A Dog too Far in All Creatures Great and Small

All Creatures Great and Small

Another week of excellent entertainment from All Creatures Great and Small was marred by a pair of imperfect plot lines. It’s saying a great deal about how much I like the show that the only things I can find to complain about are pretty nitpicky.

In this week’s wonderful episode there is a sick dog that plays only a minor, largely unimportant role, in the conflict and plot. And a missing limp. That’s it, those are my complaints. The problem here is that I’m running out of good things to say about the show. I enjoy it tremendously but I can’t keep writing that week after week.

So, it’s to the dogs!

The Episode of All Creatures Great and Small

We start the episode with Tristan being entrusted to take the lead on his own calls. It’s a big step for him although it’s clear Siegfried, Mrs. Hall, and James all have lingering doubts. In any case, off go Tristan and James to attend to business.

Meanwhile, Siegfried stays back to perform an operation on a dog. The operation is a success, Mrs. Hall lays a blanket by the space heater, the dog is dropped off. The dog whines but Siegfried assures us, that is to say, Mrs. Hall, that the dog is fine and whining is a normal under the circumstances.

In any case, the episode continues. Tristan is filing down the teeth of race horses and is somewhat intimidated by their spirit. He’s kicked in the knee by one of the animals but soldiers through the pain. He spots the daughter of the owner and later maneuvers a date with her for his birthday party.

James continues to struggle with telling Helen about his job offer. Eventually the various plot lines come to a head at the party. Helen already knows about the job offer but she and James have a heartfelt moment to smooth over hurt feelings.

Meanwhile, Siegfried, annoyed by Tristan’s acting performance during the day’s rounds and the whining of the dog reveals that the young man failed his exams. Tristan is crushed. The situation is not resolved but Tristan enjoys some sort of revenge by nicking some of his brother’s good whiskey. I approve, Tristan, I approve.

My Nitpicks

I have two very nitpicky problems with this otherwise excellent episode. I’m honestly more worried about the dog and the damn space heater than I am about Tristan on his own. That’s a problem. Spoiler, there’s nothing wrong with the dog. Siegfried is perfectly correct and the dog is fine despite all the whining and fussing he’ll be doing for the next hour.

It’s entirely possible the writers want us to be worried about the dog only as a way to show that Siegfried, for all his bluster, is an excellent veterinarian. I think that’s a reasonable explanation but it doesn’t solve the issue. I spent almost the entire episode worrying about that dog! Is it going to get burned by the space heater? Was the operation a failure? Is it going to die? Why is whining? Is it going to live? I’m distracted from the main plot.

My other nitpick is even more nitpicky. Why isn’t Tristan hobbling around for the rest of the episode? That horse kicked him right good. I want limps!

Conclusion

The episode illustrates why this show works so well. They continued with the main plot lines built previously while creating episodic conflict. It’s interesting to watch. I’m always eager to find out what will happen next.

A wonderful little sequence occurred at the dinner party when Tristan’s date noted Helen and James sitting next to one another. The date is a good friend of Hugh, who Helen left at the altar. She gets a little snippy with Helen who defends herself but also admits she waited too long to end things and accepts responsibility for the hurt and embarrassment Hugh suffered.

The date apologizes for being snippy and Helen accepts. It’s a scene showing we don’t need Hugh to be a villain and Helen to be a hero in all things. Life is complicated and there isn’t always a good answer. This small scene makes me believe the characters are real people in real situations. That’s the goal in a fictional show, to invest the audience in the lives of the characters.

Well done, despite my nitpicks.

Tom Liberman

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