Masterpiece debuts a new adaptation of James Heriot’s book, All Creatures Great and Small, based on the life of a veterinarian in a small English town during the 1930s. I’m a big fan of Masterpiece productions, and this one did not disappoint. For one thing, it’s gorgeous to watch, with idyllic scenes of the English countryside.
The story is also engaging and sweet, focusing as it does on the vital role a veterinarian plays in small-town and farm life, where fortunes and family survival can turn on the health of an animal.
In the story, Heriot leaves his home in Scotland, where he’s destined to work on the docks if he doesn’t find work in his profession, and travels to Yorkshire where he is hired to assist in the practice of grumpy Siegfried Farnon, who can’t seem to keep an assistant. Farnon’s housekeeper, Mrs. Hall, is on Heriot’s side from the beginning, and counsels him on winning Farnon’s respect. Rounding out the main cast is Farnon’s rascally younger brother, Tristan, who is going through bumps on the way to becoming a veterinarian, as well.
Throughout the seven episodes we meet other locals as they interact with the Farnon household in one way or another. The portrayal of veterinary practice from the period is fascinating, and the glimpses we see of farm and town life are also interesting.
Set before World War II and all the strife that came after, All Creatures Great and Small offers its own quiet respite from the tensions of modern times.
The first episode debuts tonight on PBS stations. For more information on the cast and story, and to watch a preview, click here.