I know I’ve blogged before about the new adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small currently airing on PBS Masterpiece (at least twice, in fact). But this truly is one of the best series on TV right now, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly, highly recommend it.
The story is about a young, small-town veterinarian named James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) working in the English countryside in the 1930s, and everything about this series is delightful: the characters, the setting and, of course, all the animals.
If I had to pick one adjective to describe All Creatures Great and Small, it would be “comforting.” It’s the kind of show that makes me feel better about myself and the world after watching it. It has moments that are both heartwarming and humorous, and I’ve fallen in love with all the characters. Every week I look forward to sitting down and watching a new episode on PBS. It’s like gathering around a fireplace for a nice chat with your closest friends.
So, what exactly is it that makes this show so magical?
It’s proof that “remake” doesn’t have to be a bad word. Although there was a previous TV show adapted in the late 1970s from the writings of British veterinary surgeon Alf Wight (who wrote under the pseudonym James Herriot), it has been long enough from the release of that show that it’s a prime time to introduce the story to a new generation.
It’s also the perfect show in a world that still seems out of balance following the COVID pandemic. Watching the news too often inspires fear and despair, and while it’s good to stay informed, the grimness of the world surrounding us can start to wear one down.
We’ve seen a trend of gritty shows dominating the pop culture conversation in recent years – Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, just to name a few – and there’s nothing wrong with more serious storytelling.
But sometimes we also need to engage in media with a lighter touch, where the tone is more about hope, compassion and kindness, and that’s exactly what All Creatures Great and Small delivers.
That’s not to say the show is all sunshine or that it lacks any kind of emotional weight or depth. A recent episode of the currently running season dealt with a character’s memories of World War I and reliving his trauma. And as the show’s timeline inches closer to World War II, I’m sure that conflict will tie into the characters’ lives in ways that might sometimes be difficult to watch.
As an animal lover, it’s also interesting to see how veterinary care has evolved over the years. I like that the show features plots involving a variety of animals: from small pets like dogs and cats to livestock like cattle. All these animals receive the same care and compassion from the vets at Skeldale House.
Even if you’re not a British period drama addict like I am, this show is a great place to start.