Every season, GBH Drama prepares to bring you coverage of the latest and greatest in British dramas. This month, we get the long awaited third season 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.
This week’s All Creatures Great And Small has a very provocative title but it has a more family-friendly meaning in context. James is working hard on TB testing, but he’s making numerous errors on the paperwork completed after testing. Just as he promises to fix these problems, another one develops. Let’s find out what happened.
Big Bad Bureaucracy
The episode opens with James heading into the Ministry of Agriculture offices. This building makes Mrs. Pumphrey’s house look like a doll house. The exteriors are dark and imposing and the opposite of everything else we’ve seen in the series so far. As James is waiting for his meeting with the MAG we hear a Nigel yelling at someone else. We find out that the Nigel in question is named is Mr. Harcourt, and he’s in charge of the MAG. Although James is really earnest and wants to do a good job with the TB testing, he is overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork the MAG requires after each test. Mr. Harcourt yells that James needs to stop making mistakes or as he calls it a “balls up” of the forms after testing a cow who has already been dead for two years. Harcourt’s explanation of each form and what it’s for is really confusing and is followed by a final warning for James. The struggle is real now.
Drive Like Lightning, Crash Like Thunder
Tristan has been saving up for a big purchase and we finally find out what it is. He pulls up to Skeldale with a used car. Unfortunately, this car is far from the 1950’s hot rods glorified by Brian Setzer or even Siegfried’s beloved Rover. The car looks and sounds like a death trap. Tricki Woo, who is at Skeldale for another round of diet regulation, is even scared by the sound of the car engine backfiring. Siegfried is salty that he couldn’t buy Tristan his first set of wheels, but Mrs. Hall counters that everyone should be happy Tristan is successfully adulting. Siegfried hands his brother a list of house calls to make and now we have to hope the car can handle it.
Speaking of Tricki Woo, Siegfried usually delegates the finer details of his care to James. But thanks to the TB testing and Tristan taking on more of the outside calls, Siegfried ends up spending more time with Tricki. Over the episode, he starts to soften up his feelings toward the pampered pooch. He turns his fathering and nurturing instincts towards Tricki because it’s clear Tristan is becoming more independent.
A Positive Case
James’ rounds take him past a group of soldiers on training exercises. Once again he starts to feel guilty that he’s not volunteering. His next call is to Dick Rudd’s farm where he needs to test another herd of cows. During the inspection, one cow sneezes really hard and spews spit onto the walls of the pen. James tells a very worried Rudd that he has to test that snot sample for TB.
Meanwhile, Helen visits her dad and sees Tom Chapman lending a hand. She finds out from Tom that James tested a cow that was already dead. When she meets back up with James, he tells her that he’s really confused and overwhelmed by the MAG paperwork. Helen asks if something else is bothering James, but he denies it. Helen agrees to help James organize and mail out the forms so Harcourt doesn’t punish James. Unfortunately for Rudd, that snot sample does come back positive so James has to tell Rudd he’s facing a shutdown. Rudd is angry that the farm has to shut down, but James promises that he will be fairly compensated.
Mrs. Hall once again takes Jess on a walk with Gerald and his good boy. This time Gerald asks if Mrs. Hall would like to come with him to the Elgar recital. She agrees because in her mind it’s just two friends going to the same event together. Outside the recital, Mrs. Hall sees Gerald with a small flower arrangement and other couples kissing. She tells him they need to talk. Mrs. Hall tells Gerald about how she’s nervous about contemplating dating, because her husband caused her emotional and possibly physical pain. She’s comfortable with her job and friends, and isn’t interested in anything more than friendship. Gerald is very understanding of where Mrs. Hall is coming from and he drops the subject. Some viewers may be mad at Gerald after this scene but neither he nor the audience knows entirely what happened before Mrs. Hall started working for Siegfried.
A Cute Picnic
Tristan stops by Florence’s place after finishing his rounds. The car’s performance so far is questionable, but he wants to check in on her and offer a ride. She says yes, and they plan to meet up the following afternoon. Tristan makes some sandwiches and takes Florence to a gorgeous cliff overlook. Daisy is frolicking while Tristan and Florence discuss how they both come from families with huge expectations for their future. Florence mentions how people are microaggressive to her and ask her “where she’s really from” but she’s determined to forge her own path. Tristan confesses that he’s spent his whole life doing what Siegried and other people wanted. Florence points out that the only person holding Tristan back is himself. How insightful, and also, we totally ship it!
After the cliff picnic, Tristan and Florence hit the open road to take in the countryside. Meanwhile, a very panicked James is speeding down the country lane behind them. Malick has taken Rudd’s best milking cow and not the cow sick with TB, and James needs to catch up to the truck. James manages to overtake Tristan but he stalls out a short time later. Tristan offers James a lift and introduces Florence. Florence keeps calling James the wrong name, but she means well. Tristan catches up to the truck but it turns out it’s not Malick’s truck so they speed toward the slaughterhouse. Thankfully for James and Rudd, Malick took a lunch break so he never had a chance to offload the truck with the healthy cow. He signs the required MAG forms and gets blood on them. Harcourt will definitely not be happy but at least Rudd will now have a decent shot at surviving the mandated temporary closure of his farm. Tristan drops Florence back at her house and she ends up kissing him because she had so much fun on their little date! She also apologizes for getting James’ name wrong.
Meanwhile, at Skeldale House, Siegfried is surprised by a knock on the door from the MAG. He jokes about the bureaucrats being vampires. Harcourt is waiting on James to discuss the paperwork mistakes. Siegfried told Harcourt that James was the only one on TB testing duty which explained all of the errors. James is just about ready to tell Harcourt he’s going to give up because the paperwork is too hard and men like Tom Chapman are leaving farm work for military training, but Harcourt thanks James for taking on the extra life-saving work and then asks for Skeldale to take on more since others are behind in testing. James and Harcourt shake hands and then there’s one last plea to not make any more paperwork mistakes. Helen promises to help James with the clerical work. Siegfried finally agrees to a ride in Tristan’s car and Mrs. Hall joins in the fun. The episode ends with Helen reminding James that he needs to continue being a vet and not think about the war effort.
Can Helen and the Farnons prevent another paperwork error? Will Tristan and Florence get a second date? We’ll hopefully find out next week on All Creatures Great And Small!