Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New on DVD: All Creatures Great and Small

Today the seventh and final season of ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL was released on DVD. The set also includes a 1990 Christmas special and a 2004 interview with cast members.

If you're not yet acquainted with this series, it's really a must, one of the classics from the "golden age" of British TV in the '70s and '80s. The show is loosely based on the books of Yorkshire veterinarian James Herriot (Christopher Timothy) and depicts the lives of Herriot, his wife Helen (Carol Drinkwater, later Lynda Bellingham), and his fellow vets Siegfried and Tristan Farnon (Robert Hardy and Peter Davison). It's warm and funny, with wonderfully subtle humor by Robert Hardy, in particular.

The show is also quite educational for young people, as the earliest seasons depict daily life in pre-WWII England -- a world of telephones and typewriters, but without televisions or other more modern conveniences. Watching the show slowly unfold over many hours really brings home what life in that era was like, in a way that movies can't quite fully capture.

I first watched this show as a teenager, and the program holds up wonderfully -- if anything, Hardy and Davison, as the rascally Farnon brothers, seem even funnier now than when I first saw it. The great Hardy, veteran of countless British TV shows -- I particularly liked EDWARD THE KING, in which he played Prince Albert -- is now better known to many as Cornelius Fudge in the HARRY POTTER film series. Davison's roles included stints as the stylish detective CAMPION and one of the many incarnations of DR. WHO.

There is an excellent entry at Wikipedia explaining the show's somewhat confusing production history. It first aired in England from 1978 to 1980. Specials aired in England on Christmas in 1983 and 1985, and then the series was revived for four more years beginning in 1988 -- unfortunately with a new actress as Helen Herriot. (Carol Drinkwater, the first Helen, has gone on to a second career as a writer chronicling life in Provence.)

The entire series was also released today -- yours from Amazon for $296.49. :)

I highly recommend this series as outstanding family viewing.


Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

I'm in the middle of the wonderful book series. I've read 1 & 2 and I have 4 but haven't found 3 at the thrift stores yet. When I finish reading the books, I think I'll watch the series. I remember catching a few minutes of it when I was little and it looked intersting. Is it pretty safe for the kiddies to watch?

5:25 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

Well I learned two new things reading this. First, I never knew that this series was out on DVD. I loved this show on PBS. I can not afford the whole set but maybe I can hunt them down at the library. For instance, my local library as all the VHS tapes from the Thin Man series which I have been watching. The set had been donated by a patron.

The other thing is that I never realized that Fudge and Siegfried were the same actor. Of course I can see that now. Wow. Cool.

And the VHS tape I got last week was the Blue Gardenia. I really, really enjoyed it. Thanks for the heads up.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Mrs. HH, I read the books around the time I first watched the series and agree they're wonderful as well! Following up your read with the TV series would be a lot of fun. As I recall, many of the incidents from the books turn up in the TV episodes.

All of our children watch this one...I might be forgetting something, but the main issue that comes up, in terms of children watching, is more along the lines of the occasional sad animal story.

It may also be good to know in advance that some of the vet practice's customers have heavy Yorkshire accents, but we found that the ear becomes accustomed to them after a bit and they become more understandable. We were joking at one point that it was similar to watching a film of a Shakespeare play -- at first it all sounds a bit strange, but after a while it's easier to understand. :)

I hope the library has these, Irene! So far I have only purchased up to the 4th season (plus the disc of Christmas specials) as they are relatively pricey. Every so often there will be a sale somewhere like Deep Discount and I invest in the next season. 3 to go! :)

Our children love that "Siegfried" is in the POTTER movies. You also might remember him as Sir John in Emma Thompson's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.

Delighted you also enjoyed THE BLUE GARDENIA!

Best wishes,

9:27 AM  

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