease contract, Hugh gives them Monty the bull as compensation for last year’s disaster with Clive. Helen and Mr. Alderson say it’s too big a gift but of course, Jenny goes on to pet him. Helen tells Hugh they’ll think about keeping Monty.
Back at Skeldale House, there’s more human drama than animal patients to attend to. Mrs. Hall finally accepts Gerald’s offer from earlier to fix the broken clock. She invites him to attend the cricket match and he agrees despite not being a big cricket fan. Mrs. Hall will be running the scoreboard which is delightfully bossy.
The Darrowby Eleven are short a player as Tristan refuses to play. He’s still embarrassed about being a fake vet and Siegfried tells Mrs. Hall he doesn’t feel like he needs to apologize for lying about the exam results. James tells the team captain, Mr. Alderson, that he’ll play despite being better at international football than cricket. Siegfried tells James this isn’t a friendly pick-up game: the cricket match is Serious Business and Hugh’s team ends up winning every year. It’s about masculine pride and class solidarity between the vets and farmers against the elite landowners.
James and Siegfried use the hallway of the house for batting practice. Siegfried is overcomplicating the explanations for how the game works as he’s eager to make up for Tristan sitting out the game. After several failed attempts, Tristan stops Siegfried and tells James a simpler way to bat the ball. James is catching on —maybe the villagers might have a chance of winning the game after all.
While chatting about how big of a deal cricket is, Tristan casually reveals to Siegfried that he was a team captain and that their father attended every match. The Farnon brothers rarely discuss their relationship with their dad, so this exchange is fraught with a lot of unsaid emotion.
Mrs. Pumphrey calls Skeldale House for assistance with Tricki Woo. She doesn’t think Uncle Herriot is discreet enough to handle the situation so she demands Siegfried's expertise. Tricki Woo is having "masculine urges" and he’s attacking the furniture since he’s unable to mate with a female dog. He also managed to try to cross into Mr. Handshawe’s yard because he owns a female terrier named Bella. Siegfried tells Mrs. Pumphrey this is quite natural as Tricki is young and healthy. Mrs. Pumphrey asks if there are pills to solve the problem and Siegfried tells her the snip is the only real solution.
A while later Mrs. Pumphrey asks Siegfried to come over and fetch Tricki Woo from another attempt to get close to Bella. Siegfried prescribes a leash until he can conduct the procedure. Will Mrs. Pumphrey keep the appointment?
After years of watching British TV shows, I still don’t understand cricket so here’s a video of Samuel West juggling the cricket balls in between takes.
Everyone gathers around Mrs. Pumphrey’s private pitch to see the Darrowby Eleven vs. the Houlton Hall Chaps duke it out. It’s a perfect spring day. After a last-minute sheep escape takes one player out, Tristan finally agrees to play. He realizes it’s more important to help the village than to spite Siegfried. Bert Chapman leads the coin toss and also acts as a referee in the field. Mrs. Hall and Jenny are in charge of the scoreboard. Gerald nicely offers Mrs. Hall tea as she can’t move, and she even accepts his offer to walk their dogs together sometime. James struggles to try to catch the ball which doesn’t exactly bode well for keeping Mr. Alderson on his side in the future. He waves to Helen on the sidelines. Margot Seabright-Saunders, meanwhile, is blowing air kisses to Hugh. Siegfried isn’t as active during the match as you would think he would be after training James. That might be because filming action scenes is very hard: Samuel West broke his Achilles tendon on the last day of filming.
Hugh scores enough points that he calls a tea time break. During the break, Helen formally apologizes to Hugh. He accepts the apology and also admits that although he did feel very hurt initially, it was clear they were not really in love. Hugh also says it’s OK she’s now dating James because he wants her to be happy. The convo ends with a rather chaste kiss on the cheek which James is a bit unnerved by. Helen reassures him that the talk with Hugh was only to clear the air and to move forward as friends.
The second half of the game has a promising beginning with Tristan and Tom Chapman scoring, but errors result in Hugh’s team gaining even more points. James is forced to bat because another player was hit in the nose by a pitch. James is under serious pressure to try to cause a draw or outright win. He also realizes that Hugh is also playing for his reputation and wounded pride. James’ last bat allows Hugh’s team to score the final point to win the game. Once again, the village reputation is in shambles, but everyone had fun and that’s what counts.
Hugh and James shake hands at the end of the game putting an end to the rivalry. Tristan accuses James of rigging the loss and James admits he did because he wanted to be the bigger person. Helen loves that James wasn’t petty about the situation which is honestly the bigger victory. Tristan also lost Margot to Hugh, and he watches them kiss after the game.
Siegfried finally apologizes to Tristan! He admits the trial by fire approach was not at all the way to go about the exam failures. He also says their dad would have been proud of Tristan's cricket skills. Finally, Siegfried says he has been saving money if Tristan wants to go back and try passing parasitology.
The Emacipation Of Tricki
Tricki Woo of course is Mrs. Pumphrey’s right-hand man as she emcees the cricket match. He’s a hot mess throughout the match, constantly barking and attempting to escape. At tea time Mrs. Pumphrey asks Siegfried if Tricki Woo will change after the procedure. He says it’s possible and suggests that Tricki should indeed follow his little heart. A very encouraging message for us all!
Tricki Woo is freed from his leash. He bolts across the fields and his love Bella is running towards him. It’s inevitable that puppies will follow in a few months' time. What an adorable way to end the episode!
Will James get an opportunity to show off his football skills? Is Tristan going to take the money and go back to Edinburgh to finish his degree? Find out on the next episode of All Creatures Great And Small!